Miriam Sutton, June 21, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Miriam Sutton
Onboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster
June 17 – 22, 2005

Mission: Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: June 21, 2005

Removing fishing gear
Removing fishing gear

Weather Data from the Bridge
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 200°
Wind speed: 13kts
Sea wave height: 2-3′
Swell wave height: 1′
Sea water temperature: 15.6°C
Sea level pressure: 1005mb
Cloud cover: Partly cloudy

Science and Technology Log

Today was our last day of remote sensing along Stellwagen Bank and everyone was hoping that our towfish would find something along the seafloor. By our second run of the day, our towfish successfully located “something” along the seafloor but it wasn’t quite what we had in mind. As Chief Scientist, Matt Lawrence watched the cable length read out begin to climb shallower and shallower, he realized our towfish had captured some fishing gear. The towing operations were stopped, the ship reversed course and we retrieved the towfish so we could remove the line of fishing gear that had wrapped around the towing shaft. Once removed, the sensor was re-deployed and maritime archeology research continued.

Side scan display
Side scan display

The fishing gear must have been synonymous to a lucky horseshoe because we began locating several possible wrecks shortly after freeing the sensor from the gear. In actuality, it is the fishing gear used by local fishermen that gives the scientists a starting point for their searches. Local fishermen keep logs of “Hang” areas they try to avoid so as not to get their fishing gear caught up in the debris. Fishermen share their “Hang” logs with the scientists who can then use the fishermen’s data to set up remote sensing search areas and transect lines. Fishermen have years of experience from fishing local waters and have become a valuable resource of information for the scientists to use in their quest to preserve the maritime heritage of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

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