A 6,000 nautical mile round trip mission on behalf of NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska Fisheries Science Center to perform an acoustic survey of Alaska pollock in the eastern Bering Sea to be used in the formal stock assessment and to continue the existing time series. The mission was conceived as a contingency plan after NOAA’s ship-based surveys were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The saildrones carried a calibrated EK80 38/200 kHz echo sounder, the world-standard instrument for acoustic fisheries surveys on a variety of platforms, as well as oceanographic and meteorological sensors to collect environmental data.
The survey was modeled after the planned NOAA RV Oscar Dyson survey, with some modifications: The saildrones surveyed along tracks spaced 40 nautical miles apart (Dyson tracks are typically spaced at 20 nm). The saildrones only surveyed during daylight hours, and the survey was paused if wind speeds were greater than 25 knots due to potential degradation of data.