Tag Archives: Gaelin

June 26: Northernmost Point of the Cruise (or is it?)- Sampling Begins

 

In the early morning (0330), We reached the anticipated northernmost point of the cruise, 67.5°N, the starting point for the sampling.  The cruise plan was to head to this point and see what we find.  If we found a large number of salmon, we would continue north.  So with a CTD done and a plankton sample collected, the first trawl of the cruise was put out for one hour to test the waters.  In this first haul, we found only one post-smolt so it was determined that we should turn southward to continue our sampling for the day in as Southerly direction.  Our second haul was far more productive yielding 50+ salmon. 

In addition to the post-smolt salmon, the net captured a few other species that were sampled as well: mackerel, herring and lumpsuckers.  Lumpsuckers are one of my favorite fish.  I don’t know much about them but they are absolutely beautiful with a crazy turquoise coloration and textured body.  The mackerel are in large numbers as we see them on the surface.  The population of mackerel and herring in this region is healthy and almost over-abundant due to the intense management of the stocks in the past years. 

A small lumpsucker

A Large Mackerel

Herring (these made their way into the galley for breakfast)

 

We are in international waters.  As we headed south, we encountered the Russian trawler fleet, targeting the large mackerel shoals we are seeing on the surface of the sea.  These ships are massive, well over 100 meters.  One possibility for the loss of the salmon at sea is that large numbers are being discarded as bycatch.

 

 

Our sampling trawls stay out for about 3 hours.  In that time, there is ample time to spend on the bridge looking for passing wildlife.  There were some sperm whales cruising by the boat and someone sighted some orca as well.  I missed the orca but saw the sperm whales.  Apparently because of the ridge here, we should see quite a few whales and the sperm whales seem to like this area very much.  I hope at least one of the whales wants to check out this big green boat so that I can have a closer look at him. 

With the day of sampling completed, we will turn and head back north to begin sampling in the morning at a spot close to where we began today.  The smolts are moving at approximately 15 nautical miles per day so we must anticipate this movement when choosing where to sample.  Essentially, we are looking for the highest concentration of post-smolts along our journey. 

 

The SALSEA PROJECT- “Lost At Sea” Film

 

A few months ago, Deirdre Brennan, a fellow member of the Explorers Club, approached me about a film, “Lost At Sea,” she is making with Eamon de Buitlear about Atlantic Salmon and where they go in the ocean once they leave the rivers. The ratio of fish leaving the rivers to those returning has declined dramatically in recent years indicating a high mortality of the salmon at sea. In an effort to learn more about these post-smolt fish, the SALSEA project was created to learn about the oceanic migration of the salmon. Deirdre asked me to come along on one of the SALSEA expeditions to film and assist in the early stages of the film. Being the avid fisherman that I am and of course, my desire to know all there is to know about every fish in the sea, led me to participate on this SALSEA expedition aboard the RV Celtic Explorer into the Norwegian Sea to collect and sample post-smolt Atlantic Salmon on their way to their feeding grounds to the North.

I am very excited to be on this voyage and a part of this project as it is one of the first of its kind to do a comprehensive study of salmon at sea. We will be fishing for the salmon with surface trawls (large nets dragged right at the surface) because the post-smolt salmon, fish just leaving the rivers, are found in only the surface waters no deeper than 3m. Because the scientists are using genetic markers to identify the fish, every fish captured becomes useful as opposed to only tagged fish in the past. There are 1360 known salmon rivers in Europe and many of the highly productive rivers have been “genetically mapped” so that the fish caught in the ocean can be identified to their natal river.

We are heading north to an area west of the Voering Plateau where the salmon funnel into the Barents and Greenland Seas. This “salmon pass” is our target area in our quest to document the salmon migration. In its second year, the SALSEA project will attempt to answer questions of where the salmon go when they leave the rivers and why they are not returning.

 

Gaelin Rosenwaks & Deirdre Brennan are carrying Explorers Club Flag #81 on this expedition

 

HERE IS LINK TO OUR CRUISE TRACK FROM MY SPOT TRACKER:

MAP