NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
June 6 – 28, 2018
Mission: Eastern Bering Sea Pollock Acoustic Trawl Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Eastern Bering Sea
Date: June 22, 2018
Weather Data from the Bridge at 19:00 on 6/24
Latitude: 56° 0.7 N
Longitude: 169° 34.5 W
Sea Wave Height: 3-4 ft
Wind Speed: 16 knots
Wind Direction:107° (E)
Visibility: 10 nmi
Air Temperature: 8.1°C
Water Temperature: 7.7° C
Science and Technology Log
With this blog, I will be focusing on the biodiversity in the Eastern Bering Sea. Biodiversity includes all of the different types of plant and animal species in a given environment. All of the species that I will be discussing I’ve seen come up in the trawl net, or have seen from the ship.
Common Name: Walleye Pollock
Scientific Name: Gadus chalcogrammus
Identifying Features: 3 Dorsal Fins, large eyes
Ecological Importance: Polllock influence the euphausiid populations and are food to many larger marine species, and humans.
Interesting Facts: Walleye pollock produces the largest catch by volume of any single species inhabiting the 200-mile U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone.
Common Name: Krill
Scientific Name: Euphausiidae (Family)
Identifying Features: 1-2 centimeters in length on average. They look similar to very small shrimp, and often swim in schools.
Ecological Importance: Krill are a very important food source for many fish and also larger marine mammals such as whales.
Interesting Facts: They are filter feeders and eat zooplankton and phytoplankton, which makes them omnivores.
Common Name: Northern Sea Nettle, Brown Jellyfish
Scientific Name: Chrysaora melanaster
Identifying Features: 16 lines from the center of the bell to the outer edges of the bell. Large range in sizes, from very small to very large.
Interesting Facts: Jellyfish may become a problem for the Bering Sea in the future because they reproduce in large numbers and they can dominate an entire environment easily.
Common Name: Pacific Ocean Perch
Scientific Name: Sebastes alutus
Identifying Features: Bright to light red with brown blotches dorsally near fins, large spines on dorsal and anal fins, knob on lower jaw
Ecological Importance: delicious
Interesting Facts: Pacific Ocean Perch are a type of Rockfish. Pacific Ocean Perch have a swim bladder similar to that of pollock, so they reflect similar acoustic signals and can sometimes be acoustically confused for pollock if no sample is taken in a specific area.
Common Name: Yellowfin Sole
Scientific Name: Limanda aspera
Identifying Features: Black line between body and dorsal and ventral fins, fins may appear yellow in color
Ecological Importance: Yellowfin sole are benthic (live and feed on the ocean floor).
Interesting Facts: Yellowfin sole grow slowly and may be 10.5 years old by the time they reach 30 cm in length.
Common Name: Magister Armhook Squid
Scientific Name: Berryteuthis magister
Identifying Features: 8 tentacles and two larger feeding arms, dark red in color, but white when damaged
Ecological Importance: Prey on fishes and other squid
Interesting Facts: These are the most abundant squid found in the waters of Alaska.
Common Name: Chum Salmon
Scientific Name: Oncorhynchus keta
Identifying Features: Metallic dark blue on the top and silvery on the sides
Ecological Importance: Chum Salmon have adapted to live in saltwater and freshwater. They mainly eat copepods, fishes, squid, mollusks and tunicates.
Interesting Facts: Chum salmon eggs are hatched in freshwater rivers and streams. They then travel downstream to live most of their life in the ocean. When it is time, Chum Salmon spawn (reproduce) in the same freshwater stream they hatched in. Once a salmon spawns, they die.
Common Name: Pacific Herring
Scientific Name: Clupea pallasii
Identifying Features: Large scales that are shiny silver along the sides and shiny blue along the top of the fish. Tail has a fork and there is only one dorsal fin.
Ecological Importance: Eat phytoplankton and zooplankton. Herring and their eggs are eaten by fish, birds, marine mammals, and humans.
Interesting Facts: Herring eggs (roe) are considered a traditional delicacy in Japan called kazunoko.
Common Name: Yellow Irish Lord
Scientific Name: Hemilepidotus jordani
Identifying Features: Yellowish tan to dark brown, white to yellow bottom, and yellow gill membranes
Ecological Importance: Since they are usually found close the ocean floor, they regularly eat things like fish eggs, isopods and amphipods, worms, and small fishes.
Interesting Facts: There is another species of Sculpin that is similar called a Red Irish Lord.
During our hauls, a member of the science team is needed on the bridge to watch for the presence of marine mammals and endangered bird species. I am one of the people that gets to do this, and I must admit, there is a slight conflict of interest. I, of course, want to see all of the marine mammals possible, but if they are nearby during a haul, we are required to give them space until they pass so that they are not injured in any way by the ship. This can definitely slow down the process of hauling if we see them, but of course I don’t mind it if I get to see more whales. Most of the time I don’t see any marine mammals and just end up enjoying a beautiful view of the open ocean.
I am definitely feeling more comfortable and at home on the ship now. Constant motion from the swells is the new normal, and the creaks and sounds of the ship are a new soundtrack to listen to (on repeat). Sometimes I like to push the limits and see how far forward or backward I can lean during larger swells to maintain balance and have a few superhero moments as I pretend to defy the laws of physics.
I’m getting to know more about the other people on the ship every day and it’s nice to get into a rhythm and start to really work well together and have a good flow, especially in the fish lab. If we are motivated to finish before meal times, we can process a good haul of Pollock in around 45 minutes. That is much quicker than we started at, and it’s because we have really learned how to capitalize on each other’s strengths and just being willing to do whatever job is needed in the lab, even if it is not our favorite task.
I have claimed a workspace in “the cave” (acoustics lab) that is perfectly in the way of the phone when it rings, but it’s usually quiet in there and I can focus on these blogs, reading, or planning for next school year. I’ve also been reading the transcripts to a ton of TED talks when we don’t have access to the internet.
Did You Know?
In Alaska, during the summer, they experience what is called “the midnight sun”. It is rarely ever dark enough to see the stars during the summer. This happens because of how far north it is!
Bonus! Cool Photo time!