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Evgeniya Snauffer

Modeling herring and hake larval dispersal in the Salish Sea

Evgeniya Snauffer
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Susan Allen

Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia

2010 - 2013

Population Connectivity, PC-02: Dispersal patterns in the Strait of Georgia

The Salish Sea includes Juan De Fuca Strait, Puget Sound, and the Strait of Georgia (SoG), which separates Vancouver Island from mainland British Columbia. Hake and herring are commercially important fish and both species use SoG as larval rearing grounds. Drift tracks of larvae for these species were simulated using a regional circulation model and a particle-tracking model, for up to six weeks after they hatch. Larvae with different behaviors (such as surface drifters or performing diel vertical migration) are traced in the springs of each of the years 2007, 2008, and 2009. Since herring larvae stay in the top 12m, their distribution is heavily influenced by the wind storms. Strong winds to the north during the hatching period wash herring larvae out of SoG and lead to poor recruitment later. Alternatively, wind storms blowing to the south help retain herring larvae in the Salish Sea. Northern and southern parts of SoG are weakly connected for herring larvae. Hake larvae reside deeper in the water column (50-200m) and the distribution of the hake larvae released in the central SoG is shaped by a deep gyre with cross-strait currents. Behavior changes distribution for both types of larvae but there is no single pattern. Behavior may enhance retention in SoG for the northern herring larvae. This study helps to identify important herring larvae habitat in the Strait of Georgia.

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