This week technicians from the UNC Coastal Studies Institute continued data collection at the Rodanthe Emergency Channel Research Area. This work is part of a broad, collaborative and interdisciplinary endeavor between the UNC Coastal Studies Institute and the NC Department of Transportation assessing the archaeological, ecological, and geological implications of dredging the emergency channel.
This is not the first time the emergency channel has needed dredging since its construction in 1936. This time, however, the NC DOT wanted to know, not only the impact the dredging had on the site, but what potential services the resulting dredge spoil could offer, whether they be ecological, geological or developmental.
Equipped with a 20-foot seine net, sample canisters, and a camera, the researchers methodically laced the shoreline, capturing a collection of specimens. The target of this research is the various species of juvenile and baitfish that call the shallow sound waters their home. Many species of fish offer vital economic and ecological benefits to the inhabitants of the Pamlico Sound, both human and aquatic alike. Researchers recorded juvenile smallmouth flounder and spot, two species important to both the commercial and recreational fisheries in the area. Other species collected include rough silverside, white mullet, Atlantic needlefish, chain pipefish, pinfish, and bay anchovy.
By collecting fish around the site, the value of the recreational and commercial fisheries can be estimated, as well as the overall ecological health of the area. Although these fish may seem insignificant, they can greatly contribute to the ecosystem services of the area. Juvenile fish of species that are commonly sought after for their commercial value can directly impact fisheries as they mature. Additionally, the species that may appear to have less commercial value are equally important due to their role in the food web.
The goal of the fisheries research is to gain an understanding of what species are present in Rodanthe, as well as the nature of the interactions between the species themselves and the different habitats in the area. From this research, scientists can begin to quantify the services that this particular fishery provides, and therefore the relative importance of the habitat near the project.
For a thorough overview of the project in its entirety check out the NCDOT Ferry Channel Project on our website. MORE INFORMATION