Insular Fish Research Underway in Guam Nearshore and Offshore Waters

July 25,2014
Sampling from small boats launched from the NOAA R/V Sette will be used to collect fish samples from Guam for life history 
        studies.
Sampling from small boats launched from the NOAA R/V Sette will be used to collect fish samples from Guam for life history studies.
Many of the scientific collection activities will be conducted onboard the NOAA R/V Sette.  In this photo hydraulic 
        handline reels are used to sample for deep-slope bottomfish specimens found at depths of 100-400 meters.
Many of the scientific collection activities will be conducted onboard the NOAA R/V Sette. In this photo hydraulic handline reels are used to sample for deep-slope bottomfish specimens found at depths of 100-400 meters.

Scientists aboard the NOAA R/V Oscar Elton Sette will be engaged in a 15-day research project that will conduct scientific sampling operations in Guam waters. This research project continues the partnership between NOAA's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) and Guam and is designed to support the research initiatives of the participating Guam agencies, university and fishermen. This cruise is one of two research projects to be conducted this summer by PIFSC on the Sette within the Mariana Archipelago.

The cruise will combine work in the near-shore and coastal waters around Guam. The ship will also be conducting research at the offshore reefs and seamounts surrounding Guam including 11 Mile Reef, Perez Bank, Rota Bank, and Galvez Bank.

During this cruise, Chief Scientist Joseph O'Malley (PIFSC) will lead a diverse research team that includes scientists from PIFSC and the University of Hawaii Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research in Honolulu, the Guam Department of Agriculture's Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources, faculty and students from the University of Guam, and the Northern Mariana College. Other members of the research team will include Guam fishermen.

Daylight sampling activities will be conducted shipboard and also from the Sette's three small boats in Guam's nearshore and coastal waters. The scientific team and local fishermen will conduct small boat sampling operations of deep-slope bottomfish species in support of agency projects to determine age, growth and reproductive maturity of these economically valuable species. During bottomfish operations, an underwater video camera will be attached to fishing gear to record any predatory interactions with sharks or other species at depth and near the surface. A specially designed 'troll cam' will be deployed to also document predatory interaction during trolling operations. These videos will provide a means to identify the species involved and when feasible, shark DNA will be taken, via non-lethal methods, to definitively identify shark species. The second of the main cruise objectives is the expansion of the PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) shallow water diver surveys into deeper waters (30-100 m) using Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS). BRUVS, which are deployed using small boats, are non-destructive baited stereo-video samplers which can provide estimates of fish abundance and size structure. The final small boat operation will consist of the University of Guam scientists collecting fish and invertebrate samples by hand, nets, and light fishing tackle. The Sette will also be testing groundbreaking cetacean (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) survey gear. The PIFSC cetacean acoustics personnel will deploy a new type of towed 3-dimensional hydrophone array with tetrahedral hydrophone configuration. This gear will undergo various performance tests to evaluate how well it can detect and localize cetacean groups. Before conducting nighttime operations, the Sette will set fish and invertebrate traps to capture rarely seen deepwater species for the University of Guam collections.

Each evening, the Sette will transit to the offshore reefs and banks surrounding Guam to conduct night activities. These will include plankton sampling using an Isaacs-Kidd midwater trawl towed from a depth of 100 meters to the surface and surface night-light collections in support of the University of Guam genetic connectivity study. Researchers will also collect oceanographic data such as current speed and direction with depth using an onboard instrument called an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP). Other oceanographic measurements of the water column will be collected by a device known as a conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) instrument that is lowered and retrieved from the ship and provides a depth profile of temperature, salinity, and oxygen concentrations. Additionally, water-sampling bottles attached to the CTD will collect water at pre-determined depths that will be filtered and processed onboard the ship to determine water chemistry and chlorophyll content. These ocean measurements will help to characterize the physical environment adjacent to each of the islands.

These various ship operations will provide a rare opportunity for the University of Guam students and faculty as well as the local fishing community to learn and experience at-sea marine research.

The PIFSC will use the BRUVS to collect detailed scientific information about coral reef fish species beyond typical scuba diver 
        depths.  Research cruises aboard the NOAA R/V Hiʻialakai used diver surveys to collect similar information in 
        shallower water in the spring of 2014.  The combination of the BRUVS and diver surveys will allow comparative studies of 
        shallow-water and deep-water fish populations.
The PIFSC will use the BRUVS to collect detailed scientific information about coral reef fish species beyond typical scuba diver depths. Research cruises aboard the NOAA R/V Hiʻialakai used diver surveys to collect similar information in shallower water in the spring of 2014. The combination of the BRUVS and diver surveys will allow comparative studies of shallow-water and deep-water fish populations.
The PIFSC cetacean program's novel 3-dimensional hydrophone array with tetrahedral hydrophone configuration.  This gear will be 
        towed behind the Sette and undergo various performance tests to evaluate how well it can detect and determine the exact 
        location of cetacean groups.
The PIFSC cetacean program's novel 3-dimensional hydrophone array with tetrahedral hydrophone configuration. This gear will be towed behind the Sette and undergo various performance tests to evaluate how well it can detect and determine the exact location of cetacean groups.

 

The interactive map above highlights (in red) the expedition's operating area in the waters surrounding Guam. Red markers indentify locations of some reefs and seamounts where research will be conducted (click on a marker to display location name).