Obed Fulcar, July 28, 2010


NOAA Teacher at Sea Obed Fulcar
NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
July 27, 2010 – August 8, 2010

Mission:Summer Pollock survey III
Geograpical Area:Bering Sea, Alaska
Date: August 7, 2010

Weather from the Bridge:

Time:04:42 am
Latitude:61.04 North
Longitude:178.06 West
Wind Speed:10.74 knots
Wind Direction:50 degrees North
Sea Temperature:8.99 C (48.02 F)
Air Temperature:8.2 C (46.76 F)
Barometric Pressure: 1010.1 millibars
Cloudy Skies

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY LOG:

Me with a pollock

Me with a pollock

Friday, July 23: The Walleye Pollock survey has been conducted since 1979, every summer by MACE (Midwater Assessment and Conservation Engineering) part of the Alaska Fisheries Science center (AFSC). The sea was quite calm compared to the last days, giving us a break from sea sickness. The other day I missed the trawl, but I will not today. As soon as we saw the fish in the Acoustic sonar screens I knew it was trawling time, so I ran up to the bridge to witness the whole thing. The started deploying an Aleutian Wind Trawler or AWT net that was attached to a giant winch with huge ropes and chains. The long net had a front orange section with smaller openings compared to the back. I was invited to come to deck by deckhand Buddy Gould. He is a veteran New england fisherman from Rhode Island, now living in Florida.

Buddy Gould

Buddy Gould

I asked permission from Commanding Officer CO Mike Hashlyck , and went on deck wearing a PFD, and a hard hat. After trawling the net behind the ship for what felt like an eternity, it was finally hauled back, the catch of Pollock was then spilled into a box leading to the wet labfor slicing and dicing. I went inside an put on rain boots, a plastic jacket and a jumpsuit, plus elbow high plastic glove and got down to slice and measure Pollock. While sorting out the fish we found a Pacific Flounder and a Rock sole fish, both flat bottom fish. For the next several days while conducting the survey, I kept dissecting the content of the stomachs of everal fish to find out what they have been eating. I learned that the main diet of Pollock was made up of animal plankton called Euphasiids, also known as krill. 

Krill

Krill

These small organisms are arthropods or segmented invertebr ates (without internal skeleton), and just like shrimps, and crabs, their bodies are covered by an exoskeletonor shell, with paired antennae, pincers, and legs. They were present in the stomach of all the specimens in a pink color mass. There was one large maturity level 4/5 Pollock that when I opened its stomach, a large Northen Pacific shrimp came out of it. Then in later catches I observed that all the stomachs were very dark-blue looking. When I opened the stomach of one fish there was a dark purple mass of another arthropod called Pelagic amphipods, or sea fleas. Amphipods swim drifting in the water column and are larger than euphasiids or krill, wich instead formed massive swarms swimming at great depths by day but heading to suface by night. I was able to witness this pattern when once the echogram from the acoustic radar showed a swarm of krill drifting from the surface to the bottom as the sun was rising.

Pelagic amphipods

Pelagic amphipods

Animal Species observed:

Arrowtooth Flounder (Atheresthes stomias), Northern Rock Sole fish (Lepidopsetta polyxystra), Northern Pacifi Shrimp

VOCABULARY: Amphipods, Arthropods, Ecograms, Euphasiids, Exoskeleton, Invertebrates, Krill

PERSONAL LOG:

I realized that this tiny organism (the krill) is crucial for the survival not only of many animals in the ocean, but ultimately of us humans. We have historically harvested the rich waters of the Bering Sea for food, and most recently as a source of cheap protein to feed cattle and even pets. Disasters such as the recent massive oil spill from the tracgic explosion of the Deep Horizon oil platform, own by giant multinational BP, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska during the 80’s are examples of how fragile the marine ecosystem is. But the number one threat to ocean fisheries is actually overfishing exploitation of the ocean resources. I heard stories about the foreign fleets that come to Russian waters and overfish with impunity, while at the same time processing, canning, and packing all their catch aboard their ships, taking it all back to their countries, without sharing any jobs opportunities with the local communities. Historically local fishing fleets have fished sustainably, bringing back to local ports the catch, allowing canneries, and fish markets to also benefit from it. We have to spread the word about this injustice and begin to question our own habits, to see what can we change in our consumption that will have a positive impact in this urgent matter.

“Echando la Red en Alta Mar” El mareo de ayer no me permitio participar en la pesca del Pollock, pero no hoy! Tan pronto me entere, subi al puente para observar lo todo. Mi buen amigo del personal de cubierta, Buddy Gould pescador de Rhode Island radicado en la Florida, me invito a bajar a cubierta. Despues de ahbe asegurado permiso del Oficial Comandante Mike Holshyck, baje a la cubierta con chaleco flotador y casco de seguridad a cuestas. La anaranjada Red de Arrastre fue lanzada al mar por unos gigantescos rollos de cables y cadenas pesadas. Luego de lo que parecio una eternidad, la red fue traida a bordo y la pesca fue depositada en una rampa en la cubierta por una grua pesada. Yo fui adentro rapidamente y me vesti con guantes, poncho, pantalones, y botas de plastico y me puse las manos a la obra: a picar los pescados! Durante el proceso note que los estomagos de los pescados cambiaron de color rosado a color purpura. El contenido de los estomagos incluia un plankton-animal llamado Euphasiid o Krill, un artropodo (invertebrados parecidos al camaron y el cangrejo), asi como otro llamadoAmphipods, los cuales constituyen la dieta primaria de especies de peces como el Pollock, y el Salmon, asi como de las ballenas jorobadas. El krill no solo es primordial para estas especies marinas sino para la raza humana, que depende de las reservas alimenticias del Estrecho de Bering como gran fuente de proteina. Es lamentable que este fragil recurso natural no sea celosamente cuidado, cuando vemos como el desastre del derrame de la Plataforma Petrolera Deep Horizon en el Golfo de Mexico, y en los 80’s del Exxon Valdez en Alaska, puede facilmente hacer desaparecer la pesqueria. Pero el enemigo numero uno de este recurso natural es realmente la pesca desmedida por parte de flotas pequeras extranjeras que viene a las aguas del Estrecho de Bering, pescando indiscriminadamente. Estos barcos no solo pescan, si no que procesan y empaquetan todo a bordo sin dejar si quiera oportunidad a las comunidades locales de participar del beneficio sostenido. Tenemos que hacer eco de esta injusticia y autoanalizar nuestros habitos a fin de ver que podemos cambiar para poder hacer un impacto positivo.

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