“NOAA will once again be prominent in San Diego Bay,” said U.S. 53rd District Rep. Susan Davis, who helped secure American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for the construction of the $75-million Lasker. “The ship brings an important legacy to our research mission and to the blue economy.”
The vessel, which will dock at the 10th Avenue Terminal, will be the first NOAA ship home-ported in San Diego since David Starr Jordan was retired in 2009 after having logged 1.5 million miles in its 44-year tenure.
The Lasker's duties will routinely conduct research cruises in the California Current for the state fisheries investigations program with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Since 1949, the fisheries program has conducted regular cruises with the goal of managing living resources in an ocean region that supports a $250 million fishery.
The 208-foot vessel is named for the late Reuben Lasker, NOAA coastal fisheries division director, who served as an adjunct professor at Scripps. Lasker is noted in fisheries management for his advances in understanding the transition period of commercially important fish species from juveniles to adults.
San Diego Port Commissioner Bob Nelson noted that the ship brings 24 jobs and an estimated $27 million to the local economy.
The ship's first cruise will center on a July cetacean and ecosystem survey. It will employ perhaps its most distinctive feature, an ability to operate so quietly that the vessel will be able to make close-range observations of marine life without disturbing animal behavior or compromising extremely sensitive acoustic equipment.
In related news:
As the probability of an El Niño winter increases, Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers are following the climate phenomenon as it develops off Southern California and finding that local readings closely hew to El Niño monitoring taking place at the equator.
El Niño is a phenomenon characterized by warmer sea surface water in the equatorial Eastern Pacific Ocean. It is often associated with greater rainfall on much of the U.S. West Coast and frequently enhances the encroachment of storm surges by raising regional sea levels for several months at a time. An El Niño is defined by a seasonal sea surface temperature anomaly in the eastern-central equatorial Pacific greater than 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than historical average temperature. The opposite phenomenon, La Niña, is defined as a seasonal sea surface temperature colder than the historical average.
The researchers' data are distributed by the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS), a region of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System. SCCOOS uses the data to make model forecasts in support of U.S. national security.