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Dispatches from the field

Surveying the depths of the Gulf of Alaska


Rachel and Chris checking the pump one last time.   Photo: NOAA Fisheries

GOA Bottom Trawl
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Getting ready

May 24, 2017 -- We arrived in Dutch Harbor. After loading the boat with all of our gear we headed out to start the survey. On midnight of the 25th we passed Umnak Island where an active volcano could be seen. Just off Chuginadak, in the Islands of Four Mountains, we began our research trawls, but swift currents slowed our progress.


Rachel's plankton pump ready to be deployed.   Photo: NOAA Fisheries


Rachel emptying a sample onto a sieve. The sample will be stored in ethanol and shipped back to Seattle for further analysis.  
Photo: NOAA Fisheries


Collecting samples

On day 2, we tested our plankton pump for the first time in the field. The pump is autonomous and does not remain tethered to the boat, so we were all a little nervous sending it off the first time, hoping we’d be successful in retrieving it. As with much of scientific field research, modifications to the design were made with the help of the Sea Storm crew. A few electrical issues were addressed. But, ultimately we were successful!

We collected three samples from bottom depths of over 100 m. On first inspection, we didn’t see any larval fish that were easily visible. The samples will return to Seattle where we’ll analyze them under a microscope for better clarity. A camera was also attached to the pump and it took images of the seafloor habitat in the vicinity of the pump. All of our samples were collected in coral and sponge habitat.

After a day of looking for larval fish and plankton, we are back to conducting research trawls. At the end of several of the upcoming days, we plan to deploy the plankton pump again.



Post by: Pam Goddard

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