Dynamics of larval fish ingress from the coastal ocean into Chesapeake and Delaware Bays

Grant awarded to:
Timothy Targett (UDEL)
William Boicourt (UMCES)
John Brubaker (VIMS)
Richard Garvine (UDEL)
Edward Houde (UMCES)
Elizabeth North (UMCES)
John Olney (VIMS)

Team members:
Linton Beaven (UMCES)
Jeffery Biermann (UMCES)
Pat Crew (VIMS)
Carole Derry (UMCES)
Ginger Jahn (UCMES)
Ed Hale (UDEL)
Catherine House (UDEL)
Ashleigh Rhea (VIMS)
Mike Rhode (UDEL)
Zachary Schlag (UMCES)
Brian Watkins (VIMS)
Tom Wazniak (UMCES)

Funded by:
NOAA Sea Grant College Programs of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia


Participants Page

To E. North
research pages

Objectives: We seek to identify patterns in the timing and abundance of influx of shelf-spawned fish larvae into Chesapeake and Delaware Bay, discern whether there are different physical mechanisms that influence ingress between these estuaries, and evaluate our results with respect to factors causing recruitment variability. We propose to 1) identify and compare the temporal pattern and timing of larval fish ingress into Chesapeake and Delaware Bays for a suite of species, and 2) identify and compare specific cross-shelf transport mechanisms that influence the ingress of Atlantic menhaden, Atlantic croaker and American eel.

Methodology: We are using a combination of fixed-site sampling, research cruises, and observing system data to identify ingress of young fishes into estuaries. Year-round weekly sampling at fixed locations, supplemented by high-frequency sampling during targeted periods, will be used to determine the ingress of larval fishes into each estuary. High-frequency sampling at the fixed locations will be combined with research cruises to allow us to develop a clearer picture of processes influencing larval influx into each estuary for selected species (menhaden, croaker and eel). Results of physical measurements and larval sampling at fixed locations and on survey cruises will be combined with observing system data and numerical models to identify patterns and cross-shelf transport processes that influence larval ingress

Rationale: Coastal-spawning fishes are important components of commercial and recreational fisheries in Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, yet mechanisms that control their influx and recruitment into these systems are poorly understood. This research will increase our understanding of physical processes that influence larval transport from coastal spawning areas to estuarine nurseries. The proposed regional program will enhance fisheries management planning and the design of regional monitoring programs by providing advice on sampling required to adequately describe larval influx. Results will complement other ongoing or planned Atlantic coast sampling programs measuring larval ingress into estuarine nurseries.

For more information, please see the articles:

"Three Sea Grants Team Up for Larval Study" (.pdf) by Elizabeth Boyle, University of Delaware Marine Public Education Office.
"Scientists Join Forces for Regional Fisheries Research" (.pdf) by Jessica Smits, Maryland Sea Grant College Program.

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Photos by Tammy Beeson, Delaware Sea Grant
The photographs above were taken on a research cruise on board the Research Vessel Hugh R. Sharp. We use the Tucker Trawl (top two photographs) to collect fish larvae, and the Scanfish and CTD (bottom two photographs) to measure water properties like temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen.