Saturday, May 16, 2015

Today one of our own, Aras Zygas!

Today’s post features LTJG Aras Zygas who works at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Miami, FL. He is the Florida Bay Operations Officer working directly with us! (the Early Life History Laboratory in sunny Miami, FL)
noaa core, noaa, outreach, education
LTJG Zygas during Open House in St. Thomas, USVI
When Aras isn't at sea rinsing plankton nets, deploying CTDs, and filtering water he is sitting in his office in Miami wishing that he was back at sea. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Aras Zygas is an officer in the NOAA Commissioned Corps, a uniformed service of the federal government whose mission is to provide support to NOAA science primarily by operating the vessels and aircraft that collect the data used to inform decision makers and advance our knowledge of the oceans and atmosphere. [see previous blog post]Previous to his current assignment at the SEFSC in Miami, Aras served as Navigation Officer aboard the NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow where he stood bridge watches (i.e. "drove" the ship). As Navigation Officer Aras has conducted hundreds of net tows from Bongos to full-blown bottom trawls for 200+ days out of the year off of the coast of the northeast United States and Canada...all from the comfortable, dry protection of the ‘bridge’. 
plankton, barracuda, sphyraenidae
plankton!!! (find the fish)
Not anymore! His new assignment in Miami has gotten him heavily involved in the process of collecting data, getting up close and personal with his new pal: plankton.Aras shared with the blog that "before I arrived in Miami, I had never looked at plankton under a microscope. I was shocked at this tiny diverse world that exists in every teaspoon of seawater. As I learned more about all of the different projects at the ELH (Early Life History) lab, I started realizing just how much information you can get from this marine microcosm and how this information can lead to big changes in our understanding of certain highly migratory species (among other fishes)." When he is not being utilized for his brute strength on deck deploying gear Aras is a jack of all trades at the ELH Lab working on logistics and cruise
st. thomas, satellite drifters, aoml, noaa
Aras setting up the next Satellite tracked drifter for deployment in the Virgin Islands
planning and assisting with administrative tasks such as budgeting. Furthermore, Aras has recently taken on a project to describe the growth and ageing of larval skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis).” This cruise is a unique opportunity for me since I will be sailing as a member of the scientific party .In addition to honing my plankton sampling skills and meeting some of our international collaborators, I have

enjoyed being on the front line in the collection of these valuable samples. Sailing as a scientist has given me a new perspective that many officers do not get to experience, a perspective that will no doubt help me when I venture back out to sea as a deck officer on my next assignment as a NOAA Corps Officer."

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