Environmental Monitors on Lobster Traps

Annual Report

September 2002

PI contact information:

NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole

Jim Manning, 508-495-2211, james.manning@noaa.gov

Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen

Association Representative:

    Bonnie Spinazzola, 603-483-3030, AOLA_BONNIE@prodigy.net

Industry Representative:

    Mark and Terri Palombo, 508-888-5714, calicolob@capecod.net

Massachusetts Lobstermen

Association Representative:

  Dave Casoni, 508-224-3038, lobsterteacher@hotmail.com

Industry Representative:

Bernie and Eileen Fenney, 781-447-0750, lobsters01@mediaone.net

Maine Lobstermen

Association Representative and Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation Director:

  Patrice Farrey, 207-351-1676, patrice@mainelobstermen.org

Industry Representatives:

 Art Vuilleumier, vuilleum@maine.rr.com,

 Sheldon and Jill Goldthwait, jillgold@acadia.net

Downeast Lobstermen

Association Representatives:

  Clare Grindal, 207-359-8025, dela@hypernet.com

Industry Representative:

  Jeremy and Charlene Cates, 207-259-3647, cgd.dev@wa.pvt.k12.me.us


List of project participants:

 (as of March 2002)

3- "has probe(s)" and 4- "has probe(s) and has returned data":


4 Bennett Paul Newport RI

4 Campanale RobRoy Pt. Judith

3 Christopher Scott Pt. Judith

4 Colbert Bob Sandwich

4 Colbert Denny Sandwich Ma

4 Cote Bro Hyannis Ma

3 HandriganTim Pt. Judith

4 Mataronas/Buffington GaryTiverton RI

4 Moore Grant Westport Ma.

4 Palombo Marc Sandwich

3 Palombo William Newport RI

4 Peabody John Pt. Judith

4 Shafmaster Jonathan NewingtonNH

4 Spencer David Newport

3 Stribley Russell New Bedford

4 Violet Jim Newport RI



3 Backman Ralph Beals Island

3 Bridges Leroy Deer Isle

3 Cates Jeremey Cutler Me

3 Cates Brian Cutler Me

4 Chipman Roger Birch Harbor

4 Chipman John Sr. Birch Harbor

2 Day Walter Vinalhaven

4 Faulkingham Michael Winter Harbor

3 Lemieux Nick Cutler Me

3 Lemieux Norbert Cutler Me

3 Robbins Stevie Stonington

2 Rosen Steve Vinalhaven



4 BEAR JR Ted&Faith ORRS Isle


4 Baines Bob&Susan Spruce Head


4 Carver Dwight Jonesport

3 Cousens David/Al So.Thomaston

4 Gamage Arnold Jr S. Bristol Me.

3 Hutchins Ed Cape Porpoise


4 Johnson David Long Island .

4 MCLAIN BRIAN/Rox New Harbor


4 Smith Jay Nobleboro

4 Tripp Jim Spruce Head

3 Tweedie Eric Spruce Head

3 White Pat York Me



3 Barrett John Cohasset Ma

4 Brown Alex Provincetown

3 Carroll Emmett Chilmark Ma

3 Carver John Green Harbor

4 Carver Steve Green Harbor

4 DauphineeFred Scituate

3 Doherty Bill Hingham

3 Feeney Bernie Hingham Ma

3 Haviland John Green Harbor

4 Jesse Todd Plymouth Ma

4 Kandrick David Sandwich

4 Keane Stephen Marshfield Ma

3 Mahoney Chad Hull Ma.

3 Manning Chris Hull

3 Marcella Bob Hull Ma

4 Martin Bobby/Rob Plymouth Ma

3 Oehme Kurt Sandwich

4 Ryan Skip/Chris Squantum Ma

4 Sawyer Arthur/So Gloucester

4 Sousa Billy Provincetown

3 Trowbridge Larry Scituate Ma.

4 Tufts Mike Glouchester

4 Tupper Mike Nahant


Project objectives:

Taken directly from the phase III proposal,  by monitoring the temperature and salinity at dozens of fixed sites around the Gulf of Maine region, we hope to quantify the scales of variability.  One of the long-term scientific goals is to distinguish between advective and locally driven events that influence the bottom water conditions.  Given multiple time series along the coast and within different basins, we expect to track the influx and transport of remote source waters.  In subsequent years, with enough empirical information, one may build confidence in predictive models.  We envision a time in the future when eMOLT data will be used by local numerical modelers to both initialize and validate their simulations.  If interannual variations in temperature and salinity are limited to a few degrees and PPTs, can we document these changes with scientific accuracy?  What is the source of error in comparing the conditions at one site with the same site the following year? What constitutes a "site" and how precise must one be in reoccupying that site/depth?

Do changes in bottom water temperature and salinity explain the migration patterns and activity of Homarus americanus?  Our hypothesis regarding this aspect of eMOLT has evolved slightly from its initial form.  In Phase I we were interested in "weekly-to-monthly events" but, after a year experience, we have shifted the Phase II time scale of interest to a longer "seasonal-to-interannual"  viewpoint.  Many of our colleagues are interested in a correlation of lobster abundance and large scale climate signals such as the North Atlantic Oscillation.  As depicted in the records thus far (see figures in appended section), there are several episodic events over the course of the year but the dominant feature in this series is the longer trend.  After further investigation of historical temperature records,  it has become clear that the interannual and even decadal changes in temperature may be the more significant influence on lobster populations given that  the temperature effects may be most important during reproductive and larval stages of development. While episodic events may certainly be important in understanding the displacements and redistribution of lobster abundance,  the coverage of data necessary to resolve these  smaller scale phenomenon  would be cost prohibitive.  We are now committed to maintaining the eMOLT sampling and have consequently adjusted the focus of our investigation to both longer time scales and a larger region.

