John Sammons, July 31, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 31, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 41° 26’ N
Longitude: 66° 34’ W
Visibility: <1 mile
Wind direction: NW (306 degrees)
Wind speed: 7 knots
Sea wave height: 1’
Swell wave height: 1’
Sea water temperature: 15°C
Sea level pressure: 1023.3 millibars
Cloud cover: 90% fog, haze, dust

Screen shot 2014-03-01 at 8.35.50 AM

Question of the Day: Predict the mass and size of each scallop pictured above. Match them with the masses and lengths shown below.

Scallops Masses and Lengths

Yesterday’s Answer: Answers may be different.

  1. flat body allows it to lay camouflaged on the bottom
  2. tail fin allows it to move through the water
  3. spiny back and tail protect it from predators
  4. long, slender body allows it to move faster through the water
  5. strong muscle allows it to close the shell to keep out predators
  6. strong arms allow it to pry open shells for food

Science and Technology Log

“Scallops are a family of bivalve mollusks; there are several hundred species of scallops, found in marine environments all over the world.  Like most other bivalves, they consume phytoplankton and other small particles by filter-feeding. Unlike many bivalves (e.g., clams, which bury in the sediments), they live on the bottom surface, and can move by swimming. Atlantic sea scallops (Placopecten magellanicus, also known giant scallops or deep sea scallops) live only in the northwest Atlantic from Cape Hatteras to Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Sea scallops usually spawn in late summer or early fall, though spring spawning may also occur. After hatching, larvae stay in the water column for 4-6 weeks. At settlement, they attach to a hard object by means of byssal threads produced by a gland at the end of their foot.”

*Thanks to Dvora Hart, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, for supplying the scallop information. 

On Sunday, I was able to operate the Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth instrument by myself. This instrument is lowered into the water at every third designated stations. Data is collected as the instrument descends to the bottom. This data includes salinity (saltiness), temperature, and depth of the water. This is important since various marine animals require ideal temperatures to survive. Today’s CTD went down to 80 meters (think 80 meter sticks deep) and recorded a temperature of about 5 °C. That ‘s cold!

Personal Log

Scallop Catch 

The heavy dredge is ready for another timely tow,
Expect to catch the scallops, to the surface they will go.
Dropping to the bottom where its 80 meters deep,
Spending fifteen minutes dragging and bringing in the keep.
Then they’re sorted on the surface while hiding in their shell,
The aging/growth ridges on their outside’s what they tell.

 

Cary Atwood, July 31, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 31, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: Clear
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Seawater temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day 

What is bilateral symmetry?

Answer to yesterday’s question: The Hermit Crab

Science and Technology Log

As we comb through our dredge piles, intent on finding scallops, one of the most prolific creatures I notice is the Hermit Crab of the family Pagurus.  Hermit crabs are common on every coast of the United States and like many people, I am drawn to their special ability to take up residence in cast off mollusk shells. Just as we grow out of shoes when our feet grow, so must they find new homes as they age.  When seen without their shell, their abdomen is coiled, soft and very pink.  They carry their shell with them, and when threatened or attacked are able to retreat quickly for protection.  Hermit crabs are highly adapted to  carry around their permanent burden of a home because they have special appendages on their midsection segment for clinging to the spiral support of a marine snail shell. Their long antennae and large socketless eyes give them a distinct, non-threatening but whimsical  look….and it makes me want to take one home-but of course I couldn’t offer it the same kind of home it already has.

Personal Log

The six hour shifts for the scallop survey are taking its toll on my sleep needs. Every day I feel I am further behind and will never catch up.  This morning I truly did not feel awake until about 10am, even though my watch began at 6 a.m.  My daily schedule consists of the basics: eat, work, eat, relax, sleep, eat and work.  I don’t know how the crew can adjust to this kind of schedule for months on end as they go to sea.  It takes a very special person to adjust to the physical demands, let alone the demands of leaving family behind to come to sea.  However, some of the guys on board have been doing it for 20+years!

Coming to sea has a magnetic pull for some….is it the vast water and open horizons? Is it the need to assert some sort of independence? Is it the opportunity to be a part of something so much larger than one’s self?  As I speak to some of the deck hands, they are generally happy to be working for NOAA and away from the uncertainty of fishing or lobstering. In part it’s having steady work not influenced by the vagaries of what is caught at sea. These days, with the Atlantic fishery recovering, the catch is more consistent. Of the two deck hands I have come to know, both have a far away look in their eye—missing some of the action on a fishing boat, but still in love with the sea.

Mike Laird, July 31, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mike Laird
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 24 – August 13, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 31, 2005

Weather Data

Time: 13:00
Latitude: 55° 53.4 ̍ N
Longitude: 158˚ 50.4 ̍ W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind Direction: 225˚
Wind Speed: 10kts
Sea Wave Height: 0-1΄
Swell Wave Height: 0-1΄
Sea Water Temperature: 11.7˚ C
Sea Level Pressure: 1009.5 mb
Cloud Cover: Sky 8/8 covered; Lower level: cumulus Mid-level: altostratus High level: cirrus

Science and Technology Log 

The RAINIER’s crew of forty-nine (men (40) and women (9)) is divided into six work groups:

I) Officers and junior officers:  Responsible for overall ship operations including: navigation, horizontal and vertical control, damage control (ship safety), medical services, field  operations, etc.

II) Survey operations: Responsibilities include: data collection and analysis

III) Deck operations:  Responsibilities include: launch and de-launch of small boats (launches and skiffs), operation of the small boats, manning equipment and lines used during anchoring and mooring of the ship, maintenance (cleaning, rust removal, painting) and operation of the deck and deck equipment (cranes, gravity davits, hydraulic davit, the anchor windlass), etc.

IV) Engineering operations: Responsibilities include: maintenance and operation of the ships electrical and mechanical systems

V) Yeoman and Electronics: Yeoman – responsibilities similar to those of a business manager  (personnel, payroll, ship’s budget, etc.).  This position is slowly being  eliminated from the ships in NOAA’s fleet.

Electronics – responsible for the maintenance and operation of the electronic equipment onboard ship (computers, radios, GPS units, etc).

VI) Steward: Responsibilities include: operation of the galley, preparing three meals a day for the crew, preparing snacks for the morning and afternoon breaks, and preparing a picnic lunch and drinks to send with the three to four launch crews who are sent out on survey assignments.

I was able to work with the deck crew the other day, and I’ll share the experience in a future log!

Personal Log 

Today I did a lot of housekeeping kind of stuff.  I was getting pretty low on clean clothes, so I went down and used the ship’s laundry – three washing machines and three driers.  The only difficulty is trying to find open machines.  Either I hit it on a busy day or 49 crewmembers and four guests keep the machines busy.  I also caught up on my logs and did some background reading on tides and tidal datum.  Think I will try a little fishing tonight – still haven’t managed to pull one over the ship’s side.  Last night Jon, one of the crew, somehow caught a skate (looks like a ray).  He hooked it in one of the fins. We pulled it up took a look at it and then released it back over the side.  Very interesting!

Philip Hertzog, July 31, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Philip Hertzog
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 25 – August 13, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Aleutian Islands, AK
Date: July 31, 2005

The laundry room
The laundry room

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude: 55˚53.4’ N
Longitude: 158˚ 50.4’ W
Visibility:  10 nm
Wind Direction: 180˚
Wind Speed: 2 kts
Sea Wave Height: 0 feet
Sea Water Temperature:  12.2˚ C
Sea Level Pressure: 1009.5 mb
Cloud Cover: 1, cumulus, altocumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today I took care of tasks that come with living aboard a ship as a crew member. I’ve been on board the RAINIER for almost 9 days now and my laundry started to attract sea gulls outside my room’s porthole.  Even the Sei Whales turn and swim away when they approach my side of the ship. On shore, many of my students’ moms or dads do the laundry, but on a ship this becomes your responsibility. Washing clothes at sea poses special problems because we have no sewers to dispose of waste water, only the ocean. We have to use special soap that won’t harm sea creatures and limit the amount of water used for washing. The RAINIER has a full laundry with water saving washers and energy saving dryers as you can see in this photo.

Ship quarters
Ship quarters

After laundry, I cleaned my room.  The Captain expects everyone to keep a clean room and make up their beds everyday. He can even enter your room at any time for an inspection. I share a room with the other teacher at sea, Mike Laird.  The room has two bunks, two closets, a head (known on land as a bathroom) and a desk with a computer as you can see here: Mike and I lucked out by getting an officer’s room, because many crewmembers share rooms with up to four people and only have gym lockers to store their gear.

Cleaning our bathroom
Cleaning our bathroom

Once I cleaned my room and vacuumed the floor, I tackled the big job of cleaning the head. Again, you can’t bring a parent along to clean the bathroom for you and this job falls on everyone on the ship. The RAINIER does its best to protect the environment by using special cleaning products that kill mold and germs, but not aquatic life that live in the water where our wastes end up. I used three different types of cleaners: one for the tub, one for the toilet, and one for everything else.  I kneeled down on my hands and knees to scrub everything from top to bottom to ensure the germs die and won’t make us sick miles from the nearest doctor.  My mom and students would be proud of me!  The rest of the day I caught up on my paper work and read, but tomorrow I will have a big day out on the launch.

Personal Log 

I enjoyed a day off the launches to get caught up on all my house work and work on my photography. My cabin had gotten messy after spending eight nights in it and I look forward to sleeping on clean sheets tonight. I met with Larry Wooten, Chief Electronics Technician, and learned how to transfer my photos over the ship’s file server. The ship’s crew is one big family and share many things. Several people have put their photos on the main server so others can enjoy and download pictures. Everyone trusts each other on the ship.  We leave our doors unlocked and you can leave your wallet out on the table without a worry.  I wish our society back on shore could be just as trusting. Well, I’m off to find some salmon off the back end of the ship.

Question of the Day 

Why is it important to keep a ship at sea so clean?  What happens if someone on a ship becomes sick?

John Sammons, July 30, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 30, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 41° 26’ N
Longitude: 66° 34’ W
Visibility: <1 mile
Wind direction: NW (306 degrees)
Wind speed: 7 knots
Sea wave height: 1’
Swell wave height: 1’
Sea water temperature: 15°C
Sea level pressure: 1023.3 millibars
Cloud cover: 90% fog, haze, dust

Question of the Day: What physical adaptations help the animals pictured in numbers 1 – 6 above survive in their environment? Give at least three.

 

Screen shot 2014-03-01 at 8.32.02 AM
Photos 7, 8, 9: Evening Sunset

 

Yesterday’s Answer: The cloud types shown in yesterday’s pictures are: 1) cirrus and stratus 2) stratus (fog) 3) cirrus 4) cirrus 5) cumulus 6) cirrus and stratus 7) stratus (fog)  8) stratus 9) cumulus (alto-or cirro-cumulus) There were no cumulonimbus (thunderstorm) clouds (which is a good thing). The crew on the Albatross IV was experiencing FAIR weather.

Science and Technology Log

Animal adaptations fall into two general categories – behavioral and physical. The physical adaptations are the structures on the animal that help in survive, while the behavioral adaptations are the actions the animal takes in order to survive. The structures may include fins, body shape, beaks, mouth parts, legs, gills, etc. that are important to the animal’s ability to endure within the habitat. For example, scallops have a hard shell that helps them survive by keeping out predators. The actions that animals may take in order to survive include playing dead, showing teeth, and licking your face. For example, scallops squirt water in order to push themselves away from their predators.

On Saturday we moved into Canadian waters and are now operating in an open area. We essentially have the same tasks to perform at each station, including taking a picture of the catch before it is sorted, weighing and measuring selected species, tagging and bagging requested species, cleaning the workstations after each station, and operating the CTD. More information about the Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth instrument will be shared in tomorrow’s log. Several whales, dolphins, sharks, and porpoises have been spotted. They are difficult to photograph because I never have a camera ready, and they are breaking the surface at unpredictable time.

The table below shows the amount of some of the marine species collected since our survey began.

Sammons Day 6 Table

  1. Can you tell which species was the most populated in the areas surveyed?
  2. Which species was the least populated?
  3. Are there any that have the same or close to the same amount?
  4. What’s the difference between the number of the most and least populated totals?

Personal Log

Ocean Sunset 

Stand in awe as the sun begins to finally set,
Awash in orange and red and yellow, it is hard to forget.
What a lasting beauty as the sky begins to glow,
Its splendor in the many colors that it will show.
Waiting for its lasting blaze of light to end the day,
Now I lay me down to sleep. . ., I ask of Him, I pray.

Cary Atwood, July 30, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 30, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: Clear
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Seawater temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day:

What kind of crab makes its home in an abandoned snail shell?

Answer to yesterday’s question: Lines- a word used on a ship meaning ropes; Bosun- a very old word derived from “Boat Swain”- meaning the lead fisherman; Steam- the distance to be traveled on a ship from one destination to the next; Swell- wave action –when the action is greater, the difference between the tip of the wave and the trough represents the swell.

