Thursday, April 30, 2015

Raul Laiz from IEO joins our research cruise!

bluefin, bluefin tuna, noaa, research, plankton, Instituto Espanol de Oceanografia, IEO
Aki and Raul search for bluefin tuna amongst the plankton (how do we know?)

As leg 2 continues sampling in the western Caribbean, we will meet a valuable addition to NF1502: Raul Laiz Carrion! Raul took a minute from sampling to share with the blog: “I work in the Larval Fish Ecology Group at the Spanish Institute of Oceanography or “Instituto Español de Oceanografía”, in the Oceanographic Center of Málaga

NOAA IEO oceanography larval fish
Raul ready to deploy plankton equipment at the "back-deck"
NOAA research phytoplankton
Raul processes phytoplankton samples in the 'wet lab'
Our lab works on larval fishes, fisheries oceanography, zooplankton, trophic ecology and the interactions that larval fishes have with planktonic food webs and associated daily growth. My research interest focuses in the ecology during the early life history stages with special attention on trophic ecology, nutrition and growth variability. We combine field work and experimental studies to understand the trophodynamics of the fish larvae in the planktonic food webs together with different growth strategies.  We analyze different biotic and abiotic factors than can affect fish larval survival. We also are interested in how the ecosystem is influenced by climate change and how it affects higher trophic levels (e.g., fish populations). Our lab
sardines with lemon and garlic
focuses on small pelagics (such as anchovy and sardines) as well as top predators like hake or bluefin tuna among other tuna species." 
 Sardines are not only important in the Mediterranean as prey for larger fishes, they are delicious! (see recipe!). We will continue to collaborate with Raul and his lab in multiple projects that examine the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Mexico!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Leg 2 begins!

Welcome back to our NF1502 cruise blog! After a little rest, Leg 2 begun on Sunday morning!


Nasheika Guyah, Daniel Scarlett, Camilo Trench, Chauntelle Green, Sophia Davis, Patrice Francis, Shanna-Lee Thomas & Dr. Dale Webber

While in Montego Bay, we hosted another "Open House" attended by researchers and staff from the University of the West Indies Centre for Marine Sciences-Discovery Bay & Port Royal MarineLaboratories. I asked one of the participants, Ms. Patrice Francis what was her favorite activity and she responded: “it is difficult to say what our favorite aspect about the open house was because everything was good.” She especially enjoyed “the setup of the wet lab and the caliber of instruments on board especially the MOCNESS and CTD/Niskin rosette.”  She also enjoyed the “interaction with the crew members and getting a view of their roles." As usual, the NOAA Corps officers showed them around the ship and while in the wet-lab, we showed them some fish collected in Jamaican waters that included parrotfish, snapper, tuna, eels and surgeon fish! 

jamaica research NOAA NANCY FOSTER
Jamaica sampling stations
Sampling in Jamaica and surrounding areas will continue for the next couple of weeks with the next rest stop in Cozumel, Mexico! 
The map above shows you some of the stations in area that we targeted with collaboration from our University of West Indies colleagues, especially PhD student Nasheika Guyah! (We will OF COURSE meet her in the blog later this week).

For now, sampling continues with some additional equipment which I will tell you about later this week! 

Jamaica, Negril, blue
During his day off, Grant leaps into the gorgeous blue waters in Negril, Jamaica!
Our cruise was featured in our our partner NOAA AOML's website and it does a great overview of "leg 1" and talks about leg 2 in their AOML Keynotes

screenshot of AOML keynotes

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Port stop: Montego Bay, Jamaica!

NOAA ELH sock monkey mascot
Clyde is ready for a port visit!
Greetings blog followers! Today we say hello from ... Montego Bay, Jamaica!
NOAA SHIP Nancy Foster
NF track from NOAA Ship tracker as we approached Jamaica
Finally the scientists and crew from leg 1 get a break from 24 hour operations (and without any days off since they departed from St. Thomas, USVI back on April 11!). During this break, the ship refuels, refills the pantry, performs maintenance that can only be done when the engines are not working amongst many other routine ops. As for the science crew, they download and process data (like in the figure below), fix equipment, exchange personnel and of course get to walk around in land for a couple of days! 

