Tuesday August 20th 2013, is the third day aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette and the scientists are settling into life at sea. The weather has been fine and everyone hopes it continues. Prior to reaching the first sampling station the scientists and crew are busy preparing. This preparation includes “cutting bait” (preparing bait for the bottom fishing), making up palu bags (shredded or mashed bait put in chum bags used in bottom fishing), sorting out the Cobb midwater trawl gear, organizing the conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) equipment, assembling and testing the Henry Ching bottom fishing rig, etc. This keeps everyone busy and focused. One more day of transit and the ship will be arriving on station. See previous bottomfish research expedition post at: http://bit.ly/168USsI.
Scientists from Monterey Bay Aquarium studying cookie cutter sharks
Tommy Knowles (kneeling) and Justin Kantor (standing) from the Monterey Bay Aquarium up a life support system that will hold cookie cutter sharks (Isistius brasiliensis), which will hopefully be captured in the Cobb trawls. If no cookie cutter sharks are caught, any other interesting critters that we encounter could be held there. The goal is to learn as much as possible about the husbandry requirements of cookie cutter sharks and other animals so that someday in the future they might be able to be exhibited at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The system consists of a 4-foot diameter round tank which will hold the animal(s) and a sump from which sea water will be pumped into the round tank to create a circulating current. The tank is wrapped in insulation foil, which makes it look a bit like a space ship. The insulation will help maintain a lower sea water temperature in the tank, which is necessary since the cookie cutter sharks spend much of their time in cooler deep waters before migrating up to the surface waters at night. Mr. Knowles and Mr. Kantor are still tinkering with the system, but they are confident that it will be ready to go by the time the trawl operations begin on Wednesday.
Cassandra Pardee – Student life at sea in her own words
My name is Cassie Pardee and I am working towards my masters in Marine Science at Hawaii Pacific University. My thesis is using commercial fishing records to conduct a stock assessment on the parrotfish fishery throughout the main Hawaiian Islands. Since I am using commercial fishing records for my project, I usually don’t have a chance to get out in the field and do research. The opportunity to come on this cruise was given to me by the chief scientist Dr. Humphreys and my thesis advisor Dr. Samuel Kahng. My advisor jokingly described the cruise as, “slimy, hot, sweaty work and if you fall off the ship in the middle of the night nobody will hear you scream.” So I told him to sign me up. It would be my first research cruise, a chance to visit an isolated atoll in the middle of the ocean, and I would finally get to do field work and feel like a “real scientist”.
Even though I came on the trip hoping to feel like a scientist, I feel more like a fisher. The first two days at sea I learned how to tie fishing lines, knot hooks, cut up bait, and make lures. Since I do not have a specific objective on board, I will be taking part in all of the projects and helping where needed. I am excited to have a chance to go on the fishing boats and see how my hooks hold up against the deep seven bottomfish; and I am interested to learn how to do CTD measurements, and see what mysterious creatures we catch in the trawls. I’m also hoping the Monterey scientists catch some cookie cutter sharks, because I am really looking forward to seeing one of them up close. I am so thankful to have this amazing opportunity to see where the world of fisheries might take me after I graduate. See next bottomfish research expedition post: http://bit.ly/1cGVagv