Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Pacific Orcinus Distribution Survey 2016

Researchers follow endangered Southern Resident killer whales off the coasts of OR and WA.

Welcome to the 2016 PODS Blog page! NOAA Fisheries scientists will be conducting a survey for 20 days aboard the NOAA ship Bell M. Shimada to help us understand where endangered Southen Resident killer whales go during the winter months, as well as to better understand their ecosystem. Follow us as we share interesting news and photos from our survey!

Ready to go, but seas are rough!

By Peggy Foreman
Posted on February 25, 2016


February 20th, 2016

Greetings from Newport, Oregon! NOAA scientists and the crew of the Bell M. Shimada are prepping for our 2016 Pacific Orcinus Distribution Survey, AKA PODS 2016. For months the scientists have been finalizing the cruise plan, prepping their gear/supplies, calibrating devices, double checking equipment and securing backup systems for all possible scenarios. The scientists use a variety of equipment to locate and track the whales such as hydrophone arrays, sonobuoys, spotting scopes, and high powered binoculars. Cables for power, batteries to receive data, and computers to visualize the data are just a few examples of what we were trying to put to set up and test. Handheld radios and ship wired phones allow communication between the scientists and the crew at all time. Oceanographers set up the wet and dry lab in preparation for collecting surface water samples and the CTD for a range of depths, and XBTs that will be deployed if necessary. Essentially everything we need to conduct research at sea for 20 days was loaded, strapped down, set up and tested all before we leave the harbor. By mid day we heard from the Commanding Officer that weather and ocean conditions were not conducive to leaving in the afternoon, so we continued to preload some of our data sheets, reinforce our schedules, protocols and get ready.

What does this look like though, you might be asking. First of all everyone was in their foul weather gear, stocking caps, hard hats and PFDs when any cranes or equipment were running on the outer decks. The heavier gear was lifted on board either on pallets or in a metal cages, or directly placed items such as the small inflatable boat directly onto the decks of the ship. Here are a few photos of the day:

The Bell M. Shimada embarks from Newport, Oregon.
Most of the scientists and crew.
Our small boat.
Safety training.
Testing the array.
Off we go!

Tagged: Southern Resident killer whales, winter survey

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March 2016