NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Oscar Dyson
June 28 – July, 2010
NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
Mission: Pollock Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Eastern Bering Sea (Dutch Harbor)
Date: July 4, 2010
Weather Data from the Bridge
Cloud Cover: 100%
Wind: 11 knots
Air Temperature: 7.20 C/ 44.960 F
Water Temperature: 5.50 C/ 41.90 F
Barometric Pressure: 1010 mb
Science and Technology Log
Now that I have provided you with information about the importance of pollock and how the Oscar Dyson works to survey the stock in the Eastern Bering Sea, I wanted to answer a few related questions.
What about other species?
In the Bering Sea, pollock are so abundant that our mid-water trawls capture mostly pollock. However, there are a lot of other species in the Bering Sea that scientists are interested in. In addition to the Oscar Dyson, NOAA charters fishing boats (such as the Alaska Knight and the Aldebaron) to trawl on the ocean floor. This allows scientists to see more species in the Bering Sea. These ships trawl all day; sometimes up to 6 trawls a day. The GF boats cover the eastern Bering Sea shelf, extending up to the region around St. Lawrence Island (a wider area than the Oscar Dyson will cover). While the Oscar Dyson focuses on euphausiids and pollock, the ground fishing boats examine everything else found on the bottom.
Who owns the water?
International laws provide countries with an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) within 200 miles of their shoreline. The area we are studying in the Bering Sea can be fished solely by fishing boats operated in the United States. On the other side of the Sea, Russians fish in their own 200-mile zone. However, in the middle there is a “donut hole” which is considered “international waters”. This Donut Hole supported a large pollock fishery in the late 1980’s.
How do American scientists collaborate with scientists from other countries?
The United States works with other Pacific countries to conduct research on the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea. For example, the Oscar Dyson, in addition to hosting two Teachers at Sea, is hosting two Russian scientists from the Pacific Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (TINRO) in Vladivostok, Russia – Mikhail Stepanenko and Elena Gritsay.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Mikhail the other night and asked him about his experience and how he ended up on the Oscar Dyson. Born and raised in Primorye, Mikhail spent a great deal of time at the Ussuri River. He studied biology at The Far East State University in Vladivostok and began researching at sea soon after his graduation in 1968. After the first USA-USSR agreement regarding marine research, Mikhail visited the United States and worked out of La Jolla, CA starting in 1969. He has spent about 5-6 months at sea per year for the last 40 years, including the last 18 summers on the NOAA summer pollock survey (specifically on the Oscar Dyson and its sister ship the Miller Freeman)
This wealth of experience has made Mikhail an expert and he is a well-respected member of the Pacific marine science community. Throughout the years, there have been numerous conferences between stakeholder countries, and Mikhail has played an active role in recommending action for working together to maintain the populations of pollock and other fish. Mikhail has served on the Intergovernmental Consultative Committee – a six-nation committee that meets biannually to discuss fishing polices in the “donut hole.” In addition, Mikhail worked as a Russian delegate during meetings which led to the creation of PICES (North Pacific Marine Science Organization), an “intergovernmental scientific organization, was established in 1992 to promote and coordinate marine research in the northern North Pacific and adjacent seas.” (Visit their website for more information). Mikhail was elected Chairman of the Fisheries Science Committee (FIS), a branch of PICES, in 2008 and is currently preparing for their next meeting in October.
Each organization is trying to find the best policies to help understand the organisms through reproduction, population dynamics, stock assessments and fishery management. Mikhail’s wealth of knowledge, collaborative scientific research and commitment to the sustainable fishing benefits all members of the international community and we are lucky to have such a science superstar in our midst.
PICES website: http://www.pices.int
The Fourth of July ending up being a packed day! First thing I was able to help with the CTD (remember from previous journals- conductivity, temperature, depth). You definitely wake up standing on the Hero Deck at 0400! My day of adventure continued when we got to fish after lunch. Why was this such a big deal? We hadn’t fished since June 30! We saw 100s of pounds of Chrysaora melanaster (jellies) that were so large we had to struggle to move them. We focused more on the pollock that were 1-3 years old this trawl, but the COOLEST animal by far was the lumpsucker! I was able to help sort the pollcok, sex them, and take the otoliths out for research. After we cleaned up the wet lab, we had a great ending to our day…
We had a cookout on the Boat Deck. Ray, the Chief Steward, with the help of Floyd Pounds, 2nd Cook, made everything you could possible imagine: a variety of kabobs, cheese burgers, salmon, different salads, cake, fruit, and the list goes on. To top the evening off (remember, it’s still light out!), Ensign (ENS) Amber Payne gathered and shot off expired flares for our “light show.” I enjoyed having the time to hang out with some people that I never see now that we are all working our shifts. It is a Fourth of July that I will remember always!
brown jellies or northern sea nettle- Chrysaora melanaster
pollock- many 1-3 years
Word of the Day
GF boats: ground fishing boats
“Donut hole”: the area between Russia and the U.S. that was considered International waters” so it did not belong to a certain country