Geoff Goodenow, May 6, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Geoff Goodenow
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette

May 2 – 25, 2004

Mission: Swordfish Assessment Survey
Geographical Area:
Hawaiian Islands
May 6, 2004

Local Time: 1600
Lat: 19 19 N
Long: 155 57 W
Sky: thin overcast
Air temp: 25.5 C
Barometer: 1011.28
Wind: 348 degrees at 9 knots
Relative humidity: 59.9
Sea temp: 26.6 C
Depth: 1997 m

Technical and Scientific Log

Longline retrieval began as usual at 800 hours (Can you tell I’m getting more than just my sea legs?). Everyone was feeling optimistic as various (secret) measures were employed through the night to ward off another disappointing haul. We did begin with a bit of bad luck as the line somehow got under the hull. (Obviously we have a few kinks to work out of the rituals.) Rich indicated that we had lost a couple big ones because of that. But we did land 4 fish – 2 dophinfish, alive, and 2 broadbill swordfish (Xiphias gladius) both dead on arrival. The latter were young fish just over 100 cm and each with a bill of about 52 cm which I collected. Hoping to get them home, but airline security might have something to say about that. We also brought on a couple yellowfin and a skipjack tuna while trolling through the afternoon and evening.

Yesterday I gave you an idea as to how Michele will use the blood, liver and tissue samples she is collecting. I am gathering muscle tissue samples for Brittany who is a grad student at Univ. of Hawaii, I believe. Those samples are to be used for stable isotope analysis of these pelagic fishes. I cannot recall enough about this and no one on board can help me give you an explanation of that work, but I will get details eventually. Let it be enough for now to say that the data collected should provide info on the trophic history and possible migration patterns of these fishes.

Some pilot whales and dolphins swam with us briefly today. No day time plankton tows today.

The depth of our longline sets the past couple nights has been about 40 meters. Depth of set depends on what you are trying to catch and the lunar cycle. Rich suggests that perhaps we should have been deeper. On full moon, for example, you would set deeper than at new moon. The fish tend to adjust their depth to maintain a rather constant level of light.

We are not setting the longline tonight. Winds have calmed outside of this area so we are going to head away through the night in search of happier hunting grounds (or should I say “fishing waters?”)

Personal Log

Given “gentle” seas, life on this vessel is very comfortable. Of course, gentle is a relative term and one that I hope in short time comes to be useful to me in situations that currently bring on thoughts like “why did I ever decide to do this?” (That only happened Sunday into early Monday; I’m having a great time since then.) Today I want to tell a bit what it’s like on board.

Most interior space in the ship is air conditioned; only stairwells are not. This contrasts quite favorably to the first research ship I went on. I remember very well the mens’ quarters — hot, hot, hot as it was just forward of the engine room, always smelling of diesel, “bunks” 3 high with about a foot of head room, and only a red lamp for lighting.

Here,I share a room about midship just above the main deck with Rickard, a Swedish graduate student working with Kerstin on the vision studies. Our stateroom is about 10X15 feet. It is carpeted, we have bunk beds, a desk, sink, closet and a window. We share a toilet and shower with one other person, a crew member, in the adjoining room. I think all of the science personnel are on this deck.

Meals/food service are excellent. The galley is always open and we may help ourselves to a variety of treats, snacks and real food at any time of day. For breakfast, cold cereals, bread, fruits, hot drinks and juices are available and the galley staff will prepare eggs, pancakes, meats, hot cereals as to your order.

Lunch and supper always include a salad bar and your choice of 2 entrees and a variety of side dishes. Not that we are on a strictly fish diet, but all of the fish that we have taken for specimens are immediately iced down and saved for the cooks who have many ways of making them a treat for the palate. Tonight featured freshly caught ahi cooked on a grill on deck.

Last night’s sunset was a beauty. I saw for the first time, the “green flash”.


Lets turn to the atmosphere for a few questions. If you are keeping up with answering the questions (or just look above), you have an idea of the latitude of the islands. What is the name, including direction, of the global wind belt the Hawaiian islands lie within?

The ship has been sailing along the west coast of the big island, Hawaii. Is this the windward or the leeward side of the island? The heights of Maui and Hawaii help create the weather observed on different parts of the islands. Look at a map of Hawaii and find the towns, Hilo and Kona. Which of the two would you predict to have the drier climate? Why? Check some other sources for precipitation records to find out if you are correct.

You can try the same for Maui. Hana is on the east side and Lahaina is on the west. Make some predictions as to the relative climates of each town then check other sources of climate data to see if you are correct.

If you have any questions, please send them my way.


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