What’s the difference between Chilipepper rockfish that live in the waters off central California and those that live farther south? It turns out, quite a bit! In January, our team headed to Cordell Bank in central California (an underwater seamount 25 miles west of Pt. Reyes) and then south to sample rockfish in the Santa Barbara channel to find out how reproduction among rockfish in these two regions differ.
NOAA and UCSC researchers Susan Sogard, Nate Mantua, Ily Iglesia and my intern Judy Hua headed north of Santa Cruz out to Cordell Bank. A chilly, but successful day sampling large Chilipepper!
A few days later, UCSC/NOAA researchers Ily Iglesia, Becky Miller and NOAA Corps officer Keith Hanson headed south to sample Chilipepper off Santa Barbara. Warm weather greeted them, along with lots of Chilipepper.
The Santa Barbara trip was the morning after the super blue blood moon lunar eclipse. What a special treat and worth the extra effort to get up at 5:30am!
Back in the lab, the team dissected the fish to better understand differences in reproduction. Female Chilipepper in the south start reproducing at younger ages and sizes compared with females in central California. Also, females in the south usually reproduce multiple times over the winter months, this pattern in more varied in central California and we are trying to understand why. Interestingly, we have never been able to sample Chilipepper north of central California during the winter when females are reproducing, so we know little about what happens farther north!
Here are some photos from our dissection day back in the lab.
We collect data on female body condition and reproductive status to help us understand differences in reproductive effort in Chilipepper between central and southern California fish. Check back to discover what we find!