Geoff Goodenow, May 23, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Geoff Goodenow
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette

May 2 – 25, 2004

Mission: Swordfish Assessment Survey
Geographical Area:
Hawaiian Islands
May 23, 2004

Time: 1600

Lat: 19 35 N
Long: 156 08 W
Sky: Hazy, bright sunshine; mostly cloudy by evening. No green flash or stars tonight.
Air temp: 26.8 C
Barometer: 1014.4
Relative humidity: 53.7%
Wind: 282 degrees at 6 knots
Sea temp: 27.3 C
Depth: 2611.9 m
Sea: Very gentle today. Not quite glassy but quite smooth.

Science and Technology Log

Eight fish on the longline this morning including a striped marlin (Tetrapturus audax) which was tagged and released. We had 2 representatives of a species, crocodile shark (Pseudocharcharius kamoharai) not previously caught. Also on the line were an oceanic white tip, a large barracuda, a mahi mahi, a swordfish and (you guessed it) an escolar.

Here are a few facts related to some species new since I reported on fish types previously. My source is the same. Please note that it was published in the 1980’s and that some info could be out of date, but it’s the best I have for you.

Crocodile sharks: There is only one genus and one species in the family. These are not very large sharks attaining about 110cm. Their teeth are long, curved and slender, very sharp (and, I thought, very impressive).

Striped marlin attain 2.9 m.

Blue marlin (Makaira mazara): Males reach about 150 kg but females can grow to 5 meters and weigh over 800 kg.

Tonight is out last set of the longline. Again we are off the coast of Kona.

I asked our electronics technician, John, to tells me about some of the safety systems on the ship. This would have been good to report first thing so as to put my mother’s mind at ease. Anyway, here’s a bit about how we are protected in case our ship encounters some sort of distress. These are all part of the global Maritime Distress Signal System.

We are capable of sending radio distress signals indicating our position. A VHF signal has a range of about 50 miles, and HF signal up to 1500 miles. A satellite connection for the “All Pacific Region” alerts stations from northern Alaska to the tip of South Anmerica and east to west across the Pacific.

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB): This can be activated manually, but is activated automatically if it contacts saltwater. It sends a keycode to a satellite which alerts NOAA where the ship can be identified, its most recent position marked, and direct nearby ships to assist.

Search and Rescue Transponders (SARTs): Our ship as well as others are constantly sending out a signal at a certain frequency. Assume we have lost the ship and are in a boat/raft with our SART. When it detects the signal from a ship in the area it lights up. We would then turn on our SART which sends a signal to that ship’s radar indicating our direction and distance.

I feel pretty confident that someone always knows where we are! John also showed a couple of other pieces of gear on the ship. One is an Accoustic Doppler Current Profiler used to determine current speed and direction at various depths. In another, transducers on the bottom of the ship “ping” the bottom at low and high frequencies. Lower frequency signals travel farther and can give us a profile of the bottom. Higher frequency signals can actually detect schools of fish or concentrations of plankton.

Personal Log

Still on the finger soaks and antibiotics, but finger infection is clearing up. The crocodile shark teeth were so impressive to me and make a great contrast to the blue shark’s jaw that I decided to risk further pain, discomfort and more infection in another jaw cleaning exercise. Small size and previous experience combined to make this a much shorter effort than that with the blue, but nonetheless painful as those needle sharp teeth penetrated gloved hand and found their mark in human epidermis.

Then it was to work on a eye cup from the blue marlin pulled in yesterday. Kylie made the official presentation to me last evening as Kerstin and Eva listened on. I had to finish the cleaning job then apply Kerstin’s newly found hot water bath treatment to complete the removal of the flesh. I feel like a real, official Junior Eye Scientist Club member now that I’ve been awarded my first “medal”.


I’m drained; I can’t think of any.