Narrangansett Bay Fish Trawl

Ever since GSO was founded, scientists have been keeping a watchful eye on Narragansett Bay, conducting weekly trawls. Dr. Jeremy Collie is currently in charge of maintaining the tradition in an effort to study the changes that are taking place. And indeed, changes are happening.

“My focus is on fish populations, but (…) since the early 1960s, the fishery has changed fundamentally.” Collie and his graduate students have found a shift in the bay –fewer species feed on the bottom and those who prefer to live in the water column have increased. “What it comes down to is a shift from cooler water species to warm water species—that is the big signal that we measure.” Cooler water species such as cod, winter flounder, lobsters and hake are being replaced by so-called “Virginia fauna”, i.e., species that are commonly found off the coast of Virginia. A slight increase in water temperature in the bay is deemed the primary reason for the shift. To humans, an increase of a few degrees may not be a big deal but, although most marine species can exist in a wide range of water temperatures, each has a preference for areas where they are most comfortable.

2014 Annual Fish Trawl Survey Report

News reports

Narragansett Bay temperature extremes signal trouble below

Providence Journal - February 6, 2016

URI researchers are finding wild fluctuations amid an overall warming trend, with consequences for the Bay's ecosystem. [Read more]





One Square Mile: Fish Of Narragansett Bay - 2014

"For the past 55 years, researchers and students from the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography have trawled Narragansett Bay on a weekly basis. These trawls are one of the world's longest running surveys that track the type of fish that come and go from season to season." . . . [Read more]


Coastal Institute - 2010