NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 2 – 24, 2001
Mission: Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes
Geographical Area: Eastern Pacific
Date: October 10, 2001
Latitude: 1 ºS
Longitude: 95 ºW
Air Temp: 22.5 ºC
Sea Temp: 19 ºC
Sea Wave: 0 – 1 ft.
Swell Wave: 3 – 4 ft.
Visibility: 8 miles
Cloud cover: 6/8
Everyone was working in full swing today. Weather balloons being released, water samples being collected, data from every possible source was being analyzed. The big event of the day though, was coming upon the first buoy. A buoy is relatively small, about the size of a small monkey bar set – just big enough for one or two people to climb onto. It has a long rope with an anchor attached at the bottom so it is supposed to stay put. But many times the currents and winds are too strong and it drifts a bit, making it hard to find in the big ocean. Fortunately, it has a sensor on it that helps the ship locate it. This buoy was placed out here last year. It is full of sensors that store information like temperature and salinity (how much salt is in the water) and winds. Using that information, scientists can chart even the smallest changes over long periods of time. Unfortunately this buoy was damaged a while ago and stopped transmitting. Perhaps a ship ran into it or maybe a shark took a bite out it. Today 2 scientists went out in a small boat (see photos) and climbed aboard the buoy and repaired it. Lucky for them, the seas were very calm, but even so, it is very dangerous work. They found the buoy quite damaged probably from a collision with a ship. The buoy was fixed and is now transmitting again.
Repairing the buoy took about 2 hours. During that time some of the crew enjoyed fishing off the back of the boat. As Jennifer mentioned in her logs, the bottom of the buoy and the rope that leads down to the anchor act as a special habitat for sea life. Barnacles and mussels attach themselves to the rope and then small fish come to feed on them, The food chain grows quite large so that in a year’s time many big fish, including sharks, can often be seen by a buoy. Today one of the crew caught a 25 pound mahi which was deliciously grilled up for dinner.
Today we also had our first emergency drills. Each person on board is responsible for knowing what to do, where to go, and what to bring for each of the three types of emergencies. The first is your basic fire drill. But since you can’t get off the ship easily, you have to know where to go to be safe. The second one is the “abandon ship” drill. This one is tough because each person must get to her room, put on a life vest, and carry a large orange duffle bag with your “gumby” suit in it down to a lifeboat. A gumby suit is a big bulky rubbery suit that will keep you warm and dry if you have to go into the water. You put it on right over your clothes and it’s really tough to do. I was told that it will be even be harder to do in the middle of a dark and cold night! The last drill is the “man overboard” alarm. What do you do if you were to see someone fall off the ship? Three things: keep your eye on him, throw something in the water that will float like a life ring, and yell for help. Safety is a big concern when you are on a ship.
Question of the Day: How does the ship get fresh water for its passengers?
Keep in touch,