MEPS 300:147-158 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/meps300147

Interactions between biological and environmental structures along the coast of northern Norway

Maria Fossheim1,*, Meng Zhou2, Kurt S. Tande1, Ole-Petter Pedersen1, Yiwu Zhu2, Are Edvardsen1

1Norwegian College of Fishery Science, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
2EEOS Department, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, Massachusetts 02125, USA

ABSTRACT: Spatial and temporal variability in physical conditions off the northern coast of Norway may affect the 3D distribution of mesozooplankton and capelin larvae (Mallotus villosus Müller) during the early capelin recruitment period. To monitor distribution patterns, we sampled the water masses down to 100 m on 3 successive occasions in May 2001 with a SCANFISH-OPC-CTD-F platform. We found distinct differences between coastal and oceanic waters in the study area. The water masses were most clearly distinguished by salinity and there was a tendency for higher zooplankton abundance and biomass in water of oceanic origin. Our study area was characterised by mesoscale eddies, translating in an easterly direction which follow the Norwegian Coastal Current. Cyclonic eddies contained oceanic water, high zooplankton abundance and biomass, whereas anti-cyclonic eddies contained water masses of coastal origin and low abundance of zooplankton. The eddies found in the spawning and hatching habitat of capelin were relatively small and of short duration; however, their impact on the biological community in terms of mediating exchange of biotas across the shelf can be significant.

KEY WORDS: Optical plankton counter · Eddy · Barents Sea · Capelin larvae

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