Science and Technology Log 

In the past few days, pods of humpback whales have been sighted near our ship.  I grab my binoculars and watch their show.  They are very acrobatic whales, breaching (jumping above the water), slapping their flippers and lobtailing—meaning they dive below the surface leaving only their large tail fluke showing as they wave it in the air.  If you are lucky enough to get close to a humpback whale, you might be able to see the distinctive markings on the underside of their flukes.  These markings are used to identify individual whales. It is hard to imagine the immense size of this mammal as they reach from 36 to 52 feet in length and weigh up to 40 tons

Humpbacks can be found worldwide and in the winter they migrate south to the Caribbean. Their summer feeding grounds are the Gulf of Maine to Iceland.  Humpbacks were commercially fished almost to the brink of extinction in the 1800’s as whaling ships plied their trade all along the Atlantic coastline, making many fisherman and coastal communities very wealthy. Once they were listed on the endangered species list in 1966 it protected them from commercial harvest.  Their numbers have recovered and it is estimated that 8000-10,000 live and feed in the waters of the North Atlantic.  Seeing these whales is a truly special experience

Personal Log– a poem for humpbacks

Humpbacks
On dark waters
You rise
And reach for the sky
Your fluke
Like a signature
Tells all who are near
This is my playground
Too I have returned from the
Brink of extinction.
Atlantic waters
Give me life
Help them remember
I could have been
A ghostly memory
Of times past.
Now, I inspire awe and hope
For the future.

Mike Laird, July 30, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mike Laird
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 24 – August 13, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 30, 2005

Weather Data

Latitude: 55°37.1̍ N
Longitude: 156˚46.6 ̍ W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind Direction: 140˚
Wind Speed: 5 kts
Sea Wave Height: 0-1΄
Swell Wave Height: 2΄
Sea Water Temperature: 12.2˚ C
Sea Level Pressure: 1009.8 mb
Cloud Cover: Stratus

Science and Technology Log 

I would like to add some clarifying information to my log entry, Mike Laird, July 29, 2005.  In that entry, I discussed setting up two horizontal control-data collection stations, and in reading the entry, it appears that the purpose for both stations is to support the “fly-away” Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS).  This is not accurate.  Only the station we established on the point will be used to determine the exact location of the DGPS.

The purpose of the other station is to verify the accuracy of the existing benchmark at that site, so a tidal datum (“…a base elevation used as a reference from which to reckon heights or depths”) can be established for the tide station located there.  I mentioned in the previous log that the horizontal control team is responsible for establishing accurate latitude and longitude coordinates for each sounding taken by the RAINIER and the launches. In addition, the soundings are taken throughout the day at different stages of the tide, which means that water depth will vary.

It is the responsibility of the vertical control team to provide precise tide data for corrections that have to be applied to the soundings so that they meet NOAA’s Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) guideline (ensures minimum water depth is charted).  Mean Lower Low Water means that an average is taken of the tide level at the lower of the two ebb periods in a semi-diurnal (two flood periods and two ebb periods every day) tidal day. The National Water Level Observation maintains primary control stations in many locations around the United States. These stations determine a tidal datum based on the average of observations over a nineteen-year period.

In many survey areas, the tidal datum received from a primary control station can be used to make the necessary corrections to the soundings.  However, the nearest station to the RAINIER’s current work area is located in Sand Point – a significant distance away.  Therefore, the vertical control team established the tertiary tidal station (one in operation for at least thirty consecutive days but less than a year) here in Cushing Bay, so that data more indicative of the local conditions can be collected and compared to the primary datum.  During this analysis, a decision will be made about any adjustments that need to be made to the primary datum before it is used to make corrections to the survey soundings.

Personal Log 

Our good fortune continues to hold – the weather is incredible.  Sun is shining brightly, temperature in the low 70’s.  We had been hearing whispers since lunch of a beach party tonight. The rumors were confirmed by an announcement following dinner that a skiff would be ferrying people to the shore and back from 18:30 until 23:30.  It was a time for the crew and guests to relax and hang out, enjoy a big driftwood bonfire, do a little beachcombing (the captain found a large whalebone – rib maybe), have some sodas and listen to a little music.  A lot of fun!

Philip Hertzog, July 30, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Philip Hertzog
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 25 – August 13, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Aleutian Islands, AK
Date: July 30, 2005

Reson’s sonar output that generates a map of the ocean bottom near Spitz Island.
Reson’s sonar output that generates a map of the ocean bottom near Spitz Island.

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude: 55˚53.4’ N
Longitude: 158˚ 50.4’ W
Visibility:  10 nm
Wind Direction: light
Wind Speed: airs
Sea Wave Height: 0 feet
Sea Water Temperature:  12.2˚ C
Sea Level Pressure: 1012.5 mb
Cloud Cover: 7, cumulus, stratocumulus, altocumulus

Science and Technology Log 

I went boating into new territory today. We took launch RA-4 and headed to the western end of Mitrofania Island to map the bottom around Spitz Island and several rocks.  I got to learn more about the RAINIER crew, saw a new type of sonar, met some sea lions and even drove the launch. Ensign Brianna Welton led our launch with assistance from Lorraine Roubidoux.  Ensign Welton is an expert in sonar technology and I watched other crew members seek out her help when problems crop up. Ms. Roubidoux goes to school at the University of New Hampshire where she’s earning a Masters Degree.  She joined the RAINIER for a month to get experience with sonar systems.  Ms Roubidoux conducts research on sonar “background scatter.” Background scatter occurs when sonar signals bounce around more than once and give false readings of ocean bottom depth.  Ms. Roubidoux’s research will hopefully result in better sonar for future ships.

Driving the launch
Driving the launch

Women play an important role on NOAA ships. They serve as officers like Ensign Welton and scientists like Ms. Robidoux.  Women also play key leadership roles on the RAINIER like our ship’s XO (Executive Officer), Commander Julia Neander, who takes command of our ship when the Captain leaves. I hope my students will learn that many cool opportunities exist for women in the sciences and they should not be discouraged from taking math and science classes.  Above is a photo of Ms. Robidoux running the sonar on our launch.

Coxswain (official name for a sailor who drives small boats), Corey Mussey, carefully maneuvered the launch as we approached Spitz Island. Underwater rocks make this type of mapping more dangerous and Seaman Mussey moved the launch slowly and carefully to avoid ripping off the half million dollar sonar sensor from the hull.  Because we moved into shallow water, Ensign Welton turned on a different type of Sonar Sensor called the Reson SeaBat 8101. The Reson works in water depths of 4 to 150 meters and gives a sharp, clear image of the bottom. The other sonar I saw before, the Elac, operates in deeper waters ranging from 40 to 400 meters, but does not give a clear image of the bottom. Corey told me you can actually see ship wrecks in full detail with the Reson sonar.

As we mapped, I occasionally stood on the bow of the launch and looked out for rocks as we moved close into shore. We passed over underwater “forests” of bull kelp and I saw 25 to 30 feet below the surface where a long, single whip like strand moves toward the surface and attaches to a floating round bulb.  Out of the bulb comes half a dozen flat fronds about 5 to 10 feet in length and four inches wide that make the bull kelp look almost like underwater palm trees.  Suddenly I saw a salmon dart quickly underwater and then 40 to 50 fish appear under the launch and move just as quickly out of view to our port (left) side.

As we moved back and forth in our “mowing the lawn” mapping pattern, we saw two groups of Steller Sea Lions. Four males sat on a small rocky island while two dozen or more females beach themselves on Spitz Island three hundred yards away.  Each time we passed, the Sea Lions sat up and barked at us.  We may be the first humans they have seen in this remote part of the Southwestern Alaskan peninsula.  As you can see, the one male challenged me with its open mouth while another sat calmly with his seagull friend.

At the end of the day, Corey let me drive the launch and run one of the transect lines for the sonar mapping.  As you can see in the photos below, I looked at a computer screen that showed our boat as a red torpedo along a line on the computer screen.  I had to keep the black marker on the red and green bar at the bottom of the screen exactly in between the two colors or we would miss our mapping area.  This proved difficult because just as one gets lined up a wave pushes the launch off course so you constantly correct the boat’s position. I found using the computer screen to drive the launch similar to a video game except you could wreck the boat and get hurt for real if one makes a mistake. I had a great day and returned to the ship to await another adventurous day.

Personal Log 

I had a fantastic day. I got to see some interesting technology and talked to professional people. Being out on the bow of the launch scared me a bit.  If we had hit a rock I failed to spot, the damage to the sonar system could equal a half a million dollars.  The bow also requires a lot of balance and strength.  Each time a wave rocked the launch, I risked falling into the cold Alaskan water and had to really pay attention.

Sonar output
Sonar output

Though the crew of the RAINIER works hard and long hours, they do get a chance to relax and Saturday nights are special. After supper, we loaded up into the open skiff and rode about mile to a wide open, gravelly beach for a party.  A few people started a large bon fire and we had soda drinks and music playing.  The skiff could only carry eight people at a time, but the party grew larger and noisier each time it arrived on the beach.  People talked, told jokes, found whale bones, and caught salmon all evening long.  The party lasted until 11:30 pm and we rode back to the RAINIER just as the Alaskan sky started to turn dark.

After returning to the ship, I joined some of the crew in the Wardroom (ship’s lounge) and watched the video, “Napoleon Dynamite,” about a high school student.  We all laughed and talked about our own high school experiences.  Tomorrow we all will be tired, but ready for another two weeks of work.

Question of the Day 

How large can Stellar Sea Lions get? Where do we find Stellar Sea Lions and what are their life’s history.

A male Steller sea lion
A male Steller sea lion

Cary Atwood, July 29, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 29, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: Clear
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Seawater temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day:

Define these terms used aboard the ALBATROSS IV:  lines, bosun, steam, swell

Yesterday’s answer: Pelagic means “of the sea.”  Lesser shearwaters are part of a larger group of pelagic birds who spend their entire adult lives out in the open ocean.  They rest, sleep, feed and mate on the water.  The only time they return to land is to lay a brood of eggs in the same geographic location where they were born and fledged before they left for the open waters of adulthood.

Science and Technology Log  

Today’s topic is ALBATROSS IV Geography: a mini guide to the important places on the ship.

Fantail—Another name for the stern of the ship.  Since this is a ship on which scientific missions are completed, this section of the boat has space to accommodate the gantry and boom, which pulls up the dredge, as well as a full wet lab to process scallops and other groundfish species. Wet Lab—The area in the fantail with touch computer screens and magnetically activated measuring boards and scales to document scallop survey data. Bridge—The enclosed area where navigation and sighting is done by the captain and crewmembers.  A full complement of computers is used to assess position, direction and locations of ships and buoys.

Computer Room—Located on the middle deck, it contains computers with e-mail access, FSCS computers and computer servers.  In every main area of the ship, a computer monitor with a closed circuit view of the fantail can be seen.  This is so the scientists, engineers, and captain can know the status of the fantail area at all times. Galley—Another name for the kitchen area.  Food for the crew is prepared here by Jerome Nelson and served buffet style by Keith.  The menu is posted daily and always includes a wide assortment of meats, breads and vegetables, as well as that all-important treat: ice cream! Hurricane Deck—AKA “Steel Beach”- a small deck above the fantail used for sunbathing and relaxation. Engine Room—Noisy room down in the bulkhead where the engineering crew keeps the two diesel engines running smoothly. Boom and Gantry—Found on the aft deck (otherwise known as the fantail), these are the all-essential components needed to tow the eight-foot net.  The gantry is the large metal A-frame and the boom is the moveable arm or crane, which uses large cables and a pulley system to bring up the net each time. Cabin or stateroom—Sleeping quarters for two or three persons.  It has portholes, bunks and a shared bathroom.

Personal Log 

Today the ocean waters have calmed a bit.  Thursday’s wave action gave new meaning to the term “rock the boat,” which is exactly what we did.  The swells, up to three feet in height, were the distant result of Tropical Storm Franklin as it made its way up into the waters of New England. A good safety rule we learned during our brief introductory meeting was to make sure you gave “one hand to the boat” at all times.  This was especially good advice as my footing placement became increasingly unpredictable.  Ships are built to withstand the high seas, and fortunately, there are plenty of places to put a firm grip as one makes their way around the ship.

John Sammons, July 29, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 29, 2005

Weather Data from the bridge

Latitude: 41° 02’ N
Longitude: 69° 15’ W
Visibility: 0
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Sea water temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day:

What cloud types are shown in below in the photographs (cirrus, cumulus, stratus, cumulonimbus)? What kind of weather would the crew on the ALBATROSS IV be experiencing (fair, rainy, stormy)?

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 9.55.10 PM

Yesterday’s Answer: The ALBATROSS IV is currently located northeast of Virginia.

