About this Cruise

This month-long cruise aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette brings together six diverse teams to survey fish populations using non-catch methods. Traditionally, fish populations have been assessed by catching fish, visiting fish markets and interviewing fishermen. Chief Scientist Scott Ferguson hopes to support Guam and the CNMI in monitoring their natural resources using non-extractive methods. The ship will also use multibeam sonar to map areas that are important fishery resources hopefully to include Galvez Bank, offshore slopes near Rota, and the banks of Farallon de Medinilla.

The survey methods include BotCams and BRUVs, two systems that put baited cameras on the bottom, and a TOAD which is a camera towed near the seafloor . An Autonomous Underwater Vehicle will travel on its own via computer programming and bring back photographs and video. Additionally, acoustic methods will be used to survey fish in the water column.

This expedition brings together scientists from NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and Northwest Fisheries Science Center, as well as the University of Hawaii’s Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, the University of Guam Marine Lab, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pinging and Playing

We continue to “kill dots” as we work our way around the island of Farallon de Mendinilla. The mapping here will be finished tonight and then we will head north to map the seafloor of a few seamounts and banks. Most of the recent questions on this blog have been about “killing dots,” as we edit the data from the multibeam sonar. I will tell you more about the map making process in a future post. Today I want to show you some of the fun things we do aboard ship.

Fishing is everyone’s favorite activity, either for the catching or the eating. The best method is trolling using lures when the ship is traveling at about 10 knots. This only happens when the ship is heading from one study area to another. When using the multibeam, the ship travels at about 4.5 knots and the fish are less apt to bite a slowly moving lure.

Left: Kenji making poke from a wahoo he caught.

Above right: Frances with mahi mahi skins she is drying to make a fishing lure. Before drying she had to remove all the meat and later all the scales were removed. The resulting skin is very tough.

Right: Jonathan on the exercise bike pedaling to Rota. There is an exercise room on the ship with a treadmill, rowing machine and weights. Many of the crew members like the bike best because it’s out on the deck with the great view.

Left: A few of the movies available.
Movies are popular during breaks. The ship has about 800 tapes including older movies and recent releases. Many of the crew members have personal collections as well.

Right: The desk in my stateroom.
Each stateroom (bunkroom) has a monitor so the movies can be watched in the movie room, the lounge or the staterooms. The T.V. in the lounge also gets Fox News via satellite. The internet is a popular pastime. That also comes via satellite. The ship pays a set fee for the satellite service and there is no charge to us. There are three computers in the lounge available for everyone to use. There are internet connections on the bridge, in the science labs and in the bunk rooms for people with laptops. The library has a nice collection of books and board games so there is always something to do during non-working hours.

Left: That’s me looking for whales. These binoculars are called “big eyes.” They are used on trips when scientists are studying mammal populations. Using these binoculars from the highest point on the ship increases the likelihood of seasickness.

Above: Learning new skills is always fun. Here we are splicing lines to hold buoys. There have also been several knot-tying sessions.


Shark Feet said...

You seem to be having fun :) Is there anything you really look forward to after you finish the mapping of the seafloor. Krysta

Hi Krysta,
Looks like we’re done with the mapping for a while. Not because we want to be done, but because one of the electronic mapping components is not working. We are getting ready to switch to the TOAD (Towed Optical Assessment Device). We have only used this once on this trip. We tow the camera over the sea floor using a cable that sends the pictures to computers on the ship in real time. This doesn’t show a lot of fish but gives us a great picture of the seafloor.

Shark Feet said...

Hi Ms. Tatreau!
Yay, I'm the first to comment. I was wondering do you have any favorite movies from that selection of that 800? Also, I noticed that you said there are board games on the ship. Have you played Monopoly with the crew? Lastly, is there a reason those binoculars are called "big eyes"? Or is that kind of self-explanatory? Haha. Anyway, hope you're enjoying yourself. :) Jill-3
Hi Jill,
Movie favorites? Not yet. I haven’t even gone through the titles. I let the crew members pick the movies and so far I have watched a lot of really bad movies. The crew, mostly men, usually pick movies with a lot of violence and/or car chases. I did watch the second half of Ben Hur last night. Half was just right–that is a long movie. It was made in 1959 and won something like 11 Academy Awards–a real classic. I’ve played some dominoes (I’m not so good) and cribbage (I do better here). The binoculars are called “big eyes” because… yes, it’s obvious from the picture.

Shark Feet said...

Good luck on map making. Keep up the good work. Really nice pictures. Wow, there are 800 tapes on the ship. It's nice to know that you guys have something to do during breaks. Your picture with the binoculars looks like you're gazing at the stars, hehe. The ship can be a house with those TV and stuff.

Hi Ritz,
The ship is definitely “home” for the crew. They spend 212 days each year at sea. They also work when the ship is at the dock. They do get a few weeks off each year, but mostly they live on the ship. Movies, games, exercise and good food are important to keep up morale.

Shark Feet said...

Hey ms tatreau its mat from second period...so seasickness is really bad? Ive tried vomitting when i was on a boat...i hated it.. Did you by ant chance see any whales?

Hi Mat,
Fortunately, I haven’t been seasick on this trip. I have been seasick, in really high seas on a small boat, in the past. It wasn’t any fun. Several of the new people who came aboard in Saipan got seasick but they are fine now. We saw whales every day we were working near Farallon de Mendinilla. I was hoping they would follow us. Whales are always fun, you can never see too many.

Shark Feet said...

Hi Ms. Tatreau
where are you guys station at now? last time i heard you guys were at saipan. but my question is that whats the latest aquatic life did you see and what do you mean by “mowing the lawn"?

Hey Zak,
We have spent the last several days mapping the seafloor of the banks north of Farallon de Mendinilla to the east of Anatahan and Sarigan. Last night we used a towed camera to look at the seafloor we had been mapping. Today we are headed back to Galvez Bank to continue the fish surveys.
Mowing the lawn―when we use the sonar, we go back and forth over the area we want to map. On each turn, we move a little to the side, just like when you mow the lawn.

Shark Feet said...

hi ms tatreau,
how far exactly can the big eyes see..

Hi Vince,
From the bridge, the horizon is 10 to 12 miles away. The “big eyes” are on the flying bridge which is not much higher than the bridge so the distance you can see is about the same. The “big eyes” don’t let you see further, they just make things larger so you have a better change of identifying whale species.

Shark Feet said...

Hi Ms. Tatreau, you look like you are having a good time, i understand that the big eyes are for enlarging things, but have you or any of the scientists on the ship spotted any whales or other species of fish.

Hi Shawn,
We have seen whales and dolphins. There was a group of humpback whales off the island of Farallon de Mendinilla and we saw dolphins at Galvez Bank. We didn’t spend much time using the big eyes because we don’t have any mammal experts onboard. We did use them for fun. All the fish we’ve seen have been on camera (and, of course, the one’s we caught by hook and line for dinner).