NOAA ship Reuben Lasker returns home to SD - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

NOAA ship Reuben Lasker returns home to SD

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - After spending four months conducting in depth research, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ship Reuben Lasker returned home to San Diego.

It is the newest ship of the NOAA fleet and the quietest of its kind, which helped it do better sonar and acoustic research for the whale studies.

"It always feels nice to return from a scientific project, especially a successful one, we had 109 days on the water, so it's a proud moment for the officers and the crew, a great deal of preparation and professionalism," said John Crofts, Commanding Officer of the Reuben Lasker.

The research vessel, with 31 onboard, completed its first voyage traveling thousands of miles away to Kodiak, Alaska and going along the coast to the Aleutian Islands.

Since sailing on July 9th, scientists got close up looks of different types of whales as the main objective was to look for large well species, specifically the critically endangered right whale, making the story the first systematic ship survey for right whales.

Researchers were able to discern right whale call even though none of the whales were seen in the Gulf of Alaska, where they once existed in the thousands.

"There's a group of gray whales of the 20,000 gray whales in the eastern North Pacific, where there are about 200 or 300 that stay south of the Aleutian Islands, and those are the animals we really wanted to learn something about, and we did a nice job getting to them, and collecting tissue samples, " said chief scientist David Weller.

The crew studied the overall whale population structure, took surveys and saw high numbers of humpback whales.

The Reuben Lasker will stay in San Diego for two months before it takes off for another research expedition for a little over a month throughout southern California.

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