Science and Technology Log

Weather has a big influence on the decisions made at sea. Using instruments like the ones described in the Day 1 Log, the crew can determine whether conditions are safe and whether to change course. However, decisions about where to go can be affected by the types of clouds that are observed. One cloud formation that influences these choices is the stratus cloud on the ground, more easily known as fog. If it were not for the RADAR and other navigation instruments, dense fog could put an end to the trip. Other cloud types like cirrus clouds could indicate the edge of an approaching storm. With such warning, the ship could navigate around cumulonimbus, or storm, clouds or ride it out. An observant person on watch can make life-saving decisions using weather and cloud types.

The Friday morning watch (midnight – six) consisted of relatively uniform samples, because the tow moved through a restricted closed area of Georges Bank. It seems like this practice is working, since the scallop counts in the restricted and nonrestricted areas vary greatly.

Sampling of Sea Scallops on Georges Bank

The seas have settled a bit and are lower than two feet by the noon – six watch. The sky is almost clear with only a few distance clouds on the horizon. The water is a beautiful marine blue color, unlike the murky brown water near the coast.

Personal Log

Zig-Zagging 

Let me stop and ponder now about the time I’ve spent,
It seems like days and nights have passed, they’ve come, they’ve gone, they went!
Zigging left and zagging right, we have sailed right out to sea,
It seems so wide and open, such an awesome sight for me.
There’s so much to learn from everyone who works upon this ship,
It’s hard to think that soon we’ll be halfway through our trip.

 

Mike Laird, July 29, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mike Laird
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 24 – August 13, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 29, 2005

Weather Data

Latitude: 55° 53.36 ̍ N
Longitude: 158˚ 58.4 ̍ W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind Direction: Light Airs
Wind Speed: Light Airs
Sea Wave Height: 0΄
Swell Wave Height: 0΄
Sea Water Temperature: 12.2˚ C
Sea Level Pressure: 1013.5 mb
Cloud Cover: Sky 8/8 covered;
Lower-level: cumulus, stratocumulus
Mid-level: altostratus

Science and Technology Log 

Today I am on a team that is going ashore to set up two horizontal control-data collection stations. The horizontal control team is responsible for establishing accurate latitude and longitude coordinates for the location of the survey soundings. The RAINIER uses a Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) to acquire precise readings for every collected depth sounding. The remote location of the Mitrofania Island work area has introduced an infrequently encountered challenge for the horizontal control team.  The two Coast Guard operated DGPS Beacon Stations that are closest to the work area (one on Kodiak Island and one in Cold Bay) are too far away (we are on the outer fringe of their transmitting capability) for the signal to reach the launches in some of the more isolated, shielded areas. As a result, we are out setting up the horizontal control data collection stations.

The first station is set up over an existing benchmark and will record data transmitted directly from a GPS satellite.  The receiver will record readings for six hours, shut down for twenty-four hours, and resume recording for a final six-hour time period. Finished with the first station, we travel across the bay to a point that extends out into the ocean. We will set up the second horizontal control data collection station at this location. However, there is not an existing benchmark, so we must establish one.  First, we drive three-foot sections of metal rod into the ground (normally benchmarks are fixed in rock but there is none at this site).  We sink two sections and decide that is enough to hold the benchmark in place for the two months that it will be in use (for a permanent benchmark the rod is driven until it can go no further).  The brass cap is then stamped with a name (SPIT) and date (2005) and affixed to the top of the rod.  We are now able to set up the second station. The receiver will follow the same collection pattern: collecting signals for six hours, resting for twenty-four hours, and collecting for another six hours.

At the end of the collection period, the data from the sensors will be uploaded to an onboard computer and transmitted to the National Geodetic Survey in Washington D.C. where corrections to account for error introduced by things such as the atmosphere are applied. The corrected data, returned to the ship, will establish very accurately (within cm) the latitude and longitude for the site.  One final correction is made to the data before the site can be used. This error source is the satellite itself and comes from the satellite’s perceived position (where it thinks it is in the sky) as compared to its actual position.  The precise location is monitored by the United States Air Force.  Final corrections using this information will provide pinpoint accuracy (within mm) of the benchmark’s location. A temporary, or “fly-away”, DGPS station can now be placed at this benchmark and transmit signals easily received by the launches.

Personal Log 

Yet another beautiful day! Once on shore the mosquitoes were terrible – swarming in clouds around our heads.  A little bug dope, the warm sun, and cool breeze soon took care of this problem.  A great day to be out working!

Philip Hertzog, July 29, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Philip Hertzog
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 25 – August 13, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Aleutian Islands, AK
Date: July 29, 2005

Tide gauge equipment
Tide gauge equipment

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude: 58˚ 53.36’ N
Longitude: 158˚ 50.4’ W
Visibility:  10 nm
Wind Direction: light
Wind Speed: airs
Sea Wave Height:  0 feet
Sea Water Temperature:  12.2˚ C
Sea Level Pressure: 1013.5 mb
Cloud Cover: 8, cumulus, stratocumulus, altocumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today I worked on what the hydrographic map makers call “vertical control” and “horizontal control.” When NOAA makes maps showing how deep the water is, they have a problem in that the depth changes when the tides come in and go out. If a rock exists in the water, there may be no problem at high tide, but ships can run into the same rock at low tide.

hertzog_log5To overcome this problem, NOAA measures bottom depths on their charts starting at a constant elevation called mean lower low water.  Low tide occurs twice a day, but one low tide is always lower than the other.  By keeping track of all the lowest, low tides of the day and averaging their elevations over many years, scientists can come up with an elevation for mean lower low water (MLLW).  You want to start measuring from your lowest tide level to ensure that ship captains can trust the chart to protect them from danger even during low tide. All of the ocean bottom charts are based on depth below MLLW.  However, when you collect sonar data, your height above MLLW constantly changes with the tide in a vertical position (up and down). Hence the term “vertical control” because the chart maker needs to know how to correct the sonar data so the maps are based on MLLW, not the current tide height. In remote areas like Alaska, limited tide data exists so the RAINIER crew installed a device called a tide gauge to measure and record the rise and fall of the tide in the mapping area.  The information from the tide gauge will help us to correct the sonar data so we can make the charts based on MLLW.

Working with the equipment
Working with the equipment

The RAINIER crew installed a tide gauge on Mitrofania Island 1.5 weeks ago before I got on board. Today I rode in an open boat to help the crew check the tide gauge.  Ensign Andrew Halbach led our mission with assistance from Survey Technician Matt Foss and Ensign Laurel Jennings. Mike Laird, the other Teacher at Sea also joined our group. Carl Verplank, Ordinary Seaman, drove the skiff and stayed off shore after dropping us off to ensure the boat won’t get stuck when the tide goes out.  Carl had the best job because he fished for salmon until we needed a pick up. I hope he shares some fish with us tonight!

Upon reaching shore, Matt Foss and I walked over to the tide gauge station to check it out. Matt carried “bear repellant” with him which is pressurized pepper put into a spray can. If a grizzly bear should approach and attack us, the pepper spray might keep the bear from eating us.  On the other hand, maybe bears like to have a little pepper on their steaks. In any event, we need to stay alert in bear country.

GPS work
GPS work

We found the tide gauge in good working order.  Matt told me that Scuba Divers helped to put the gauge in and that it sends tide information via satellite back to Washington, DC for further analysis.  Now that our vertical control (up and down movement) has been taken care of, Matt and I hiked over to join Ensign Halbach and Ensign Jennings who are working on “horizontal control” or side-to-side motion.

Normally, the crew of the RAINIER knows its horizontal position through the use of global positioning satellite (GPS). As discussed in previous log entries, GPS works by using signals from several satellites to locate your horizontal position on the Earth in terms of latitude and longitude.  The chart makers combine sonar data with GPS data to create accurate maps of ocean bottom depth.  Atmospheric conditions can affect the satellite signals so scientists calculate correction factors. Special radio stations transmit these factors which allow the launch crews to correct the GPS data. These corrections are called “horizontal control.”

Unfortunately, the remoteness and steep mountains of the Mitrofania Island area prevent the RAINIER from receiving good radio signals.  We need to set up our own radio transmission and GPS base station to get good control.  This task took up the rest of our day.

Matt and I found the others busily setting up the GPS station and taking measurements to ensure good location information.  Ensign Halbach carefully leveled the GPS antenna and oriented it towards north. After setting up the GPS station, Carl picked us up and drove the open boat to another location about a mile away where we repeated the process and set up a second GPS station. However, constructing the radio transmitter tower proved to be our big challenge. Nobody in our group ever set up a tower before so we worked as a team to figure it out. We returned to the RAINIER and hit the machine shop where we measured out metal, drilled boltholes and scavenged any thing to help us build the tower.

We carefully load the skiff and quickly motored back the mile across the water to the transmitter site located on a sand bar that sticks out into Mitrofania Bay.  Ensign Halbach led us in constructing the tower and it went up faster than planned.  Two people hold the tower straight up and balance it while the other three string guy ropes to metal stakes pounded in the ground. The tower made us proud of our team work, but no one dares to climb it.  Maybe some of you students reading this log entry would like to come to Alaska and try to climb it.  We returned to the RAINIER and could see our tower on the horizon where it will transmit horizontal control data to all the launches conducting sonar work over the next two weeks.

Personal Log 

This was the most physical day yet on the research vessel.  I actively participated in setting up the tower instead of just observing.  I really enjoyed working in a team today and helping to solve problems.  I also had a good physical workout by carrying heavy equipment to the GPS and radio transmitter sites.  The work out really helped because the food on board the RAINIER is delicious and plentiful with three large cooked meals a day.  I need to watch my weight on this trip.

The tower project showed me you need both technical training and practical construction skills when out in a remote area like Alaska.  My students tend to be either hands-on or all academic, but you need a balance of both these skills to be successful upon graduation. Many of the crew on the RAINIER learned their jobs while on the boat and had to solve difficult problems without any outside help. Hopefully my students can use the RAINIER’s crew as an example on the importance of seeking balance in their lives. Speaking of balance, it’s time for me to catch a salmon.  Here I am ready to go. See you tomorrow.

Question of the Day 

What causes the tide to rise and fall and how does it change over the course of an entire month?

Cary Atwood, July 28, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 28, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: undetermined
Wind direction: SSW (217 degrees)
Wind speed:  11 knots
Sea wave height: 0.4’
Swell wave height: 1.4’
Seawater temperature: 18°C
Sea level pressure: 1013.3 millibars
Cloud cover: Obscure, Fog, Haze, Dust

Question of the Day: 

Lesser Shearwaters are common pelagic birds we often sea in great numbers near our ship. What does pelagic mean?

Answer to yesterday’s question: Astropectin species (sea stars) prey primarily on young scallops.  Asteria vulgaris, another kind of sea star will prey upon adult scallops by wrapping themselves around the bivalves and tiring out their muscle.  Once that is done, they will use their mouth to suck out and make a tasty meal of the scallop’s soft, fleshy parts.  Other scallop predators include crabs, lobsters, and some flounder species that eat small scallops.  Wolf fish eat scallops as well.

Science and Technology Log 

I am so pleased to have Dr. Dvora Hart on our cruise.  She has given me a great deal of context regarding the scallop survey conducted aboard the Albatross IV.  As an official operations research analyst, Dr. Hart is responsible for taking the raw data from the yearly scallop surveys and creating mathematical models of past and current surveys and projecting those numbers for future management decisions of the scallop fishery.  Because the fishery is worth about $300 million annually to fishermen, and more than a billion dollars in retail, it is as valuable a fishery resource as the lobster industry.  Together they represent the two most valuable fisheries on the New England coast.

Dr. Hart has worked for the Northeast Fisheries Science Center for over six years now.  Having a strong math and statistics background has put her in a unique position to develop tools and models that help biologists understand the distribution of surf invertebrates. Every three years, stock assessments are reported to local and regional fishery boards with recommendations for the management of scallops.  Needless to say, the messenger is not always a popular person, especially when areas show diminishing populations and should be closed. However, armed with so much longitudinal data can be a benefit, too, in that areas in the past that have been overfished, if left alone, can, over the course of time, recover.  In order to make the scallop fishery a sustainable industry for all who depend on it for their livelihood, a person like Dvora has pioneered the mathematical modeling on scallops’ fishery management.  Her devotion and passion to this endeavor is clear, and one hopes that these management recommendations will enable fishermen to sustain their livelihood for years to come.

John Sammons, July 28, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 28, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 40° 58’ N
Longitude: 67° 13’ W
Visibility: undetermined
Wind direction: SSW (217 degrees)
Wind speed:  11 knots
Sea wave height: 0.4’
Swell wave height: 1.4’
Sea water temperature: 18°C
Sea level pressure: 1013.3 millibars
Cloud cover: Obscure, Fog, Haze, Dust

Question of the Day: In which direction is the ALBATROSS IV relative to Virginia (north, south, east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest)?  Use the latitude and longitude points in today’s log or refer to the “Location” link shown on the webpage.

Yesterday’s Answer: Some scallops use camouflage and countershading to help protect themselves from their predators by blending into the ocean bottom (light to dark brown as seen from above) and blending into the sky (white as seen from below). Because there are two different colors, this is called countershading, which is a form of camouflage and is a physical adaptation.

