Back to CalCOFI
The primary goal of Ship Operations within the CalCOFI group is the collection of ship-based data for several user groups within the SWFSC Fisheries Resources Division. This includes, but is not limited to, the completion of the quarterly CalCOFI surveys in a manner consistent with the high quality standards of the CalCOFI program, supporting the division’s data collection for CPS biomass estimates, sample processing, data quality control checking and entry into databases, and providing advice on sea-going gear applications.
Primary Activities Maintaining the time series:
Preserving continuity and consistency of the 60+ year CalCOFI time series that an external review panel called a “national science treasure” is not to be taken lightly. The experience of the Ship Operations group (95 years combined) helps to ensure that data collected by CalCOFI is of the highest integrity. For all combined surveys conducted by the Ship Operations group, most personnel average 100 – 120 days at sea per year. Approximately 80% of that time is dedicated to the CalCOFI program. Data responsibilities are divided between personnel of FRD and SIO making CalCOFI a truly cooperative effort. Ship Operations personnel are responsible for collecting biological data (ichthyoplankton samples) while SIO personnel focus on physical and chemical oceanographic measurements. The broad spectrum of measurements collected during a CalCOFI justifies its classification as an ecosystem study.
While the CalCOFI program demands a considerable commitment from the Ship Operations group it is not their only significant responsibility. Biological data collection during the spring Coastal Pelagic Species, or CPS survey for DEPM (Daily Egg Production Method) is a primary responsibility of the group serving the center’s mandate to provide support to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council. In addition, a recent cooperative effort between the SWFSC and the NWFSC combined time and resources to conduct an acoustic-trawl survey of both Pacific sardine and Pacific whiting (Pacific hake) in a summer coast-wide survey, often referred to as the SaKe (or sardine-hake) survey. This survey, initiated in 2012, covers the coastal region from San Diego, CA to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, BC, Canada during 80 days over the summer and is currently conducted on an annual basis.
After each survey, plankton samples are processed (volumed by Ship Ops staff, and then sorted, identified, and staged by the Ichthyoplankton laboratory) before being entered into the SWFSC CalCOFI database. Once entered, the data undergo intense scrutiny as all entries are error checked prior to allowing public access. This database contains not just the results of CalCOFI surveys but of all surveys conducted by the Ship Operation’s group back to 1939.