Mission : Shark/Red Snapper Bottom Longline
Geographical area of cruise: Western Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico
Date: August 13, 2013
Weather: current conditions from the bridge:
Lat. 24.24 ° N Lon. 81.17 ° W
Temp. 86.9° F ( 30.5 °C)
Wind speed 12.1 knots
Barometer 1017 mb
Visibility 10 mi
Science and Technology Log
I’m very excited to finally be aboard the NOAA Ship Oregon II. Everyone I have met has made me feel very welcome. I know I’m going to have a fantastic time.
The Oregon II set off from Mayport, Florida (near Jacksonville) Saturday at 1:30 pm (which is 13:30 our time since the crew uses the 24 hour time system).
We will travel along the entire eastern coast of Florida, around the Florida Keys and into the Gulf of Mexico where the fishing will begin. I am on the second leg of a four leg Shark/Red Snapper survey. This is a yearly survey with the purpose of gathering data on a number of shark species and Red Snapper, a popular commercial and recreational fish. The majority of the sharks caught are weighed, measured, tagged and released. A few are dissected, with tissue samples being taken for further studies. The focus on the Red Snapper is to assess the health of the population. With this information the fishing regulations are revised to ensure a sustainable Red Snapper stock.
The general public is beginning to understand that sharks don’t deserve their reputation as vicious killers but are actually an important link in the marine food web. The data collected from the surveys will be used to better understand the various shark species and to inform those responsible for updating the fishing regulations.
The Oregon II is a beautiful ship with a friendly and welcoming crew. One thing that stands out to me is the focus on safety. Upon arriving at the ship I immediately noticed the bright red message stenciled upon her. The commitment to that message is evident throughout the ship with safety equipment readily available, briefings for the new people arriving, life raft assignments and safety drills carried out.
Yesterday we participated in two safety drills. The first was a Spill Drill. When the alarm sounded people went to their assigned stations. Members of the Science Team went to the dry lab and were all accounted for. Other members of the crew reported to the spill area with the appropriate gear to contain and clean up the mock spill. A second drill we performed was an Abandon Ship drill. In this drill we all needed to report to the foredeck with our survival suit, our PFD (personal flotation device or life jacket) and a set of clothing to protect against sun exposure (hat, long pants and long-sleeved shirt). We all had to demonstrate putting on our PFD as well as our survival suit. It may not surprise you to hear that I had plenty of room inside my survival suit and it was very easy to get into.
However, I did have to concentrate to zip the suit with my big, mitted hand. You may have thought, as I had, that survival suits were for the chilly northern waters. But the ocean temperature here is close to 80° F while our body temperature is 98.6°. It wouldn’t take long to chill and become hypothermic. It is very comforting to know that safety plays such an important role on this ship and the captain and crew follow the saying “plan for the worst, hope for the best”.
This morning we are located just south of the Florida Keys. Our latitude is 24.24° N. We are close to the Tropic of Cancer, but we won’t be crossing it.
Once around the Keys we’ll begin to head north again. We may begin fishing this evening or early tomorrow morning, as soon as we reach our first survey point. I’m looking forward to learning how the fishing is done and especially seeing what we catch.