May 19, 2007
My shift started right after lunch. We hauled up 4 sets of fish pots (traps) and my job was to throw the hook to reel in the pots. I know the crew didn't have to give me the chance to do this but I am sure glad they did. I strapped myself in, coiled my rope, grabbed the hook and threw it over the buoys and caught them. Anytime you catch something for the first time it is a rush. Jamie is the deck boss, extremely safety conscience, organized, and just a really nice woman. She has given me a ton of opportunities to be a part of this research experience. When I get to be an actual participant, the whole experience becomes very real.
The rest of the day, we put the net in to trawl fish. The catch has been marginal. The scientists all need samples to validate their work. I now realize the effort that is put into discovering and studying such a hard specimen such as the ice fish. In between net hauls, University of Maine PHD student Jody Wojick uses her time to dissect fish samples. No time is wasted, these scientists are focused in getting as much work done and sampling as possible while out in the field. If you have ever thought that being a research scientist is a cushy job, think again. Watching the scientists do their field work and actually being a part of the work really drives home the point that this is not easy.
During our last net tow around midnight, the net got caught on some rocks while dragging the bottom. The net snapped from the line and the fishing gear was lost - bummer. Not a good way to end a fishing trip. I am dead tired. I have muscles that ache that I didn't even know were there. The ship has a whirlpool bath tub, a lot like the one I have at home. I will be headed there shortly and it will feel good.
The ice fish team will switch with the seal team tomorrow at Palmer Station and back out to sea we will go.