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How oceanographic conditions affect the growth, diet, and survival of juvenile rockfish

Raised of $1,500 Goal
Funded on 5/11/16
Successfully Funded
  • $1,683
  • 112%
  • Funded
    on 5/11/16

About This Project

Rockfish are important fishery species on the U.S. West coast. Many rockfish species were overfished in the 1980s, but management actions are rebuilding their stocks. Climate change threatens to dramatically alter the ocean ecosystems rockfishes inhabit and may reverse the efforts managers have made to protect these fishes. It is important to understand how changes in ocean conditions will affect the most vulnerable stages of rockfish to predict how their populations will fare in the future.

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What is the context of this research?

Climate change will impact our ocean in a myriad of ways. In order to understand how climate change will affect marine organisms, it is critical that we understand how current ocean conditions affect the species we want to protect for the future. By linking oceanography to rockfish growth, diet, and mortality, we can improve our understanding of why rockfish recruitment is highly variable and better predict rockfish recruitment variability in the face of climate change.

What is the significance of this project?

This research project will examine how oceanographic conditions affect the growth, diets, and selective mortality of Oregon rockfishes. Tracking how oceanographic conditions change from year to year and examining the impacts different conditions have on rockfish growth and diet will allow for a better understanding of the high mortality of young rockfish. This knowledge will improve our understanding of rockfish recruitment dynamics and allow us to predict how climate change will affect their recruitment thus improve our ability to effectively manage these species in the future.

What are the goals of the project?

I plan to examine the influence of oceanographic conditions on the growth, diet, and recruitment of young rockfish. Examining the effect of oceanographic conditions on young rockfish growth and survival will require collections of larvae, pelagic juveniles, and settled recruits. I will collect these fish from June to August of this year. My goal is to collect 300 newly settled rockfish and use their otoliths (ear stones) to estimate their age and daily growth rates. The growth rates of these 300 fish will be compared to the growth rates of pre-settled, and pelagic juveniles of the same cohort to examine patterns of survival.


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Due to cold temperatures and rough seas off the Oregon coast, collecting settled recruits is physically challenging for SCUBA divers. To successfully collect juvenile rockfish for this study, I am seeking funds to purchase a drysuit and four collectors’ nets. I am requesting $1500 to get my research going this spring and summer. The dry suit is one of the most important and most expensive items I need. I must dive with collaborators at Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon Coast Aquarium and these groups require divers to use dry suits. I am seeking a mid-range drysuit between $1000-1250. Collectors’ nets make collecting fish much easier than using small aquarium nets. I am requesting $250 to buy and ship four nets from Slicdive (

Endorsed by

The ocean is changing and we need to understand the consequences of this change. This project will use historic and new collections of different early life stages of rockfish to investigate the processes that contribute to successful population replenishment of these important fishes. Will is an experienced rockfish scientist and I am confident his project will produce exciting and valuable results!

Meet the Team

Will Fennie
Will Fennie
PhD Student

Will Fennie

I am a first year PhD student at Oregon State University. My research interests include larval fish ecology and climate change. I am currently investigating how oceanographic conditions rockfish experience as larvae affect their growth, diets, and survival. I think it is vital that we understand how the oceanographic conditions larval fish experience influence their survival so we can better understand how climate change will affect these species in the future.

My interest in climate change and its impacts of rockfish stems from my master's research that investigated the effects of ocean acidification on the behavior and swimming physiology of juvenile rockfishes.

I am fascinated by the diversity of rockfish species and by how delicious rockfish tacos are.

Project Backers

  • 15Backers
  • 112%Funded
  • $1,683Total Donations
  • $112.20Average Donation
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