Ryan Smith NOAA
Upper ocean currents in the north side of Jamaica
A few of the leg 1 scientists featured in the previous posts are leaving and will soon return to their day-jobs and duties! Thank you Kathryn, Josue, Alexis, Vanessa, and Jim for your excellent support during leg 1 of NF1502. We hope you enjoyed your time aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster and can share with your colleagues what you learned about our Biological oceanography survey!
Leg 1 science crew NF1502
We will have a few new faces for leg 2 and we hope to feature them next week as we sample in Jamaica and beyond. The blog will take a break for a few days but will re-post as soon as they sail for leg 2!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Last post for leg 1! Before the ship pulls into port .. last but not least, Jim Europe!

NF1502 (Leg 1) completed stations

Leg 1 of this cruise comes to a close today! Before the scientific party and crew gets to literally refuel the ship and food stores (as well as some much needed rest) during their port stop in Montego Bay, we will meet the last member of the scientific party, Jim Europe! 

Jim, Nick and Alexis recover CTD
LTJG (that’s Lieutenant Junior Grade for us non-military folks) “Jim” is currently on his “land assignment” at the Miami Lab in Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC). He is the Vessel and Dive Operations Coordinator which means he handles all small boat and dive operations at the SEFSC. Jim is also a Field biologist for National Coral Reef Monitoring Program. 
He tells us that he manages "8
 boats ranging from 19 ft to 27 ft that engage in work such as dive operation supporting coral restoration and research as well as the multi-agency reef fish population assessments. Small boats are used in ecosystem and mangrove studies, habitat characterization, marine mammal tracking, tagging & photo identification ...  and lots of other projects at SEFSC that I am still learning about!" [the ELH lab used to do a lot of small boat work back in the Florida Bay research days!].

Jim shared with us that “I have done about a dozen dives for SEFSC, about 40 for NOAA and about 500 scientific dives prior to NOAA studying habitat restoration in Peconic Estuary System, Long Island NY. So far the most interesting thing I’ve seen during my land assignment in Miami was diving to recover endangered coral (Acropora sp.) from the area around the Port of Miami’s dredging project to widen and deepen the Miami cruise and container ship channel. The dredging had put so much silt in the water that everything had a thick layer of silt covering it. Some of the smaller corals were completely covered over!” Jim took part in some  coral restoration that was in the news! Sadly the corals in Biscayne Bay (our Miami-backyard) are still at risk from multiple sources and were covered by multiple news venues and organizations (article). 

Jim joined our cruise to get experience seeing the research "ops" that take place aboard the NOAA Ships from the science parties' perspective and to learn about his next "at sea" assignment as an Operations Officer. You see, Jim is one of the 321 commissioned officers that serve for the NOAA Corps and usually would be driving the ship instead of being one of the science crew.

Jim and Aras recovering the S10 net (plankton net)
The NOAA Corps is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The Corps Officers operate NOAA's 16 ships or 9 aircraft and provide support to NOAA's missions. Some of their duties and areas of operations range from launching a weather balloon at the South Pole, conducting hydrographic or fishery surveys, maintaining buoys in the tropical Pacific, flying snow surveys and into hurricanes. For more info, check out their website and recruitment video (ELH has several cameos in that video! Skip for minute 0.25 for me, and minute 2.51 for TG!). The officers will typically have different types of deployments that last for about 2 years each (at sea or in the air, and then their "land assignments.").
We thank LTJG Jim and hope that he enjoyed being part of the science-crew during leg 1 of NF1502. 

Stay tuned for some photos from the science crew! For now some group shots for everyone on leg 1: 
On "day" shift: John Lamkin, Sarah Privoznik, Dan Otis, Vanessa Wright, Josue Millan, Trika Gerard, Ryan Smith. On awesome "night shift": Kathryn Doering, Aras Zygas, Alexis Sabine, Grant Rawson, Jim Europe.

Day and night shifts aboard leg 1