Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 2

A taste of what's to come!
           aboard the R/V Falkor

Today we started with an ambitious schedule making it to BA-A-28 by 7:30am. Our marine techs, Nathan and Jimbo mapped MI-616 and BA-A-28 creating images for ROV operations.  During the map processing Dr. Wetz and crew performed a CTD test run in the morning.

Shortly after lunch we began our first long-line sampling, where scientists drop a line with 10 hooks to the bottom to sample fishes using the artificial reef structures.  On the second drop we began catching fish. We pulled up a sharpnose shark, almaco jack, and several red snappers. Each fish was measured and weighed and later further processed by taking their gonads, otoliths ("ear bones" to estimate age), fin clips for genetic analyses, and muscle plugs for stable isotope analyses by the fisheries team while the ROV was deployed.

As the ROV made its way to the first reef on BA-A-28 the science control room burst with excitement from both crew and scientists. The video captured was not only in high definition but also in 3D and this vertical rig was abundant in both sport and reef fish. Megan Robillard quickly began identifying and logging the best footage they now have for this project. After surveying the first reef the ROV headed over to the second structure which was a rig laying horizontal on the sea floor. Although visibility was good fewer fish were reported at this structure than the first one. Jimbo, the marine tech, was still very excited though. He even said when he returned home to the UK he would buy a 3D television so he could relive the experience!

After a late lunch and break the team geared up again to resume fishing. After six more casts at BA-A-28 we caught 15 more red snapper and one rock hind. Several of the larger snapper experienced barotrauma as shown in the picture. When you release these fish it is important to vent them (release the pressure in the fish's swim bladder) to increase their survival after release.  The fisheries team is also studying the best ways to do this. The fishing ended at 7:00 and after dinner we returned to process the fish samples and clean up. It was a long but successful day and after discussing plans for tomorrow the CTD team will be ready by 4am to begin work on their first transect sampling water at 5 locations going from offshore to inshore.

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