NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
August 10 – 25, 2012
Mission: Shark Longline Survey
Geographical Area: Gulf of Mexico
Date: Thursday,August 23 , 2012
Weather Data from the Bridge:
Air temperature: 28.2 degrees C
Sea temperature: 28.7 degrees C
1/2 cloud cover
5 miles of visibility
1.5 foot wave height
Wind speed 4.75 knots
Wind direction ESE
Science and Technology Log:
So now for the sharks and other fish caught on our survey long lines…
Like all science experiments this survey started with a general question. What fish are in the Gulf of Mexico? NOAA developed the Longline Survey procedure that I described in my last blog. This is the data collection part of the experiment.
When there is a large shark on a line it becomes like a dance as everyone performs their part of getting the needed data while taking care of the shark and staying out of other people’s way.
Just like the name says, these tags can track where the shark travels. These tags were placed by Jennifer who works for the Louisiana Fish and Game Department. They are trying to answer the question – Do large sharks in the Gulf stay in the Gulf? I look forward to finding out more about where these sharks travel over the next few years.
It was really fascinating when we caught large sharks. It was also an uncommon event. Over this trip we caught Tiger sharks, Sandbar sharks, Nurse sharks, a Great Hammerhead, a Scalloped Hammerhead (I never knew that there were different species of Hammerheads!), a Lemon shark and a Bull shark. I am getting good at telling types of sharks but still need my Science Team for confirmation.
The small sharks can still bite and give a painful wallop if you are not careful. I avoided both by following all of my teammates precautions. We still worked quickly to get needed data so that the sharks could be released ASAP.
Some of the little sharks are tagged with a little plastic tag. If the shark is caught again new data can be collected to see if the shark moved to a new area and if its measurements have changed.
With a hundred hooks, I thought we would be catching a hundred fish. The reality is that we had some Haul backs where there were no fish at all. It was exciting to see the variety of what we caught and what might appear on the end of each line. Sometimes there would be several fish in a row and we would scramble to get all of the data collected. All of the information will be analyzed from this survey and compared with previous data and NOAA will come to a conclusion in a report in the future.
I have my sea legs and can find my way around the ship pretty well now. I have moved to a noon to midnight schedule which still seems a little strange. I don’t know if I would have been good at the midnight to noon shift. I feel like I am contributing to the team effort with setting lines and hauling them back. The ocean got a little choppier for a few days, but it cleared quickly. I can’t believe that this adventure is almost over.
The Oregon II
Most of the work takes place on the deck, but some time is spent in the various Science Lab spaces.
If there was time when the boat needed to move to another location we could relax in the Lounge.
I watched a few movies but spent more time watching the water. I will miss these endless expanses of blue when I return to Albuquerque.
We are watching what is happening with Tropical Storm Isaac. The next few days schedules may change. NOAA is very careful with safety and that will be the first priority.