Fall 2018 NEAMAP Food Webs

Our diet analysis lab was extremely productive over the winter!  We finished up the fall NEAMAP samples in record time, leaving a large vacant spot in the lab awaiting the return of the March ChesMMAP cruise and more stomachs.  Discover what we saw in the fish stomachs, learn about who was eating whom, and explore the structure of food webs in the nearshore habitat of the US mid-Atlantic coast.

Fall 2018 Food Webs

Hive Plots of NEAMAP food webs in 7 different regions of the study area.

Gut Lab Personnel:  M. Chattin, D. Gauthier, B. Hamilton, C. Ward, O. Robson, C. Davis



NEAMAP Spring 2018 Food Webs

Learn about our Mid-Atlantic coastal food webs.  Use the drop-down menu in the hive plot below to toggle between regions in the NEAMAP study area.

March 2015 ChesMMAP Cruise – Updates from the Bay

Our crew departed early Thursday morning, 3/19, for the March ChesMMAP cruise. Historically, the March cruise yields low catches and 2015 is following suit.

*Take a look at this ArcGIS web map created by Debra Gauthier our Chief of GIS operations: This map displays Fishes sampled by Chesapeake Bay Multispecies Monitoring and Assessment Program, March 2013 cruise (Number of fish caught)

View larger map

Gregg Mears, our Chief of Diet Operations keeps us updated on land with texts and images from the cruise:

“Very few fish caught until the last couple of stations up near Annapolis, MD. We just got into the white perch and striped bass. The water is very cold with the bottom registering a balmy 36° F. The net has even frozen to the net reel”

Ben David & Dustin Gregg

Ben Davis & Dustin Gregg handling the ChesMMAP trawl gear


Emptying the codend

Emptying the codend



Sorting the catch


Large “cow” female Striped Bass


Fish (subsampled if needed) are taken downstairs to our wet-lab where they receive a full workup. Length, weight, sex, maturity stage, and stomach fullness are recorded. Stomachs and ageing hard parts are removed. The stomachs are preserved in normalin with a fish identification label for further processing back at our labs at VIMS. The fishes corresponding hard part,  otoliths or vertebrae, are removed and placed in a whirlpack bag with their identification label for further processing. Vertebrae are frozen. This image shows Dustin Gregg working up samples while Ben Davis is removing striped bass otoliths.

For more information:

ChesMMAP Survey

ChesMMAP Field Methods

Multispecies Research Group Laboratory Methods

Meet our lab crew!

In the field (on our ChesMMAP & NEAMAP surveys) a subsample of fish stomachs are removed, and those containing prey are preserved onboard for subsequent examination in our laboratories.

Otoliths or other appropriate ageing structures (e.g.)  vertebrae, opercles, scales etc) are removed from each subsampled specimen for age determination.

  • Since the inception of ChesMMAP  (2002) over 35,000 otoliths and 34,000 stomach samples have been processed.
  • Since the inception of NEAMAP (2007) ~40,000 otoliths and 50,000 stomach samples have been processed.

The bulk of our fish ageing occurs over the winter months in between surveys, and our diet analysis lab processes guts all year long to keep as little backlog as possible.


For more information please visit:

Laboratory Methods

Fish Food Habits Data Summary System – Our fish stomach diet analysis database contains approximately 60,000 individual stomach  samples and is growing. The database offers the opportunity to choose to retrieve fish food habits analyses by survey, year, age, and state summarized by either prey weight or prey number.


Meet our lab crew!