Mavis Peterson, June 25, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mavis Peterson
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
June 21 – July 9, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: June 25, 2005

Weather Data 

Lat.: 55 07.2N
Long.:160 07.4W
Visibility:  3
Wind direction: Dir (true) 177
Wind speed: 7 knts
Sea water temperature: 9.15
Sea level pressure: 1011.9
Cloud cover and type: cumulus 5/8

Science and Technology Log 

Today I went out on the Ambar, a flat-bottomed boat that can get in quite close to the shore. It was a training session for one of the interns.  We had with us several pieces of equipment (that we had to set up) and a satellite map of the area, which showed major islands, rocks, and the shoreline. The point of the activity was to “ground truth” (my term) the area at low tide to add to what was already known from the satellite pictures.  According to the satellite pictures, boats would have been able to navigate around the large rocks and get into the shore while in reality what we saw was that there were many more obstructions, rocks and kelp beds that would be a hazard.  We not only took photographs of the obstructions, we added their positions to the map, made notes, and measured with the radar.  We also estimated visually and drew in a dotted line around the whole area of rocks and kelp a hazard line, which would keep boats out of that area.  All this information was recorded on a chart and on the weatherproof laptop computer and will be incorporated into the original map once we get back to the ship.  This activity certainly showed that even with extraordinary equipment, it is important to have scientists who know their business and can recognize when the naked eye observations are just as important as those picked up by the equipment.

Question of the Day: What happens when this is all recorded?  Do you just stay here and start over?

Personal Log 

I really enjoyed being out on the Ambar.  This day is what one would call a hands-on activity.  I have great respect for the scientists’ knowledge and dedication.  It gets cold out there and yet they go out day after day to do their work.  Living on board ship is also an interesting life style.  The crew is literally cut off from their family and any social interactions outside of the ship for two weeks at a time and then they may well be in ports that are not near their homes for the two or three days before they go out again.  Life on the ship is good however–great food, polite people, a lounge with many, many movies (although I don’t see many viewing them,) email services, and other necessities to make living here comfortable.  I have even managed to stay warm most of the time and the constant noise does not seem to be affecting me except for the fact that I can’t hear conversations very well sometimes.

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