NOAA Teacher At Sea
Aboard R/V Hugh R. Sharp
June 26 – July 7
Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical area of Cruise: Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 28, 2013
Science and Technology Log:
Dredging is the other method of collecting the data needed for this research. First, I would like to mention that there are predetermined stations that are collected from. Chief Scientist Nicole explained that a computer selects the stations by random and then she basically connects the dots and sets the course. This way there is no bias in the selection process of the stations and they won’t be used more than once.
The crew is in charge of bringing the dredge up after towing for 15 minutes at each station. As soon as the dredge is up on the platform and all of the organisms are lying on the platform, the scientists head out with their rubber work boots, foul weather pants, and life jackets. They grab two orange baskets, some white buckets and a smaller plastic container. Everyone stands at the edge of the platform and starts sorting out the organisms. The pace of sorting is fast and furious as the scientists are quickly placing the organisms in these baskets and buckets. The organisms are sorted out into sea scallops, small skates, fish, and all other organisms. The most abundant organisms on most of the dredges were a species of sea stars called the armored sea star, Astropecten americanus. Some of the other dredges had mostly sand dollars in it. The combination of these animals varied from station to station.
Once all of the organisms are placed into the baskets and buckets, they are then lined up by the wet lab. Here is where everything is counted, weighed, and measured. Larry, our watch chief, is in charge of that process making sure everything is done correctly. The groups of organisms are weighed on scales and entered into the computer with a very remarkable program called FSCS (Fisheries Scientific Computing System). It is an application used by four science centers (NEFSC, NWFSC, AFSC, AND SEFSC) to collect at-sea information on the research vessels that go out. Each sea scallop is measured by placing one side next to a backboard and using a magnetic tool to touch the end of the scallop to the fish board which records the length automatically and entered into the computer. You can tell when the length has been recorded because a ringing sound will go off. Then the next scallop is processed. It usually takes two people during this process; one to measure and one to feed the person measuring more scallops from the baskets.
While this is being done with the sea scallops, the fish are measured in the same way. It is a very quick way to get this quantitative data. A sub sample is also taken on each dredge by taking a portion of each basket and compiling it into a smaller container and counted. In these sub-samples I counted Astropecten americanus, crabs, and whelks. The reason for counting these species is to look at the populations of the sea scallop’s predators. This is a very important factor in analyzing the population of a species.
Once the entire process has been completed, all specimens are returned to the ocean to resume their niche in their habitat.
Atlantic Sea Scallop, rock crabs, sand dollars, armored sea star, Asterias sea star, four spot flounder, monkfish (goosefish), ocean pout, gulf stream flounder, red hake, yellow-tailed flounder, little skate, waved wake, mermaid purses (skate egg cases), sea mouse, whelks, clams, hermit crabs, American lobster
Did you know:
The sea mouse is actually a polychaete which is a type of marine segmented worm.
Being a part of this science team has had a tremendous impact on me. The scientists prove to be very dedicated to their work, all working for a common goal. I am amazed at the plethora of animals being dredged up in the Atlantic Ocean. Of course I am very partial to the fish brought up on board. I wish I had more time with them to observe them closer and in more detail. The goosefish also called the monkfish is a type of angler fish with an adaptation that looks like a fishing pole and bait. It reminds me of my little frogfish that is also a type of angler fish. I was also excited to find so many skate egg cases also called mermaid purses. They were empty which meant that the skates had already hatched.