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by Molly Porter for Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville AL (SPX) May 15, 2014
When you think about the beneficiaries of NASA Earth observations, does the Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) come to mind? It should! To find more about NASA's connection to the ocean blue, research scientist Maury Estes embarked on a weeklong research cruise in the Gulf of Mexico to learn how fisheries experts, scientists and oceanographers use satellite-derived data in fishery field studies.
Estes is an associate program manager for ecological forecasting in the applied sciences program at NASA's headquarters. While in the field, he will serve as a member of the science team, with regular duties during 12-hour shifts to drop nets and process samples in labs. His thoughts about daily life onboard the research vessel, interviews with crewmembers, pictures and video will be posted here.
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) routinely uses satellite observations such as sea surface temperature, topography and ocean color in its surveys and stock assessment process for Atlantic bluefin tuna and other highly migratory fish species.
The applied research project led by Dr. Mitchell Roffer of Roffer's Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service in Melbourne, Florida, aims to enhance this innovative habitat model by applying it to possible climate change scenarios. The goal is reliable forecasting of how habitats might change over the next 100 years.
Roffer's delivers information products using NASA and NOAA satellite observations and computer models downscaled to the Gulf region to direct ships where they're most likely to find Atlantic bluefin tuna larvae.
"The purpose of this cruise is to verify our habitat models by analyzing where and under what conditions larvae are," Roffer said.
Better habitat models mean more reliable forecasting. More reliable forecasts give researchers and decision-makers better tools for understanding living systems.
Why Study Tuna?
Despite climate variability, Dr. Roffer explained that bluefin tuna are managed largely under the assumption that ecological parameters do not change over time.
Who is Involved?
Bon voyage, Maury! You can follow his travelogue here
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