Science and Technology Log

Proper navigation is an important component of the ALBATROSS IV’s ability to correctly manage the station locations. Without it, the ship would be lost, and there would be no way to accurately measure station samples over time. First, an electronic course map is generated that has the predetermined route and survey station. Course adjustments are made as the ship approaches a station so that it passes within one mile of the station and over it on its way to the next station. Since the dredge stays in the water for fifteen minutes, it requires accurate course and ship positioning. Second, RADAR is used to keep track of other ship traffic. Radios and an automated tracking system are used to keep a safe distance from other ships like freighters and container ships. Third, visual observations from the bridge enable the watch person to determine visibility and weather conditions that may effect navigating the ship. Of course, when there is dense fog like the ship has experienced on the present cruise, the other two components become critical. While it may seem like a glorious job to be up on the bridge of the ship, it certainly requires a person who is able to perform several operations at once and take the blame for things that go wrong.

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 9.49.05 PM

Thursday has been spent sorting and sampling the catch, which has included flounder (flat and slimy), goosefish (mean and toothy), hake (slender and colorful), crab (determined and crusty), skate (mysterious and smooth) and of course, scallops (graceful and tough). As we sample each station’s catch, we have to check over a list provided by land-based scientists in order to save what they need for their research. Two of those scientists are traveling with us and are very knowledgeable about scallops. Dvora Hart is quantifying the abundance of calico scallops, aging sea scallops, and assessing meat quality in certain areas. Avis Sosa is making a reference collection of shells commonly caught during the clam and scallop surveys, including clappers. Clappers are scallops that are still hinged or connected, but contain no internal organs.

The seas at 40°N and 66°W are affected by Tropical Storm Franklin in the distance. The swells are estimated to be 8 – 10 feet and are rocking the boat constantly. It is difficult to walk straight or stand still, but it is still safe to be here.

You have to also make sure everything is attached, or it will slide right unto the floor.

Personal Log

Sort, Sort, Sort 

Time to muster and be alert for another shift begins,
Shells and starfish wait for us, along with things with fins.
Pull up a bucket and a pad to sample and to sort,
It’s been three days since ALBATROSS steamed from the distant port.
Ouch! I bellowed as a scallop clamped onto my finger,
Upon the deck you sort and scoop, no time to stand and linger.

 

Mike Laird, July 28, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mike Laird
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 24 – August 13, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 28, 2005

Weather Data

Latitude: 55°37.1̍ N
Longitude: 156˚46.6 ̍ W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind Direction: 140˚
Wind Speed: 5 kts
Sea Wave Height: 0-1΄
Swell Wave Height: 2΄
Sea Water Temperature: 12.2˚ C
Sea Level Pressure: 1009.8 mb
Cloud Cover: Stratus

Science and Technology Log 

Another beautiful day in the Gulf of Alaska – partially cloudy with lots of sun!  Today I remained aboard the RAINIER and had an opportunity to talk with Ensign Olivia Hauser about the map sheets.  The sheets are prepared to guide the launches on their echo sounding runs. The whole area to be mapped on this leg of the mission is subdivided into zones called sheets.  At the beginning of the workday, each launch is assigned a sheet for the crew to follow for that day. However prior to distribution to the launch crews, the sheets must be developed.

Each sheet (there are six sheets for our current assignment) is the responsibility of a single sheet manager who takes care of the initial preparation of the sheet, sheet revisions, and the beginning phases of data analysis.  In developing the sheet, the manager attempts to achieve 100% coverage of the seafloor.  This means that the manager attempts to determine the optimum distance between the lines the launch will follow during its sounding runs. In areas like the waters around Mitrofania where there is little or no existing data, the first run of a sheet is a best guess plot.  In essence, the launches are conducting reconnaissance runs.

The data collected during these runs, may reveal some error in the initial line plots.  One problem is called a “holiday” which is a gap between the lines (unsounded seafloor).  This happens when the lines are spaced too far apart for the depth of the water (the water is shallower than expected), and the footprint scanned becomes too narrow leaving a gap between it and the footprint of the neighboring line(s).  A second type of problem is excessive noise in the scan results. In reconnaissance work, this is often the result of a greater than expected water depth in a launch not equipped to handle soundings at that depth. When these types of errors are identified, the sheet manager will revise the sheet plotting a new set of lines to be run. If necessary, a different launch (one with appropriate echo sounding equipment) will be assigned to run the new lines.  Once a complete set of good lines is established for a sheet and seafloor data for the entire sheet is collected, initial analysis begins. Computer programs take cast data (conductivity, pressure, and temperature), tide information, GPS readings (corrected for error), data accounting for the pitch and roll of the launch and process the soundings.  The result is a first look at the bottom!  Subtle changes in shading reveal changes in floor depth and other bottom features. The soundings run by the RA5 launch so far have indicated a mostly flat floor with a few rock outcroppings and small ridges.

Personal Log 

The day was fantastic warm and sunny!  One of the crew caught a halibut, which the galley cooked–a special treat for dinner tonight!

Philip Hertzog, July 28, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Philip Hertzog
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 25 – August 13, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Aleutian Islands, AK
Date: July 28, 2005

Launch lowering into the water
Launch lowering into the water

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude: 55˚ 53.36’N
Longitude: 158˚ 58.4’ W
Visibility:  10 nm
Wind Direction: light
Wind Speed: airs
Sea Wave Height: 0 feet
Sea Water Temperature:  12.8˚ C
Sea Level Pressure: 1013.2 mb
Cloud Cover: 5, cumulus, altocumulus

Science and Technology Log 

I awoke to a beautiful sunrise and partly cloudy skies.  The waters of Cushman Bay calmly rock the RAINIER gently back and forth.  I could see pink salmon jump near the ship and seabirds feeding in the water. Mike Laird (the other Teacher at Sea) and I stayed on board the RAINIER today to catch up on our log entries and to see what the rest of the crew does.  We had a quiet day of writing, talking to the crew, and taking photographs.

At 8:00 am I watched the deck crew lower the launches for the mapping teams.  Lowering the launches can be dangerous work and the deck crew does it carefully while wearing hard hats. Two winches move each launch out over the water as shown here (left and right) and then survey crew board the vessel and load gear.  After the survey crew loads the launch, they work with the deck crew to disconnect the cables and hooks from the launch. The launch then speeds off to start a busy day of mapping the waters of Mitrofania Bay.

Launch in the water
Launch in the water

Once the launches left, the deck crew worked on other tasks.  I saw crew washing decks and maintaining machinery.  Other crew members used a crane to move one of the smaller boats (called skiffs) into the water: Other crew members went about the ship conducting other tasks such as preparing meals, keeping the engines running, contacting the launches to help solve problems, and conducting bridge watch. In later log entries, I will try to describe the different departments on board the RAINIER.

Personal Log 

I had a very quiet day and spent it catching up on paper work and cleaning up my digital photos. After looking at my photos and talking with XO Julia Neander, we decided that our whales from the other day are not fin, but Sei (pronounced “say”) whales.  We saw white spots on the whales back and a prominent ridge on the whale’s forehead which are give away signs for Sei. I spent the evening fishing for salmon off the fan deck (located at the rear of the ship).  Several other crew members also fished of the stern, but only Raul, one of our cooks, caught salmon. He pulled in four cohos weighing around 7-8 pounds each. Will he share and surprise us for supper tomorrow night? I can’t wait to find out.

Securing the lines
Securing the lines

Question of the Day 

The RAINIER is like a small community made up of 50 people.  What kinds of jobs does this community need in order to sustain it for 3 weeks at sea without any outside help?

The launch in action
The launch in action

Cary Atwood, July 27, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 27, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: Clear
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Seawater temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day: What might be the major predators of Atlantic scallops?

Yesterday’s Answer 

According to Dr. Dvora Hart, probably the world’s expert on Atlantic scallops, who just happens to be on our cruise and is a part of my watch crew, the elements listed below are essential to the survival of these scallops

  • Water temperatures in the range of 0 degrees Celsius –17 Celsius.  Above this point they will die.
  • Firm sand or pebbly gravel needed for attachment as it grows
  • A good supply of phytoplankton and similar sized micro and protozoa and diatoms and detritus to feed upon

Science and Technology Log 

This morning after my watch, I interviewed Captain Michael Abbott who is captaining the ALBATROSS during this cruise. We stood up on the bridge while he demonstrated some of the navigation equipment.  I like spending time on the bridge because the open view from the bow is fabulous, and there are rarely any people up there.  I’ll write about navigation in another entry.

I talked with him about his career in the NOAA officer corps.  He joined the Corp about 21 years ago making it a career when he heard about it on his college campus.  At that time he was completing a degree in geology and hydrology at the University of New Hampshire.  After a three month officer training at the Merchant Marine Academy in King’s Point, New York he became a uniformed officer in the NOAA Corps.  It is the smallest branch of the uniformed non-military service, with less than 300 officers operating ships and aircraft for scientific research purposes.

According to Captain Abbott, his major responsibilities aboard the ALBATROSS IV are the safety of the crew, a successful completion of the scallop survey mission and making the cruise enjoyable for all on board. The crew includes 5 uniformed NOAA officers, scientists and ship crew–all together, about 25 people. Being at sea gives Mike great pleasure in that he is able to contribute to NOAA’s mission and play an active part in stewardship towards the environment.

Personal Log 

A poem today…

Ocean water Glassy smooth
Rippling velvet
Sunset shimmering
Fog rainbows dancing
Ship rocking
Sun glimmering
Shearwaters circling
Teacher adjusting
To daily rhythms
Of the cruise

Tamil Maldonado, July 27, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Tamil Maldonado
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 18 – 28, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 27, 2005

Science and Technology Log

During the day I talked with the captain about boat stability.  Stability is defined as the ability of a vessel to return to its original condition or position after it has been disturbed by an outside force. Anyone who has been at sea and felt the vessel roll, for example, and then right itself (only to roll in the opposite direction and right itself again) has seen stability in action.

Outside forces include wind seas, adding/removing weight, and free surface.  The six Motions of a Vessel in waves are rolling, pitching, yawing, heaving, swaying, and surging. Rolling is the motion about the vessel’s longitudinal axis.  Pitching is the motion about the vessel’s transverse axis.  Yawing is the motion about the vessel’s vertical axis.  Heaving is the vertical bodily motion of the vessel (whole vessel moves up and down together). Swaying is lateral (side to side) bodily motion.  Surging is the longitudinal (fore and aft) bodily motion.  All or most of the motions can occur simultaneously and have their effect on the efficient operation of a vessel.  While the ship’s officer cannot completely control these motions, there is much that can be done to diminish or alleviate their effects.

Motions of the Vessel and Governing Stabilities include:  Roll- Transverse Stability, Pitch- Longitudinal Stability, Yaw- Directional Stability, Heave – Positional Motion Stability, Surge – Stability in motion Ahead or Astern, Sway – Lateral Motion Stability. The way a vessel rolls is a direct indication of her stability.

The condition of a vessel is determined almost solely by the location of two points: the Center of Gravity (G) and the Center of Buoyancy (B).  G is the point at which all vertically downward forces of the vessel can be considered to act.  In other words, the ship will behave as though all of its weight were acting downward through this point.  B is the point at which all the vertically upward forces of support (buoyancy) can be considered to act, or, the center of volume of the underwater portion of the vessel.  In other words, the ship will behave as if all of its support is acting up through this point. There are a lot of mathematical concepts and processes to compute stability.  Theory of Moments, Inclining formula, Trigonometry, Change in Mean Draft are also implied in vessel stability.

During the afternoon I worked on the computer, and I put all my pictures on the FAIRWEATHER’s computer network.

We also had the drills: 1) Men on Board, 2)  Abandon Ship, and 3) Fire and Emergency.

John Sammons, July 27, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 27, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 40° 31’ N Longitude: 68° 49’ W
Visibility: undetermined
Wind direction: SSW
Wind speed: 16 knots
Sea wave height: 0
Swell wave height: 0
Sea water temperature: 18°C
Sea level pressure: 1012.6 millibars
Cloud cover: Clear

 

Question of the Day: How do scallops use camouflage and countershading to help protect themselves from their predators? (See pictures 5 and 6.) Is this a physical or behavioral adaptation?

Yesterday’s Answer:

1. pulley         2. inclined plane   3. lever
4. pulley         5. pulley                6. inclined plane
7. lever           8. pulley                9. wheel and axle.
Answers will vary on the second part of the question.

Science and Technology Log

The purpose of this scallop survey is to study the “basic biology and distribution of “ scallops and to study the “population dynamics of the species.” Historically, scallop populations have increased and decreased at alarming rates. Overfishing and natural predators have lead to a significant decline of scallops in the Atlantic Ocean. Conversely, scallop populations have flourished in areas that are closed to fishing, thus allowing scallops to mature more. While this is by far the most important reason why there are fewer scallops, scallops have natural adaptations that also help them survive.

