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Earth Science Applications Travelogue: Day 7: Saturday May 17
May 17, 2014

[image-51][image-67][image-83][image-99]After gale force winds, 10-12 foot seas, and unusually cold temperatures most of the week, Saturday is beautiful. Sunny skies, calm seas, and warm to hot temperatures that you would expect in mid-May in the Gulf of Mexico at 27 degrees north latitude finally arrived.

With these conditions, which began improving Friday night, we should have a very busy day of sampling. Before midnight Friday evening, sampling restarted and a small number of skipjack tuna larvae were found, but no Bluefin.  Numerous flying fish were in the sampling area that could be seen in the reflection of the ship’s lights.  We were very close to the loop current and the chief scientist anticipates better results a little further away from this major Gulf current.

Just before midnight Friday evening 2 large Bluefin larvae were found in the S10 net sample. Early Saturday morning 6 more Bluefin larvae of a smaller size were found. These results hopefully indicate that we are hot on the trail of the Bluefin tuna. The sampling plan to is proceed SW from current position of 27 09.521N 087 15.348W to an area of potentially good habitat conditions for Bluefin larvae to occur, according to models and satellite data.

Sampling Saturday afternoon and evening did not result in additional Bluefin larvae; crabs, shrimp, and other fish species were found. Going into Saturday evening we are heading north to other stations in eddies (circular currents of slow moving water) a little further off the loop current and a transect (location of stations to sample) is being planned using the satellite data provided by Roffers (approximate sampling location in the black circle on Roffers satellite image).

In a previous daily blog the importance of international participation was noted to manage global fisheries such as the Atlantic Bluefin tuna. Another international scientist on this cruise is Selene Morales Guiterez with the El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) Chetumal unit for the professor Lourdes Vasquez Yeomans in Mexico. Selene is a biologist doing research on Ichthyology and taxonomy of both coastal and pelagic larval fish in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. She has collaborated with NOAA on several oceanographic projects in the sorting and identification of samples.

In the last few years, Selene has participated in two oceanographic cruises that focused on the collection and identification of important species including Bluefin tuna, other species of tuna, billfish, swordfish, and lionfish. Her main role during this cruise is to correctly identify Bluefin Tuna larva, ultimately improving knowledge about its larval ecology.  Selene’s travel is in collaboration with Yareli Cota in the identification of larvae.

The NOAA commitment is very strong for these type sampling cruises due not only to the agency’s mission, but also the added benefit of NASA Applied Sciences program funding and associated satellite data products to support high priority species important for the management of global fisheries. For example, the cost for this spring cruise is approximately  $15,000 per day and NOAA’s added contributions to this 4-year project beyond normal resources that would have been allocated for Bluefin larvae cruises is much higher. This type partnership creates a very positive environment for strong research results that support the development of new or better models and improved decision-making, which is occurring in this project. 

In closing, best wishes to PI/Mitch Roffer for a speedy recovery from recent knee surgery!

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Gulf of Mexico sampling region, May 17, 2014.
Gulf of Mexico sampling region, May 17.
Image Credit: 
Maury Estes
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Selene Morales Guiterez, a biologist doing research on Ichthyology and taxonomy of both coastal and pelagic larval fish in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
Selene Morales Guiterez, a biologist doing research on Ichthyology and taxonomy of both coastal and pelagic larval fish in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
Image Credit: 
Maury Estes
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Selene and Raul evaluate samples to determine larvae species.
Selene and Raul evaluate samples to determine larvae species.
Image Credit: 
Maury Estes
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Mitch Roffer (left) and Woody Turner (right) at project team meeting prior to cruise.
Mitch Roffer (left) and Woody Turner (right) at project team meeting prior to cruise.
Image Credit: 
Maury Estes
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Page Last Updated: May 19th, 2014
Page Editor: Brooke Boen