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Keep up on What’s Happening on the Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Arctic Cruise in August


Throughout the month of August, Jessica Randall, part of the Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (FOCI) program with the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, will be sending dispatches from the NOAA ship Ron Brown. The ship is conducting surveys in the U.S. Chukchi and Beaufort Seas to obtain baseline oceanographic data. Sampling is also being conducted at hotspots for productivity and biodiversity, known as Distributed Biological Observatory (DBO) sites (for more information see:

This survey, in its fifth year of operations, is part of a multi-institutional effort to improve our understanding of arctic ecosystems.

August 6, 2015 – First impressions: the Ron Brown

the ron brown
The NOAA ship Ronald Brown.

Pulling into the U.S. Coast Guard base in Kodiak, Alaska (the largest in the United States), my first glance of the NOAA ship Ronald Brown wasn’t quite what I had imagined. Docked next to the Rueben Lasker, one of the Dyson class vessels, I had imagined it to be equally striking with the top-heavy design. The Brown, its much leaner, sleaker cousin, looked demure in comparison. Yet as they opened the door for us to carry our luggage through, immediately I realized my first impression was mistaken. Ahead of me was a long corridor straight through to the forward storage compartment with a massive science lab taking up the majority of the starboard side of the main deck, multiple smaller labs, a CTD staging area, a large acoustics lab, and enough storage area to make a scientist’s heart sing.

Walking through the multiple decks trying to find my room was like a maze. I had been on large vessels befor,e but so far the Brown takes the trophy. It is massive. The first 2 days prior to leaving port were devoted to last-minute hardware store runs, a bit of jerry-rigging to adapt our sampling set-ups to the new boat, and lots of shuffling, organizing, and unpacking.

Settling into our new home for the next 30 days has been smooth. A total of 14 scientist are onboard, two (including myself) representing FOCI and four from Pacific Marine Environmental Labs (PMEL), coordinating our efforts to look at the lower trophic level and oceanography of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. National Ocean Service (NOS) makes up the second half of the main science party, conducting work in the nearshore in bays along the northern coastline of Alaska. A smattering of other scientists are also present, hailing from Oregon State University and the University of Washington as well as two bird observers. With our welcome meeting and first round of drills complete, we’re cruising at a healthy 13 knots towards to Unimak Pass, then it is on to Bering Strait and the Arctic Circle.



Testing the Tucker >

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