After I trained for my new job, I was immediately sent to Dutch Harbor, Alaska to start my first 3-month contract. I waited a few days for my assignment and then boarded my boat. Luckily, the previous observer was still about to give me a quick tour of the boat and some tips.
Typically, on my first boat, we fished for about three days, spent a day in town to offload and headed out again. Each time the net is brought in, I sample the catch for species composition and biological data (sex, length, weight, dissections, etc.) from the fish within my sample. As it’s near the end of the season, fishing is quite slow, so we only bring in one catch a day, which equals about 3 hours of work for me. Without WiFi, I’ve gotten a lot of reading, sleeping and rewatching It’s Always Sunny in Phildelphia for the ump-teenth time done. Once our hold is full, we deliver the catch and I have to monitor the offload, so my time on land is usually limited to the fish factory. However, there has been the odd trip where we come in early and I get to spend time (read: drink and shoot the shit) with other observers, including a few people from my training class.
The job isn’t as hard as training made it out to be, at least on my current assignment. I just got a new boat and it’s really nice (have Internet, but no Wifi, my own room, amazing crew), but it doesn’t ride well, so I spent the first trip violently seasick. Hopefully things turn around next trip and I can run into more observers in Akutan: my new offload destination.
I’m really grateful I got this job, it certainly has been an adventure and I would like to continue working for NOAA after a few contracts. This job is just so damn convenient at the moment for me as I save money and have extended periods of time off to travel. A few other observers and I are talking about doing a dive master’s course in Honduras either this summer or over New Year’s.
I apologize if parts of this post seem vague, I’m meant to keep details of my job, especially fishing locations and data, confidential.
What I’ve been listening to: Year of the Snitch by Death Grips, Americana by The Offspring, Perfect Trim by Bad Larrys, Say It Out Loud by The Interrupters
What I’ve been watching: Game Night, Anchorman