Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Welcome Aboard!

Welcome to the blog for cruise NF1304! In this blog, we'll be demystifying what exactly we do out here on the ocean, because there's a lot more to cruisin' than writing blogs and getting seasick.
The Nancy Foster in Key West, FL
A little bit about us: The science crew on the Nancy Foster is made up of researchers and students from the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center on Virginia Key, off Miami, and the University of Miami's RSMAS CIMAS (Cooperative Institute for Marine Studies) program. We will also have scientists from ECOSUR (El Colegio de la Frontera Sur) from Chetumal, Mexico joining us for Leg 2. 

About me: I am a rising junior at the University of Miami studying Marine Science/Biology. I work at NOAA during the school year in the Early Life History unit; a few months ago I was invited to take my finals early and join many other scientists from my division on the Nancy Foster. I'm learning a lot through this experience too, so if I make mistakes, I apologize in advance!

Map of the Southeast FL and Bahamas showing
sea surface temperature(C) and currents; from
this we can get a better idea where the bluefin
might be!
One of the main goals of this cruise is to learn about larval fishes, especially bluefin tuna. It's pretty hard to track a fish that's only 3 mm long (that's smaller than your pinky finger!), but luckily we have models that help us to identify where larval bluefin and others may be at a given time (see the figure to the right). So that's why we're out here, to sample the ocean, hopefully find larval fish, and assess their movements and vertical distribution in the ocean. We're also looking at their habitat and what they seem to prefer by measuring things like temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and chlorophyll. All of these physical parameters will help us understand where adult tuna come from and what influences these populations during their early life stages.

During this cruise, we're sampling the waters around the Bahamas. If you'd like to see the ship's path, check out NOAA's ship tracker website and select to "Nancy Foster." 

Why tuna? Many species of fish are being decimated by the huge demand for seafood. If we learn more about the larval stage of these fish, like where they are found and how they are transported across the oceans, conservation efforts can be refined to help sustain the populations of adult fish that lots of people love to eat.

1 comment: