May 17, 2007
Today was our first fishing day. We started out the day by setting out 5 sets. That is 3 fish pots all attached to each other and then attached to a line with 3 buoys so we can find the pots tomorrow. Each pot has 3 bags of bait (cut up sardines and mackerel) inside. The fish swim into a funnel like entrance and then can't figure out how to get out. I guess that is why they call it a trap.
After the fish pots were hauled out, we began setting up for net trawls. The ship will tow an 18 foot net dragging the bottom for ice fish. The problem is that the ice fish are 450 feet down. This means in order for the net to get to the bottom, a cable must be let out 1,350 feet. A good math question is how fast is the ship towing for this to work? This net is towed at the bottom for 20 minutes, after the net is brought up there is a frantic search of the cod end (where all the fish are) to get the ice fish in the aquarium. The scientists want live fish not the dead ones.
I work from noon until midnight, checking the catch every hour. We did OK, but not great. We would like to catch over 100 of these fishes. We finished the night with about 20. The ice fish are strange looking fish, large heads and a relatively small body. They are visual predators so they open their huge mouth and the prey gets sucked in - a pretty cool way to eat.
It is cold here, hovering around 20 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of about -15 degrees. I spend more energy getting dressed and undressed than anything else. I feel like I am going skiing once an hour. I love seeing these strange creatures and I can't wait to share them with my students.
More fishing tomorrow. This is a wild adventure and I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.