North Pacific CPR Survey

Sonia Batten - Senior Scientist, SAHFOS Canada

SAHFOS conducted a trial tow in the north Pacific in 1997 at its own expense and was then invited to attend the North Pacific Marine Science Organisation's (PICES) 1998 annual meeting and talk to their Monitoring Task Team about what the CPR could do. Very little biological monitoring was occurring in the oceanic regions of the North Pacific and PICES wanted to address this. Funding was subsequently found for a 2 year program of CPR sampling along two transects in 2000 and 2001: one 3,500 nautical mile great circle route from the Straits of Juan de Fuca between Canada and the US, across the Gulf of Alaska and southern Bering Sea to the coast of Japan and a second shorter transect in the NE Pacific from California to Alaska.

Since then further funding has been obtained to maintain these transects, although the north-south transect has also originated in the Straits of Juan de Fuca since 2004 and there has been no sampling south of 48°N. For the last few years PICES has coordinated a funding consortium that supports the Pacific survey and which has 5 members: the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB), Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council (EVOS), Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), SAHFOS and in-kind support from Dr Sanae Chiba, JAMSTEC in Japan, who has personal funding to analyse the western Pacific samples.

Processed Samples 1997, 2000-2010

In contrast to the North Atlantic routes, samples are not collected year round but monthly between April and September on the north-south transect and 3 times per year in spring, summer and autumn on the east-west transect. Much of the sample analysis is carried out by SAHFOS staff in Plymouth, but since 2003 Doug Moore has been cutting and processing the Pacific samples in British Columbia and analysing 25% of them before sending the western Pacific samples to Japan and the remainder to SAHFOS.



The newest VJ ship - Courtesy of Sonia Batten, SAHFOS

Already experienced with zooplankton through his work with DFO, Doug went to SAHFOS in 2003 (and again for a refresher course in 2008) and received training in servicing the CPR, carrying out CPR analysis and identifying phytoplankton. Doug meets the east-west ship on its return to port in British Columbia (BC) and services the CPR, setting it up for the next tow and taking the samples to the lab. A collaborative agreement with DFO at their Institute of Ocean Sciences, Sidney, BC, enables us to have a CPR microscope station and some bench space in the plankton lab. There are technicians in Alaska, also trained by SAHFOS, who service the north-south transect CPR each month and send the sample rolls to Doug for processing. Mark Savoie & Gary Lawley of Kinnetic Labs are based in Anchorage where the north-south transect terminates.

Alaskan Technician Training at SAHFOS - with Graham Hosie

Sample processing and analysis protocols are identical to that used for the Atlantic survey with the exception that generally only every 4th sample is processed. This is because of funding limitations, although all samples from the Alaskan shelf are analysed due to a particular focus of some of the funders. The Pacific Survey is now in its 12th consecutive year, has a total of 4545 analysed samples in the database (to the end of 2010) with many more archived and has generated 14 primary publications to date.