On the 25th of February, CONCORDE hosted another training session for local fishermen. Held at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, this workshop was the first of the year and the third of four CONCORDE will host. The meeting served to introduce the fisher folk to new scientists, learn more about topics of concern to fishermen, in this case sediment and marine oil snow, and voice some of their concerns.

About 15 local fishermen and their family members attended the Saturday workshop along with Ms. Thao Vu, our partner from the Mississippi Coalition of Vietnamese American Fisher Folks and Families who also provided Vietnamese interpretation.  CONCORDE staff included guest scientists Dr. Adam Greer and Dr. Sally Warner, Dr. Jessie Kastler, and newcomer to the CONCORDE staff Samantha Ells.  The group was joined for the first time by a new leader in the fishing community, Mr. Ryan Bradley, the executive director of the Mississippi Commercial Fishermen Union.

Thao Vu and Dr. Sally Warner (via Zoom) explaining water movement near Mobile Bay.
Thao Vu and Dr. Sally Warner (via Zoom) explaining water movement near Mobile Bay.

Sally, a CONCORDE scientist at Oregon State University, explained her work and how mixing water affects pollution dispersal, biological and chemical distributions, and tidal energy dissipation. She discussed the flow of waters from the Mobile Bay between Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan, including the direction of wind at the surface, and currents of water at the top and bottom of the water column. This demonstrates the complexities of tracking pollutants, such as oil from spills, at all layers of possible contamination.

 

Dr. Adam Greer with Thao Vu explaining different types of plankton.
Dr. Adam Greer with Thao Vu explaining different types of plankton.

Adam, in his second experience with fisherman outreach, discussed how biological needs and physical factors drive plankton distributions. He also introduced marine snow, a topic the fisher folk had asked to learn more about.

Marine snow was further explained by Jessie during her presentation on sediment. She also touched on the differences between sediment types and sediment sampling equipment, including sediment deposition and how to “read” a core.

Thao worked with fishermen prior to the workshop to compile a set of questions regarding a variety of topics within the scope of coastal sciences. This participation by the fishermen allowed the scientists to better understand their point of view. The fishermen were concerned with the oyster reefs, specifically what causes losses and what could possibly be done to prevent loss and what could bring them back. The effects of DHOS, sedimentation and freshwater flow from the Bonnet Carre Spillway, and regulations were the driving forces for the fisher folks’ concerns.

Local fishermen practice with the Castaway.
Local fishermen practice with the ProDSS.

The day was bright and beautiful, so the whole group walked down to GCRL’s dock to learn how to use another piece of equipment, the YSI ProDSSII conductivity/temperature-depth meter (CTD).  Most of the fishermen did a trial run to collect depth profiles of salinity and temperature, which were checked on the instrument to make sure all data were recorded.  The fishermen have been using the YSI Castaway for data collection, but training on the Pro DSS allows them to bring back data from surface and shallow water, and a dissolved oxygen profile, neither of which a Castaway can provide.  Fishermen will continue collecting and returning data through the end of the project.  They are using notebooks to record any unusual or interesting occurrences they come across while sampling or while they are out fishing.  Sam will work with researchers to interpret the data set and communicate results to fishermen.