NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship Delaware II
March 24 – 31, 2005
Mission: Atlantic Mackerel and Herring Survey
Geographical Area: New Jersey
Date: March 27, 2005
Latitude: 40° N
Longitude: 72° W
SOG (speed over ground – boat): 10.8 knots
Speed log (speed of boat through water): 10.2 knots
COG (course over ground – boat): 241?
Furuno3 (3 meters deep) temp.: 2.4? C
Air temp.: 3.7? C
TSG (thermosalinograph) conductivity: 29
TSG Salinity: 31.4 ppt. (3.1%)
Fluorescence value (phytoplankton): 253 µg/L
Swells: 2- 3 feet (varies)
Science and Technology Log
For a good portion of yesterday afternoon I took pictures and recorded them on the lap top. My confidence level isn’t high as I’ve never used a digital camera before; every time I take a picture I worry it won’t be there when I need it back home.
After the picture taking session, Mike J had the patience to teach me how to clean up the data from the Simrad 500. The amount of work it takes to work through the “noise” to get to the real data (the fish) is tedious and time consuming. I’m really starting to appreciate scientists in the field; patience and perseverance is definitely a needed characteristic for the research scientist profession.
We’re about half way through the transects at this time. We will probably start steaming back towards Woods Hole this evening—which will take a good 15 hours. The hydraulic winch will be serviced at that time; if all goes well and the weather looks decent then the boat will go back out on Tuesday.
The internet is down in Norfolk –where the server is located—it feels strange to be this out of touch with people. I can send the e mail messages, but they are only put in a queue until the server is back online. I started to send the log entries via attachment and I’m still wondering if they went through. This morning we collected the 12th session of data of the CTD—nothing out of the ordinary. So far we’ve taken 2 water samples; the night shift took the 2nd one last night. And we have another hour to go until the next CTD collection.
While working with Mike J yesterday it was difficult for me to discern between data “noise” and real data (the fish). The data “noise” consists of bubbles, other ship’s wakes and other sonar equipment on this ship. Mike discovered the interrupting sonar and had them turned off.
He and a few others in the bridge computer room can discern between a larger fish (a bunch of gray and white blocks to me) and a school of smaller fish. The other area that is difficult to discern is the changing topography of the ocean floor data and fish data. Since we aren’t surveying in deep waters many fish stay close to the bottom. One way to gain confidence in knowing whether the data is fish or noise is by comparing one kHz level with another. If the data is consistent at all three levels then the confidence level is high that the data isn’t just noise.
I met one of the engineers last night, Grady Abney . He was working out in our “inside gym” and I was in line to use the “inside gym”, so we talked for a while. Later today I might get a chance to visit the engine room. The reliability of these ships drive trains is phenomenal. The engines run constantly—24/7 and I couldn’t find one person on board that had a NOAA ship leave them stranded. Crew members recalled equipment needed to carry out a research trip breaking (like the hydraulics on this trip), but never an engine.
The way these professionals work together in close quarters is something to see. From what I notice there is no hierarchy that is necessary to enforce. Everyone has a demanding job to perform and knows the significance of that position. They also know that no cruise would be successful if one group of crew members (engineers, operations officers, galley crew, fishermen, scientists) didn’t perform to task. They say the close quarters starts to wear at everyone on the longer cruises, but they develop methods to keep pettiness at bay.
I miss land—running, going for walks, roller blading, etc. The “inside gym”, which consists of an exercise bike, is my only recourse.