One structural adaptation is their color. Notice in the pictures above that some scallops are dark on top and lighter on the bottom. This allows the scallop to blend into the sandy bottom as seen from above and the bright surface as seen from below. A behavioral adaptation that the scallop has is to shoot water as a way to propel itself from a predator. However, these adaptations are not always strong enough to protect themselves from predators and humans.

On Wednesday, we continued to collect scallops. The shells will be used for determining the age of the scallops. In addition, the meat and gonad weights will be used to estimate shell height/meat weight relationships and annual mating cycles. Some other sea life that is coming up in the dredge are different species of flounder, hake, crabs, skate, goosefish, hermit crabs, and starfish. There are many knowledgeable people on board who have provided mini-lessons for me on fish identification, scallop shucking, data entry, and population dynamics.

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 9.44.56 PM

Personal Log

Sleepless on the Atlantic 

Steaming forward to the station that is just right up ahead,
Six hours is up, and our shift will end, so it is time to go to bed.
Before I rest and take a nap, some chow I would like to eat,
It will be good to rest a little while and get off of my feet.
The food is great, so many choices that we are able to choose,
Just fill ‘er up and head to bed and settle for a snooze. 

Philip Hertzog, July 27, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Philip Hertzog
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 25 – August 13, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Aleutian Islands, AK
Date: July 27, 2005

Securing the launch
Securing the launch

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude: 55˚ 53.3’ N
Longitude: 158˚ 58.4’ W
Visibility:  10 nm
Wind Direction: light
Wind Speed: airs
Sea Wave Height: 0 feet
Sea Water Temperature:  12.2˚ C
Sea Level Pressure: 1012 mb
Cloud Cover: 2, cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

The RAINIER is now anchored for the next several days in Cushman Bay on the north side of Mitrofania Island. Today the ship’s crew began their first full day of mapping the bottom of the waters surrounding the island.  The Captain assigned me to observe operations on board one of the RAINIER’s six survey launches.  The launches are small craft equipped with sonar and computer equipment to collect bottom data as seen in the following photographs:

Each launch has a crew of three and four launches go out at a time.  On my launch, Ensign Brianna Welton serves as the hydrographer in charge with Matt Boles as the Assistant Survey Technician. Able Body Seaman Corey Mussey drives the launch and makes sure it stays on course using a computer screen directs him where to go.

A winch lowered our launch into the water. We jumped about two feet from the side of the ship to get into the launch. We carried no equipment in our hands or on our backs and wore life jackets to ensure we safely crossed the deep water.

Screen shot 2013-04-09 at 9.42.37 AM

Once underway, Ensign Welton turned on the Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS). The DGPS uses satellite signals to determine our location and even can tell our direction and speed. Unfortunately, our DGPS did not work correctly and Ensign Welton and Matt Boles struggled over the next 2 hours to trouble shoot the problem.  When out at sea and hundreds of miles from the nearest repair shop, the crew of the RAINIER has to become creative to solve problems in order to achieve their mapping mission.  The DGPS problem finally got fixed after the antenna was taken apart and the connecting cables cleaned. Matt told me that whenever one starts a new field survey, you commonly find problems that must be fixed due to the difficulties of working in the harsh environments found at sea and in Alaska.

Screen shot 2013-04-12 at 9.05.01 PMWith the DGPS fixed, the crew sent a SEACAT probe through the water column to the bottom to collect temperature, salinity and pressure data.  Sonar mapping works by bouncing sound waves off the bottom and measuring how fast the waves return to the ship. Sound travels through salt water at 1435 meters per second, but its speed can be changed by temperature, salinity or pressure.  The computer takes the data from the SEACAT and makes corrections to the sonar data so we have a better measurement of the bottom depth.

Sunset over the bow
Sunset over the bow

We spent the rest of the day running transects to map the bottom. Transects are long, parallel lines that are spaced to ensure we cover the entire bottom of the area being mapped with some overlap. To better understand what “running a transect” means, think about mowing your lawn.  When you mow the lawn, you run the mower in parallel lines, but you always go over part of the path you mowed before in the previous line. Just like mowing, the sonar is able to map the entire bottom of the map area by using a transect pattern.

Around 4:30 pm we returned to the RAINIER and the deck crew winched the launch back on board. I handled the stern line and threw it to a deck hand on the ship. I also attached the hook from the winch onto the launch, but I didn’t do it correctly on my first try. You have to be careful because the launch weighs 14,000 pounds and the seas can bounce it around. I got too close to the block and tackle on the winch, but Ensign Welton pulled me back and showed me how to properly connect the cables.  To the right here is a picture of Ensign Welton correctly hooking up the launch.

Once the launch returned to the RAINIER, the mapping crew’s duties were not f inished. After supper, the crew down loaded the launch’s computers onto the ship’s main frame and “cleaned up” the data.  Clean up consisted of looking at the data and matching it with maps on the main frame computer.  The survey technician also had to correct the data with tidal information and look for false sonar signals to remove from the data set. Upon finishing clean up, an officer checked the work for quality.  Here is a picture of Dan Boles, Matt’s older brother, cleaning up some data.

Personal Log 

I had a great time today going out on the launch and learning what the survey crews do.  The landscape overwhelms one with large open areas of water surrounded by mountains covered in green, low lying vegetation.  Mount Veniaminof dominates the background with its glacier covered dome that rises 7,075 feet above sea level.

As we traveled in the launch, I could see whales blowing spray out their blow holes in the distance and pink salmon jumping out of the water.  At the end of work, we took 10 minutes to fish off the launch and Matt caught a ling cod while I had one on the hook that got away.

I enjoyed talking to Matt Boles and learning about how he ended up on the RAINIER with his brother Dan. Matt has a two year college degree in computers and Dan has a Bachelors degree in geology and French. I see a lot of potential for my own students to get jobs aboard ships like the RAINIER and to have a great time exploring wild places like Matt and Dan.

Question of the Day 

Why do temperature, salinity and pressure change the speed of sound in water?

Cary Atwood, July 26, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 26, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: Clear
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Seawater temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day 

What do scallops need in order to survive within their habitat?

Yesterday’s Answer 

The scientific name of the Atlantic Sea Scallop is Lacopectin magellanicus.  Lacopectin means “smooth scallop.

Science and Technology Log 

The real work of the ALBATROSS IV mission is accomplished during the four six-hour shifts with a crew of six workers each.  On my watch, they are Sean, watch chief, Bill, Avis, Dvora, Noelle and myself. Working as a team, we accomplish great things in each tow, which takes about 30 minutes to process.  Here’s how it unfolds.  The eight-foot dredge basket is specially designed to capture all sizes and ages of scallops for research.  It is dredged from a depth up to 100 meters to the surface for a fifteen-minute time period.

After each tow comes out of the water, fishermen release it from the cable and it’s deposited on the fantail, also known as the back deck of the ship.  The fantail is a huge open area complete with a non-skid surface–very important when the boat is on an intense rock and roll session. With our “Helly’s” on (the yellow and orange storm gear you see in the pictures) and tall rubber boots, I take a picture of the mound, along with Bill, who holds up a whiteboard indicating the catch number, the tow and the strata (level) where we do the dredging. Once that is done, orange baskets, white buckets and kneepads are hauled to it. On our hands and knees we look for what might seem like buried treasure; sifting through the debris of the sea.  We toss scallops and many varieties of fish, into the baskets until we have combed through every inch of them.  Once the sort is done, we all move into the covered lab area for a variety of assessments, including the weight and length measurements of each scallop, as well as any ground fish that are caught.  Even though some of the work is manual, computers play a very important role in accurate capture of the data. One instrument we use is a long, flatbed magnetically charged scanner. Once we put a scallop shell on the bed and hold a magnetized wand against it, it reads out the measurement onto a touch computer screen.  Computers such as this one have relieved some of the tedium of the work, making it more accurate and faster.  The same is done with fish, and depending upon the tow, we will keep crabs and starfish out.

All of this data is uploaded into the FSCS – Fisheries Scientific Computer System which compiles the data from the survey.  This valuable data is used to assess populations and biomass for the scallop fishery and then make management decisions for present and future fishery use. The watch crews and scientists love it because it has saved so much time, and compilation of the data is considerably easier and less time consuming in the long run.

Personal Log 

Sleep of any length of time is longed for, but never received.  Due to our 6 hour on, 6 hour off shifts, at best we can manage 5 hours.  Today I am feeling very zombie like as my body adjusts to this schedule. I rarely see John, my other TAS compadre since he works opposing shifts from mine.  When we do meet, we share notes and commiserate about the work and our need for sleep!

One of my favorite haunts on board in my free time is the bridge and the upper bow.  It is a quiet, calm place with great views–and a really strong pair of binoculars and field guides. The ever shifting texture of the water always captures my attention when I am outside; from the glossy velvet of early mornings, thick fog during the day, complete with fog rainbows!-and the ethereal brightness of sunset through the fog.

Another constant is the “ocean motion”.  We are in a constant state of rocking–at times delicate and other times, the swells are deep and we will roll with them.  I am very glad I have an ear patch to mitigate the possibility of seasickness….now I can just enjoy the ride!

Tamil Maldonado, July 26, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Tamil Maldonado
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 18 – 28, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic/FOCI Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 26, 2005

Science and Technology Log

We are underway in the Gulf of Alaska, Southeast of Sitkinak Island.  This is our last day of doing FOCI survey. We used the Bongo Tow and CTD throughout day.

At 5:00 p.m. we were done with survey and transiting to Dutch Harbor, AK

At night I interviewed Chief Scientist, Janet Duffy-Anderson, one more time.  We talked about how to know fish ages and how fast they are growing.  It is because of their rings— the number of rings a larvae has will give the days they are alive.  Also, you can know their age by how far apart those rings are, which gives you the information of how fast they are growing.

Furthermore we talked about atmospheric changes and how this is affecting the ecosystem.  The target of FOCI is to get biological as well as physical data on the changes in the ocean and how those changes interact with the biota.  They wanted to do this research in Alaska because you can see changes more rapidly at the poles of the planet. We have seen phenomena like El Nino, La Nina and others increasing in frequency and duration. The rate between phenomena is increasing—they are happening  more frequently for the last decade.

I will be able to get fisheries raw data in time series done by FOCI and will continue doing some research back home in this area.

At night we did an acoustic hydrographic survey, and by changing depth target we got different data, all related. Changing the depth target changes how deep the beams go through the water and come back.  We worked with Hips & Sips Computer Software.  This program also corrects in real time the error estimates for each contributing sensor.  These entries are necessary for the computation of the Total Propagated Error.  The Vessel Configuration File (VCF) contains information about the different sensors installed on the survey vessel and their relationship to each other.  The information in the file is applied to logged, converted data files, and when the final sounding positions are calculated, the data is merged.  The entries in the VCF are time tagged and multiple time tags can be defined for each sensor.  This allows the user to update sensor information during the course of a survey.  This may occur if a piece of equipment has been moved.

In order to define the new fields in the VCF it is essential to understand standard deviation. The standard deviation is a statistic that explains how tightly various examples are clustered around the mean in a set of data.  When the data is tightly bunched together the bell-shaped curve is steep and the standard deviation is small.  When the data is spread apart, the bell curve is relatively flat indicating a larger standard deviation.

The vessel information will be displayed in the Vessel Editor.  The sensor positions are represented by colored dots. The VCF can be updated if a sensor changes position, and a unique time stamp ensures that the correct offsets are applied to data recorded at a certain time.  Each time the sensor information is changed, the drop down list above the 3-D vessel model will be updated to include the new time stamps.  The data grid below the 3D vessel contains all the offset information for the vessel.

Tomorrow… we will talk about the stability of the ship, and how its is done (so we do not sink!).

John Sammons, July 26, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 26, 2005

Weather Data from the bridge

Latitude: 40.31 N
Longitude:  69.05 W
Visibility: unknown
Wind direction: S (193 degrees)
Wind speed: 19.6 knots
Sea wave height: 1’
Swell wave height: 1’
Sea water temperature: 17.7°C
Sea level pressure: 1013.0 millibars
Cloud cover: 00 Clear

Question of the Day: Identify and classify the simple machines that make up machines found around the ship. Match the pictures above with the six simple machines-inclined plane, wedge, wheel and axle, screw, wedge, and pulley. Choose one of the machines shown in the pictures, and explain how it makes work easier to do. (Send your answer to one of the e-mails listed below.)

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 9.40.32 PM

Yesterday’s Answer: The weather instruments located on the ALBATROSS IV that measure wind speed and direction are the anemometer and wind vane. They are combined into one instrument, and it looks like an airplane without wings.

Science and Technology Log

Machines serve an important job on the ALBATROSS IV and any other ship. The six simple machines in of themselves can make work easier to do. For example, a round doorknob handle on a ship’s door is not as common as a lever handle. On a ship, you are often unable to turn a doorknob because your hands may be wet or you may be carrying something. Also, door levers make it easier to tighten hatches securely. Some of these simple machines are combined to make compound machines. On the ship, you will find many examples of both simple and compound machines, all of which make work easier and safer to do.

