Fall 2008 Update: Summary of Conditions of the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem

Sea surface temperature (SST) in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during the first half of 2008 continued a warming trend in winter and spring temperatures conditions that began five years age. However, these warmer thermal conditions are still lower than levels observed over the past two decades. Problems with the SeaWiFS ocean color sensing satellite make the 2008 chlorophyll data used in this report provisional. Despite the provisional nature of the data, it is clear that there was an exceptional spring phytoplankton bloom in the Massachusetts Bay/Nantucket Shoals area.  Zooplankton biomasses began the year at average or above average levels, but spring zooplankton biomass levels were lower than average in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank.

  • Sea surface temperature conditions were generally above average during the first half of 2008.
  • Provisional chlorophyll data suggests that there was a great deal of spring bloom activity on the Northeast Shelf, in large measure driven by an exceptional bloom that occurred in the Massachusetts Bay/Nantucket Shoals area.
  • The dominant zooplankton on Georges Bank exhibited contrasting abundance patterns. Calanus finmarchicus has been increasing in abundance in recent years, but Pseudocalanus, an important food item of larval cod and haddock, continues a trend of lower than average abundance.
  • The 2008 spring blooms on Georges Bank and in the Gulf of Maine began in the same early March time frame as last year. Likewise, the blooms peaked approximately three weeks after initiation of the bloom, also on the same dates as last year. The bloom start and peak dates can vary by two to three weeks and have been indentified as important factors for fish recruitment.
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(File Modified Apr. 19 2017)