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
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.
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