Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 58, Issue 5, pp 725–738 | Cite as

Zooplankton Distribution and Dynamics in a North Pacific Eddy of Coastal Origin: I. Transport and Loss of Continental Margin Species

  • David L. Mackas
  • Moira D. Galbraith


Zooplankton from coastal/continental margin environments can be transported long distances seaward into the subarctic North Pacific by the large (100–200 km diameter) anticyclonic eddies that form annually in late winter along the eastern margin of the Alaska Gyre. One recurrent region for eddy formation is off the southern tip of the Queen Charlotte Islands (near 52°N 132°W). Eddies from this source region (termed ‘Haida eddies’) propagate westward into open ocean waters during the subsequent 1–3 years, often to about 140°W, occasionally to mid gyre. Each eddy contains a core of anomalously low density water, and produces an upward doming of the sea surface detectable by satellite altimetry, thereby aiding repeated ship-based sampling. The zooplankton community in the eddies is a mixture between shelf/slope species (transported from the nearshore formation region) and subarctic oceanic species (which colonize the eddy from the sides and below). This paper reports sequential observations (late winter, early summer and fall seasons of 2000, and early summer and fall of 2001) of the abundance and distribution of continental-margin zooplankton in the Haida eddies that formed in late winters of 2000 and 2001. Shelf-origin species declined in abundance over time. Species that appeared to have a continental slope origin sometimes declined but sometimes persisted and flourished. Transport and retention within the eddy appeared to be especially effective for species that undergo diel vertical migration.

Zooplankton Alaska Gyre eddy 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Cooney, R. T. (1986): The seasonal occurrence of Neocalanus cristatus, Neocalanus plumchrus, and Eucalanus bungii over the shelf of the northern Gulf of Alaska. Cont. Shelf Res., 5, 541–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Crawford, W. R. (2002): Physical characteristics of Haida Eddies. J. Oceanogr., 58, this issue, 703–713.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Crawford, W. R. and F. Whitney (1999): Mesoscale eddies aswirl with data in Gulf of Alaska Ocean. EOS, Trans. Amer. Geophys. Union, 80, 365–370.Google Scholar
  4. Crawford, W. R., J. Y. Cherniawsky and M. G. G. Foreman (2000): Multi-year meanders and eddies in the Alaskan Stream as observed by TOPEX/Poseidon altimeter. Geophys.Res. Lett., 27, 1025–1028.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Freeland, H. J., W. R. Crawford and R. E. Thomson (1984): Currents along the Pacific coast of Canada. Atmos. Ocean, 22, 151–172.Google Scholar
  6. Goldblatt, R. H., D. L. Mackas and A. G. Lewis (1999): Mesozooplankton community characteristics in the NE subarctic Pacific. Deep-Sea Res. II, 46, 2619–2644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Incze, L. S., D. W. Sifert and J. M. Napp (1997): Mesozooplankton of Shelikov Strait, Alaska: Abundance and community composition. Cont. Shelf Res., 17, 287–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Landry, M. R. and C. J. Lorenzen (1989): Abundance, distribution, and grazing impact of zooplankton on the Washington shelf. p. 175–210. In Coastal Oceanography of Washington and Oregon, ed. by M. R. Landry and B. M. Hickey, Elsevier, New York.Google Scholar
  9. Mackas, D. L. (1992): Seasonal cycle of zooplankton off southwestern British Columbia: 1979-1989. Can. J. Fish. Aquatic Sci., 49, 903–921.Google Scholar
  10. Mackas, D. L., R. E. Thomson and M. Galbraith (2001): Changes in the zooplankton community of the British Colmbia continental margin, 1985-1999, and their covariation with oceanographic conditions. Can. J. Fish. Aquatic Sci., 58, 685–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Marlowe, C. J. and C. B. Miller (1975): Patterns of vertical distribution and migration at Ocean Station ‘P’. Limnol. Oceanogr., 20, 824–844.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. McGowan, J. A. (1967): Distributional atlas of pelagic molluscs in the California Current region. CalCOFI Atlas 6, vii + 218 pp.Google Scholar
  13. Miller, C. B., B. E. Frost, H. P. Batchelder, M. J. Clemons and R. E. Conway (1984): Life histories of large grazing copepods in the subarctic Pacific Ocean. Prog. Oceanogr., 13, 201–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Perry, R. I., P. A. Thompson, D. L. Mackas, P. J. Harrison and D. R. Yelland (1999): Stable carbon isotopes as pelagic food web tracers in adjacent shelf and slope regions off British Columbia, Canada. Can. J. Fish. Aquatic Sci., 56, 2477–2486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Peterson, W. T. and C. B. Miller (1977): Seasonal cycle of zooplankton abundance and species composition along the central Oregon coast. Fish. Bull., 75, 717–724.Google Scholar
  16. Peterson, W. T., C. B. Miller and A. Hutchinson (1979): Zonation and maintenance of copepod populations in the Oregon upwelling zone. Deep-Sea Res., 26, 467–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Peterson, W. T., J. Keister and L. Feinberg (2002): Effects of the 1997-98 El Niño event on the hydrography and zooplankton off the central Oregon coast. Prog. Oceanogr. (in press).Google Scholar
  18. Thomson, R. E. and D. M. Ware (1996): A current velocity index of ocean variability. J. Geophys. Res., 101, 14,297–14,310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Whitney, F. and M. Robert (2002): Structure of Haida eddies and their transport of nutrient from coastal margins into the NE Pacific Ocean. J. Oceanogr., 58, this issue, 715–723.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Wormuth, J. H. (1981): Vertical distributions and diel migrations of Euthecosomata in the northwest Sargasso Sea. Deep-Sea Res., 28, 1493–1515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wormuth, J. H. (1985): The role of cold-core Gulf Stream rings in the temporal and spatial patterns of euthecosomatous pteropods. Deep-Sea Res., 32, 773–788.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • David L. Mackas
    • 1
  • Moira D. Galbraith
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Ocean SciencesFisheries and Oceans CanadaSidneyCanada
  2. 2.VictoriaCanada

Personalised recommendations