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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 8, 2015 – Testing the Tucker

Today is the day! Testing out the Tucker nets to see if our hard work paid off or if it is back to the drawing board to figure out where the problem is. One of the more unique trawls in our myriad of gear types, the Tucker net is a 1x1m net frame affixed to a metal sled, allowing it to glide along the bottom collecting benthic-oriented species. It is also capable of sampling discrete depths by opening/closing multiple nets. Our aim is to deploy the gear with a net open (acting as a drogue to guide it to through the water), fire net one once it reaches the bottom and, fire net two to sample the water column obliquely. Here’s the kicker: we have to manually trip the nets. Unlike the multinet which I was able to experience firsthand last fall, this gear is not computer controlled and requires one to hold on to the cable and send a messenger down to trigger the next net to open. Small enough to fit in my palm, the messengers are all too easy to lose grip of or be caught in the block as the cable is pulled up.

While my colleague Adam Spear (also with FOCI) has had several years of experience, this is my first time dealing with the infamous sled. Much larger and heavier than our standard paired bongo nets, it warrants the full attention of everyone on deck to ensure it is deployed and retrieved safely. I’m anxious as I stand on deck in my (strikingly neon) rain gear and await its deployment. As it smoothly slips in the water and descends, the cable is boomed inward. Go time! While a survey tech holds on to the wire with a boat hook, Adam and I hang on to the wire as I attach the messenger and send it racing down the cable. After seconds of waiting, I feel a distinct ‘click’ over the shaking of the cable as the messenger trips the net. Success! It’s the little victories out here that always remind me why I love my job. Working with a new gear type, meeting someone new, or functioning first cast– they all make it worth it.


< First Impressions: the Ron Brown


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