10 days at sea: Research Edition

by

Like the previous post mentioned, I went on a 10 day sea voyage with NOAA’s FRAMD (Fishery Resource Analysis and Monitoring Division) survey. This is annual survey that NOAA conducts during the summer to look at the fish community, by taking measurements of weights, lengths, sex of the fish, as well as selecting individuals to extract their otoliths. Otoliths are used to determine the age of bony fish. In many species rings are formed in the ear bones of the fishes. Biologists extract the ear bones from these fish and read them. There are three sets of ear bones, we use the largest set the sagittae. The information then will be used for fish stock assessments.

On my way to Portland, I found out that the fishing vessel I was assigned on wasn’t in the water yet, so at the last minute, I reassigned to the fishing vessel, the Last Straw.

The Fishing vessel

The Fishing vessel

Here’s a sign that was required on these fishing vessels involved in NOAA’s groundfish surveys! Doesn’t it look official?

NOAA's Official sign!

NOAA’s Official sign!

So each fishing vessel had specific areas to sample, and when they found a suitable area to sample on their site, they set the net.

Hauling the catch back up.  Old tires were used to make up the 'cookies' used to for the trawl net

Hauling the catch back up. Old tires were used to make up the ‘cookies’ used to for the trawl net

Sometimes the hauls would range from an hour to three hours to haul back depending on how deep the trawls were.

Unloading the catch from a deep trawl.

Unloading the catch from a deep trawl.

Lots of deep sea creatures waiting to be sorted!

Lots of deep sea creatures waiting to be sorted!

Here’s a sample of what we would find in our deep trawls. Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) aka black cod, shortspine thornyheads (Sebastolobus alascanus) , longspine thornyheads (Sebastolobus altivelis), tanner crabs (Chionoecetes spp.) , and pacific grenadiers (Coryphaenoides acrolepis), were common in our deep sea trawls.

Sablefish, tanner crabs, and long and shortspine thornyheads waiting to be sorted

Sablefish, tanner crabs, and long and shortspine thornyheads waiting to be sorted

Sometimes we would get invertebrates intact in our trawls. Here we found two deep sea octopuses. I even saw one ink while it was trying to situate itself from the whole ordeal. Most of the deep sea fish didn’t survive because of change of pressure and ended up mangled up from being in a tight enclosure, but it was pretty neat to see specimens of viperfish and hatchet fish in our deep trawls!

We managed to keep these deep sea octopuses alive!

We managed to keep these deep sea octopuses alive!

Other times, we would have hauls that overflowed the fish trough which left fish scattered on the deck floor. Days like that we had to scramble and sort the fish, because there were times when we wouldn’t have a break when the next trawl would set. I had to learn how to be very efficient in my fish sorting abilities!

Sometimes hauls overflowed the fish trough!

Sometimes hauls overflowed the fish trough!

One day, I managed to find a glass float from the Japan tsunami that occurred 3 years ago. There’s still lots of marine debris.

I found this glass float. Marine debris is still being found from the Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami.

I found this glass float. Marine debris is still being found from the Tohoku Tsunami.

Sometimes our trawls would have 10 to 15 species that we had to extract otoliths from. In some species we had to extract quite a range of otoliths from two individuals to fifty!

This the highest number of otolith boxes we had to extract from species in a trawl.

This the highest number of otolith boxes we had to extract from species in a trawl.

The best of all was this surprise! We found a common murre egg from one of our deep trawls. It survived the ordeal from being snatched from the nest, and unscathed from our deep water trawl. I brought the egg home as a souvenir! Overall, I enjoyed my first long sea voyage on the FRAMD survey. I hope to have the opportunity to go back again to experience what life is like out at sea. There’s always lots of surprises!

This egg was found from one of our deep trawls. It was pretty amazing to see it survived, unscathed!

This egg was found from one of our deep trawls. It was pretty amazing to see it survived unscathed!

About these ads

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46 other followers

%d bloggers like this: