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Cordova, AK, United States

Reynolds B.F.,Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory | Reynolds B.F.,Prince William Sound Science Center | Powers S.P.,Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory | Bishop M.A.,Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Loss and/or degradation of nearshore habitats have led to increased efforts to restore or enhance many of these habitats, particularly those that are deemed essential for marine fishes. Copper rockfish (Sebastes caurinus) and lingcod (Ophiodon enlongatus) are dominant members of the typical reef fish community that inhabit rocky and high-relief substrates along the Pacific Northwest. We used acoustic telemetry to document their residency and movements in the nearshore waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska in order to assess use of created reef habitat in an individual-based manner. A total of 57 fish were surgically implanted with acoustic transmitters. Forty-five fish were captured and monitored in three habitats: artificial reef, low-relief natural reef, and patchy high-relief natural reef. Within each habitat, both rockfish and lingcod exhibited long periods of residency with limited movements. Twelve rockfish were captured at the natural reefs and displaced a distance of 4.0 km to the artificial reef. Five of the 12 rockfish returned within 10 d of their release to their initial capture site. Another five of the 12 displaced fish established residency at the artificial reef through the duration of our study. Our results suggest the potential for artificial reefs to provide rockfish habitat in the event of disturbances to natural habitat. © 2010 Reynolds et al. Source

Northern lampfish (NLF), Stenobrachius leucopsarus (Myctophidae), the dominant pelagic fish taxon of the subarctic North Pacific Ocean, were sampled opportunistically in MOCNESS tows made on continental slope waters of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) as well as in deep areas of Prince William Sound (PWS) during 1997-2006. The overall mean whole-body lipid-corrected stable carbon isotope value of NLF from the GOA was -21.4 (SD = 0.7) whereas that from PWS was -19.5 (SD = 0.9). This pattern is similar to that observed for late feeding stage Neocalanus cristatus copepods thus confirming a mean cross-shelf carbon stable isotope gradient. As well, there was a statistically significant positive correlation between the considerable temporal variation in the monthly mean carbon stable isotope composition of GOA Neocalanus and GOA NLF (r=0.69, P<0.001). In contrast, NLF nitrogen stable isotope values were bi-modal with most data fitting the upper mode value of ~+11.5. NLF nitrogen stable isotope values are a better indicator of trophic level or food chain length whereas carbon stable isotopes reflect organic carbon production. The carbon stable isotope values of NLF, measured in May, were positively correlated to marine survival rate of PWS hatchery salmon cohorts entering the marine environment the same year (r=0.84, P<0.001). The carbon stable isotope values for Neocalanus in May were also positively correlated to salmon marine survival (r=0.82, P<0.001). Processes thus manifested through the carbon stable isotope value of biota from the continental slope more closely predicted marine survival rate than that of the salmon themselves. The incipient relationships suggested by the correlations are consistent with the hypothesis that exchange between coastal and oceanic waters in the study area is driven by meso-scale eddies. These eddies facilitate the occurrence of slope phytoplankton blooms as well as drive oceanic zooplankton subsidies into coastal waters. The strong as well as more significant correlations of salmon marine survival rate to NLF as well as slope Neocalanus carbon stable isotope values point to processes taking place at the slope (i.e., interactions driven by meso-scale eddies when at the edge of the shelf) as being the driving force to inter-annual variability in the coastal Gulf of Alaska study area. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Halverson M.J.,Prince William Sound Science Center
Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans | Year: 2014

