Plenty of Fish in the Sea: Counting Fish Using Probability

A woman with brown hair, wearing an orange rain slicker and yellow gloves. Standing in a ship's laboratory and holding a lumpsucker fish.

In 2018, Emily Cilli-Turner sailed on a Midwater Assessment and Conservation Engineering Program (MACE) research cruise, which was conducting a walleye pollock acoustic-trawl survey in the Eastern Bering Sea. Learn more about Emily’s experience aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson by reading her NOAA Teacher at Sea blogs.

Grade Level: Sophomore university level or above

Subjects (Focus/Topic): Math – normal and hypergeometric probability distributions

Average Learning Time: two, 65-minute periods

Description: Students will apply the knowledge they already have on hypergeometric and normal probability distributions to determine properties of the samples of pollock collected onboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson, such as type of distribution, amount of pollock expected in a certain length or weight range, how many pollock should be sampled to ensure certain properties and the basics of how the fish samples are used to estimate numbers of pollock in the Eastern Bering Sea.

NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson at sea
Click on this image to learn more about the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson. Photo credit: NOAA