One way in which machines make the scallop survey easier and safer is the use of a crane with many pulleys. The eight-foot wide dredge is lowered as the ship slows to 3.8 knots. When the dredge reaches the bottom, it is towed for 15 minutes. This allows the dredge to drag and fill the netted and chained device. This device resembles a large purse overfilled with goodies when full. Then the catch or load is dropped and released onto the deck. The large pulley system on one of the cranes allows for a cable that can handle a large weight. Likewise, the boom of the crane supports the weight of the towing dredge. One improvement that would help this compound machine would be to create some kind of conveyor system to bring the load back toward the sampling and measuring area without having to drag loaded baskets and buckets. Coincidentally, this is part of the design of the new ship that will replace the ALBATROSS IV, and as a result make work even easier.

Here is a graph showing the total number of scallops brought in at each of the stations so far. Some areas in which the tow was made are closed to scallop harvesting. As a result, larger and more developed scallops were caught. In tomorrow’s log, you will learn a little more about scallop adaptations that have helped them survive despite negative human influences.

*Numbers 1 – 18 corresponds to stations 0227 – 0244.
*Numbers 1 – 18 corresponds to stations 0227 – 0244.


Personal Log

Sea Duty 

The waves come toward the ALBATROSS and into the lengthy side,
Feel the rocking back and forth, so hold on for the bumpy ride.
Prepare the dredge and send it forth to bring up another load,
Bring out the baskets and buckets and pads to get in a sorting mode.
Place the containers on the scale then measure the scallop’s shell,
Soon the shift will come to an end with only stories left to tell.

 

Mike Laird, July 26, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mike Laird
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 24 – August 13, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 26, 2005

Watching the monitors
Watching the monitors

Weather Data

Latitude: 55°53.3̍ N
Longitude: 158˚58.4 ̍ W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind Direction: 235˚
Wind Speed: 6 kts
Sea Wave Height: 0΄
Swell Wave Height: 0΄
Sea Water Temperature: 11.1˚ C
Sea Level Pressure: 1013.5 mb
Cloud Cover: Sky 7/8 covered, Cumulonimbus

Science and Technology Log 

Operations for the day begin at 8:00 with crews of four launches assembling on the fantail for a pre-launch briefing giving final details of the day’s assignments and a review of safety procedures. Each launch crew is composed of three members: an Officer in Charge (OIC) who has overall responsibility of the launch, a coxswain who is responsible for the physical operation of the launch, and a survey crew member who assists in data collection in the assigned survey area.  Some crews carry a fourth member who is frequently a Teacher at Sea or other visitor on the ship.

Once the briefing is completed, each crew assembles in their launch-loading zone and boards the launch as it is lowered into the water.  I have been assigned to launch RA5 (RAINIER launch 5) and will be working with Ensign Mike Stevenson (the OIC), Carl Verplank the (coxswain), and Greg King (the survey technician).  Our assignment is to work in conjunction with launch RA3 to collect seafloor data in Mitrofania Bay, an area to the northwest of the RAINIER’s anchor location.  The area has been designated as Sheet AW.  The area around Mitrofania Island has been divided into several sheet areas.  Each sheet is composed of a map of the area overlaid by a set of parallel lines or tracks that the launch or ship will follow as it is recording data.  During the two weeks we are working in the region, data will be collected for as many of those sheets as possible.

Having reached the target area, a “cast” must be taken before the actual scanning of the bottom can begin.  The purpose of the cast is to gather information about the behavior of the water column we are working in.  The waters’ conductivity, temperature, and pressure will all affect the velocity of sound traveling through the column, and will be factored into the processing of the collected data.  The cast is conducted by lowering a CTD sensor, called a SEACAT, to the floor of the ocean.  When the cylinder is raised back to the surface, the data is uploaded to the launch computers and we are ready to go.  Launch RA5 is equipped with a Reson SeaBat 8101, a hull mounted extended echo sounder system.  This system is used to record seafloor information in water depths not exceeding approximately 110 meters.  This sonar system is a multi-beam system using 101 beams.  Each beam is composed of pings emitted from the sounder.  One beam drops vertically below the launch and fifty beams each fan out to the port and starboard sides.

To help picture this, imagine a set of right triangles below the launch.  Each triangle originates with the junction of the vertical beam and seafloor where two opposed right angles are formed.  The hypotenuse of each triangle is one of the fifty beams to the left or right of the vertical beam, and the seafloor forms the base of the triangle. Collectively the bases are referred to as the footprint (area covered by the sounding).  This footprint increases in size as the depth of the water increases.  As the size of the footprint grows, additional “noise” or interference is introduced into the sound wave pattern in those beams further from center.  This less accurate data will usually be eliminated during data analysis.

We spend the day transiting the lines designated on our sheet as the sonar feeds seafloor data to the launch computers.  At the end of the day, the launch nested safely back on the RAINIER, the data is downloaded from the launch to the ship.  Now begins the next phase analysis and “cleaning” of the raw data.  However, that is for another day!

Note: This is my understanding of the information I received.  If there are errors or inaccuracies,  I apologize.

Personal Log 

We have been very fortunate so far – the weather has been great since we arrived in Mitrofania. Partially cloudy but lots of sun!  The salmon (pinks and silvers) are constantly rolling and jumping. I tried my hand at a little salmon fishing yesterday with mixed results.  I hooked two! Key word there hooked. I didn’t land them – both shook the hook. Pretty lame, but I’ll get them next time!  Other crew members have tried some halibut fishing, but so for have only brought up what they call Irish Lords (“An ugly, junk fish.”) The fish is unique – a tan, brown and black with bulging eyes and poisonous spines that apparently cause pain and discomfort if you are cut or poked.

Philip Hertzog, July 26, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Philip Hertzog
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 25 – August 13, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Aleutian Islands, AK
Date: July 26, 2005

Fin whales
Fin whales

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude: 55˚ 44.95’ N
Longitude: 158˚ 47.42’ W
Visibility:  10 nm
Wind Direction: 065˚
Wind Speed: 7 kts
Sea Wave Height: 2 feet
Sea Water Temperature:  13.3˚C
Sea Level Pressure: 1011 mb
Cloud Cover: 8, stratus, cirrocumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today the RAINIER continues its journey from Kodiak Island to Mitrofania Island where our mapping work will start.  I awoke and found the ship off the coast of Kodiak Island in the Shelikof Strait that separates Kodiak Island with the southwestern Alaskan peninsula. A straight is a long stretch of water where the wind can travel great distances without being blocked and build up large waves. The waves in the Strait are between 1 and 2 feet high, but it is enough to rock the ship back and forth. I have to be careful not to spill any food or drinks in the cafeteria and it takes a while to get use to the rocking back and forth.

Breathing fin whales
Breathing fin whales

Though we are traveling today, our ship’s crew is already working and mapping the bottom of the Shelikof Strait.  I attended a meeting lead by Lt. Ben Evans and listened to him explain our plan for the next several days.  Today we are using the ship’s sonar to map the main portion of the Shelikof Strait and to look for anything that could harm ship traffic. The sonar sends beams of energy in the form of sound waves to the bottom which then bounce back to the ship. By measuring how long it takes for the sound to return to the ship, a computer can determine how deep the channel is. Behind the bridge is the plot room where the mapping action takes place.  The plot room has a big table in the middle to lay out charts and several computer stations line the walls around the table. Each computer station has two monitors hooked together so the hydrographer (a person who maps the ocean bottom) can put up sonar images and compare it to maps and other information.  Today we had one of the computer stations working to show the data being collected for the Shelikof Strait.  The bottom is around 400 meters deep and relatively flat.  The computer monitor shows us a colorful image of the bottom depths as we move along the straight.

In the late afternoon, we enter into a large bay and circle around to the back side of Mitrofania Island. Suddenly, I see four sprays of water in the air, one right after another, about half a mile from the ship.  As we move farther into the bay, we see more sprays and soon see curved, dark backs surface and then glide along the surface in an arch before disappearing below the surface. As we move closer we can make out a tiny fin on these large creatures toward the rear of their backs and realize these are fin whales.

Fin whales are one of the largest whales found in the world and can reach 24 meters in size. All around us we see spray being blown out by the fin whales as they surface and mill about with each other.  One whale surfaces right in front of the RAINIER and the Captain had to back off on the engine to avoid a collision.  The whale moved to the side of our ship as we slowed down and I could see it staying in the same place for 3-5 seconds looking up at us before moving away below the surface.

After our greeting by the fin whales, the Captain anchored the RAINIER in a quiet bay off Mitrofania and the crew prepared for a busy day of mapping tomorrow.

Personal Log 

Though I find I am excited to be on the RAINIER, I found myself dizzy with a little bit of motion sickness from the rocking of the ship in Shelikof Strait.  Taking the advice from books and several of the crew members, I kept myself from becoming sicker by getting fresh air on the deck and looking at the horizon.  I also drank plenty of fluids and ate all of my meals. After a couple of hours and a nap, I felt much better.

The high point of the day came when we entered Mitrofania Bay and saw the fin whales. We also saw salmon jumping throughout the bay and several of the crewmembers fished off the back of the RAINIER after they had finished their duties for the day.

Question of the Day 

What do fin whales eat and where do they spend the winter?

Cary Atwood, July 25, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 25, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: Clear
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Seawater temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day 

What is the scientific name of the Atlantic sea scallop, and what does the Latin name mean?

This question will be answered in tomorrow’s log.

Science and Technology Log 

Day one: the adventure begins! I arrived last night from Boston into Wood’s Hole–what a cool respite from the heat of western Colorado! A short walk later, I was in front of the ALBATROSS IV, the ship that would be my home for the next 11 days.  Tony, the lead fisherman, welcomed me aboard and showed me to my stateroom.  Soon after, Kris, the watch chief for our other work shift, and Noelle, who is working on her master’s thesis showed up. I took the remaining top bunk and moved my gear in.  Our room has two portholes. The most exciting porthole is the one in the shower stall; my eyes are almost dead even with the water line outside….it almost feels like I live in an aquarium!

The mission of the ship on this cruise is the sampling of Atlantic sea scallops.  Why are scallops being sampled?  The scientific work revolves around the close monitoring of scallop populations up and down the New England coastline from Cape Hatteras in the south, to the outer extremes of Georges Bank to the north.

Over the past 30 years, unregulated commercial fishing of scallops has had a huge negative impact on scallop populations.  Because this area holds the largest wild scallop fishery in the world, it has great economic importance not only to the fishermen who dredge to make their living, but also to the economies up and down the coastline.  Historically, commercial fishing could be done by anyone who had a seaworthy vessel and the ability to dredge. Prior to the early 1970’s not much data had been gathered about numbers and locations of scallops, hence the need for surveys to acquire data and impose limits to prevent total decimation of this species.  In my next entry I will explain more about the nitty gritty work that must be accomplished each day by watch crews.

Personal Log 

Old ship sits in port
hiding new technology beneath its decks
Salt spray and seagull call
Grey clapboard houses rest close to water’s edge
As whitecaps signal a change in weather
We are on our way!

Until next time,
Ms. Atwood

Tamil Maldonado, July 25, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Tamil Maldonado
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 18 – 28, 2005

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

Personal Log

We sailed through Sitkalidok Strait, southeast of Aliulik, Kodiak Island.  I got up seasick at 1:30 a.m. and stayed awake till 4:30 in the morning.  I went back to sleep and after lunch I took a seasick pill to feel better.  It just made me sleepy.

In the afternoon I interviewed one of the student scientists, Dylan Righi.  He is a programmer and his work deals with wavelets using drifters to recollect data.  He also “cleans” the data, since there is always some noise to be corrected.  He graphs the path of different types of drifters into the water and does some numerical analysis.  He runs a FORTRAN code on a UNIX system parallel to a computer back in Seattle.  His data analyses are from the North East Pacific regions.  The resolution of the wavelets is approximately 9 km, 520 points.  Anyone interested on the code or data could get it from FOCI website.

Sick 1:30 a.m.gt Sleep Talked with a programmer scientist about wavelets

John Sammons, July 25, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 25, 2005

Weather Data from the bridge

Latitude: 41° 02’ N
Longitude: 69° 15’ W
Visibility: 0
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Sea water temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day:

What weather instruments located on the ALBATROSS IV measure wind speed and direction? (See picture 5.) (Send your answer to my e-mail listed below.)

Science and Technology Log

Weather and other instrumentation play an important part on the ALBATROSS IV. The ship uses a somewhat automated guidance system to take the ship to the predetermined dredging stations. That system also helped us navigate to where we are currently. With the dense fog on our current heading, it was a good thing they do not have to sail by sight only.

Monday morning, we had many people to meet and many things to learn. The fantail, or back area of the ship, was a gathering point for large discussions as well as our “Abandon ship!” drill. In picture 12 I had to don my “”Gumby suit” for a practice “just in case we have to leave the ship” drill. Of course, it was only a practice one that we hope we will never have to use.

