The trawl net is like a very crude microscope that we use to collect and examine species on the seafloor. But the way we tow the net is very scientific. Sensors tell us how much area we sample. When the net comes back on board with the catch, we identify, weigh, and count everything.
After we compile the data, we can calculate the density of animals at the bottom of the ocean. Do this a bunch of times and we can estimate about how many animals are in the survey area.
What's amazing about the Aleutian Islands is the diversity of life we find. We consistently get dozens of species of fishes and invertebrates in our catches, everything from abundant rockfishes to flatfishes.
For the past 10 years, we’ve even discovered several new species of snailfish, tiny fish that resemble a large tadpole.