Monday, May 16, 2005

Today’s survey plan is similar to the others…more traps, dives, and CTD’s (picture below). There is one difference, however. Kate will collect acoustic profiles of the sanctuary. These data are collected with a transducer while motoring along a series of transects through the sanctuary. The transducer is mounted to a large piece of pipe that hangs perpendicular to the ocean’s surface off the starboard (right) side of the ship. This instrument records acoustic data using split beam sonar and enables scientists to detect how far away an object is, as well as its size. The transducer is frequently used to research marine ecosystems because it is non-obtrusive, meaning that it does not affect the fish that it is observing. Additionally, the instrument is quite efficient because it collects large amounts of data in a short period of time.

While the transducer is useful in these kinds of studies, it also has its limitations. Transducers cannot distinguish between one species and another, therefore other instruments video recordings, traps, and censuses are needed to supplement the data it collects. Another limitation of the instrument is the amount of time needed to process the enormous amounts of data. Kate will work through the night collecting her data; hopefully we will get to see some of the data from the night’s transects tomorrow.

The day’s fish traps were hardly a disappointment. Traps retrieved a variety of fish including mostly black sea bass, with some longspine porgy, and a couple of tomtate, pigfish, grouper, and believe it or not…some toadfish(picture below). Randy, one of the biogeographers/divers affirmed the diversity of the second site, he mentioned that the hard bottom site of his second dive is one of the most diverse he has seen the entire trip. Red snapper, grouper, and sheepshead…as well as our friend, the black sea bass, are in great abundance there. As you guessed, this site is a high relief ledge which many fish prefer.

I just learned that Kevin is heading home today to go back to Silver Spring, Maryland. Having him aboard has been great, as his personality and experience mix well with this crew. We will certainly miss him aboard the ship. When the R/V Ferguson arrives to pick him up, we notice that a diver on board from a different survey in GRNMS has suffered a dislocated shoulder; the diver is a friend of Sarah Fangman. There is brief mention of moving her to the R/V Nancy Foster and calling a helicopter to pick her up. However, she remains on the Ferguson for a faster transit back to treatment on shore. Kevin jumps on board and the boat pulls away.

It has been another exciting and quick day aboard the Nancy Foster. Tomorrow, the local media and congressional aides will be joining our crew to catch a glimpse of our work here in the sanctuary. It is always great to get new folks on the ship and to show them what we are doing. I will keep you posted of the developments tomorrow evening.

Until then,


Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary:
Daily Connections to Scientific Inquiry & Nature of Science

Diversity in Science:

We’ve all learned in school that science begins with developing a testable hypothesis, randomly sampling data, making observations, collecting data and so on until you form a conclusion. But did you ever learn in school that science is not always objective? Chances are…probably not.

Sometimes we cannot…and should not want to keep all variables consistent. Science is also subjective in that it intimately involves imagination, personal experiences, and so me times even raw luck. Scientists, just like other professionals, bring their individual life experiences and interests into their research. In this way, a science team benefits from the differences among the researchers’ ethnicities, sexes, races, backgrounds, and beliefs. On our cruise, for example, the science crew is diverse in terms of sex; we are nearly equally split 7:6 men to woman. In addition, the ethnicity of our crew is varied. Daniela DiIorio is an Italian from Canada; Chris Jefferies is a native of Grenada; and Athan Barkoukis is Greek. Each of these individu als offers their different customs, ways of thinking, etc. to the research.

Members aboard the R/V Nancy Foster also offer different scientific experience and training. For example, Athan researches the diversity and abundance of fish within the sanctuary, Matt and his team wish to learn more about the dynamics of the four habitats, while Kate collects data on the physical parameters of the sanctuary. The diversity that each member brings to the R/V Nancy Foster adds to the experiences and talents of the entire team. As a result the research is richer because of these differences. This truly exemplifies that the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.


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