PHOTO-Danial Palance Hollings Alum NOAA Corps

Danial Palance

Hollings Scholarship Alum & NOAA Commissioned Officer

As a Hollings intern, Dan worked at the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, MA, under the direction of Jim Manning, developing remote sensing technologies for tracking ocean currents and biological activity in lobster traps. The projects were part of a program called eMOLT (Environmental Monitors on Lobster Traps), which Manning founded. The first part of the project involved redesigning passive GPS-tracked ocean current drifters to be more environmentally-friendly by using biodegradable materials. Dan worked with a standard “Davis” style design called the “Eddie drifter” pictured below.

Within the first week of the internship, the research group deployed the current drifters concurrently with tagged sea turtles off the Carolina coast. The drifters became entrained in the Gulf Stream and traveled across the Atlantic. Over the course of the summer, they modified the “Eddie” design to make it more environmentally-friendly and cost effective.

The new design, coined the “Dan drifter”, was the least expensive, easiest to produce and most environmentally-friendly of the Davis-style drifters the NEFSC had experimented with. Excluding the transmitter and fishing gear flotation, all parts could be procured at local hardware stores and lumber yards. The second part of the internship involved retrofitting a basic point and shoot camera with a water proof case to act as an in-trap monitor for lobster traps. Dan obtained high resolution imagery and proved that the design was feasible, it just required an extended battery life source.

While interning at NOAA NMFS, Dan crossed paths with several NOAA Corps officers. He also had the opportunity to tour Delaware II before her decommissioning, Gloria Michelle, and Henry B. Bigelow. These tours aboard NOAA research vessels, in addition to his desire to serve others and preference for a career outside of the typical 9-5 office job, were the driving forces that led Dan to apply for the NOAA Corps. Dan was selected for Basic Officer Training Class 123. He completed training in May of 2014 and joined the NOAA ship Rainier, a hydrographic survey ship based out of Newport, Oregon, which conducts operations in coastal Alaskan and Pacific Northwest waters.

Since joining Rainier, Dan has sailed from Oregon, the San Juan Islands of Washington, through the inside passage to Kodiak, AK, the Aleutian chain, and the Arctic Circle using high resolution multi-beam and side scan sonar to acquire bathymetric data to update NOAA’s nautical charts. Dan has had the opportunity to work with all of the Corps officers that inspired him during his Hollings internship in Woods Hole, and even sailed on Henry B. Bigelow for the majority of the autumn bottom trawl survey in 2014. Dan also did a brief stint on Oscar Dyson, sister ship to Henry B. Bigelow.

For his next steps, Dan hopes to pursue a land assignment that combines the hydrographic knowledge he’s acquired aboard Rainier with the fisheries work he did during and after college. Then, he hopes to return to the Henry Bigelow or one of her sister ships for his next sea tour. Dan also hopes to find time to earn an advanced degree and perhaps one day work as a small boat captain on a university owned research vessel, instructing students in both science and ship handling