The Seascapes

The Seascapes

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Butterfish Smackdown: "Butterfish Moon"

The "FV Karen Elizabeth" with the glider strapped to her head
“We usually get two gales in a 9 day fishing trip in December” Chris Roebuck assured me with a slight trace of a smile.  Josh and I were taking a short break from networking our two laptop computers and the satellite telephone in the tail of the robot glider we had just finished lashing to the bridge of the “Karen Elizabeth”.  Meanwhile the crew was busy offloading 40,000 lbs of boxed and frozen squid onto pallets they then moved with a forklift to the shoreside freezers.

The crew offloading frozen and boxed squid as it streams out of the hold of the "Karen Elizabeth"
Two electronics technicians were also busy in the bridge integrating several new sensors for fishing and navigation into the ships computer system that surpasses anything I have ever seen on land, let alone the water.  We felt pretty ridiculous standing in the same space with them struggling to get our two little laptops talking for the third time.  Seems we have lost the “smackdown” in computing technology too.  But I was able to get access to the gliders memory and satphone.  We are not sure how we did it, but we did. And now it really matters. 

The computing "Smackdown":  Our two measly little laptops at the top, and below the battery of computers and computing screens that Chris has installed in the bridge to give him information on the position of the boat, the fishing gear, the fish, and future conditions of the ocean and atmosphere 

We downloaded the latest habitat prediction and revised our sampling plan with Chris’s input.  He’s sure we can fish more stations than we planned to and that’s good.  Tomorrow at noon we to set sail for the location due south of Martha’s Vineyard that our model indicates is a  hotzone.  Tonight on the Full moon in December we will make our first tow.  Chris told me last night the we'll be fishing our first day on the what the fisherman used to call a "Butterfish Moon".  That makes us feel lucky. 

Nowcast of butterfish habitat from the model we made with the fisherman.  Point Judith, indicated by the blue dot, is the port where the "Karen Elizabeth" is tied up till noon.  

Matt Oliver sent us a beautiful true color satellite image that shows the band of high pressure between the clouds that are gradually moving east.  This should give us a number of really nice days for fishing.   However that gale Chris mentioned might also be looming in the southwest 4 to 5 days away.

MODIS satellite image showing band of clear high pressure sliding in toward us to give s few days of really nice clear weather.

Actually, Chris and his wife very generously treated me to dinner.  We had a great discussion about the ecologies of butterfish, squid and other species, the fishing business, and continued to develop an interesting approach to the sampling that will begin tomorrow.   As I said my goodbyes we talked about the weather.  “Oh we’ll get that gale,” He reiterated with a grin.  Actually if it’s a well-behaved one I’m secretly looking forward to it.  But that’s awfully easy to say while still tied up to the dock.

Josh, Matt and Laura are now going to take over blogging while we are offshore.

Josh lashing the glider to the "Karen Elizabeths" head.

No comments: