All aboard the RV Ocean Starr

Cross-posted from Sarah G. Wheeler. Read more and comment there!


View leaving SF Bay

For the next 7 days, I will be volunteering on a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) research cruise on the RV Ocean Starr. Each year, the NMFS division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducts surveys along the west coast for fishes (icthyoplankton), krill, jellyfish, squid etc. These surveys are focused on studying fish populations as well as oceanography. The findings of these surveys are used to manage our fisheries and generate stock assessments. This goal is accomplished by trawling for fish with large Modified-Cobb midwater trawl nets at different depths. Before each trawl (weather permitting), the scientists will conduct a CTD cast, which measures conductivity, temperature and depth. The CTD is also designed to take water samples at specified depths.


Modified-Cobb midwater trawl



My role as a volunteer is to help sort through the catch from each trawl. We identify, count and measure a subset of the entire catch. All the trawls are conducted at night, which means my shift is ~8pm – 6am. Last night our trawling was delayed due to sustained 40 mph winds. Looks like it is upwelling season! The winds finally subsided at approximately 3:30 am and we were able to begin sampling.

What was the highlight of the first shift? Getting to see some baby rockfish! So cute!

About Sarah Wheeler

I am an Ecology Ph.D. Candidate in the Joint Doctoral Program in Ecology with San Diego State and the University of California, Davis. My dissertation research in Dr. Todd Anderson’s lab seeks to identify the biological and oceanographic factors that affect population replenishment in rockfishes (Sebastes spp.). My research interests include fisheries science, larval ecology, marine population connectivity and ocean chemistry. I am also the co-founder of the Marine Ecology and Biology Student Association (MEBSA), an organization created to foster a marine science community in San Diego and to communicate science to the public through outreach and education.
When I am not in the lab or in the field, I like to spend time with my friends and family. You can often find me on a bike, on a hike, or at the beach!
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