Thursday, May 19, 2005

Greetings once again from Gray’s Reef.

Whew, today is a busy one! This morning, Kate attempted to transect and collect acoustic data within GRNMS from 0830 hours until 1230 hours. Unfortunately, technical difficulties prevented her from doing so. In light of the problems, Kate worked with Greg and Tony Vancampen (the R/V Nancy Foster’s Electronics Technician) to diagnose and correct the problem. As a result, we will transect tomorrow morning.

To maximize time for surveys, one dive boat was deployed this morning before transecting and was scheduled to be out until 1230 hours. As you know, shipboard time is a valuable resource and needs to be utilized; therefore Athan decided to collect more data and deployed three traps. Once retrieved, one trap was empty; however, the other two were full of …you guessed it, black sea bass and long spined porgy. However, the second trap retrieved a new fish to our survey, the bank sea bass.

One major difference in these three trap contents over the others is the abundance of juvenile sea bass. The smallest sea bass collected today was a meager 15 cm in length. Handling these young fish made for tender moments. These little guys are not as strong as their larger counterparts. For this reason, I gave them extra attention when measuring and releasing them back into their home. Kate kept a close eye on our little friends as they were released to be sure that they made it back to depth quickly.

Today is our last full day aboard the R/V Nancy Foster within the sanctuary. It is hard to believe that our time in the sanctuary is coming to an end so quickly. I will surely miss the new friends I’ve made, the beautiful vistas aboard the siesta deck of the Foster, not to mention the great grub. If given this opportunity to venture back to GRNMS again, I will certainly jump at the chance. I highly encourage you to do the same if an opportunity to work aboard a oceanographic research vessel presents itself to you; it is an experience of a lifetime.

Until tomorrow,


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

Role of Technology:

This cruise utilizes many different forms of technology such as acoustic sensors, scuba dive gear, Geographical Information Systems (mapping software), databases, web sites, and email, not to mention all the technology used for navigation and running the ship. Technological applications of ocean sciences have improved greatly in the last 100 years. Even 60 years ago, an expedition like this one would only be possible in the dreams of few.

Scientist and technicians realize that with increasing reliance upon technology also come increase risks. This is particularly true when isolated out in the field such as in the middle of GRNMS. As Kate’s experience today indicates, it is important to have back-up systems in place in the event that the technical components of your research do not function correctly.

It is best to develop strategies for nearly every important procedure, particularly ones involving the collection, saving, and retrieval of data. The cost of running a ship like the R/V Nancy Foster runs more than $4000 a day and it is important that you are able to collect the data you need while on board. As they say, “there is more than one way to skin a cat” and it is best to prepare accordingly before leaving the dock.


Publication of Project Oceanica.
For questions or comments, e-mail Webmaster.