As the Gulf of Maine continues along its rapid warming trend, researchers are trying to understand how these changes affect where fish are located. Fishery stock assessments provide managers with information on abundance and distribution of species, but they typically only occur every three to five years.
Chrissy Hernandez, one of 13 GMRI interns this summer, compared trawl survey data with temperature records to model the relationship between fish movement and water temperature.
“A lot can happen in the time between traditional stock assessments, especially in a region that is warming as quickly as the Gulf of Maine,” said Chrissy. “If we can better understand and anticipate the impacts of temperature changes, we can better manage our fisheries.”
The analyses showed that, as expected, many fish are indeed shifting their distributions in response to the changing climate. However, it also appears that there is a time-lag to their reactions, with winter sea surface temperatures playing an important role in the distribution of fish the following summer.
Following her internship, Chrissy was hired as the newest member of our research team and will be continuing her work with statistical analyses and modeling of marine ecosystems.