17 Days in the Gulf of Mexico

In July 2010 I was a National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Teacher at Sea. I spent 17 days aboard the NOAA ship Oregon II, working on the SEAMAP Summer Groundfish Survey in the Gulf of Mexico. Here's my story.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Last Day of Fishing

NOAA Teacher at Sea: Bruce Taterka

NOAA Ship: Oregon II

Mission: SEAMAP Summer Groundfish Survey

Geographical Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico

Date: Thursday, July 15, 2010

Weather Data from the Bridge

Time: 1400 (2:00 pm)

Position: Latitude 28.32.95 N, Longitude 93.50.85 W

Present Weather: 35% cloud cover

Visibility: 8 nautical miles

Wind Speed: 5 knots

Wave Height: 1-2 feet

Sea Water Temp: 31.6 C

Air Temperature: Dry bulb = 32.7 C; Wet bulb = 27.0 C

Barometric Pressure: 1016.84 mb

Science and Technology Log

NOAA has closed off a large portion of the Gulf to fishing and shrimping because of the oil spill, but based on fish samples and real-time data being collected on the Oregon II and other NOAA ships, the western Gulf still appears to be unaffected by oil. In fact, the Texas shrimp season opens today.

The second leg of the Oregon II’s Summer Groundfish survey is coming to its end. Today is our last day of fishing. Tomorrow we’ll spend cleaning up and steaming back to the ship’s home port of Pascagoula, Mississippi, which we’ll reach on Saturday and then I fly home Saturday afternoon. The map shows the ship’s track for the Summer Groundfish Survey. Leg 1 was from Pascagoula to Galveston. Leg 2, our current cruise, left from Galveston on July 1 and headed south, zigzagging our way down the coast almost to Mexico then working our way back up, collecting samples and data the whole way.

This part of the Gulf has been oil free, but tomorrow on our way back to Pascagoula we should be going through the spill. Check back for pictures.

Earlier this week I got a chance to run the CTD from the lab. The graph on the computer screen shows the data being collected as the CTD drops to the sea floor. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see the green line, which represents dissolved oxygen, dropping drastically towards the sea bottom. This indicates hypoxia – low dissolved oxygen at the sea floor.

This reading was from an area where the bottom was hypoxic, which resulted in a small catch in our trawl net. Yesterday, however, we got into less hypoxic waters and pulled in our biggest haul yet.

This is 380kg (~836lbs) of fish and invertebrates being hauled in. It took a long time to shovel into baskets, sort by species, measure, weigh, determine sex and enter the data into FSCS.

Personal Log

Yesterday some dolphins tried to steal our catch.

We caught a Bonnethead Shark, Sphyra tiburo, related to Hammerheads.

No comments:

Post a Comment