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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 17, 2015 - Tucker Teamwork

brittle stars
A haul of squirming brittle stars and shrimp brought up from the bottom in a Tucker net.

Tucker trawl breaking the surface
First glimpse of the Tucker trawl breaking the surface, complete with the two bright orange messengers on the cable and both nets triggered – the mark of a successful tow.

Tucker being brought on deck
Survey tech Mark Bradley (far left) wrangles the Tucker on deck with a tagline while Adam Spear (middle back) manages the cable and I (middle front) steady the Tucker frame as I prepare to pull the net codends onboard.


A weather front moved in late yesterday evening, blowing 25-30 knot winds with 8-10 foot waves so we had a bit of a windy start to a full day of sampling just west of Wainwright.

After a few early challenges with adapting the gear to a new ship, we were able to power through 10 stations of successful Tucker trawls and CTDs.

When the wind kicks up like this, heavy equipment (both our gears) suspended from a cable have a tendency to want to swing which can be a safety concern to those on deck. Luckily through a coordinated effort of survey, winch operators and the officers driving the vessel plus the science team on deck we were able to have a smooth day despite the conditions.

In our Tucker nets we found a variety of exciting critters, both vertebrates and invertebrates. Nearly all of our tows have a colorful assortment of shrimp ranging from some smaller than pinky finger to fitting in the palm of a hand. Other creatures include (tiny) sand dollars, clams, arrow worms, crab larvae and copepods.

Today in particular was an exciting day for fish fans, we found snailfish, eelpout, and poachers!

Back in the lab my primary task is to provide species ID checks for larval and juvenile fishes collected during our field season. At these stages, illustrations are our best resource for making identifications (check out AFSC’s illustration database at

With a number of early life stages still undescribed for arctic fishes, these surveys present an opportunity to further our understanding of these organisms through genetic work and continue to build our illustration archive to improve our identification capabilities. In particular, I was thrilled to see a handful of snailfish.

Back home in Seattle, one of the biologists in our lab is particularly fond of them so it is always exciting to see someone’s favorites – shout out to you, Morgan Busby!














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