Having said that, however, there is a potentially important attribute to capturing short time scales variations. Given the hourly records of temperature in a variety of places, we have often

documented a large degree of temperature variability due to the semi-diurnal tides. How does the tidal variation in temperature affect the lobster? Do they search for frontal features in the

temperature and salinity field rather than an absolute value of a particular variable? This is a particularly interesting question that has come up regularly in discussions of the data collected thus far.   The lobstermen have evidently often focussed fishing activity on thermal fronts as regions of high abundance and  capture.  As shown, for example, in Figure 3 below, the variations due to the tide can be depicted at any one site and the degree of variation changes due to a combination of the lunar cycle and weather events occurring at the time.  Is there something associated with a thermocline (food and prey availability, for example) that attracts the animals to that zone?

Assessment of success at meeting the objectives:

Very little progress has been made in addressing the long-term scientific goals of the project as outlined above.  While a few  monitoring sites have recorded multiple years of data, there is not yet enough information to provide a general statement on gulf-wide interannual variability.  Some effort has been made to "track the influx and transport of remote source waters".  The results are insignificant as yet but may be possible after the first set of long-term salinity records are downloaded later this month.

More experience has been gained in using the new technologies and assessing the reliability and scientific accuracy of the probes.  Several experiments have been conducted both in the lab and in the field for testing and calibrating the various instruments.  Individuals involved with the salinity measurements were supplied with water samplers and trained in the operation of these devices in order to validate the electronically recorded data.    Individuals with electronic loggers have provided consistent records of each haul including GPS positioning which has helped in monitoring the "site" location. The requirement for "fixed site/depth" sampling and the necessity to properly document the sampling is now understood by most participants.  An outreach campaign was conducted this past summer to contact each participant personally and ensure they understand the protocol.


Summary of accomplishments:

Despite having only one or two years of data there are some interesting findings that are best described with the set of illustrations below.

Figure 1. Jim Violets data example of remote source "cold pool" water arriving on the southern New England shelf in late summer. Figures like these are available on the web for all of the nearly 200 downloads collected thus far.  The green spikes are removed from the database at times where the trap is hauled to the surface.

Figure 2.  Billy Anderson's data example of recording both surface and bottom  temperature indicating degrees of thermal stratification at one location off Lubec Maine.

Figure 3.  Alex Brown's data example of the temperature variations possible in the vicintiy of a tidal front off Provincetown Mass.

Figure 4. Marc Palumbo's data example of three years of data at his site "TA15" off the southwest corner of Georges Bank indicates colder than normal conditions at that site relative to previous two years.

Figure 5.  Data coverage as currently stored in the database.  The data download session planned for late September 2002 should fill out the recent time periods. Not including Atlantic Offshore set.

Figure 6.  Coordination of eMOLT and GOMOOS efforts is underway.  For this example, three sites located in the same general vicinity with instruments at various depths are compared.

Lessons learned:

As realized in the first two phases of the eMOLT project,  outreach  is essential.  It is necessary to visit with individuals at either their homes, dockside, or at association meetings to remind them of the project and the importance of their data.  While the project description has been posted on the internet along with the rationale, the manuals, and the results thus far, it is clearly not the best medium of getting the information to the public.  As of eMOLT Phase III, there is now a set of "Industry Representatives" who are charged with communicating with the participants in their respective associations.  In order to check on the progress of the outreach initiative, we have instituted a "quarterly administrators meetings" where we all get together to review the outcome of our outreach efforts.  As some participants will undoubtedly become no longer interested, new participants will be recruited in their place but we strive to keep original individuals active in order to maintain long-term sites into the future.

The obstacle of data sensitivity is real.  We have incorporated the policy of other local agencies in adhering to the "rule of three" by which no data is revealed from a particular area unless it is merged with two other samples.  While this is not a problem with physical data (temperature and salinity), it will be necessary as we begin to compile & report site and haul information.

Expected next steps:

Much of the effort on the part of the scientific party has been in development of the project web site (emolt.org).  The "results from the field" section of that site presents a static map that users can click on for more information but the level of interactivity is limited. New Java programs are now being developed to enhance this site so that users can, for example, zoom in to a particular region and time period of data by clicking and dragging the mouse.  As users click on particular locations, plots of the "nearest mooring" data are displayed in time series form along with an historical average for that particular site. So, without revealing actual site locations, data can be accessed according the depth zones.

To contribute to the effort on outreach, it seems necessary to include regular mailings to our project participants.  We have included near-monthly articles on eMOLT in the association newsletters in the past but we now need to send the participants a separate mailing at least annually with information specific to their data (plots, tables, conclusions made, etc.).  This will be especially helpful to those participants who do not have frequent access to the internet.

There is a real need to provide the participants with a more real time feedback of information.  One strategy may be to develop a probe that displays realtime bottom temperature as it is hauled on deck (ie one with a programmed time delay to maintain the previous hour's record).  Negotiations are underway with a few probe manufacturers to develop such a unit.

We hope to maintain this project for years to come. The outlook for this type of "intergrated ocean observing system" looks good in terms of NOAA's projected budgets in the next few years.  Projects such as this and GOMOOS have a head start on setting up infrastructure and personnel.


Resources or contact information:

see http://emolt.org

For further information contact: James.Manning@noaa.gov

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