Science “Rocks”!

My typical day is spent in front of a computer, writing lines of code to analyze the movements of juvenile Steller sea lions; but occasionally I get to help with some of the other fieldwork projects going on in the Science Department.

Last week, we set out into Resurrection Bay on the ASLC research vessel Jubatus to test its new addition: an A-frame and winch system. The sturdy archway with hydraulic lift was outfitted to Jubatus to enable the deployment and retrieval of heavy moorings and equipment at sea.

Since we didn’t want to use the frame’s maiden voyage with any expensive equipment, we instead teamed up with the ASLC aquarium crew who were looking to bring some large rocks back for the exhibits. With a pirate song and a heave-ho, we set out to bring garbage bins full of rocks up from the depths where the divers had collected them. One at the helm, two on the line, and two guiding the payload– our team successfully retrieved 3 collections, and the system worked beautifully!

While hauling rocks is fun, the next step will be to use the A-frame for actual equipment deployments. The first project it will be used for aims to record footage of the elusive Pacific Sleeper Sharks. Most people would be concerned if their camera was ‘deployed’ at depths of 800ft, but Markus has been outfitting Go-Pro cameras in special underwater housings that can withstand the pressures of the deep.

The underwater video and monitoring equipment, and A-frame construction was funded by a grant from the Rasmuson Foundation.

Written by: Dr. Amy Bishop

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