On this final day of sampling, we found ourselves back up north…farther north than before. It seems that every day we steam north to start the sampling. The reason for this is to keep up with the migration of the salmon post-smolts. They are funneling along the shelf here off of the Voering Plateau moving with the northerly current.
With the anticipation of heading back to port, everyone was excited to have a great day here on the calm Norwegian Sea. With the net in the water, the sun came in and out most of the day and finally stuck around for the entire haul of the last tow. With the sun shining, the birds were soaring around the ship and the final haul came in yielding a fair number of post-smolts along with an escaped hatchery fish. This adult fish was in very good condition but had been eating seaweed because it looks like fish pellets. This is not a nutritious substitute for the small fish and plankton the fish should be eating.
An adult salmon from the trawl.
We are now steaming back to Killybegs from above the Arctic Circle. It should be a two and half day steam. Hopefully the seas will stay calm.
The evening brought a beautiful sunset as we passed below the Arctic Circle. The sun disappeared behind a bank of fog before we could see it skim across the horizon as it would up here, but it was a stellar evening nonetheless.
I woke up to a foggy morning with calm seas. We started the day around 63°N and continue to steam north. The water temperature is a balmy 8.5°C (47°F) and the air temperature is around 10°C (50°F). The winds are calm so the fog seems to be sticking with us but the wind is supposed to shift tomorrow so it could clear out some of the fog. I spent some time on the bridge today and saw some passing schools of mackerel on the surface. They quickly went below when they sensed the ship coming but it is always nice to see signs of life on the open ocean.
The rest of the day was spent preparing for the upcoming work which is going to be fast and furious. I have an early morning wakeup call at 3:30 am to get out on deck by 4:00 for the launching of the CTD (Conductivity Temperature Depth Recorder). We should be passing through the Arctic Circle shortly.
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:
After a bit of time on land, it is time for Gaelin and Global Ocean Exploration to head back out to sea. We will be embarking on the R/V Celtic Explorer departing from Killybegs, Ireland and heading north into the Norwegian Sea. Gaelin is honored to be carrying the Explorers Club Flag #81 on this expedition.
The purpose of the voyage is to track Atlantic Salmon Migration at Sea. The scientists I will be working with have completed a comprehensive genetic map of the rivers of Northern Europe and now are taking their sampling out into the ocean where they will collect specimens in order to add the ocean migrations into this map. Understanding where the Atlantic Salmon go once they leave the rivers is of vital importance to creating conservation strategies for this fish prized for food and sport fishing.
Currently, I am finishing my preparations to fly out to Ireland this evening where I will visit the Marine Institute, get some final safety certifications and then head out to sea on Tuesday. Stay tuned to the blog for updates about the voyage and the science, and lots of pictures!
Map of Voyage
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