Winner of October Ecosystem Photo Contest

Congratulations to Duane Fagergren for submitting a video that shows how anchovy & shellfish co-exist. 

Click to view video:

This fall, Totten Inlet is loaded with anchovies in two size classes, 2″ and 3.5″. These fish appear to follow a natural abundance cycle. We know forage fish, like anchovies, nourish diverse marine life: fish (especially searun cutthroat), birds and mammals. These predator groups are feeding voraciously on the small, but abundant anchovy prey.

We know our shellfish efficiently feed on plankton and detritus, but clearly anchovies filter feed directly above our clam predator nets and I’m sure they help reduce excess primary production, as do shellfish.  Anchovies can be easily identified in large schools. Smaller size classes hug the shore and move in and out with the tide and graze, as this footage shows, right above the nets and oyster ground. Larger anchovies can be seen offshore during calm conditions and often congregate along the outer dike and oyster seed (flip) nursery structures operated by Clam Fresh, just north of our farm. The structures seem to attract the schools, presumably for protection from predators, especially double crested cormorants. This coexistence of fish and shellfish demonstrates that our predator nets and other anchored culture devices do not deter forage fish, but more likely provide refuge and protection against predators.