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Earth Science Applications Travelogue: Day 8: Sunday May 18
May 18, 2014

[image-51]Sampling early Sunday morning found 25 Bluefin tuna larvae at station 54 (27 59.9 N 087 39.1 W), which is the largest sample found during the second leg of the cruise. We are continuing to sample stations following a transect to the east in deep waters several thousand meters depth around midday. 

First stop Sunday afternoon found two more Bluefin tuna larvae. As we have continued to survey closer to the center of an eddy off the loop current the sampling has not yielded good results for Bluefin. Current speed increases near the center of the gyre (circular ocean current), which is not a desired physical feature to increase the probability of finding Bluefin tuna larvae.

Water pressure problems with hoses have plagued washing and cleaning nets for a couple of days. The engineer has resolved as needed, but a pump may have to be replaced in our next port Gulfport, Mississippi.

Each day after reviewing sampling results and new data from drifter buoys if deployed, the Chief Scientist (Lamkin) evaluates Roffers provided satellite data to determine if current plans or changes are needed to provide the highest probability of finding Bluefin tuna larvae. Any changes in navigation to reach new station locations are communicated to Captain Lake and the science team informed of current plans. 

[image-126]One of the NOAA members of the science team that played a significant role in planning and preparing for the current cruise is Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) Aras Zygas. Aras is an officer in the NOAA Commissioned Corps currently assigned to the Early Life History (ELH) lab at NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Miami, Florida. He reported to Miami in December 2013 after two years serving as Navigation Officer on the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow conducting fisheries surveys in the northeast.

Currently, Aras provides operational and administrative support to the ELH lab. Sailing for his first time as a member of the scientific party, Aras is enjoying getting hands-on experience in the fieldwork that plays a crucial role in the research being conducted by the ELH lab. Although he is new to the world of plankton and larval fish, Aras looks forward to broadening his horizons and getting more involved in the lab's ongoing research.

[image-110]The captain of the F.G. Walton Smith is Shawn Lake, who is a 15 year veteran with the Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (RSMAS). Captain Lake is responsible for the crew supervision, safety, logistics, cleanliness, general ship’s business and accounting. He is the link between the ship and the RSMAS marine office at the University of Miami.

Captain Lake is also one of two certified Medical Person In Charge (MPIC) on board, the other is Denis Ilias, Electronics Technician. MPIC’s are trained to be able to stabilize persons with injuries that may include broken limbs, concussions or heart problems until medical attention can be obtained onshore through a port or in serious cases airlift by a coast guard helicopter. The range of the coast guard helicopter is about 250 miles from shore, so if the ship is further offshore than 250 miles the course is changed to meet the helicopter as soon as possible.

[image-94]Captain Lake has a wide range of responsibilities to carry out in a very dynamic marine environment. Given the ever change marine environment, he appreciates the value of remotely sensed satellite data for informed navigation to support the scientific objectives of the cruise. The captain explained that ocean currents are ever changing and that water moves rapidly in some currents. He noted that currents frequently move at a speed of about 3 knots and up to 5-6 knots in the Gulf Stream. Captain Lake uses the currents to save fuel whenever possible as routes are planned to future sampling stations.

The captain explained that one of the most difficult aspects of carrying out his duties was making decisions about weather; such as whether to change course to evade a storm or return to port if time allowed. He also indicated that keeping the ship maintained was a major challenge, especially as to setting priorities within budget constraints. Being at sea for long periods of time takes the captain and crew away from families and home for long periods of time, which creates unique challenges. On the other hand, Captain Lake does enjoy being in the marine environment and contributing to science.

[image-78]Captain Lake’s crew and major duties for each are as follows:

  • Bill Nelson, Chief Mate: second in command, supervises crew and operates machinery
  • Mike Shoup, Chief Engineer: in charge of vessel machinery at port and sea, including electrical, plumbing and internal combustion engine systems
  • Denis Ilias, Electronic Technician: maintains vessel science equipment, trains science team on deployment of science gear, MPIC and related logistics
  • Kelly Stoerman, Cook/Steward: in charge of the galley and mess areas, maintains purchasing records and prepares staterooms for occupancy pre-cruise
  • Ken McCarthy, Relief Mate: general duties as assigned by the Chief Mate or Captain
  • Todd Hendrickson, Deck Hand: general duties as assigned by the Chief Mate or Captain
  • Gene Otto, Deck Hand: general duties as assigned by the Chief Mate or Captain

The F. G. Walton Smith’s ship decks have the following major features: 

  • Upper deck: bridge, captain’s quarters, gym (stationary bike and light weights), tender rescue boat, life rafts, and winch cab
  • Main deck: staterooms (where we sleep), galley, mess hall, science lab, and rear deck for deploying equipment
  • Lower deck: staterooms, food storage, washer/dryer area, engineers, machine maintenance area

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Bluefin tuna larvae caught in the Gulf of Mexico on May 18, 2014.
Bluefin tuna larvae caught in the Gulf of Mexico on May 18, 2014.
Image Credit: 
Maury Estes
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Kelly Stoerman is the cook/steward in charge of the galley and mess areas, as well as purchasing records and staterooms preparation.
Kelly Stoerman is the cook/steward in charge of the galley and mess areas, as well as purchasing records and staterooms preparation.
Image Credit: 
Maury Estes
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Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico
Another beautiful sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.
Image Credit: 
Maury Estes
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Captain Lake and Maury Estes on the bridge of the F.G. Walton Smith.
Captain Shawn Lake and Maury Estes on the bridge of the F.G. Walton Smith.
Image Credit: 
Maury Estes
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Lieutenant Junior Grade Aras Zygas communicates with winch cab deployment equipment.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Aras Zygas communicates with winch cab deployment equipment.
Image Credit: 
Maury Estes
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[image-126]
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Page Last Updated: May 19th, 2014
Page Editor: Brooke Boen