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Thursday, August 24, 2006
Washington and Oregon Sardines
The previous post in early June had us looking to upwelling as a source of food for the phytoplankton upon which small fish like sardines feed. This marine phenomenon has occurred to some degree but at present, the chlorophyl satellite near real-time images don't give much indication of a microscopic food source for the sardines. However, there is a large bloom west of the upper half of Vancouver Island. Also there are sources of plankton below the surface on which the sardines feed and reports from both the Oregon and Washington sardine boats suggests that there are massive schools of smaller fish, 110-130 grams each, up and down the entire two state coast.
By massive, we are talking about a two hundred fifty thousand ton biomass, seaward of Grays Harbor, WA., as merely one small area of sardines. The schools are only visible to airplanes when they are near the surface, but our fathometers can peer down 500 fathoms and target on schools of sardines shallower than 50 fathoms. The sardines can swim faster than the boat can run if they choose to evade us. Nonetheless, we see thousands of tons nearly every trip, although they are too small for the demands of our market. Hopefully sunnier weather will encourage algae and plankton blooms for the sardines' dining pleasure.

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