Although I won’t be formally joining the lab until January, my informal transition has already begun. Luckily for me, my tenure at as graduate student started off with a fieldwork cruise! In September I joined the crew of the Bell M. Shimada to assist with the deployment of one of ORCAAlab’s Ocean Noise Reference Station (NRS) moorings. The focus of my graduate research will be to analyze recordings from the NRS project, so it was  exciting to have the opportunity to help out with a deployment.

This is a map of the NRS deployments. On the Shimada I helped deploy NRS03.
This is a map of the NRS deployments. On the Shimada I helped deploy NRS03.

The Ocean Noise Reference Stations will be deployed in NOAA Marine Sanctuaries and some other US marine areas of interest. We hope that the recordings from these moorings will allow us to compare ocean soundscapes and monitor long-term changes in a new way. Currently, many different types of autonomous recording units (ARU) exist and are used by passive acoustics research groups. While this is excellent for documenting ocean noise in isolated areas, different recording technology and mooring design make it difficult to compare soundscapes. The NRS project recorders are all calibrated to the exact same specifications so we may accurately compare ambient ocean noise around the US and in NOAA sanctuary waters.

NRS03 staged on the deck.
NRS03 staged on the deck.

On this trip we were to deploy NRS station 3, off the coast of Washington State. We set sail out of Newport on a wet and windy day. This was my first journey in the Pacific ocean, and the weather certainly lived up to my expectations! Avoiding the offshore storms, we started our trip by traveling north along the coast of Oregon. Cheif scientist Jay Peterson recruited a science crew of faculty, students, and volunteers and we were all assigned watches and jobs for our week on the Shimada. Between all of us we would process water samples (via CTD), jig for squid, dip-net for jellyfish, retrieve a NOAA DART (Deep-ocean Assesment and Reporting of Tsunamis) monitoring buoy, and deploy a Noise Reference Station. Suffice to say, we had a busy week at sea!

Preparing the float for deployment.
Preparing the float for deployment (photo credit: Megan Stachura) .
Deploying the top float of NRS03.
Deploying the top float of NRS03.

I was also able to help out with some of the other projects. Here I am helping to catch jellyfish for Samantha Zeman’s project.

Trying to catch jellyfish in the dip net.
Trying to catch jellyfish in the dip net (photo credit: Megan Stachura) .
We came across a swarm of jellyfish on out way back into Newport.
We came across a swarm of jellyfish on out way back into Newport (photo credit: Megan Stachura).

It was great to have the opportunity to visit Newport before starting at OSU this winter, and I hope I get a chance to help with another deployment soon!

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