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You are here: /main/research/NOWRAMP 2002/journals/TC Update 3/


Ship Logs

Updates from the Townsend Cromwell (9/12 - 9/15/02)
Posted by Stephani Holzwarth

Sept. 12, 2002. French Frigate Shoals has granted us calm waters on her windward side. Two years ago I remember a ridiculously rough boat ride across the atoll in an attempt to pop over to that side for a quick survey. After several hours of getting doused and pummeled by waves on the way over, our engine died, and another boat had to rescue us. Last year was trade wind choppy as well, but this year the waters are as smooth as we could want. The Townsend Cromwell steamed over to east side of the atoll and lowered 4 small boats over the side. Our boat set off to tow along the barrier reef and two other skiffs carried the fish and benthic team to their survey sites. The 4th boat did CTD casts at regular intervals along the reef. This involves lowering a Seacat instrument over the side on a 30 m line and hauling it back up slowly so it can measure temperature, salinity, and light transmission (water clarity). It's pretty cool to see how the stratification in the water column changes depending on which side of a reef you are on, the bathymetry of the place, and the time of year- all of which affect local and larger scale water current patterns, which in turn affect the coral, fish, and other reef residents.

Speaking of fish, while towing I saw a fish with the craziest coloring you could imagine. I've seen this species of wrasse before, but today I made a game of looking for them, since I had plenty of time between recording the large fish listed on my data sheet. The females are intricately spotted with one round white dot on each dark scale, apparently even in their eyes! They swim in little coveys, 5 or 6 together. The males I saw singly. They have a bluish green polk-a-dot on each scale, and if that weren't enough- a bright orange head with blue squiggley lines. Scientifically, we call this species Anampses chrysocephalus. If that's too much of a mouthful, you can try the Hawaiian word for wrasse- Hinalea, or the common english name- Psychedelic wrasse, which suits it rather well.

Towboarding.  Photo by NMFS, Honolulu Lab.Sept. 13. Another long day on the water! We completed 10 tows in the last 2 days, covering most of the long, eastern crescent of barrier reef. From my underwater viewing hours, I have an impression of this stretch of reef alternating between flat stretches of scoured pavement and complex sections of reef growing and eroding at the same time. Fish were sparse along the flat sections, but in the 3-dimensional reef I saw whitetip sharks asleep on the sand under ledges, omilu (bluefin trevallies) and ulua (white jacks) swam over to trail behind us, schools of 1000 ta'ape (bluelined snapper) parted before us. The contrast was striking. It made me think of city versus country. If our cities were half as much fun as fish cities, I'd be more of a city girl.

Sept. 14. Travel day. Ship travel is slow- less than 10 nautical miles per hour. Watched a couple dumb movies (Shallow Hal, Mr. Deeds- where does Hollywood come up with this stuff?), made a few ArcView maps plotting all the surveys we did at French Frigate, ran 3 miles on the treadmill, and then my favorite- sat on the bridge wing looking out over the water and up at the moon and stars.

Sept. 15. Inky smudges of clouds caravan across the eastern horizon. Jonathan designates them "Cumulus, with moderate to greater vertical extent." I can see the sunrise only through pukas in the clouds, windows of color that change from glowing light blue to a rosy gold. We're steaming for Laysan Island and should reach it by midmorning.

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Stephani Holzwarth
Stephani Holzwarth

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Towboarding video clips

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