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.

MRG Map Wrap Up 2017

The ChesMMAP and NEAMAP trawl surveys and Longline surveys field crews are hanging up their boots for 2017.  Thanks to the hard work of the MRG crew, another year of fish monitoring is over, complete with 114 total days and 561 total person-days in the field.  Check out the map links below for the year-end wrap-up of survey results.

ChesMMAP Catches

ChesMMAP Water Quality

NEAMAP Catches

NEAMAP Water Temperature

ChesMMAP Catch By Cruise and Year

NEAMAP Catch By Cruise and Year

Longline Catches

2017 Scientific Crew:  J. Gartland, J. Gregg, D. Gregg (field-ops chief), G. Mears, J. Eckert, C. Ward, R. Hailey, T. Moore, A. Johnson

R/V Bay Eagle Vessel Crew:  J. Olney Jr. (Captain), K. Mayer (Mate)

R/V Tidewater Vessel Crew:  V. Hogge (Captain)

R/V Mya Vessel Crew:  S. Fate (Captain)

F/V Darana R Vessel Crew:  J. Ruhle (Captain), R. Ruhle (Mate)

New Web Map Apps

New for 2017, our catch maps in web app format!



We will continue to provide cruise catch maps and water quality maps after each cruise, but now our catch data for selected species are summarized by cruise and by year.  The ChesMMAP data are pooled across all years and reported by cruise: March, May, July, September, and November as well as pooled across all cruises and reported by year, from 2002 to 2016.  The NEAMAP data are likewise reported by year, for both Spring and Fall from 2007 to 2016.  For the NEAMAP catch summaries by cruise, the apps incorporate a swipe tool to quickly compare Fall and Spring in the same map.


ChesMMAP web app summarizing yearly catch data



NEAMAP web app summarizing yearly catch data



NEAMAP catch web app with swipe tool comparing Spring and Fall


Fall 2015 NEAMAP Catch Results

Our final farewell to 2015 are the Fall NEAMAP cruise results. Click on the map below to view all of the species sampled and interact with the data. Stay tuned for a bottom water temperature synopsis coming soon to wrap up the 2015 field season.


NEAMAP Spring 2015

The Spring 2015 NEAMAP cruise is complete!  Survey catches were low down South due to chilly water temperatures, but it was gangbusters up North!

Our crew almost immediately jumped on board the R/V Bay Eagle for our May 2015 ChesMMAP cruise. Field season is such a busy time of year when you are juggling 3 different surveys!

For your viewing pleasure here are some cool shots shared from the field this past cruise:

Photo credits: Gregg Mears, Jeff Eckert and CJ Sweetman

Please click the images for a larger view!


F/V Darana R fishing off of Atlantic City, NJ during the 2015 spring NEAMAP cruise

Northern stargazer, Astroscopus guttatus
“Northern stargazers eat small fish, crabs and other crustaceans. The Northern stargazer has an organ on its head that can deliver an electric charge that stuns and confuses its prey and also helps ward off predators.”
Information from:


Northern puffer, Sphoeroides maculatus, all puffed up!


Sheepshead, Archosargus probatocephalus, has several rows of flat teeth to aid in crushing its prey


Large Longfin squid, Doryteuthis pealeii

striped searobin_west of montauk

Large striped sea robin, Prionotus evolans
“They have wing-like pectoral fins that they use to move along the bottom, feeding on shrimp, crabs, clams, and smaller fish.”
Information from: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/speciesid/fish_page/fish75a.html


Tautog, Tautoga onitis
“When they are not feeding, tautogs are known to find a hole and lie motionless on their side. The fish are so inactive at night that sport divers have been able to catch them by hand.”

