New Footprints – Lindsey Nelson

Meet graduated COASST intern Lindsey Nelson, who spent nearly 600 hours in the COASST office from 2010-2012 as a Student Intern and later, Senior Intern.  After leaving COASST, she went north, WAY north, to work as a Fishery Observer in Alaska.

Lindsey, on the bow  of a fishing boat covered in ice in Alaska

Lindsey, on the bow of a boat covered in ice. You go, girl!

What does that entail? After completion of the three week training program (and passing a pretty grueling fish identification test), Lindsey’s job is all about “collecting data on catch estimates, species composition, prohibited species, bycatch (non-target catch), locations and dates and times, which is then assessed by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.”  Lindsey’s work helps NOAA establish regulations and optimum yields for Alaska groundfish (Pacific Cod, Sabelfish, Lingcod, Walleye Pollock, Atka Mackerel, to name a few) .

The day-to-day varies a little, as fishing only occurs two to four days a week.  The other days are spent either travelling or offloading.  During a fishing haul, she’s responsible for collecting samples of the catch and identifying, counting, and weighing all species, as well as special procedures for dealing with birds, mammals, sharks, prohibited species, and tagged animals.  She also monitors levels of bycatch and notes the delivery weights during offloading.

Lindsey collects samples in these baskets and performs her data collecting at this station.

Ah, the scenic data collection station: fish collection baskets, waterproof notesheets.

What the...!  Lindsey found this lumpsucker in one of her samples!

“One of the ugliest cute things I’ve seen,” says Lindsey, holding a Smooth Lumpsucker (and she would know!).

So is it all work and no play? Lindsey says “the crew was friendly and helpful whenever I need their assistance, and we’ve become good friends, even back home in Seattle.”  And the seasonal nature of her job allows her to travel, and check a few things off the list, “moose, glaciers, salmon, native performances, snow-covered peaks right next to the shore. You know… all the essentials.”

Alaska may be cold, but it's darn beautiful.  These are fishing boats like the ones Lindsey works on in Dutch Harbor, AK.

Cold and beautiful. Fishing boats in Dutch Harbor, AK.

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