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The NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada: Part 1, the Vessel and Crew

June 21, 2019

By Alicia Billings

The NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada is the platform for this survey, the 2019 Integrated Ecosystem and Pacific Hake Acoustic-Trawl Survey. Equipped for an endurance of ~40 days from port to port, a lot of science can happen on the Shimada. Interestingly, the limiting factor for long stretches at sea is food!

The Shimada has many features that make conducting research and surveys efficient and productive for a large Science Party. There are 13 dedicated bunks for scientists, which allow us to support partner projects with other scientific interests. This year, we have 5 other projects collecting data while we conduct our survey operations: Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), environmental DNA (eDNA), Imaging Flow CytoBot (IFCB), vertical zooplankton net collections, and Acoustic Properties of Plankton (APOP).

While the entire Shimada is outfitted for science, the three main spaces used by the Science Party are the Acoustics Lab, the Wet Lab, and the Chemistry (Chem) Lab. The Acoustics Lab is the epicenter for our survey operations as we watch the acoustic echosounders for potential Pacific Hake or other interesting fish sign. When we see a potential fishing target, the Chem Lab buzzes to life getting our trawl cameras and net sensors ready to go. Once the catch is on board, all the action happens in the Wet Lab (and it earns its name!) as we process and sample the catch.

Acoustics Lab. Photo: NOAA Fisheries


Chemistry Lab. Photo: NOAA Fisheries


Wet Lab. Photo: NOAA Fisheries

Of course, none of the science would happen without the Shimada crew. The Deck Department keeps our nets ready to go and our fishing operations running smooth, the Survey and Electronic Technician Departments keep all the sensors, computers, and navigation equipment running, the Engineering Department keeps the ship running in tip-top shape, and the Steward Department keeps us fed so we all can keep running! The NOAA commissioned officers tie it all together, keeping the mission on track and wrangling the Departments and the Science Party.

Previous: Saildrones on Survey Transects Next: The NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada: Part 2, Science Equipment

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Last updated by Northwest Fisheries Science Center on March 02, 2020