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The SALMON Project
Welcome to the University of Alaska's
School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences'
SALMON Project Education web page.

As part of the University of Alaska's mission for education, the SALMON Project has produced an audio slide-show program called
"At-Sea Oceanographic Reseach.
" This 8-minute program consists of sound that matches 60 images of a team of oceanographers conducting real research in the Northern Gulf of Alaska. Evocative still images taken aboard the R.V. Alpha Helix, come alive with the voices and sounds of the ship at work. Exercise your imagination.

"At-Sea Oceanographic Research" is being there...

Go below to read the text and hear the audio from the program.

Click here to play the slide-audio presentation (shockwave plug-in required).

Click Images
To Enlarge
Going to Sea Part One
2:04 (1.5 MB)
Seth Danielson, M.S., Physical Oceanographer: A linked set of worldwide oceanography research projects, the Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics Study, is designed to help understand how climate change and variability translates into changes in the structure and dynamics of marine ecosystems. To characterize the inter-seasonal, inter-annual and long-term variability of these ecosystems, oceanographers are undertaking large-scale observation programs, developing and applying computer models, and analyzing their data within the context of historical data sets. Research cruises on the Gulf of Alaska shelf have focused on the distribution of nutrients, phytoplankton, zooplankton, fish, and seabird populations relative to ocean physical properties.

William Rook, Captain of the Research Vessel (R.V.) Alpha Helix: To find positioning on the boat we use gyrocompasses, and the Alpha Helix has 2 gyrocompasses. We have 2 radars. We have a large Raytheon-M34, 10-centimeter radar and in addition to that, we also have an X-band. It works on a much smaller frequency. For navigation equipment, we have three GPS units on here: Global Positioning System. Our main sounder is a Furuno Color Sounder. With this particular unit I can go down to 2000 meters. We do most of all our communications via satellite. We have an Inmarsat. It gives you both a voice communication and also the ability to send faxes and data.

Getting into Position Part Two
:35 (.4 MB)
Seth Danielson: We have stations spaced every 5 miles from the mouth of Resurrection Bay at what we call station GAK 1, to the shelf break, which is about 90 miles offshore. From the shelf break, another 40 miles offshore, we have another 4 stations spaced 10 miles apart. We're going through and making measurements of the whole water column for the physics, the chemistry and the phytoplankton. Ken Coyle runs his acoustics and he can capture the plankton that he can see at those depths. . .


Casting the CTD Part Three
1:27(1.0 MB)
Seth Danielson: OK John, let's go down to 172 at 30 per.

John Whisamore, R.V. Alpha Helix Able Seaman: 172 at 30 per, Roger.

Seth Danielson: We're measuring temperature with 2 probes, and conductivity with two probes. We're also measuring the amount of fluorescence and they're being plotted out on the screen and the CTD goes down through the water column at 30 meters per minute. . . . Up to one zero.

Sarah Thompson, M.S., Biological/Chemical Oceanographer: We take water from specific light depths and we put that water into bottles that have screens on them that mimic that same amount of light getting through. So we add nutrients to those bottles and we let the bottles incubate and for 4 to 6 hours. And the plants have been taking the nutrients up, and from that we can get an idea of how fast they're growing.

Amy Childers, Ph.D. graduate student of Chemical Oceanography: I run an auto-analyzer and it tells us how much nutrients are in the water: it's basically plant food. And so each 1 of these is a depth. It comes over here and it grabs a sample and then it just adds the chemical, and mixes it. And what happens is that the chemical reaction makes a change in color and depending how much color you get, is how much nutrients are in the water.

Melaine Rohr, M.S., Biological/Chemical Oceanographer: This is for chlorophyll, which shows you production in the water. There are usually about 6 to 12 samples at every station. I'm filtering the water we just sampled.

Collecting Zooplankton Part Four
1:04 (.8 MB)
Russell Hopcroff, Ph.D., Biological Oceanographer: John you want to just hold it there for a second, bring it close. . . OK, bring it up.

Laura Slater, Ph.D. graduate student of Biological Oceanography: We have the smaller mesh. The plankton that can move fast enough see it coming and get out of the way. And then, where if you have a coarser mesh net, then it can go faster and it will grab everything.

Russel Hopcroff: Judging by a quick look here, there's euphausiids, there's Pseudocalanus, Acartia, there's Centropages, a few Calanus, and some Podon.

Ken Coyle, Ph.D., Biological Oceanographer: Let's go down at 20 per.

Pam Blusk, R.V. Alpha Helix Able Seaman: OK, pay out at 20

Ken Coyle: As we move along the acoustic equipment is being pulled through the water and it looks down through the water column so we can see what the net is fishing . . . OK, let's reverse and retrieve at 10 per.

Pam Blusk: OK, coming back in at 10.

