NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
September 13 – 29, 2013
Mission: Shark and Red Snapper Bottom Longline Survey
Geographical Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: September 23, 2013
Weather Data from the Bridge:
Barometric Pressure: 1009.89mb
Sea Temperature: 28˚C
Air Temperature: 28.2˚C
Wind speed: 8.29knots
Science and Technology Log:
The haul back is definitely the most exciting part of each station. Bringing the line back in gives you the chance to see what you caught! Usually there is at least something on the line but my shift has had two totally empty lines which can be pretty disappointing. An empty line is called a water haul since all you are hauling back is water!
After the line has been in the water for one hour, everyone on the shift assembles on the bow to help with the haul back. One crew member operates the large winch used to wind the main line back up so it can be reused.
The crew member operating the winch unhooks each gangion from the main line and hands it to another crew member. That crew member passes it to a member of our shift who unhooks the number from the gangion. The gangions are carefully placed back in the barrels so they are ready for the next station. When something is on the line, the person handling the gangions will say “Fish on”.
Everyone gets ready to work when we hear that call. Every fish that comes on board is measured. Usually fish are measured on their sides as that makes it easy to read the markings on the measuring board.
Each shark is examined to determine its gender.
Male sharks have claspers, modified pelvic fins that are used during reproduction. Female sharks do not have claspers.
Fin clips, small pieces of the fin, are taken from all species of sharks. The fin clips are used to examine the genetics of the sharks for confirmation of identification and population structure, both of which are important for management decisions.
Skin biopsies are taken from any dogfish sharks in order to differentiate between the species. Tags are applied to all sharks. Tags are useful in tracing the movement of sharks. When a shark, or any fish with a tag, is recaptured there is a phone number on the tag to call and report the location where the shark was recaptured.
Some sharks are small and relatively easy to handle.
Other sharks are large and need to be hauled out of the water using the cradle. The cradle enables the larger sharks to be processed quickly and then returned to the water. A scale on the cradle provides a weight on the shark. Today was the first time my shift caught anything big enough to need the cradle. We used the cradle today for one Sandbar and two Silky Sharks. Everyone on deck has to put a hardhat on when the cradle is used since the cradle is operated using a crane.
I continue to have such a good time on the Oregon II. My shift has had some successful stations which is always exciting. We have had less downtime in between our stations than we did the first few days so we are usually able to do more than one station in our shifts. The weather in the Gulf forced us to make a few small detours and gave us some rain yesterday but otherwise the seas have been calm and the weather has been beautiful. It is hard to believe my first week is already over. I am hopeful that we will continue our good luck with the stations this week! The rocking of the boat makes it very easy for me to sleep at night when my shift is over. I sleep very soundly! The food in the galley is delicious and there are plenty of options at each meal. I feel right at home on the Oregon II!
Did You Know?
Flying fish are active around the boat, especially when the spotlights are on during a haul back at night. Flying fish are able to “fly” using their modified pectoral fins that they spread out. This flying fish flew right onto the boat!