Scientific Surveys Net Fresh Fish for OGL

Ocean Genome Legacy rang in the New Year with a very special delivery of fresh fish!

OGL is partnering with two agencies to build our collections of local fisheries species: the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Northeast Fisheries Science Center.

These two agencies conduct seasonal scientific surveys of local species, and they collect valuable samples for OGL along the way. The newly arrived fish samples are doing scientific “double duty”—they provide a critical snapshot of the status of local fisheries, and they’re securely preserved at OGL as a genomic resource for researchers around the world.

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The NOAA Ecosystem Surveys Branch collected samples for OGL during a recent fisheries survey aboard the Henry B. Bigelow. Photo credit: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center.

To monitor the health of marine fisheries and habitats, government biologists go to sea with scientific fishing gear. They expertly identify and measure their catch and record the coordinates, depth, and temperature at each location. Scientists and policymakers use this detailed information to plan for the sustainable future of our fisheries.

As a bonus to their vital work, the at-sea biologists offer to collect samples for OGL and other researchers upon request. Imagine being able to search the whole Northeast coast for a rare or deep-dwelling fish! The NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s Ecosystems Surveys Branch monitors over 400 stations in the waters from North Carolina to Maine, and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries’ Resource Assessment Surveys Project studies over 90 stations from Nantucket to Cape Ann. By connecting with these fisheries survey teams, OGL is making it easier for scientists to request the research samples that they need.

These scientific surveys are a tremendous resource for adding new species to OGL’s collections, and for replenishing samples of commonly requested species. If you live in New England, a haddock or a hake might seem just an ordinary “fish next door,” but researchers on the other side of the globe can’t take these species for granted!

For example, scientists at the University of Porto in Portugal recently asked OGL for DNA from the ocean pout, an eel-shaped fish that’s common in New England but can’t be found in Portugal’s waters. Thanks to the collaboration with the state and regional survey teams, OGL is able to provide this local species and others to scientists worldwide.

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