Friday, May 25, 2018

PhD student Rachel Thomas on the blog!

Rachel filters water collected at 500 m in the GOM
Rachel Thomas from Florida State University's Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences Department is a doctoral student in the Knapp Lab and she is our guest-blogger today sharing a bit of her research and cruise goals:

"My personal goal on this cruise is to be able to identify bluefin tuna through a microscope. I’ve never seen fish larvae before, so everything the “fish team” brings up in the nets is new and exciting to me! Most of my previous work is involved in the Southern Ocean, where there are unused nutrients in the surface ocean. This gives us a unique ability to look at how phytoplankton are reacting to different physiological stresses, such as light and nutrient availability."
One of these nutrients, is Nitrate (NO3) which is a form of dissolved inorganic nitrogen that is utilized by phytoplankton in the ocean (Malerba et al 2012). One of the aspects of our project (NF1704 NF1802 is to examine the dynamics between these inorganic compounds at different depths of the surface water column (0-500 m).

Typical nitrate vertical profile comparison, (modified from A. Nahian Avro)
T. Kelly and Rachel Thomas recover the CTD rosette 
"The Gulf of Mexico has a very different light regime compared to the Southern Ocean, and little to no nitrate in the surface waters. Our research team hopes to explore how these contrasts are expressed in the isotopic composition of subsurface nitrate in the Gulf of Mexico. We will also use the isotopic composition of subsurface nitrate in the Gulf of Mexico to understand the nutrient sources for primary productivity fueling bluefin tuna growth in surface waters." 

Click here for last year's blog post from Rachel's experiences during NF1704.

A bit of trivia: the Southern Ocean is the fourth largest of the world's ocean basins and extends to Antarctica. Psst, how many oceans are there? (click here for an answer)

Rachel Thomas and Alanna Mnich ready to deploy an SVP drifter on the fan tail

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Today on the blog: Kiana returns!

Kiana rinses the Bongo-90cm 
Today, one of our youngest scientists, Ms. Kiana Ford shares a brief post. This is Kiana’s second cruise aboard Nancy Foster and has been volunteering in our lab since January 2017. She is now a Senior at the University of Miami's RSMAS and got back from an amazing semester abroad with the UGalapagos & Isabella Oceanographic Institute in Ecuador just a few days before the ship started its journey.

Image may contain: swimming, outdoor and nature
Kiana makes friends with the locals in the Galapagos, Ecuador
Kiana shared with our blog “my goal for the cruise is to help find some bluefin tuna! I would also like to be comfortable jumping into any science role during the cruise, from deploying nets on the back deck to running the computer programs in the dry lab. My favorite experiences from participating in the oceanographic surveys is to get to know other scientists and crew members, and seeing how everyone contributes to some aspect of the expedition. My research goals when I return to land is to complete my senior thesis examining larval lobster populations collected in southern Cuba during NF-16-02-03. This summer I am eager to begin my internship with  Harbor Wildwatch, a non-profit organization in Gig Harbor, WA. They organize outreach events to educate the public on marine and environmental topics." 
Thanks Kiana! She disembarked during our port-stop in Pensacola, but we will see you soon in the NOAA FORCES Lab in the Fall semester.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

First guest blog post: LTJG Johns!

We have our first guest blog post of the survey! We feature our OPS officer for leg 1 of NF1802, LTJG Johns!
LTJG Johns shared with the blog: “My name is LTJG Kristin and I studied Biological sciences at Rutgers University. I am the Operations Officer on the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster.  As the operations officer, my job is to ensure the science gets completed in a safe and efficient way. My goal is to communicate and coordinate with the science party, ship's bridge team, and crew for a successful project and happy team! My job is to look out the window at a beautiful ocean and help science happen. Oh, and drive ships, 
LTJG Johns in much colder climate!
What’s better than that?!”
An officer “OPS” leads and communicates on behalf of the ship’s officers and multiple ship departments. It can be a challenging role, but in my opinion, it’s also very fun because in one ‘field season’ they get to learn about a lot different topics that can range from mapping the sea floor, to projects that use scuba diving as a tool to monitor fish populations, to collecting awesome larval fish, to deploying extremely sensitive scientific equipment to monitor the ocean in real time. If you have any questions for LTJG Johns, please comment below and feel free to learn more about the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps or see previous blog posts by other NOAA Corps officers (Norton, Zygas)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

NF1802! May the tuna be found today!

Fish eggs
Hello and welcome back to another year of our Nancy Foster Chronicles! This time we are well into Episode 2 of our NOAA RESTORE Project "Bluefin Tuna Ecology." Please check out last year's posts particularly the Return of the tuna!

Top: NOAA Shiptracker map of transit
around Florida
Bottom: Four NOAA Ships meet off the
Dry Tortugas!
Our survey started in Jacksonville, FL, and did a fun U-shaped track around the Florida Peninsula until we reached our study destination: the grand Gulf of Mexico. We even sailed past several other NOAA ships doing work in the area (NOAA Ship party!) to include the NOAA Ships Okeanos Explorer (EX), Oregon II (R2), and the Pisces (PI)! The NOAA Ships fleet support science in multiple fields including oceanographic, fisheries, and atmospheric research.

Join us for another adventure on NOAA Ship Nancy Foster!
It's been a week already, and we are now in the Northern Gulf of Mexico searching for the elusive bluefin tuna larvae. They have been hiding from us, but we are relentless and will keep searching! Our strategy is to target some favorable habitat which is usually in between oceanographic features.

I hope you learn something new during our journey and feel free to ask questions!