Erica Fruh headshot photo

Erica Fruh

Scientist Ashore
Research Fisheries Biologist
NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Tell us about your work / research. What kinds of things do you do?

As the fisheries biologist in our AUV group, one of my main duties is identifying the species and habitats in the images we collect. Depending on the cruise objective, we can be interested in the number and types of fish, the presence of sponges and corals, marine debris or habitats. I am also in charge of packing and moving the AUV to all of our different cruises. We have taken the AUV to American Samoa, Guam, Canada, Cobb Seamount, the Gulf of Mexico and all up and down the US west coast.  

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

Growing up watching Jacques Cousteau and a trip to Sea World was all it took to get me hooked on marine biology. As my schooling and career progressed, I found myself focusing more and more on fish and fisheries. Out on the ocean, there is something new to learn or see every day. I look forward to that "surprise" each day.  

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My cohort in graduate school. It was great to be in a group of others that loved the ocean as much as I did. We all had diverse areas of study, but ocean science was the overarching theme.  

What element of your work / study do you think is the most fascinating?

My favorite part of my job is that you never know what you will see, either above or below the surface. Each AUV dive comes back with images of new things. I am still waiting to find a pirate treasure chest!  

What other jobs led you to your current career?

I started out as a fisheries observer, quantifying discard in commercial fisheries along the west coast. This lead to an at-sea research position with a state agency, working with trawl induced mortality, shrimp fisheries, longline fisheries and fish maturities. I began my NOAA career on the groundfish trawl survey, which monitors west coast fish populations, serving as a biologist and field party chief.  

What are your degrees and certifications?

Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology - Auburn University; Master of Science in Marine Resource Management- Oregon State University

What are your hobbies?

I love to travel and learn about other areas of the world. One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to find a local fish market and geek out over the interesting seafood choices. I am also a voracious reader, and you will never see me on a ship without a book near at hand.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Intern. Intern. Intern. I would suggest finding and talking to anyone involved in marine science, this allows you to explore what research is going on and can lead you to the specific discipline that interests you. This is also a good way to find out what is out there and available. Somebody might know somebody who does the exact thing you are interested in.

How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program? How did you get on the ship?

We are using our AUV in rotation with the Nautilus ROV to explore the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.


Erica participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: