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Groundfish Assessment Program

Eastern Bering Sea Slope Habitat Studies

Figure 1 map, see caption
Figure 1.  A map of habitat locations where bongo net and bottom trawl samples were collected during the NMFS eastern Bering Sea slope habitat cruise.


A research cruise aboard the NOAA ship Miller Freeman was conducted from 2 to 13 October 2007 in the eastern Bering Sea that dealt with various groundfish research projects. Three skate nursery sites were sampled and mapped for an ongoing skate reproductive ecology study. During this cruise a new skate nursery site was mapped that was previously unknown. A unique rockfish habitat was mapped and sampled.

For the first time data was collected on this unique habitat in the highly dynamic Zhemchug Canyon in the northern Bering Sea. Biological data were collected from the bigmouth sculpin and the Kamchatka and Bering flounders and will be used to determine age and size at maturity for these poorly studied species. Specimens of deepwater pelagic and benthic fishes were collected for visual pigment analysis and study for a better understanding of eye functioning in a deep-sea environment.

Demersal bongo net samples, collected at depths greater than 1,000 m, provided cephalopod specimens as well as samples for assessment of zooplankton densities during fall (Fig. 1). Testing was conducted of newly developed net mensuration gear and compared to the existing equipment in use. The new gear performed well and proved to provide accurate and extensive real-time trawl data with ease.

Additional completed projects included collection of 978 stomach samples from many groundfish species, 204 rockfish genetic samples, 185 cephalopod specimens, and 139 skate age structures. In total more than 2,000 biological specimens were collected during the October cruise.

By Jerry Hoff

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