Virginia upgrades research fleet

31 May 2013
R/V 'Tidewater' Photo: David Malmquist/Virginia Institute of Marine Science

R/V 'Tidewater' Photo: David Malmquist/Virginia Institute of Marine Science

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has upgraded its juvenile fish abundance research fleet with the 43ft R/V ‘Tidewater’.

The new vessel, which will replace the 29ft R/V Fish Hawk, will be used to carry out monthly surveys to help guide the sustainable management of Virginia Bay’s commercially, recreationally and ecologically important marine life.

The R/V Tidewater features a hydraulic A frame for deploying trawl nets and other sampling equipment, ample storage for scientific and personal gear. It also features an open rear deck for efficient sampling and a separate space for laboratory work.

“The Tidewater’s increased length and beam will allow us to operate in conditions we would not have considered with the Fish Hawk," said Mary Fabrizio, associate professor, VIMS. "That will reduce days lost to weather and give some flexibility to our sampling schedule."

Dr Troy Tuckey, who manages the day to day operation of VIMS’ surveys, added: “During a survey cruise, we’re on the water eight to nine hours every day,” says Tuckey. “We sample at 12 to 14 different stations each day, collecting around 500 fish per tow. On a typical day we catch and release 6,000 to 7,000 fish, so the placement of our sampling gear and the lay out of the deck are really important.”

Powered by a 715 bhp diesel engine and a four blade propeller, the vessel is capable of speeds up to 18 knots, with top of the line electronics for navigation.

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