Emina Mesanovic, The Dry Lab: Lights, Camera, Action! July 31, 2014

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Emina Mesanovic

Aboard the NOAA ship Pisces

July 20 – August 2, 2014

 Mission: Southeast Fishery- Independent Survey

Geographic area of the cruise: Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of North Carolina and South Carolina

Date: July 31, 2014

Weather Information from the Bridge

Air Temperature: 25.3C

Relative Humidity:98%

Wind Speed: 13.5 knots

Science and Technology Log

The dry lab is the technology center of the day shift. This is where chief scientist Zeb Schobernd works throughout the day to decide when and where to drop the traps. Dropping and retrieving traps is a real team effort, the night shift creates the maps, Zeb decides where to set the traps, the Pisces crew deploys and retrieves the traps and finally the fishery scientists collect and analyze the fish samples.

Pisces crew deploying the trap
Pisces crew retrieving the trap.
Pisces crew retrieving the trap.

After 90 minutes in the water the traps are brought back to the surface and the wet lab gets to work on processing the fish while Chris Gardner a NOAA scientist takes the cameras into the dry lab for analysis. On this cruise we are trying to gather information on the fish populations off the coast of North and South Carolina. Fish can be an indicator of a good hard bottom habitat but what happens if the fish don’t go into the trap?

For various reasons fish may not go into the traps, this is where cameras come into play.Each trap has a large Cannon camera mounted on the back of the trap and a smaller go pro camera on the front.


These cameras allow scientists to visually sea the sea floor as well as allowing them to see the fish that do not go into the traps. In the dry lab Chris plays the footage to confirm the habitat and fish presence. However the real work begins back in the lab when the scientists analyze the videos. Each video is watch and the number and type of fish is recorded. This data in addition to the caught fish gives NOAA scientists a better indicator of the quality of habitat in the Atlantic Ocean.

Sargassum Triggerfish
Sargassum Triggerfish

The cameras are put into protective casing and the scientists have to make sure the case is fully closed to prevent any water from entering and destroying the cameras. The Go Pro camera has three different cases that can be use. From left to right they are the IQ Sub House Golem Gear which is approved for up to 150m, the middle case is called a Dive House and is approved for up to 60m and the far right case is the standard Go Pro Case and is approved for up to 40m. On this cruise we have been using the IQ Sub Golem Gear. You will notice that the camera has a number 5 written on it. Each camera is labeled (1-6) and corresponds with the traps that it will be attached too.

Go Pro cases
Go Pro camera

Personal Log

On Monday I was woken up at noon by the abandon ship drill. The ship does safety drills every week and for this drill we had to grab our life jackets and survival suits and head outside. I didn’t know what to expect from the drills since I was sick last Monday for the practice drills. We had to put on the life jackets but we didn’t have to put on the survival suits this time. The drill was over quickly and I headed down the wet lab to check out the traps. The cool catch of the day was a spiny lobster that wandered into one of the traps. Everyone was surprised to see the lobster!


Spiny Lobster
Spiny Lobster


Name: Adria McClain

Title: Survey Technician

Education/Training: Undergraduate degree in Biology; graduate degree in Meteorology & Physical Oceanography.

Where are you from? Born and raised in Los Angeles, California.

Adria with the Spiny Lobster
Adria with the Spiny Lobster

Job Description/Duties:  I am responsible for collecting, quality-controlling, and managing the ship’s meteorological data (temperature, atmospheric pressure, relative humidity, wind speed/direction) and oceanographic data (water temperature, salinity, current speed/direction, speed of sound in water). Additionally, I am responsible for the ship’s scientific equipment (e.g. conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) sensor, scientific seawater system) and the ship’s scientific software. I also assist the visiting Fisheries Biologists with sorting and measuring fish.

How long have you worked for NOAA? About six months.

How did you get into this work? I am also a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy – I belong to the METOC (Meteorology & Oceanography) community. While I was on active duty, I did oceanographic surveys aboard the Navy’s research ships. I like doing science at sea so this job is a good fit.

What are your future plans (how long will you stay on the ship)? My crystal ball is a bit fuzzy right now so I don’t know how long I’ll be on this ship. I do plan to go back to grad school for a PhD in Earth Systems Science at some point in the future.

How many days are you out at sea? I believe we have 150 sailing days on the schedule for this fiscal year.

What is the most challenging part of your job? Being away from home for extended periods of time.

What do you do when you aren’t on the ship? U.S. Navy Reserve military duty. In my free time, I like to read and travel.

What is your favorite fish? The Smooth Lumpsucker (Aptocyclus ventricosus) 

Lumpsucker. Credit Adria McClain
Smooth Lumpsucker. Credit Adria McClain


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