Current meter data from a series of oceanographic moorings spanning a total of five years was analyzed to quantify the tidal and subtidal exchange of water between Prince William Sound and the adjacent continental shelf in the northern Gulf of Alaska. Velocity profiles were used to quantify the exchange in terms of a transport through each of the two largest passages: Montague Strait and Hinchinbrook Entrance. Buoy wind and atmospheric pressure observations, as well as bottom pressure records, are then used to elucidate the role of atmospheric forcing on the exchange.An EOF analysis shows that the barotropic component accounts for 62% or more of the variance in the velocity profiles even after tides are removed by low-pass filtering, and thus the analysis is concerned primarily with depth-integrated transport. The estimated depth-integrated transport can reach ±0.6. Sv in Montague Strait, and ±1.5. Sv in Hinchinbrook Entrance. The largest fluctuations occur in response to the semidiurnal tides. Transport variations on subtidal time scales, which can reach -0.2. Sv in Montague Strait, and +0.6. Sv in Hinchinbrook Entrance, are shown by a frequency domain analysis to be dominated by easterly wind stress events which occur at periods of 2-5 days in both summer and winter. Atmospheric pressure has much less impact on transport, but there is some evidence that it might play a small role on time scales of a few weeks.Bottom pressure records suggest that easterly wind events set up a sea level height gradient in Hinchinbrook Entrance such that it tilts up to the east, which under geostrophy drives a barotropic flow into Prince William Sound. The same winds also raise the sea level in Hinchinbrook Entrance relative to Montague Strait, encouraging an outflow there in agreement with the ADCP observations. There is no evidence that the wind drives a vertically sheared bi-directional flow in either entrance, as has been observed in some estuaries. It is hypothesized that the lack of such a flow is possible because Prince William Sound has two major connections to the shelf, which alters the mass conservation requirement for each passage when compared to a system with just one entrance. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. Source

Schroth A.W.,University of Vermont | Crusius J.,University of Washington | Hoyer I.,Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center | Campbell R.,Prince William Sound Science Center
Geophysical Research Letters | Year: 2014

While recent work demonstrates that glacial meltwater provides a substantial and relatively labile flux of the micronutrient iron to oceans, the role of high-latitude estuary environments as a potential sink of glacial iron is unknown. Here we present the first quantitative description of iron removal in a meltwater-dominated estuary. We find that 85% of "dissolved" Fe is removed in the low-salinity region of the estuary along with 41% of "total dissolvable" iron associated with glacial flour. We couple these findings with hydrologic and geochemical data from Gulf of Alaska (GoA) glacierized catchments to calculate meltwater-derived fluxes of size and species partitioned Fe to the GoA. Iron flux data indicate that labile iron in the glacial flour and associated Fe minerals dominate the meltwater contribution to the Fe budget of the GoA. As such, GoA nutrient cycles and related ecosystems could be strongly influenced by continued ice loss in its watershed. © 2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Source

Crawford R.E.,Prince William Sound Science Center | Vagle S.,Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans | Carmack E.C.,Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Polar Biology | Year: 2012

Relatively little is known about the distribution of fish in deep water (<200 m) in the Beaufort Sea. Data collected by an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler operated in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in summer were examined for evidence of fish biomass detections between 18 and 400 m. The presence of fish in waters between 1 and 30 m was explored opportunistically with a non-scientific echo sounder. Evaluation of findings was enhanced by measurements of water column properties (temperature, salinity, fluorescence and transmissivity). Relatively small shoals of fish were detected on the Chukchi shelf and eastern Chukchi shelf break, and also on the Alaskan and Canadian Beaufort shelves in the upper 20 m (T = 2-5°C). Much larger shoals (putative polar cod) were detected within Atlantic Water along the Beaufort continental slope (250-350 m) and near the bottom of Barrow and Mackenzie canyons, where temperatures were above 0°C. A warm-water plume of Alaska Coastal Current water with high concentrations of phytoplankton, zooplankton, and fish was found extending along the shelf 300 km eastward of Barrow Canyon. In contrast to the warm surface and Atlantic Water layers, very few fish were found in colder, intermediate depth Pacific-origin water between them. The large biomass of fish in the Atlantic Water along the continental slope of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas represents previously undescribed polar cod habitat. It has important implications with regard to considerations of resource development in this area as well as understanding impacts of climate change. © 2011 The Author(s). Source

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