Tammy Orilio, Today’s Catch, June 21, 2011

NOAA Teacher at Sea: Tammy Orilio
NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
Mission: Pollock Survey
Geographical Area of Cruise: Gulf of Alaska
Date: 21 June 2011

Weather Data from the Bridge:
Latitude: 54.25 N
Longitude: -163.31 W
Wind Speed: 13.56 knots
Surface Water Temp: 7.5 degrees C
Water Depth: 69.38 m
Air Temp: 6.8 degrees C
Relative Humidity: 95%

Personal Log:
We did our (well, my) first bottom trawl today. The trawl net is outfitted with rollers/wheels that ride over the seafloor while the net collects benthic (bottom-dwelling) organisms. One thing I talk about in Marine 2 is how bottom trawling is damaging to the environment, and we definitely saw that firsthand today- there were quite a few rocks brought up in the net along with the animals. The seafloor was not as flat as we had hoped- in fact, the net ended up with a 4-foot hole ripped in it, which the deckhands/lead fishermen sewed for us later on in the day. Now, in the case of bottom trawling to collect scientific data, I don’t have a problem…but in the case of doing it for profit, as in the case of commercial fishing operations, I can’t abide by that. I would probably feel a little different if ALL we were doing was bottom trawls, but we’ve only done 2 so far, so…that’s how I’m rationalizing it. What’s your take on this? Should scientists damage an environment and/or kill organisms just to collect scientific data? And just so you know, the data we’re collecting on this survey is not just sitting around, completely useless- we are using it to actually help manage fish populations and regulate commercial fishing. The limits that all commercial fishermen have- how much they can legally take- are determined by knowing the current population status, and we can only learn that by seeing what’s out there, where things are, their age, what they’ve been eating, etc etc.
Following are some pictures of the animals from today’s bottom trawl.

Black Rockfish- we had some fried rockfish for dinner tonight!
Black Rockfish- we had some fried rockfish for dinner tonight!
Cushion star- also called Slime Star b/c it secretes slime when it's disturbed...which I discovered today!
Cushion star- also called Slime Star b/c it secretes slime when it’s disturbed…which I discovered today!
Fanellia compressa- a soft coral- it's pinkish/peachish in color
Fanellia compressa- a soft coral- it’s pinkish/peachish in color
Atka mackerel
Atka mackerel

One last thing…we went by Unimak Island today- it’s the easternmost of the Aleutians, which means that we will soon be re-entering the Alaskan peninsula- but we’re still a long way from Kodiak 🙂 Unimak Island has an active volcano on it called Shishaldin, and we were able to see it today. Pretty awesome!