Wind Forced Surface Currents at the Entrance to Chesapeake Bay: Their Effect on Blue Crab Larval Dispersion and Post-Larval Recruitment
Abstract:The objectives of this study were: (1) to investigate the near-field influence of wind forcing on the Chesapeake Bay outflow plume and subsequent dispersion of blue crab larvae (Callinectes sapidus) onto the continental shelf, and (2) to investigate the potential for wind-induced surface currents to return post-larvae (megalopae) back into the bay for recruitment to the bay's population. In June 1985, several surface current meters were moored in and around the entrance to Chesapeake Bay in order to examine the near-field of the plume and its dispersion characteristics. Together with hydrographic surveys and drifter experiments from the MECCAS project, it was found that, during the time of peak wind stress toward the north, sub-inertial currents were highly variable in the plume region. The character of near-field dynamics under the influence of northward wind stress included northward movement of the plume's exit position in the bay mouth along with near-field expansion, collapse and residual patchiness. This behaviour would be advantageous for disperisal of larvae into the northeastward quadrant of the Chesapeake Bight in position for successful return. From mid-August to mid-September, other surface current meters were placed in the center and northside of the entrance to the bay in order to test the hypothesis of a return to the bay by wind forced surface currents. With negligible return flow observed at the surface during the August/September experiment, it was felt that this part of the hypothetical strategy is probably not correct. However, it should be noted that the time series may not be sufficiently long for a definitive answer to this question.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 1995
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