The NOAA research ship, Oscar Elton Sette, will be departing today, June 11, for a trip up the Northern Islands for research on Ranina ranina, commonly known as spanner or frog crab, according to NOAA’s Dr. Don Kobayashi.
Kobayshi’s team, who hails from Hawaii, also know this crab as the “Kona crab.”
During a presentation at the American Memorial Park on Monday, Kobayashi, the chief scientist on board the Sette, said their expedition would be from June 11 to June 27.
According to Kobayashi, there is “not much known” about the crab in the Marianas. The crab is edible.
The team of researchers will visit the islands of Uracas, Maug, Agrihan, Pagan, Alamagan, and Sarigan, according to Kobayashi.
Researchers would start from the northernmost island, Uracas or Farallon de Pajaros, and work their way down, he said.
Specifically, the objectives of their trip are to do surveys of “offshore sandy bottom ecosystems using trapping gear and surveys,” and “surveys of offshore midwater ecosystems using midwater trawl and plankton nets.”
According to Dr. John Denton, who also spoke on Monday, this “midwater” trawling takes place through waters with “dim light to no light.”
He said that midwater holds fishes that comprise about 50 percent of deep-sea biomass.
It is also home to juvenile forms of marine species and many species of marine organisms, he said.
Local individuals from the Micronesian Environmental Services, like Shirley Ann Taitano, who was part of NOAA expedition on the Sette last year, will also join and aid their research.