May 14, 2005
Good afternoon from the R/V Nancy Foster!
What an incredible day to be out in Gray’s Reef
National Marine Sanctuary! While the morning catches have
not been very productive, we could not have asked for
It is now 1300 hours and the first two traps of the day
have been retrieved, and divers have been deployed for
the second time in the day. The divers are divided into
three motor boats and a ship’s crew takes them to
different stations of interest. Once back on the ship,
Jenny and Dave note seeing a skate and several sea robins,
as well as the usual black sea bass and scup. Some divers
have collected video footage of their surveys. (I cannot
wait to check out their work environment, here in GRNMS.)
As for the chevron traps, the retrieval of the first trap
was disappointing. The menhaden were still neatly tied
inside the trap without much disturbance, and no fish
were collected. From this data we may infer that few fish
reside in the sandy area habitat. Our luck soon changed
with the retrieval of the second trap. Sarah F. prepared
us for the good news when she and Dave dove near the trap
and observed a great abundance of fish at the site, which
consisted of densely colonized hard bottom. As she projected,
the second chevron trap collected more than 50 lbs of
sea bass, one scup, and even a red snapper 44 cm long.
Although a large number of fish were caught, the diversity
of species seen in catches from last year’s cruise
has not been witnessed so far. Perhaps the water is still
too cool for species found in more tropical waters, as
indicated by Kate’s CTD profiles.
the fish are on deck, Athan, Sarah, Kate, and I work as
efficiently as possible to “work up the fish”.
This consists of removing excess air, measuring the fish,
and getting them back into the water, as described in
yesterday’s log. The snapper had lots of life in
it and fought us the whole way. Yet, he made it back in
the water safely, and quickly disappeared from sight.
are currently waiting for the divers to return so that
we can begin the next trap survey. Time on the boat can
pass pretty slowly when we are in between stations and
surveys. This is a good time for scientists to organize
their data, download digital photographs from their cameras,
clean gear, write email to loved ones, or even catch a
nap. As for me, this is the best time to share my experiences
our down time, Kate collects another CTD profile; she
anticipates the profile will be similar to the first because
wind is minimal, and we have not received any rainfall.
As for Athan’s research, all of the next three retrieved
traps are empty. One might predict that we would have
collected some scup in these areas because these fish
forage in the sand, unlike sea bass that are reef fish.
However, this was not true.
we have four trap deployments scheduled for hard bottom
habitats which will hopefully bring a large quantity of
fish…as well as keep Athan, Sarah, Kate, and I on
is currently time for me to join the rest of my group
in the Mess Hall for dinner; it is served promptly at
1630 hours (4:30PM). (Take it from me, meals are not to
be missed on the boat. Jessie, the Chief Steward, and
Dennis, 2nd Cook, do a remarkable job in the galley.)
hope you will visit tomorrow for accounts of our exploration
of the sanctuary. Please email me at email@example.com
if you have any questions.
Reef National Marine Sanctuary:
Daily Connections to Scientific Inquiry & Nature of
While it is
disappointing to retrieve traps that have little to no
fish collected inside, it is important to recognize that
these are important data, too. This happens frequently
in scientific investigations, or alternative occurs where
the data that is collected disproves a hypothesis. In
either case, the data are still important to document.
In our case,
the divers observe few fish in the sandy bottom areas.
Therefore, the divers’ observ ations confirm the
pattern that Athan is noticing with his trap surveys in
the sandy bottom areas of the sanctuary. From this data
we may infer that species abundance and diversity vary
with distance from the hard bottom habitat.