Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spring Break: Continental Shelf - Day 6 - First Sampling

After hanging out in port for a couple days, the Bigelow is now ship-shape (I will never apologize for puns) and spent yesterday steaming down to the first sample sites off of New Jersey.  Being on the midnight-noon watch, I was on hand when we hit the first station.  Of course, being one of the newbie volunteers, I snapped pictures like a ravenous tourist (kudos go out to fellow volunteer Mary who snapped some of the "at-work" photos while I was helping work up fish).  My own thesis sampling won't start until we hit the North Carolina strata later this week, but aside from being part of how I earn my keep aboard the ship, these early tows are important for helping me get the rhythm down and know how to fit my own stuff in. 

Pictures and play-by-play commentary below the jump.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spring Break: Continental Shelf - Pictures from Days 1 and 2

The laptop has officially been cleared for the ship's network, so in the future I'll be integrating pictures into the posts.  For now though, read the previous post and see if you can match these pictures up to it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spring Break: Continental Shelf - Days 1 and 2

Sorry about the lack of updating yesterday.  Like any good marine biologist I've been sidelined with a massive case of seasickness.  I seem to be over it now so here's a quick recap of the past couple days.  Pictures will be added in a future post after my laptop get scanned for viruses tomorrow.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bring Me That Horizon

After a slight miscommunication that nearly kept me from getting through the gate (and I was afraid would get me shot or arrested... mostly shot) I have been aboard the Bigelow since about 9 this morning.  We set off from sunny Newport, RI a little after 11, and are currently starting our way down to the Mid-Atlantic region (off the east coast of the U.S, not the Mid-Atlantic Ridge).  I am currently typing this on the computer available in the quarters, but hope to talk to the proper channels about getting my laptop set up to work on the ship's network.  Yes, I already have pretty pictures to share.  Hopefully I can share them soon.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Title of a Lonely Island Song

After what can only be described as "hell week," I'm finally ready to embark on the biggest adventure in my grad school career (though I hear the AFS Tidewater meeting can get pretty raucous).  Starting tomorrow I'll be heading up to my old stomping grounds in Rhode Island where I'll meet the NOAA R/V Henry Bigelow and it will become my home for nearly three weeks. 

The Bigelow apparently maintains a satellite linkage for constant internet access.  That means I'll be chiming in fairly regularly with updates on how the research is going/funny stories from the sea/pictures of badass marine life and/or shark puke.  Oh yes, there will be pictures.

Until the next update, enjoy the NSFW celebration of my next three weeks below the jump.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

One down...

Thesis proposal defense: successful.  Now the matter of this boat trip...

Monday, February 15, 2010


So I've been talking a big game so far about spiny dogfish, shark/fisherman interactions, and my own research (and let's not forget the Sharktopus), but tomorrow is the first of many, many times I'll be forced to put my money where my mouth is.  That's right, the thesis proposal defense is tomorrow, where I present everything I've been working on for the past semester and a half to a small crowd of my mentors and hope I haven't left any holes big enough to tear the whole project apart.  After that, spiny dogfish and their stomach contents own me for the next year and a half (at least).  Then I get to defend the whole thing

But that's old news for most of the readers, as I'm pretty sure everyone who reads this blog is in grad school.  Immediately following (and I do mean just about immediately) will be (hopefully) some inshore sampling and then I live on the Bigelow until just about the end of Spring Break.  Don't worry, I'll be bringing a camera.

Update tomorrow, after I've either celebrated or drowned my sorrows.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Awesome" is the Word You're Looking For

DSN has taken to posting their Twitter posts daily on the blog, and this usually leads to some pretty entertaining finds (plus my first porbeagle post got a shout-out... I'm internet famous!).  However, nothing I had seen previously could prepare me for this...

Yes, this is on my screen saver now.  From

Apparently the next great monster movie from SyFy will be titled simply "Sharktopus" and will feature, according to this article, something even stranger than the above concept painting.
This leads your humble author to speculate on whether this is the end result of cinematic tour-de-force "Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus," which ended with (spoiler alert!) an apparent fight to the death between its two stars.  I'm suggesting that perhaps the octopus and shark realized they had more in common than they thought, and after sinking out of sight, talked it out over some coffee, and, just maybe, fell in love...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More on Gulf of Maine Porbeagles

 Photo by Andy Murch.

First off, peace to Captain Phil.

Recently Underwater Times has linked to a couple more stories about the population of porbeagles interacting with fishermen in the Gulf of Maine.  This whole story has some interesting parallels with the spiny dogfish situation, except in this case with a much larger shark with a much less controversial conservation status.  

Monday, February 8, 2010

Grad School Life

A little personal update for those of you keeping score at home.

Field work is heating up.  In the next two weeks I'm either due to be on a week-long cruise (possibly with only a day's notice... weeeee...) or on a couple day trips for some inshore sampling.  After that I'll be hopping on the NOAA R/V Henry Bigelow until mid-March.  All while teaching and going to class.  If nothing else, grad school really teaches you how to multitask.

This of course goes hand in hand with defending my thesis proposal, which will be fit in there somewhere. 

At times like these it's important to stop and remember why you're trying to line all this stuff up.  In my case it's because I'm about to be out on the high sees playing with small sharks.  And that's pretty cool.

Start looking for field work-related posts soon.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bait in the Water

Both fishing and a lot of marine science are generally all about dropping some bait in the water and seeing what happens.  Swiped from Climate Shifts by way of DSN, here's a selection of possible outcomes when you drop a baited camera in the waters off Australia.

My personal favorites: the hammerhead repeatedly smacking against the camera (I can just imagine it thinking "curse you, evolution!") and the repeated, and ultimately successful, attempts by a massive tiger shark at separating bait from camera (including the near-demise of a sea snake hanging out in the wrong place at the wrong time).

Enjoy, and go Saints.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Trouble with Models

Today I'm going to talk about something that has proven to be both a blessing and a curse to fisheries management.  I'm going to talk about modeling. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sharks from Home

Short but sweet post today on some shark news from my old stomping grounds in New England, courtesy of Underwater Thrills.

First off, a short and breezy documentary on blue sharks off the coast of my home state of Rhode Island:

Snappa Charters has been running shark dives out of the Port of Galilee in Narragansett for decades.  I remember seeing the shark cage on the back of their boat when I was a kid and wondering what it would be like to cage dive with some of the Atlantic's finest.  One day...

To prove just how sharky the cool waters up North can be, here's another story about great whites marked with satellite tags off of Massachusetts.  The first tag has popped up and Greg Skomal of the Mass DMF is going over the data.  This first shark made it all the way to Florida, so it should be some interesting stuff.

And of course, no discussion of New England sharks would be complete without linking to Captain Tom's New England Sharks site.  This site is a testament to the amount of knowledge that fishermen can provide on the marine ecosystem.