Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Featured Scientists: Dan Otis and Alexis Sabine!

Today's post features two cruise veterans who joined us on the USVI Leg on last year's cruise, Dan Otis and Alexis Sabine! We are thrilled to welcome both of them back, and want to share a little more about them with you.

Dan uses a special camera to measure light reflected
from the ocean surface.
Dr. Dan Otis is a post-doc at the Institute for Marine Remote Sensing at the University of South Florida. "On land, I spend most of my time in the office downloading and processing satellite imagery of the ocean. However, it's great to get out to sea and take samples. While on cruise, I measure the color of the water using a special camera. The camera tells us how much light of each wavelength is being reflected from the ocean surface. This provides a great comparison to the satellite and allows us to calibrate sensors and develop new algorithms.

"I also filter lots of seawater on cruise to see what is absorbing and reflecting light. Both dissolved substances and particles like phytoplankton affect light in the ocean, so measuring what is actually in the water helps us interpret what we see from the satellite."

We are lucky to have Dan's expertise on board, as his optics studies bring in instruments and techniques new to our lab! Dan also has a great sense of humor and keeps us laughing all through shift! 

Alexis Sabine is a Fisheries Biologist at the US Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). "At the DFW, I help manage and conserve the marine and fisheries resources of the US Virgin Islands. My job consists of a variety of activities pertaining to research, monitoring, and management of the local marine environment. I am very lucky to get to do fieldwork in the beautiful tropical seas of the USVI, which includes “work” such as handline fishing for reef fish and SCUBA diving to survey fish and their associated habitats. I am based on the island of St. Thomas so most of my work is focused on the northern islands of St. Thomas and St. John, but the entire territory is managed as a whole since all the islands share the same resources.

Alexis collects reef fish during a SEAMAP sampling
project in the USVI
"I work on various projects that involve collection and management of commercial landings data and related fisheries-dependent surveys, as well as fisheries-independent assessments of populations of fish and other commercially important species in the USVI. Another large component of my job is to carry out projects that support and enhance recreational sport fish opportunities for Virgin Islanders. My work in this aspect involves deploying and monitoring Fish Aggregating Devices, which function by attracting pelagic sport fish species to anchored surface and submerged buoys. FADs have the dual benefit of alleviating some of the fishing pressure that nearshore reefs experience as well as reducing the effort anglers must expend in order to locate fish. I am also involved with maintaining public boating facilities such as recreational moorings and boat ramps and will hopefully soon be deploying some new artificial reefs around the US Virgin Islands.

"I am grateful to have participated in my first research cruise on the Nancy Foster last year, and am excited to be returning for the USVI leg this year as well. Last year I became familiar with the biological and physical techniques used on the cruise, such as the mighty MOCNESS net tows. This year I am looking forward to applying these techniques again, becoming more adept at identifying larval fish, sharing my personal knowledge about the local waters and fisheries, and learning more about the research projects being done by the different agencies represented aboard the ship. I am also looking forward to bringing this knowledge back to St. Thomas with me and sharing it with my colleagues at the Division of Fish and Wildlife."

Welcome back to the Foster, Alexis! She is incredibly passionate about her work, and not a shift goes by without intense discussions about collaborations and ideas for future projects. We love working with you throughout the year, and hope to continue to do so for many years to come!
Dan and Alexis pose on the back deck with the their Day Shift partners: L-R Mara, Sennai, Sarah, Dan, Alexis

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