Eyes on a dynamic ocean


In rain or shine, often under dark skies, Newport Line scientists have been heading out to sea twice a month to sample the waters off Newport, Oregon. This unique oceanographic time series has been in motion for 25 years. That’s a lot of sea days! We use the water and plankton samples collected on the Newport Hydrographic Line (NHL) to characterize ocean conditions and food web structure in the Pacific Northwest.

Plankton, the tiny drifters of the sea, form the basis of the marine food web and are links to higher trophic levels, like PNW fisheries, whales and seabirds. By quantifying zooplankton samples, we can describe the health of marine ecosystem and forecast salmon returns, rockfish recruitment, green crabs, and marbled murrelet success, just to name a few examples. Our ability to sample bi-monthly allows for fine-scale ocean monitoring that is only becoming more important in a changing climate. We are the eyes on the water!

This is Calanus marshallae, an iconic copepod species found off Newport, Oregon. These copepods are abundant in the summer time and make fatty treats for juvenile fishes. (NOAA Fisheries)

If you head out to Nye Beach and look west, you will be ‘looking’ at the NHL transect. We sample 7 stations along the continental shelf, with our furthest offshore station being 25 nm. Two or three times a year, we go all the way out to 200nm (!) to sample the offshore ecosystem.

We analyze ocean conditions from data collected from NHL and other surveys, to develop "stoplight" tables that can forecast salmon returns. The colors for each indicator reflect ocean conditions for salmon growth and survival (green = good; yellow = fair; red = poor). Check out the different amounts of green and/or red in certain years. (NOAA fisheries) View full-size chart


Check our websites to learn more about our Newport Line program and other ocean surveys.

Our Newportal blog contains data from our cruises and important updates.