Otolith Analyses in BAYS tunas

Analyses of catch-at-age and stock distribution of BAYS tunas in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean

This project proposes to collect otolith pair specimens from bigeye, albacore, yellowfin, skipjack, and perhaps some bluefin tunas over the course of a full year.  The project will be actively monitored to ensure both geographic as well as species diversity.  Head samples will be collected by nine to twelve Harvester Researchers, all permitted vessels in the Atlantic Tunas fishery from multiple commercial categories.  At the time of collection, species, length, date, and geolocation metadata will be collected on a tag.  Upon return to port, the Harvester Researchers will store the head samples at designated Sample Storage Docks.  Marine science students will then extract the otolith pairs from the head samples and will ship the otoliths for analyses.

In addition to the data collection and analyses, this project proposes to produce a professional-quality educational video, which will be posted on the internet, including on YouTube.com, and also made available on a DVD (at cost) for educators or other interested members of the public.  The video will include portions of the training, head sample collection, otolith specimen extraction, and analyses conducted, as well as interviews with various participants.  The Center will also publish an in-depth section on our website, designed for a general audience, highlighting this project and the importance of this research.

The project will increase the scientific data on the stock structure and growth rate of the species to be sampled, many of which are data-poor, especially in the Western Atlantic.  The project will involve many participants directly involved in the fishery, both harvesters and docks, demonstrating to them a productive way to participate in the resiliency of their coastal communities.  The project will educate some marine science students with hands-on research, and will produce high-quality educational materials that will be freely accessible to anyone and that could be utilized as curriculum in high school and university marine biology classes.