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Journals 2009/2010

Beth Brocato
Exeter-West Greenwich Junior High School, W. Greenwich, Rhode Island

"Bottom Trawl Survey, Northeast Fisheries Science Center"
September 9 - 24, 2009
Journal Index:
September 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16
                 17 - 18 - 19 - 20 - 21 - 22 - 23

September 21, 2009
Lots of rays

Track the Bigelow.

The first catch of the night watch today yielded an almost entire net full of stingrays. This is not altogether unusual because stingrays have mouths on their undersides and are typically found feeding off of the ocean bottom. Cutting open their stomachs you will generally find crabs, squid and some shellfish.

This is the hopper full of the catch of almost entirely stingrays.

Stingrays are a bit tricky to process for a couple of reasons. First being their size. Some of the largest stingrays are bigger than the average man. These rays had to be weighed with the on-deck crane and measured with measuring tapes. Then they are hefted over the deck railing, back into the sea. The smaller rays are processed through the conveyor belt sorter inside.

Another reason stingrays are tricky to process is that their tails contain a sharp barb. This barb can be very dangerous if the whip-like tail of the ray impales you. This is how Steve Irwin died. The scientists have to de-barb all of the rays before they come in to be processed.

Close up of a stingray barb

I also wanted to introduce you to a couple of people who are on my watch. The first is April. April is the only other female on my watch. She is a lot of fun. She is from Virginia, but currently works at a NOAA lab in Connecticut where she studies oyster blood and analyzes oyster immunities.

This is April who is also a crew member on my watch.

Another crewmember on my watch is Frank. Frank is my analyzing partner. Once the catch has been sorted, a pair known as a cutter and a recorder report to their data stations. Frank uses the fish board to measure, weigh and cut each and every fish in a sort. It is my job to record the length weight, sex, stomach contents and to collect fish otoliths.

This is Frank on one of our short, early morning breaks.
This is one screen of the computer program I use to record fish species.

QUESTION: What other fish is closely related to the stingray?