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Fabian Knoblauch and Nellie Wullenweber. Photo: Ole-Morten Algerøy

Nellie and Fabian has moved into the lab

over 2 years ago
Written by Ole-Morten Algerøy, Ronald Toppe
Ocean research > Nellie and Fabian has moved into the lab

Nellie and Fabian has moved into the lab

over 2 years agoOcean research
Written by Ole-Morten Algerøy, Ronald Toppe
Fabian Knoblauch and Nellie Wullenweber. Photo: Ole-Morten Algerøy

Erlend and Ragnhild left the ship in Las Palmas. The two new students had to sort out a problem staight away.

Students are running the scientific instruments, taking samples, and doing observations all the way around the globe. They stay on board a month or two each.

Las Palmas was the end of the journey for Ragnhild Beck Hestness and Erlend Mundal. Before they disembarked, they spent a few days teaching the new couple the daily routines. Now Nellie Wullenweber and Fabian Knoblauch is running the noisy lab down by the engine room.

Nellie has a MSc in Marine Sciences and Resources from three different European universities. Fabian is working on his MSc in fluid mechanics at University of Oslo.

Science ...

Nellie and Fabian ran into a problem already on their second day at sea; the sailors caught a fish.

Two fishing rods are mounted one on each side of the ship. They are part of the scientific program, and used by the students in a strict schedule, three times a day.

One rod is for large fish, the other for smaller catch.
One rod is for large fish, the other for smaller catch.

Doing ocean research, it is common to use how much fish you manage to catch as a measure of how much fish there are in the sea in total. The researchers call it "catch per unit effort". The unique thing here is that normal fishing rods are used, systematically around the globe - 55,000 nautical miles, 102,000 kilometres.

- What we manage to catch is exciting, but also to have a time series. How often do we get a fish on the hook, along the entire route, says Geir Huse at the Institute of Marine Research in Norway.

The catch is photographed, weighed and measured, and the ear stones are picked out. The ear stones are part of the balance organ of the fish. If you split them in two, you will see annual rings that tell how old the fish is, just like in trees.

... and also recreation

It took more than a month before a fish finally found the lure irresistible, and took a bite. But not during the scientific fishing session.

Fishing is a nice pastime when at sea, and the crew borrows the fishing equipment from time to time. After two days at sea since leaving Las Palmas, the bosun Janus Larsen caught a beautiful small dorado during the crew’s 3PM coffee on the aft deck. 

The very first fish of the One Ocean Expedition! Understandably, the enthusiasm onboard Statsraad Lehmkuhl was vibrant.

The dorado, or mahi-mahi (also commonly known as dolphin fish), is a surface-dwelling ray-finned fish found in off-shore temperate, tropical, and subtropical waters across the globe. The species is easily recognized by its vivid yellow colour, when wet or in water.

The dorado is a common food fish in Australia, USA and the Caribbean – but it’s also increasing in popularity amongst European consumers. A typical dorado weighs 7-13 kg and measures one meter in length.

The fish caught by our crew members was a youngster, and let back into the sea.

– I hope it returns as a good meal for someone in the future, captain Seidl commented.

Oscar Einarson with the dorado. Photo: Torjus Hoven
Oscar Einarson with the dorado. Photo: Torjus Hoven

To be registered or not?

Since the small dorado was caught by one of the crew members, it was not examined in accordance with the guidelines for the ongoing research project. But an estimate of is weight, length and sex was however reported to the scientific team.

– The fishing project has not taken into account that the crew is doing a lot of fishing as well. We are in contact with Institute of Marine Research to create a system that handles this, says Nellie.

– An amendment of the system will result in data of two different qualities, adds Fabian. When we fish during our three daily sessions a lot of data is recorded: our exact position, the air and water temperature, local time and wind speed and direction. This data is not available when crew members fish sporadically. Therefore, these data sets need to be recorded separately. We will record all data available, but in two different data sets – one for systematic fishing and one for recreational fishing.

Nellie and Fabian had a meeting with the 2nd officer, to decide on a routine for reporting fish caught by the crew outside of the scientific fishing sessions.

– This time around we weren’t informed about the fish before it was being let back into the ocean. We would love to establish a communication routine that allows us to record as much data as possible in the future, comments Nellie.

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The One Ocean Expedition is a circumnavigation by the Norwegian tall ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl. We aim to to share knowledge about the crucial role of the ocean for a sustainable development in a global perspective.

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