As the SMURF 2017 season ends, we are looking back at what turned out to be quite a tumultuous year! Although the SMURF moorings were deployed early in April, they endured a rough spring welcoming and some were lost early on. As a calm summer approached, the losses were replaced and sampling continued. Then, as the time drew near to remove the moorings for the rough Oregon winter, season transition storms (some even with lightning!) caused even more mooring replacements in the last month.
Curious to see if there would be a large recruitment of Splitnose/Redbanded Rockfish and the QGBC-complex (we group some species of rockfish recruits), we kept the SMURFs in the water as long as weather and budgets would allow. The last SMURFs from Otter Rock and Cape Foulweather were pulled up on Monday, using the great strength of the Oregon State University’s research vessel Elakha.
In 2017, the numbers are very different from 2016. Total counts of the most common species for all sites combined, over the past two years.
This is what makes these long-term data sets so valuable: to see how different fish species recruit in different years. As we see changes throughout time, we can look at ocean chemistry, currents, and food sources to begin to tease out why these changes might occur. Oregon’s Marine Reserves make an excellent venue for long-term research projects like SMURFing.
Check back with us next April to see what 2018 will bring to the SMURFs!