Field Notes: NOAA Ship Sets out to Collect Field Biologists in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

August 13, 2019

The 2019 field season was to retrieve monk seal and sea turtle biologists after three months of research activities in the
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

August 21, 2019

High-Frequency Acoustic Package Recovery

This morning, the team successfully recovered the High-frequency Acoustic Recording Package (HARP) for the Cetacean Research Program, and deployed a new one in it's place. The ship's maneuvering and crane operations where quite impressive. The HARP will sit around 1,000m deep on the seafloor for the next year, collecting terrabytes of acoustic data listening for cetacean calls. This data will help to document the occurrence of everything from dolphins, to humpback whales, to the elusive beaked whales.


The ship's crew retrieve the High-frequency Acoustic Recording Package (HARP).

August 20, 2019


After turtle biologist couple Marylou and Jan Willem Staman working two field seasons side-by-side at French Frigate Shoals, this was the first field season time apart. When Jan Willem joined the Sette science team to survey turtles, he neglected to share his plans with his wife, the leader of the FFS turtle camp, that the Sette team will be doing a stopover. Everyone played along to surprise Marylou. It was a touching scene when the small boat pulled up to the Tern Island dock and the mysterious crew member removed his sunglasses and sun mask.  Lots of smiles and maybe a few happy tears.

Two turtle biologists reunited at French Frigate Shoals.

Turtle biologist couple Jan Willem and Marylou Staman reunited after three months.

Laysan Team

Today, the ship made its first stop at Laysan Island.  The field team was in great spirits and worked like a well-oiled machine after a banner year with 40 monk seal pups. We joined the  team for a survey, which they delivered their last vaccine for the season, and we used our large team to herd one of the pups to a nice spot for tagging (#39 tagged out of 40). They definitely earned their first ice-cold popsicles in three months!

Three scientists of the Laysan Team on Laysan Island.

The Laysan Team enjoying some well-deserved popsicles.

Lisianski Shore Pen

The team had a great day on Lisianski Island. They were able to help build a secure shore pen for malnourished monk seal pups that are in need of rehabilitation. Rehab candidates can be penned on the beach a few days before pick-up to ensure that they make it onto the ship.

Lisianski Shore pen for monk seals.

The team makes a shore pen for monk seal rehab candidates.

August 15, 2019

Two monk seals on the beach on Nihoa Islan.d,

Monk seals on the beach at Nihoa Island with the NOAA ship Sette in the background.

August 12, 2019


The NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette set sail Tuesday, August 13th, to pick up our field biologists. They have spent the summer researching Hawaiian monk seals and sea turtles in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.