Monday afternoon was a busy one getting the ship ready for departure. There has been lots of training and people to meet. While underway our training continued as we learned about safety drills, scallop sorting and measuring, and water sampling. The water sampling is done using a Conductivity Temperature Depth (CTD) device that determines the salinity (saltiness) and temperature at various levels to the bottom.

On Tuesday evening, we used the Fisheries Scientific Computer Systems (FSCS) to take measurements on scallop sizes and weights. This electronically accepts data automatically when the scallop baskets are placed on the scale. Using what looks like a cutting board, the scallops’ length, gender, and meat mass is determined.

I am on watch (which means I am working) from 12 – 6 in the afternoon and from midnight – 6 in the morning.  I am sure to get some photos for the next day or two to show how this survey is done.

Personal Log

Early Arrival 

I arrived on early Sunday eve to find the ship was docked,
Passing through the metal gate that I only thought was locked.
Resting from her recent trip, she makes a humming sound,
Waiting for her crew to board and get a look around.
The sun reflects and sparkles in the ever choppy sea,
I wonder what this exciting adventure will bring to me.

Mike Laird, July 25, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mike Laird
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 24 – August 13, 2005

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

Mike Laird, Teacher at Sea
Mike Laird, Teacher at Sea

Weather Data

Latitude: 55°37.1̍ N
Longitude: 156˚46.6 ̍ W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind Direction: 140˚
Wind Speed: 5 kts
Sea Wave Height: 0-1΄
Swell Wave Height: 2΄
Sea Water Temperature: 12.2˚ C
Sea Level Pressure: 1009.8 mb
Cloud Cover: Stratus

Science and Technology Log 

My name is Mike Laird, and I am a 5th and 6th grade Science and Math teacher from Flagstaff, AZ. I am onboard the NOAA ship RAINIER participating in a three-week hydrographic research cruise. The primary objective of the scientists and crew of the RAINIER is to gather data that can be used to create accurate maps of the ocean floor and coastline. I joined the team in Kodiak, AK.

We put to sea Monday afternoon after completing repairs on one of the six survey launches carried by the RAINIER.  Our destination is Mitrofania Island, a small island southwest of Kodiak. This location has been selected for data collection, because there is little information available on current nautical charts.  Our route took us through Shelikof Strait (between the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island).

We then tracked south between the Semidi Islands and Chirikof Island.  As we transited this track, the RAINIER used its onboard sonar to gather ocean depth information for this location. As other NOAA hydrographic ships follow this course, they will also gather data. Over time and using all the data collected by the various ships, an accurate nautical map of this area will be constructed.

Having completed this pass, we headed northwest toward Mitrofania.  We sailed around the southern tip of the island and head for Cushing Bay, where we anchored for the initial phases of the data collection work.  As we neared Cushing Bay, a small work team was deployed in one of the ship’s skiffs to check a temporary (in place for thirty days or less) tide station. The station must be checked to insure that it is operating correctly and transmitting accurate information back to the RAINIER.  Data from the temporary tide station will be compared to data from the nearest official Coast Guard Tide Station and accurate tidal information for the area around Mitrofania Island can be derived.  Accurate tidal information is critical, since it is used in the processing of the collected data.  In addition to checking the tide station, the work crew will attempt to locate a spot on the shore to install a temporary GPS system.  The closest land-based GPS systems are a distance away and could introduce error of up to three meters in the collected data.  The successful installation of a closer, more reliable GPS would help increase the reliability of the data the team collects.

The end of the day has come.  We are anchored in Cushing Bay, and I eagerly await tomorrow’s arrival as I will be joining the launch 5 survey team.

Philip Hertzog, July 25, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Philip Hertzog
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 25 – August 13, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Aleutian Islands, AK
Date: July 25, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge

TAS Philip Hertzog in his safety gear
TAS Philip Hertzog in his safety gear

Visibility: 10 nm (nautical miles)
Wind Direction: 127˚
Wind Speed: 12 kts
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 feet
Sea Water Temperature: 12.8˚ C
Sea Level Pressure: 1009.5 mb
Cloud Cover: 8

Introduction 

Welcome to my Teacher at Sea Log.  Over the next three weeks, I will document my experiences on board the NOAA Vessel RAINIER as part of the Teacher at Sea (TAS) program.  NOAA established the TAS program about 15 years ago as a means to educate the public about its mission through the use of classroom teachers.  Over 400 teachers have participated in the TAS program and have used their NOAA experience to bring marine research and mapping into the classroom for thousands of students.

I currently teach 7th Grade Science to students at Hunt Middle School located in Tacoma, Washington. Hunt Middle School is located about a mile and a half from Puget Sound and many of our students play in parks next to estuarine waters.  I hope to use my experience with NOAA to enhance my classroom curriculum and to provide other teachers in my school district with enhancements to our adopted program.

I have taught for six years and prior to that I worked for government in the field of natural resources management.  Some of my work included hazardous waste cleanup in the aquatic environment and near shore aquatic habitat mapping.

Science and Technology Log 

Today we begin our journey from Kodiak, Alaska to Mitrofania Island on board the NOAA vessel RAINIER. Kodiak is an island located in southwestern Alaska about 250 miles by air plane from Anchorage.  Mitrofania Island is located along the southwestern Alaskan peninsula about half way between Kodiak and Dutch Harbor.  Our trip will take a day and a half to reach Mitrofania.

The RAINIER is a hydrographic ship that measures 231 feet long and displaces 1800 tons of water. Hydrography is the science of using sonar and other complicated devices to bounce sound waves off the bottom of the ocean that can be used to identify hazards (like rocks) that could sink passing ships. The information gathered by the RAINIER is used to update maps of the ocean bottoms and coastlines.  Ships’ captains call these special maps charts.  The charts help keep ships safe and away from shallow waters, lurking rocks and jagged coastlines.

The waters around Mitrofania are remote and have not been mapped in years.  Fisherman, large ships and the Alaska State Ferry use these waters and pass the island on occasion.  Our job will be to gather information to update the charts for the waters around Mitrofania Island to help increase the safety of passing ships.

I spent the morning watching the ships’ crew prepare the RAINIER for its three-week journey. The crew made repairs on small cracks, moved mooring lines and loaded supplies onto the ship. Two trucks full of food drove up to the ship and I helped carry boxes of milk, fruit and vegetables up the gangway and into the narrow passages of the ship for storage.

Prior to our 2:00 pm departure, the ship’s safety officer gathered me and other new members of the crew for safety training.  Working and living on a ship can be exciting, but one needs to be extremely careful to avoid accidents and learn how to live with 49 other people. I spent most of today attending safety classes.

My first class was to learn how to stay afloat in water that is 56 º F.  The answer is simple, wear a life vest!  However, the answer isn’t really that simple.  I got issued 4 different types of life vests. If I work inside a small boat, I get to wear a vest that blows up with a carbon dioxide cartridge. If I work outside on the deck of a small boat or handle lines at the pier, I have to wear a “Mustang” float jacket that doesn’t need to be blown up. If I have to abandon ship, I must put on a survival suit that consists of thick foam and covers my body entirely.  The survival suit makes a person look like the cartoon character “Gumby” and hence gets the nickname “Gumby Suit.”  To make matters more interesting, I am also issued a standard life vest that most people are familiar with.  I am now ready to float for any occasion, formal or informal!

After my floatation class, I learned where to go in the event of an emergency on the ship.  We have three main types of emergencies: fire/general emergency, man overboard, and abandon ship. For each type, I am assigned a different station to report to and given specific duties.  For example, I will serve as a look out in the event someone should fall off the ship and if we need to abandon our vessel I need to bring extra blankets for the life raft. Each type of emergency has its own signal on the ship’s whistle.  Three long blasts means a person fell overboard, six short blasts followed by a long one means we need to abandon ship, and a continuous ringing means fire.  Everybody on board the RAINIER is well trained and given a job to do during an emergency.

After the emergency training, we got to watch the RAINIER “film festival” in the ship’s Wardroom, which is like a lounge on land.  The “film festival” consisted of a series of three safety videos on how to use an air respirator, avoid hazardous materials and general safety on board a ship. I then finished the day by taking two more safety classes through the ship’s computer that also gave me a test.  Luckily I passed the tests and now feel ready to go forward in safety.

Though it may seem like a lot of time, all of the training is important and will help me to save myself and help others around me in the event of an emergency.  Students should be aware that learning doesn’t stop when you graduate from school, but continues for a lifetime as one meets new challenges and experiences.

Personal Log 

Despite a full day of safety training, I managed to spend several hours on the flying bridge to watch the Alaskan scenery pass by as we made our way out of Port.  The flying bridge is the deck above the Captain’s bridge and is the highest point on the ship. You can look out from the flying bridge in all directions and see for miles.

We passed through a narrow passage between Kodiak and Afognak Island where the mountains rose out of the water as the RAINIER carefully made its way with a series of turns and maneuvers.  At one point, we passed 10 sea otters floating by the ship on their backs that looked at us and seemed to wonder what we were up to. We constantly saw puffins vigorously flapping their wings in a struggle to avoid hitting the ship.  Often the fat puffins could not take flight, but always avoided our ship at the last minute

A real highlight of today was seeing several Minke whales blow spray and surface gracefully near the ship.  You first spot a spray of water at the surface followed by a sleek, dark back arching over the water that finishes with the appearance of a small fin that then disappears below the surface.

Question of the Day 

How is safety training on the RAINIER like safety training at school? How is it different?

Tamil Maldonado, July 24, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Tamil Maldonado
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 18 – 28, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 24, 2005

Science and Technology Log

I started today on a night shift. I got up at 2:00 a.m. and worked with scientists that were doing a 24:00 – 12:00 (noon) shift. We used the bongo and tucker nets, plus the CTD to collect samples of water.  The CTD has 11 fiver-liter spaces that are opened electronically in different sea columns.  This gives a good idea of what is going on in terms of salinity, temperature, pressure, and food for fish throughout the ocean (vertically).  The other nets just take surveys as a hole or by only two regions of columns.

At 5:00 a.m. I stayed on the bridge and on watch till 7:00 a.m. and tried to make the boat steady. After breakfast I went to sleep.  After lunch I went to the engineering department and learned about engines, and how the boat actually works.  Some of the engines work with oil, some with seawater, and other ones with fresh water.  It was incredible for me to see all the machinery behind a boat’s work.  The engineer explained about the maintenance and equipment.  We also went to the refrigeration room to see how the system works with compression and condensation, how AC gets to our rooms, and how the boats use all the engines for energy, movement, and stability.

The sea weather today was awful—big waves coming in during afternoon and at night.  Many people got seasick today.

Thomas Nassif, July 24, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Thomas Nassif
Onboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster
July 15 – 24, 2005

Mission: Invasive Lionfish Survey
Geographical Area: Southeast U.S.
Date: July 24, 2005

The SCUBA invention has extended the reaches of human exploration from land to the deep-sea.
The SCUBA invention has extended the reaches of human exploration from land to the deep-sea.

Weather Data

Latitude: 34°10’N
Longitude: 76°39’W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 34°
Wind speed: 13 kts
Sea wave height: 2′
Swell wave height: 2-3′
Sea water temperature: 30°C (86°F)
Sea level pressure: 1016.5 mb
Cloud cover: 2/8, cumulus, cirrus

Science and Technology Log 

The last dive of the research cruise couldn’t have been more exhilarating. Unfazed by the gusty winds, choppy seas, and ripping ocean currents, the divers explored one last shipwreck on the ocean floor. The Naeco was a U.S. tanker that was destroyed by a Nazi U-boat during WWII. The torpedo shattered the Naeco’s bow and stern into two pieces, sinking them to the ocean bottom nearly 7 miles apart. The divers returned to the surface with stories about the stern (back) of the Naeco and thrilling reports of lionfish of every size and number.

The more I think about my experiences aboard the Invasive Lionfish Cruise, the more I begin to see two parallel themes here: the deep-sea diver and the lionfish. Human action led to the introduction of lionfish into a foreign habitat, but at the same time, one person invented the SCUBA, which introduced humans to the mysteries of the deep-sea.

Thomas Nassif interviews Casey Coy on the dive deck for his video documentary on lionfish and deep-sea divers.
Thomas Nassif interviews Casey Coy on the dive deck for his video documentary on lionfish and deep-sea divers.

Lionfish can only swim so far north of their tropical paradise in the southeastern Atlantic before the temperature becomes too cold, whereas humans can only dive so deep before the pressure of the sea becomes too great. Lionfish have scales for protection, fins for locomotion, gills for respiration, and swim bladders for buoyancy. SCUBA gear makes it possible for humans to be like fish, even if it adds 200 lbs to your body! They include a BCD (buoyancy compensator device) to control buoyancy, wet suits for protection and insulation, fins for underwater movement, and regulators attached to tanks for respiration. But lionfish are different from most fish because of their venomous spines that make  them the “ultimate survivors” in their new habitat. Similarly, SCUBA divers are equipped with high-tech gear that may not be familiar to most people, yet it helps humans to survive and explore the underwater environment.