Information from:

clearnose skate eye

Clearnose skate eyeball and spiracles, Raja eglanteria


Albino dogfish pup, Mustelus canis

lump fish

First time NEAMAP has caught a Lumpfish, Cyclopterus lumpus!
Lumpfish roe is used extensively in Scandinavian cuisine


Jeff Eckert holding a Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua. Fairly uncommon fish on NEAMAP

montauk doormat flounders

Gregg Mears holding a couple of large doormat flounders caught off Montauk, NY.
Summer Flounder, Paralichthys dentatus


Lateral view of a monkfish, Lophius americanus. Their large mouths are used to swallow their prey whole

baby monkfish

Juvenile Monkfish, Lophius americanus


Block Island Sound was FULL of Jellys!

Jeff Eckert holding a 20lb Monkfish

Jeff Eckert holding a 20lb Monkfish, Lophius americanus

Monkfish swallowed a Clearnose skate whole!

Monkfish swallowed a Clearnose skate whole!


Until next time! 


Scup & Summer Flounder Ageing Workshop at VIMS

In December, the ASMFC* sponsored a two species ageing workshop for scup, Stenotomus chrysops,  and summer flounder, Paralichthys dentatus. These two species were combined due to their frequency in recruitment to the same fishing gear.


Scup – Courtesy of Mass.gov

Summer Flounder – Courtesy of Mass.gov


The ageing workshop was held for several reasons:

  • To provide groundwork towards age validation for scup & summer flounder (currently not age validated)
  • The scup stock assessment is being held in April 2015. Great timing for an ageing workshop before assessment data is due.
  • Summer flounder has an increased interest due to its wide range across the northwest Atlantic. States and other management agencies have recently been trying to reallocate summer flounder quotas within their states and regions. Due to this increased interest it is imperative that state agencies and ageing labs process the age samples consistently and correctly to provide the most accurate age data for the continuous updates on summer flounder.



As part of the ageing workshop a fairly large subsample of specimens was passed around to the various labs for ageing. Scales and sectioned otoliths were compared for each species.

  • The NEFSC** and VIMS*** were the only labs that could provide scale and otolith combinations from the same specimen of summer flounder.
  • VIMS was the only lab that collected paired scales and otoliths for scup.
  • VIMS specimens were the only samples aged for scup, and VIMS samples were preferred by the labs at the workshop due to their high quality.
  • Other labs practiced similar cutting techniques for their otoliths, but were not polished and mounted in the same manner.
  • The other labs claimed that polishing samples would require too much time, but later agreed that it does provide a better sample.





Sectioned VIMS scup otolith

Sectioned VIMS scup otolith

Sectioned VIMS summer flounder otolith

Sectioned VIMS summer flounder otolith


Beyond the actual processing of samples, many of the exchange subsample specimens were reviewed during the workshop. Samples that had high agreement were reviewed as well as samples that had low agreement. A threshold set forth by the NEFSC of 80% agreement has been observed as the standard for agreement within and across readers. Additional tests of symmetry can be performed for any bias in the readers. Many samples were aged within a year of each other. Discrepancies usually occur with the location of the first annulus and distinguishing false or check marks from true annuli. This was the case using both scales and otoliths.The scup had a much higher agreement across the labs while summer flounder were fairly low. Biases were pointed out during the workshop for labs that may be using additional information while ageing the specimen, such as length and sex. If these biases are corrected, then the agreement was higher. VIMS and the NEFSC were the two leaders in samples provided, and samples agreed upon.


These workshops are held as a learning tool for labs trying to establish ageing protocols as well as to maintain precision between labs in processing and ageing methods.


* Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

**Northeast Fisheries Science Center

***Virginia Institute of Marine Science


For more information on ageing please visit:


VIMS Multispecies Research Group Ageing

NEFSC Ageing




Fall 2014 NEAMAP Catches

We’re going back in time to September 2014 to report our latest NEAMAP catches.  View the details of the map application, explore the results of all the species we sample, and compare the catch distribution of those species in the spring.


View larger map

Fishes sampled by Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program, Fall 2014 cruise (Number of fish caught)

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!