Launching the Mocness Net Part Five
1:21(1.0 MB)

Ken Coyle: We just fired the net, that was the net signal. So it's starting to get light and the animals have already started their descent. Yep, the ultimate oceanographers; their life depends on it. OK that's it, we tripped the last net, and the last net just has to fish up to the surface and we're done with the tow. . . (OK, this is 5, right). Yep, number 5; OK that can be rinsed . . . that's got some euphausiids in it.

Russel Hopcroff: I'm putting individual female copepods into containers to monitor their production of eggs. The idea is that we will eventually be able to predict the relationship between food and temperature, and production. How are you doing for Acartia, Alexi?

Alexi Pinchuk, Ph.D. graduate student of Biological Oceanography: I'm just picking them up. I don't know how many.

Leandra DeSousa, M.S. graduate student of Biological Oceanograhy: I started learning in March with Bob Day. I'm studying the distribution and the abundance of the seabirds in the Gulf. I'm going to try to relate the distribution to the zooplankton data that has been collected at night.

Measuring Physical Properties Part Six
:13(.2 MB)

Seth Danielson: Whereas the GLOBEC project samples 6 or 7 times a year on the Gulf of Alaska Shelf, we also deploy 2 moorings about 30 miles offshore. There's about a half a dozen different types of instruments on these 2 moorings.

Mooring Deployment Part Seven
:56(.7 MB)

Seth Danielson: Near the surface we have a SEACAT instrument, we have a light sensor, a fluorometer, a transmissometer, a temperature probe and a conductivity probe. Below that we have a nitrate meter, which is using color-metrics to determine the amount of nitrate in the water column. Below the nitrate meter we have a sediment trap, which is measuring the amount of particles that are drifting down through the water column. Once the mooring is all assembled, we pick up the top float and slowly lower it over the stern of the ship, and then pay out each instrument 1 after another until we finally get down to the anchor. And then the mooring is deployed for the next 6 months to a year or so. We come back to pick up the moorings and send an acoustical signal down to the release, which is holding on to the anchor. The acoustic release hears our signal, lets go of the anchor and all the floats on the mooring bring the entire mess of instruments up to the surface. We pull up the acoustic Doppler current profiler, which measures the currents by bouncing sound waves off of zooplankton in the water column.

What the Ocean Can Tell Us Part Eight
1:05(.8 MB)

Seth Danielson: The conditions that we pull up our moorings in isn't always ideal. SEACATs and nitrate meters can be covered in growth when we bring them back up onboard, but after careful cleaning, we bring them into the lab so that we can download the data on to a computer to analyze.

The data from this project will help us make the links between the physical properties of the Gulf of Alaska and its plants and animals. This baseline data will increase our understanding of how and why the ocean ecosystem is changing.

Thomas Kline, Ph.D., Oceanographer: A couple days of cloudiness and drizzle it's nice to be out here.

Listen to "At-Sea" in Entirety
Complete Audio
8:35 (6.0 MB)

The SALMON Project

School of fisheries and Ocean Sciences
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7220


Project Director: Dave Musgrave
Phone: 907.474-7837



Research Sponsored by:

  • North Pacific Marine Research Project #99 HQGR0103: Physical Forcing of Marine Productivity: Monitoring Moorings in the Gulf of Alaska Shelf
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration NAG5-9752: NASA Regional Fisheries Application Centers
  • National Science Foundation GLOBEC Project #OCE 1019078: Gulf of Alaska Long Term Observation Program
  • Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council Project #01340: Toward Long-term Oceanographic Monitoring in the Gulf of Alaska Ecosystem 

Project Principal Investigators:

  • School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks: Tom Weingartner, Susan Henrichs, Terry Whitledge, Dean Stockwell, A.J. Paul, Ken Coyle, Russ Hopcroft, Dave Musgrave
  • Old Dominion University: Tom Royer
  • Prince William Sound Science Center: Tom Kline

Photographs of and/or Audio from:

Tom Weingartner, Deb Liptzin, Steve Hartz, Seth Danielson, Brian Rowe, Sang Heon Lee, Ken Coyle, Bob Day, Laura Slater, Russ Hopcroft, Steve Sweet, John Whisamore, Alexei Pinchuk, Dave Leech, Melanie Rohr, Amy McKenzie, Bill Rook, Leandra deSousa, Sarah Thornton, Tom Kline, Dean Stockwell, Amy Childers, Pamela Blusk, Kevin Marlow, Gary Ramos 

Photographs Taken by:

Seth Danielson, Amy Childers, Hank Statscewich, Steve Hartz, Jen Danielson

Produced by:

Kathy Turco (Alaska’s Spirit Speaks: Sound and Science), Ed Smith, and Roger Topp under funding from the SALMON Project (University of Alaska)

Special Thanks to:

Seth Danielson, Jeri Croucher, Tony D'Aoust