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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI Graduate School of Oceanography Biological Oceanographers to Monitor Abundance of
Fish Eggs and Larvae in Narragansett Bay

Narragansett, R.I. -- October 16, 2000 -- Narragansett Bay, New England's largest estuary, is an important spawning and nursery area for many marine and estuarine fishes. The last scientific survey of fish eggs and larvae in the bay, which took place ten years ago, indicated a decline in the abundance of several species. To help determine the current status of fish eggs and larvae, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI-DEM) recently awarded URI Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) biological oceanographers Grace Klein-MacPhee and Aimee Keller a $61,750 grant to conduct a comprehensive survey in Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island coastal waters.

MacPhee and Keller, both of Narragansett, will identify eggs and larvae of fishes collected at 14 stations in the bay and describe their abundance and distribution. The collected data will identify spawning areas and seasons for major recreational species and help estimate the numbers of spawning stock for assessment and management purposes. The scientists will also determine the changes that have taken place in, species composition, distribution, and abundance since the 1990 survey and help determine areas which might be considered critical spawning and nursery habitat. The Project Manager is Najih Lazar, a supervising marine biologist with the RI-DEM Division of Fish and Wildlife.

"This is an important study for URI because it will provide data which can be used in other funded research, and it complements larval fish studies being conducted at the mouth of the bay by GSO fisheries biologist Jeremy Collie," said MacPhee. "It provides an interface with the state for interagency collaboration and participation in a highly specialized field (ichthyoplankton) where URI scientific expertise is available. It will also provide RI-DEM with necessary early life history data in addition to their yearly juvenile and adult finfish surveys, and give a complete life history monitoring package for finfish in the bay."

The scientific team carefully chose sampling stations located close to the Narragansett Bay Estuarine Research Sanctuary and in the upper bay which are closer to sources of industrial and domestic pollution, as well as stations representative of both east and west passage and the Sakonnet River which has not been systematically sampled before. The sampling, which began in August 2000, will be conducted on a monthly basis in August, September, October, and February and twice a month from March-July.

Contact: Lisa Cugini, 874-6642,


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