Establishing the Food Web Links between Estuaries....
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GRANT NUMBER: NA76FD0106           NMFS NUMBER: 96-NER-044

REPORT TITLE: Establishing the Food Web Links between Estuaries and Nearshore Fisheries of New England

AUTHOR: Dr. Edward Boynton

PUBLISH DATE: June 29, 1999

AVAILABLE FROM:  National Marine Fisheries Service, One Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.  TELEPHONE:  (978) 281-9267


This was a collaborative project between a local fisherman from Gloucester and a scientist from the Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass. The two objectives of this study were (1) Establish the food web link between the estuaries and the nearshore fisheries of Ipswich Bay and (2) Bridge the gap that is present between fishermen and scientists by understanding each others methods of work by performing the following scientific study.  The project centered on sampling predetermined sites to ascertain the timing and magnitude of the migration of estuarine fish going into the nearshore waters of Ipswich Bay. The study used stable isotopes to conclusively demonstrate the connection between forage fish and the estuary.   Environmental data of temperature, salinity, chlorophyll-a, water clarity, nutrients and current flow were also examined to ascertain the trigger mechanisms of the migration.  Sampling for the project began on August 15, 1997. The first year had 18 sampling days using the fishing vessel "Sissel B".  In December of 1997 it was decided to ask for a one-year no-cost extension. This permitted the project to have a second season of sampling. Sampling for the second year began again on September 25, 1998. There were 8 sampling days on the vessel and 5 additional beach seining days when winds exceeded safe limits of work aboard the vessel. The last sampling day of the project was on December 16, 1998. All total there were 31 sampling days for the project.  The Ecosystems Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole conducted the analysis of the samples collected in this project.  The analysis found that comparison of abundance, timing, size and stable isotope value of M. mendia in estuary and offshore indicated that large quantities of fish move offshore in the fall. The importance of Atlantic silversides as a forage fish for larger coastal fishes is well known. This study demonstrated that the Atlantic silversides may represent an important trophic link between marshes and offshore food webs.

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