Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef Expedition 2012
Mission Information

Thursday: May 24, 2012
Log Summary

Sarah Fangman
ONMS / SEGoM Region
Chief Scientist

NOAA Ship Nancy Foster Sailing Board, May 20, 2012

NOAA Ship Nancy Foster "Sailing Board", May 20, 2012.
(Photo: Francine Grains)

With the first half of the Gray's Reef research expedition completed, we have time to look back at what was accomplished during our eleven day mission. The cruise was tremendously productive, despite Tropical Storm Alberto's best effort to complicate matters. The team was able to complete nearly two hundred science dives, in support of three of our four diving objectives (because we lost three days to weather, we were unable to work on the marine debris surveys; during leg 2, we hope to be able to finish a few tasks that we were unable to complete during this leg).

Greg McFall prepares to insert transmitter in gag grouper

Greg McFall prepares to insert transmitter in gag grouper.
(Photo: Jamie Park)

We finished the collections of arc shell samples, and made significant progress on servicing our acoustic receiver array. We were able to tag fourteen fish (6 black sea bass, six gag grouper and 2 scamp grouper) and we deployed our acoustic array which will be tracking these newly tagged fish.

Four lionfish captured at Gray's Reef

Four lionfish captured at Gray's Reef.
(Photo: Chris Briand)

We also removed all the lionfish we encountered. Only four were removed, but that may reflect the fact that our diving activities did not involve surveying large areas on this leg; during leg two, divers will be covering larger areas and visiting many more sites, so we expect to encounter more lionfish. Our non-diving objectives were also met, as we were able to complete approximately 56 square kilometers of multibeam mapping east of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Photos and videos were taken of all these activities, and will be used by the sanctuary for education and outreach.

LT Josh Slater (l) and Sarah Fangman (r) attaching new instrument that will be used to track tagged fish

LT Josh Slater (l) and Sarah Fangman (r) attaching new instrument that will be used to track tagged fish.
(Photo: Jamie Park)

All of this incredible work would not have been possible without the fabulous support of the ship's officers and crew and the scientists and volunteers that joined us for the expedition. Our productivity underwater was greatly increased by the able assistance of divers from the ship (LT Josh Slater, ENS Jamie Park and Senior Survey Technician Samantha Martin). We also had divers from the National Marine Fisheries Service in Panama City (Guy Davenport, Andy David, Chris Gardner and Steve Matthews), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (Paul Barbera), and the Gray's Reef Team Ocean Volunteer Diving Program (Randy Rudd, Mike Mullenix, Keith Borden and Shannon McAteer). National Marine Sanctuaries in Hawaii (Kelly Gleason, Papāhanaumokuakea Marine National Monument) and Texas (Michelle Johnston, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary) also sent scientists/divers to assist with our field work.

Finally, our arc shell collections were made possible by a scientist from NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (JD Dubick). Topside, we had fantastic support from the Gray's Reef Vessel Operations Coordinator and Marine Operations Coordinator (Chris Briand and Todd Recicar). We also had science support from our Teacher at Sea (Debbie Campbell), and a graduate student (Noelle Hawthorne). Mapping data analysis was completed by Kacey Johnson, and video editing was done by Gabrielle Garcia-Pardo.

By having Gray's Reef webmaster, Debbie Meeks aboard the ship during the cruise(s) we have been able to have our logs updated more timely so that everyone back at home port could follow our progress daily.

Many thanks to all! Please visit the Leg II expedition site to keep track of our activities during the next cruise.


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