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2009 RUSALCA Chukchi Sea Cruise

figure 12, the Professor Khromov
Figure 12.  The Russian research vessel Professor Khromov at sea.  Image courtesy of 2009 RUSALCA Expedition, RAS-NOAA.

The 2009 Russian American Long Term Census of the Arctic (RUSALCA) took place from 22 August to 30 September beginning and ending in Nome, Alaska, aboard the Russian research vessel Professor Khromov (Fig. 12).

The RUSALCA Program is a result of a 2003 memorandum of understanding for World Ocean and Polar Regions Studies between NOAA and the Russian Academy of Sciences. The NOAA Arctic Research Office and Ocean Explorer Program are the primary contributors of funding and logistic support. The first cruise was conducted in 2004.

The 2009 cruise was divided into two legs. On the first leg, 22-31 August, eight oceanographic moorings were replaced extending across the Bering Strait from the United States to Russia. The second leg, 3-30 September, was a multidisciplinary research cruise carrying approximately 45 scientists from the United States, Russia, and South Korea.

The following data or samples were collected: CTD, ocean currents, nutrient pathways, sediments, side-scan sonar (seafloor mapping), remotely operated vehicle (ROV) video, epibenthic invertebrates and infauna, zooplankton, ichthyoplankton, and juvenile and adult demersal fishes. In addition, a special study was added after the cruise began to examine seafloor flux of methane from thawing sub-sea permafrost.

  figure 12, Fish Ecology Team
Figure 13.  Fish Ecology Team: Brenda Holladay (left), Morgan Busby (center), Christy Gleason (right). Image courtesy of 2009 RUSALCA Expedition, RAS-NOAA.

Two field teams assessed arctic fishes using three gear types. The Fish Ecology Project Team was composed of Brenda Holladay and Christy Gleason (University of Alaska, Fairbanks), and Morgan Busby (AFSC) (Fig. 13). We used a 60-cm 505 mesh bongo net to collect ichthyoplankton (planktonic fish eggs and larvae) and a small mesh bottom trawl (3-m plumb-staff beam trawl) to collect juvenile and small adult demersal fishes. The beam trawl collected 10,323 fish, with at least 41 species represented.

The bongo was towed at 31 stations. The beam trawl was deployed at 22 of the biological stations. Catherine (Kitty) Mecklenburg (California Academy of Sciences) and Natalia Chernova (Zoological Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia) composed the Fish Diversity (Adult) Fish Team which was assisted by the Fish Ecology Team. They deployed an otter trawl net at 26 stations collecting 11,578 fish, with more than 46 species represented.

Additional information and images can be found on the web at

By Morgan Busby

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