SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


NOAA Fisheries Launches 'Nearshore Fish Atlas of Alaska' Website


November 20, 2006
Monday AM

NOAA Fisheries has launched a web-based scientific atlas on the distribution, relative abundance, and habitat use of nearshore fishes in Alaska.

"We've really expanded our knowledge about the extent and utilization of shallow, nearshore habitats by many fish species, and to make that knowledge more useful, we put it on the internet so that the public and resource managers can readily access this information from many areas along the Alaska shoreline," said fisheries research biologist Scott Johnson, from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Auke Bay Laboratories.

jpg Beach Seining

Biologists from NOAA's Auke Bay Laboratories beach seining in
an eelgrass bed near Sitka, Alaska in summer 2006.
Photo courtesy NOAA

The atlas interfaces with an existing Alaska ShoreZone website, which allows people to view low-altitude video imagery of the shoreline at low tide. Through partnerships with federal, state, and non-profit organizations, about half of Alaska's coastline has been inventoried using the ShoreZone mapping system. The combination of the fish atlas information and the ShoreZone imagery will help researchers and people interested in coastal habitat.

"We see the atlas website as dynamic and it will be updated regularly as we continue sampling throughout Alaska," said Johnson.

"It takes some effort to learn to navigate the Nearshore Fish Atlas," said Phil Mundy, Director of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Auke Bay Laboratories, "but we wanted the public to have the best scientific information about some of the most productive habitats in Alaska, which are also the most vulnerable to human disturbance."

"Clearly, this is just a beginning," he said. "Alaska has some 47,000 miles of shoreline. We focused on displaying what we know about fish in shallow, nearshore habitats of high interest first. We will grow the system in the future by adding information on adjacent habitats and more species."

NOAA Fisheries' Auke Bay Laboratories and Alaska Regional Office collaborated on the project, pulling together information for the first stage of the project based on beach seine sampling. The atlas provides a quick reference for identifying species in areas designated for development or impacted by human disturbance. It will allow resource managers to track long-term and large-scale changes in fish distribution and habitat use that may result from global climate change. It will also help resource managers prepare biological opinions and identify habitats essential to different life stages of commercially important and forage fish species.

The fish atlas can be found at: Users are advised to use a high-speed internet connection, an Internet Explorer browser, and to turn off pop-up blockers to access the atlas. The Atlas has an enormous amount of information associated with every page: even with high speed internet some downloads are slow.

In 2007 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, will celebrate 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.


Source of News:

NOAA Fisheries

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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska