Friday, June 12, 2015

Today our blog features Lulu from ECOSUR!

Lulu sorting through the microscope
The cruise is finally over!! We pulled into Key West on June 2nd and returned to Miami with our equipment and samples! I will post a few more entries on our cruise-blog....but today our blog will feature a dear colleague of mine: Vásquez Yeomans or “Lulu” who joined the cruise from Chetumal’s ECOSUR (El Colegio de la FronteraSur) where she is a researcher in the Zooplankton Laboratory in the Departamento de Sistemática y Ecología Acuática

Lulu and a leptocephalus larva
She shared with the blog that “I identify larval fishes using multiple techniques, from traditional dichotomous and taxonomic keys to the more novel DNA BARCODE technique to identify fish larvae. I also work to update and develop larval distribution and abundance in the Mesoamerican Reef and act as 'advisor' for students doing their Senior and Graduate theses."
noaa research women STEM
Lulu and Estrella
Although Lulu is an expert at identifying many larval fish groups, Lulu actually joined our survey to improve her skills in the identification of larval bluefin tuna!
Lulu and the MOCNESS in the back deck
She also was very interested in photo-documenting some of the lovely fish photos we have been featuring in the blog in seawater (before we preserve them in ethanol – and then they lose their color!).

gobiidae reef fish larval fish

Lulu shared with the blog “I am here to continue our ongoing collaborations (2004-today!) with the NOAA ELH Lab and promote future relationships with the other scientists on board.” In Spanish, Lulu said: "Estoy feliz de estar en este crucero participando directamente en la obtención de muestras muchas de las cuales he podido observar en vivo. Esta es una oportunidad única. Gracias a todos y especialmente a John Lamkin y Estrella Malca.”

We were delighted to have "Lulu" join us in this historic expedition in the Western Caribbean. Here are some photos Lulu took while she was on the ship!
Mixed assortment of reef fish (Apogonid, Serranid)

Mixed assortment

the inspiration from "Alien"

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cozumel Open House

R/V Nancy Foster @ Pier
Welcome to day # 51 of NF1502! As we approach the end of the cruise, I wanted to do share with the blog-o-sphere about our latest open house held on May 20, 2015. We had over 45 people from multiple institutions that came on board the Nancy Foster that was docked at Langosta Pier in gorgeous Cozumel, Mexico. It was a diverse crowd made up of college and graduate students, marine science professionals, professors, researchers and members of the community. Everyone took a tour of the vessel and got to learn a little about larval fishes and why we are studying them! It was a fun event!
Some of the Open House guests

John, Eloy and the Cozumel Fishing Cooperative

Some of the institutions that joined us included the Quintana Roo Social Communication System, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), University of Quintana Roo (UQROO), staff from Cozumel’s Marine Park CONANP, ITCH-Chetumal, as well as fishermen from the Cozumel Fishing Cooperative. The Coperativa Cozumel (Fishing Cooperative) took notice of the ship and was eager to visit the ship and learn more about the lobster research that takes place in the region.

This Cooperative not only holds the MSC certification for lobster fishery, they actively pursue sustainable fishing practices. They are currently collaborating with Dr. Eloy Sosa Cordero and his students to capture historical data collected by the Cooperative regarding the lobster fishery (catch and effort) for the last 10 years. This data sharing effort will improve local lobster fishery management and facilitate the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certification. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Leg 4 scientist spotlight on Leif Rasmuson

Welcome back to the blog! We are well into leg 4 (the last leg of our research cruise!) and we have some ‘fresh blood’ that joined us in Cozumel.
Aras and Lief rinse down the Neuston
Today, we meet Leif Rasmuson who joins our survey from the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology  at the University of Oregon Lief is a Doctoral candidate who will soon take a postdoc position at our lab! Leif shared with the blog: “As a doctoral candidate I study the dispersal of larval Dungeness crabs, Cancer magister.
I use a combination of [literally] “swimming after larvae” to observe their behavior, traditional oceanographic sampling, and individual based models (IBM).
Crab larvae
We have shown that the fishery is highly dependent on the recruitment of larvae. Further, recruitment is influenced by the day of the year of the spring transition, the phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the internal waves. Soon I will be joining the ELH lab and will be working on habitat modeling for Bluefin tuna as well as other aspects of larval transport relating to tunas. Although Leif joined our survey right before he will 'defend' his dissertation, he is “enjoying getting to understand the sampling protocols that are used for this work and to start getting myself oriented to my new job at ELH.
Aras, Sam and Leif deploying the CTD near Santa Fe
I am very excited to be joining the ELH lab and to start learn more about fishes! This is a great opportunity for our lab to gain some larger insights into the community-level interactions of fishes and other zooplankton.
If you want to learn more about the life & fisheries of the Dungeness crab, click here .. for cooking the Dungeness crab: (YUM!)
crab deliciousnesss

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Today's blog features our youngest scientist, Justin Suca

Justin Suca is a rising senior attending the University of Miami and majoring in Marine Science. He works in our lab (the Early Life History Lab of SEFSC) as a Lab Assistant supporting multiple projects that include identifying fishes and curating our multifaceted datasets. 
noaa ctd research oceanography
Justin collecting H20 from the DCM for pCO2
Justin has been on this cruise for almost 28 days now! In between filtering water, identifying fishes, taking optic measurements and deploying gear, Justin shared with the blog: “I want to gain more experience with field work at sea and I am interested in stable isotope applications for pelagic fishes [especially mahi mahi] for spatio-temporal comparisons and variation with depth. I would like to see if the samples collected in this cruise display 15δN enrichment at increasing depths. The application of physical ocean features to patterns in plankton distribution is another area which this cruise gives me an opportunity to expand my knowledge." 
Justin and Raul looking for tuna and mahi mahi 
"When I began at the lab, I knew very little about larval fish. However, as my knowledge and experience with them has increased over the past two years, it has become a field that I would like to continue to work in, perhaps through a doctorate." 
Mahi Mahi juveniles collected in plankton tows
"I was on last year’s cruise but my overall understanding of the science and reasoning behind the procedures and station plotting is much greater now, making this cruise a valuable experience." 
We will miss Justin as he leaves the cruise to pursue his next science-adventure at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)! We thank Justin for supporting the cruise with his enthusiasm and intoxicating fish-energy!! 

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."