Start of Keith Rittmaster’s NOAA Marine Mammal Assessment Cruise

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Here is Keith Rittmaster’s first dispatch from aboard the Gordon Gunter. They are on their way to Key West (not to play) and then out to deep water.
Refer to previous post for the path of the cruise. 1st Posting – NOAA Cruise
Below, that is Keith on the binoculars and his is the upper bunk, notice the open laptop. He can send and receive emails on board. I think the pictures of dolphins look like incredible paintings.
I am truly excited that he is sharing this adventure with us. 

All photographs copyright by Keith Rittmaster

Keith’s NOAA Cruise

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Keith will be taking leave from NCMM to serve as a scientist (marine mammal observer) aboard the 225′ NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter (http://www.moc.noaa.gov/gu/) in the deep blue Atlantic Ocean.
He will be part of a team of 14 scientists including other marine mammal observers, oceanographers, birders, and acousticians.  Their study area will be off the Atlantic coast between 28d & 38d N latitude, inshore to the 50 meter isobath and offshore to the U.S. Economic Exclusion Zone (approx. 200 miles offshore). This area includes two historic sperm whaling destinations (“Hatteras Ground” and “Charleston Ground”) which is of particular interest to him.  The primary objective of the cruise is to help estimate abundance and distribution of whales and dolphins (cetaceans) in the U.S. Atlantic waters.  His responsibilities will include standing watch on 25×150 military binoculars (termed “big eyes”) searching for cetaceans, directing the ship to any sightings, identifying the species, and counting the individuals.  Other projects on board: 24/7 acoustic monitoring, biopsying whales for DNA, oceanographic profiling (temperature, oxygen, conductivity, productivity, and plankton at various depths), and identifying birds, sea turtles, and other marine wildlife.
He plans to provide  periodic dispatches (with photos) for blog posting.