NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada
July 23 – August 7, 2017
Mission: Hake Fish Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Northwest Pacific Ocean, off of the coast of Oregon
Date: July 31, 2017
Weather Data from the Bridge
Latitude: 44 49.160 N
Longitude 124 26.512
Winds at 25.45 knots
Waves at 4-5ft
Science and Technology Log
The scientists on the Hake survey project are constantly trying to find new methods to collect data on the fish. One method used is acoustics. Scientists Larry Hufnagle and Dezhang Chu are leading this project on the Shimada. They are using acoustics at a frequency of 38 kHz to detect Pacific Hake. Density differences between air in the swimbladder, fish tissue, and the surrounding water allows scientists to detect fish acoustically.
The purpose of the swim bladder in a fish is to help with the fish’s buoyancy. Fish can regulate the amount of gas in the swim bladder to help them stay at a certain depth in the ocean. This in return decreases the amount of energy they use swimming.
Larry and Chu are looking at the acoustic returns (echoes) from 3 frequencies and determining which are Hake. When the echosounder receives echoes from fish, the data is collected and visually displayed. The scientists can see the intensity and patterns of the echosounder return and determine if Hake are present.
The scientists survey from sunrise to sunset looking at the intensity of the return and appearances of schools of fish to make the decisions if this is an area to fish.
The ultimate goal is to use this data collected from the echosounder to determine the fish biomass. The biomass determined by the survey is used by stock assessment scientist and managers to manage the fish stock.
Everyday aboard the Shimada is a different experience. It has been amazing to be able to go between the different research labs to learn about how each group of scientists’ projects are contributing to our knowing more about Hake and marine ecosystems. My favorite part so far has been helping with the sampling of Hake. Some people might find dissecting fish after fish to determine length, sex, age, and maturity to be too much. However, this gives me an even better understanding and respect for what scientists do on a daily basis so we can have a better understanding of the world around us. We have also caught other fascinating organisms that has helped me explore other marine species and learn even more about their role in the ocean.
Even though the wind is a little strong and the temperatures are a little chilly for my southern body I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything…especially these amazing sunsets…
Did You Know?
Before every fishing operation on the boat we must first do a marine mammal watch. Scientists and other crew members go up to the bridge of the boat to see if any mammals (whales, seals, dolphins) are present near the boat. This is to help prevent these animals from being harmed as we collect fish as well as making sure we are not running a risk of these mammals getting caught in the fishing nets.
Fascinating Catch of the Day!
Today’s fun catch in the net was a Brown Catshark! These creatures are normally found in the deeper parts of the Pacific Ocean. They are typically a darker brown color with their eyes on the side of their head. Their skin is very soft and flabby which can easily lead to them being harmed. They have two dorsal fins and their nostrils and mouth on the underside of their body. One of the sharks we caught was just recently pregnant.
Notice to yellow curly substance coming out of the shark? That is from the egg sac. Sharks only produce one egg sac at a time. It normally takes up to a full year before a baby shark to form!