Weedlines: A Sargassum Research Blog

PS-18-07 Daily Log

July 16, 2018 (Day 8)*

*Note:these will be posted on a one-day delay, i.e., this report is for yesterday’s activities.

Wow, it’s hard to believe we’ve been at this for 8 days now! Below is a summary of today’s activities aboard the R/V Point Sur, another outstanding day on the water.

Ransomrig

The camera rig in a patch of Sargassum with the R/V Point Sur in the background taken from small boat ops.

We really hit the Sargassum jackpot today. Thanks to some helpful guidance from our remote sensing team, by 0830 this morning we had located a region of the Gulf with very high Sargassum biomass, the most we’ve seen during this project by far. As we slowly approached the mats to pick a few nice sampling targets, we were greeted by large schools of fish–Triggerfishes, Filefishes, Amberjacks, other small tunas and jacks, and more. Just an amazing number of fishes, many of them adults, though there were quite a few juveniles as well. We were in the bluest of blue water, so they were easy to see, and we got to work!

ROV.jpg

The ROV being deployed as fish swim nearby.

Our sampling ops proceeded well, including the CTD cast, water sample collection, and camera rig survey. The Sabiki rig fishing was so productive we cut our fishing time in half after collecting many juvenile (small and large) Amberjack species (Seriolaspp.). We conducted an ROV survey under one of the large mats and observed scores of fishes, including Tripletails, Mahi Mahi, and numerous Filefish and Triggerfish species. Although very hot today, the sea conditions were absolutely perfect, glassy smooth, so we decided to try our luck with the purse seine. After one set that didn’t quite work out, the second purse seine set collected a large amount of Sargassum, along with Sargassumfish, Tripletail, Rainbow Runner, Filefishes, and other species. A very nice haul–thanks to a lot of effort (kudos to everyone who made that happen!). We wrapped up our sampling for the day (and for this cruise) with an open water station, where in addition to CTD data and water samples, we collected more cool fishes in the neuston net, including larval Billfish, Flyingfish and Mahi Mahi, among others.

Purse seine

And that’s it. We have set a course for Gulfport and expect to arrive at our home port around 1800 or so on Tuesday evening. This will be the last daily report for this cruise, as tomorrow will be spent cleaning our gear, packing samples and equipment, downloading vessel data, and cleaning up the lab and state rooms for the next group coming aboard. Not nearly as exciting as the previous 8 days.

Fun

I want to thank the Captain and crew of the R/V Point Surfor another wonderful cruise; we certainly could not accomplish our work without you guys. It’s been a productive and fun cruise, as always. And thanks to our funding agency, the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program, for making this research possible.

Crew

First Mate JD Ellington, Assistant engineer/deck operations Mark McMullan, Captain Nicholas Allen, Chief Engineer Josh Jansen, Marine Technician Josh Bierbaum, Chef Alex Forsythe

And thanks to everyone who followed along with us during this cruise and our previous cruise in May. We hope you enjoyed the blog. We’ll be on the water again 2019, so don’t forget about us. Between now and then, we’ll be working up our samples, processing data, and preparing manuscripts for publication. We also plan to attend several state and federal management meetings to update fisheries biologists on our research, and work with them to incorporate our findings into population assessments for managed species.

P.S. from the Chief-Scientist

Science Team.jpg

Science Team.png

Frank.jpgI can’t express enough my gratitude to all of the young scientists aboard the R/V Point Sur during our cruises this year. They have worked tirelessly, without complaint, in summer heat and in the rain. They are diligent and serious about the work we are doing, and at the same time their good cheer and gumbo of personalities has made these trips some of the most enjoyable I’ve ever had. To go to sea on a large research vessel is, for some, a once in a lifetime experience. For this summer’s group of undergraduate interns, graduate students, research technicians, and postdocs, I sincerely hope this is not the case, and that they enjoy many such opportunities in the future, perhaps even leading their own cruises one day. Until then, you are always welcome to hop on board with me, anytime!

FJH

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