“The bow of the ship left traces of beautiful pigments on the sky’s canvas, an eternal embrace between the first ember of light and a lucid sky.”
“The bow of the ship left traces of beautiful pigments on the sky’s canvas, an eternal embrace between the first ember of light and a lucid sky.”

Yet there is one difference between lionfish and humans that became most apparent over the course of my cruise. Whereas lionfish may harm the local ecosystem by lowering the number and diversity of native fish in the Atlantic, deep-sea divers are in a unique position to help our society by increasing our knowledge and creating a better understanding of the importance of preserving native habitats.

Reflections…

On the final morning of the cruise my eyes met a resplendent sunrise that shot stars across the shimmering waters of an endless sea. As we headed to the east I grew quiet within… the bow of the ship almost seemed to leave traces of beautiful pigments on the sky’s canvas, an eternal embrace between the first ember of light and a lucid sky. Land  is but hours away, but the memories of this journey will never leave my mind.

Who could forget such a fascinating, diverse group of personalities; Paula the lionfish enthusiast, Doug underwater photographer extraordinaire, Jay and the underwater hunt, Casey and the underwater flex, Christine the lion queen, Roldan king of transect, and last but certainly not least, Joe and the quest for Choco-tacos.

Kimberly Pratt, July 23, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 23, 2005

Peter Pyle
Peter Pyle

Crew Interviews

Another successful scientist is Peter Pyle.  Peter became interested in Ornithology while helping his dad, a meteorologist, band birds in their backyard in Oahu, Hawaii.  Peter attended Swarthmore College and received his BA in Biology.  Peter who loves field work lived on the Farallon Islands for 24 years as a field biologist. When Peter is not  doing field work, he is busily writing scientific papers and manuals to compliment field guides for Ornithologists.  His manuals help age/sex determination, species ID, and are written for “bird in hand” observations.  Peter’s favorite bird is a Bristle-thighed Curlew, which is a rare bird that breeds in Alaska and winters in Hawaii and the tropical Pacific. Peter likes it because it acts like a goofball. Peter, who is married, has an understanding and independent wife. Peter’s advice to someone who would like to be an Ornithologist is to be a field person. In the field you get dirty, have to be patient; you may spend hours in cold blinds waiting.  You have to have a passion for biology really be successful. Lastly, Peter advises that if your heart is in the right place, you’ll be a successful biologist.

Rich Pagen (back), Tim O'Toole
Rich Pagen (back), Tim O’Toole

Another Ornithologist on this mission is Rich Pagen. Rich, who did his undergrad work in Environmental Studies, received his MA in Wildlife Biology.  Currently he lives in Minnesota, but in the past he lived on Catalina Island. He also taught an outdoor science class in Pasadena. During a Sea Bird meeting, he met Lisa Ballance who got him interested in the CSCAPE project. Previously, Rich has done shark satellite tagging, and has gone to Antarctica as a naturalist on a passenger ship. Rich will be completing this cruise as a Bird Observer.

If this group of scientists could have an action figure, it would be Juan Carlos Salinas.  Juan is in charge of tissue biopsy of the whales and dolphins. He is able to obtain these biopsies in very difficult circumstances. Juan who lives in Mexico City was hand picked  for these missions because of his talent for obtaining biopsy’s and his knowledge of marine mammals.  Juan learned biopsy sampling while in Baja in 1991 when studying humpback whales.

 Juan Carlos Salinas
Juan Carlos Salinas

Juan has had extensive field work experience and will be going to Hawaii with the McARTHUR II until November 30th.  He’s excited about his mission to Hawaii because you always see something different.  The Hawaiian waters are just being studied and what’s out there is relatively unknown. During the mission in Hawaii, he will do species ID, population studies, determine the health of the animals and finally learn about their genetics. Juan states that the field of biology is much more specialized than before with genetics being the big thing today. Another marine mammal observer that is talented in tissue biopsy is Ernesto Vasquez. Ernesto, who is married with a family, does field work cruises about once per year. He currently works at the National  Resource Ministry as a Marine Biologist in LaPaz, Mexico. He’s been with the government for 3 years.  He graduated school in 1998 with his degrees in Marine Biology.  While away, he e-mails his wife and family and he likes getting close to the animals, and getting tissue samples to.

Currently being trained in biopsy operations is marine biologist Tim O’Toole. Tim graduated from San Diego State University and did his post graduate work in Australia. An avid surfer, Tim enjoys the ocean and having the opportunity to gain further field experience working with marine mammals. While on this research cruise, he’s gaining experience from other scientists as well as reading, and learning Spanish. He does, however miss friends and family and likes to stay in touch.

Ernesto Vasquez
Ernesto Vasquez

Tamil Maldonado, July 23, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Tamil Maldonado
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 18 – 28, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 23, 2005

Science and Technology Log

Today I interviewed the Electrical Technician about satellites on the ship, server computers, connections among rooms, computer labs, processes of e-mails, phone communications, and digital vs. analog communication.  He showed and explained all equipment they have in the computer rooms,  how systems talk to each other, how the e-mail codes and compresses data, and how they are stored in lines and by priorities.  He also showed me how they keep information in different places in the boat in case there is a fire in regions where they have the servers.  Moreover, he explained the different satellites and which ones are being used all the time for navigation.  It was really interesting to see all the systems working together.

I studied more about sonars and how they actually work undersea.  I read about the sonar setup, vessel operation, data analysis, and how noise is reduced on these sonars by the speed of the ship. For example, in a SeaBat 8160 sonar the best vessel speed while doing the survey is at 10 knots. There are exciting papers of Noise Analysis explaining the type of sonars they use.

At the end of the day I did some laundry and saved pictures on disks.

Kimberly Pratt, July 22, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Humpback breaching
Humpback breaching

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 22, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude:  3614.084N
Longitude: 12213.868W
Visibility: <1 mile
Wind Direction: 340 Wind Speed:  22 knots
Sea Wave Height: 5-6 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1014.6
Cloud Cover: Foggy, Drizzle
Temperature:  14.8

Scientific Log 

Again we are seeing up to 80 marine mammals per day, and are doing well on our track lines.  The wind picked up, making it more difficult to do observations, but we are moving right along to get finished by Sunday. Some of the regulars are humpbacks, blue whales, Dall’s porpoise, fin whales, pacific-white sided dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and pinnipeds. I’ve attached photos of breaching humpbacks that we’ve seen. Hopefully through my logs and interviews you’ve learned about marine mammals, sea birds and ship operations.  To learn more about this mission go to the NOAA Fisheries Southwest Science Center website.  Look under “What’s new in the sanctuary.”

Completing the dive
Completing the dive

Personal Log

Upon reflecting on my adventure, I’ve found that the trip fully exceeded my expectations.  I expected to feel intimidated by the scientists and science, and to my relief was accepted and welcomed by all the scientists on board and they were most eager to teach me what  I needed to know. I’ve learned that to be a good scientist you must have good observational skills, computer skills, and be knowledgeable about data and statistics.  I’ve also learned that science takes time, is very exact, and requires you to be detail orientated.   Additionally, I’ve learned that to get along with others on a ship, you need to have a good sense of humor and be flexible. As the cruise comes to an end I’m really looking forward to getting home, doing further reflection on my experience and translating it into rich and meaningful curriculum for my students. Again, thanks to Karin, all the scientists, and the crew on board the McARTHUR II, this has been a wonderful experience.

As of this post, we have now finished all of our tracklines.   Tomorrow – Saturday we’ll be spending the day in Monterey Bay doing grab samples and additional small boat operations.  We will then head into port in San Francisco on Sunday as scheduled.

Tamil Maldonado, July 22, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Tamil Maldonado
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 18 – 28, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 22, 2005

Science and Technology Log

FOCI… Today I have been working hand in hand with scientists, throwing nets, collecting depth, pressure, temperature, and chlorophyll data.  We have also been washing nets, getting survey of larvae, writing it down in sheets database, labeling, freezing larvae and chlorophyll samples.  We analyze some graphs we were getting from the experiments.

Here are some questions I have… how is global warming affecting ecosystems? How do fish overcome these changes?  Do they go up or down in the ocean columns?  Are they changing their nursery places?  How is their behavior in comparison to other years? Which parameters affect them most: salinity or temperature?  Some of these questions are being answered by the scientists, and others are still unanswered for which we are trying to find the answers. It seems that Alaskan fish can adapt easily to salinity changes.  Remember that glaciers are melting more continuously than before and fresh water (since it is less dense than seawater) stays in the surface, which means there is a change in salinity and temperature in the ocean.  Therefore there could be changes in fish behavior and in their ecosystem.  It seems the larvae and fish will be affected by temperatures.  They could be moving from ocean columns to get to the right temperature.  But they also need food like plankton that maybe stays at a different column of seawater.  That will be a survival problem.

Scientists are focusing their work on commercial fish such as Pollock and Pacific Halibut. It is the first time they have done this survey during summer.  They want to have a template for next year to compare data with.  Later we could do some statistical models, and mathematical models to compare in terms of years or data columns.

Navigation… This afternoon I as actually sailing the boat…  I had the power on my hands.  I needed to be really focused and follow instructions at all times.  We also calculated times for some positions, stations where we were going to do survey.  I also calculated True Speed, which depends on relative speed, wind speed, angles and locations of the boat.

I had the chance to see whales, little fish and a jelly fish of the size of my 4 fingers.

I also did some hydrographic studies of the region,  got some data, pictures and depths of the ocean.

We had problems with the coaxial cable again and I got some other information about sonars that I started to read.  I even worked out today!

Thomas Nassif, July 22, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Thomas Nassif
Onboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster
July 15 – 24, 2005

Mission: Invasive Lionfish Survey
Geographical Area: Southeast U.S.
Date: July 22, 2005

A lionfish and two lobsters pose for the camera at Lobster Rock. Today the divers collected a total of 23 lionfish from this dive site.
A lionfish and two lobsters pose for the camera at Lobster Rock. The divers collected a total of 23 lionfish

Weather Data

Latitude: 33°38’N
Longitude: 76°55’W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 240°
Wind speed: 13 kts
Sea wave height: 1-2′
Swell wave height: 2-3′
Sea water temperature: 28.9°C
Sea level pressure: 1018 mb
Cloud cover: 6/8, Cumulus, Altocumulus

Science & Technology Log  

Today the divers explored Lobster Rock, collecting a total of 23 lionfish for the flow through aquarium aboard the ship. Water from the ocean flows into and out of the tank yhrough pipes on the deck to simulate the ocean environment. This brings the total laboratory aquarium at Beaufort.

Today I also interviewed the Chief Scientist, Paula Whitfield. Most amazing to me was how her life story evolved from a childhood fascination with Jacques Cousteau to her current passion for lionfish research. Paula grew up watching the underwater videos of Jacques Cousteau, and it was at that point that she knew she wanted to become a diver. “I was a diver first, but the more I dove, the more I was formulating questions in my mind…I was curious about everything that had to do with water and marine life.” She worked for a sea grass ecologist for many years, not running the show, but she saw how the scientific process worked. Her desire to become a marine biologist grew stronger,  and that’s when she decided to return to school to get her graduate degree.

Recently collected lionfish from the ocean floor are transferred to a flow through aquarium aboard the ship.
Recently collected lionfish from the ocean floor are transferred to a flow through aquarium aboard the ship.

So how did Paula become one of the leading scientists in lionfish research? She responds: “It stemmed from my recreational diving – I was diving constantly in my spare time, and working for a charter boat business that attracted recreational divers from all over the world.” And then one day she began seeing lionfish off the coast of North Carolina, which was very unusual for this area. Paula knew they were Pacific fish, but she needed proof that lionfish were now in the Atlantic. “From that point on, I collected evidence was finally able to convince NOAA when a world-renown scorpion fish expert confirmed that her collected specimens were lionfish.

Once Paula was aboard a diving ship, and she was ordered to do a routine dive to the ocean bottom. The first thing she saw was right angle patterns, which hardly exist in nature. All of the sudden Paula saw a porthole lying in the sand. Back then she wasn’t a technical diver with all the fancy gear she has today. So she clutched the porthole with her knees and climbed up the anchor line. When Paula reached the surface, everyone aboard the ship stared at her in disbelief when she said: “I think it’s a wreck. I have a porthole.” She fondly remembers feeling “excited to be the first person to dive a virgin shipwreck.”

Diver and Marine Biologist Paula Whitfield swims alongside a lionfish, the focus of her research.
Diver and Marine Biologist Paula Whitfield swims alongside a lionfish, the focus of her research.

What Paula finds most fascinating about lionfish is how they established themselves in such large numbers in the Atlantic within a short period of time. Because of this she calls lionfish the “ultimate survivors.” But overall, she feels very affectionate towards all sea creatures, including “everything from sea spiders and feather dusters to larger fish because it’s such a different world down there. It’s important for us to know how we’re affecting that world in order to make a positive change.”

Paula’s words of advice for those who want to become marine biologists: “I think it’s important if you can become a diver – just to be able to put your head in the water to see what’s going on is more rewarding than just dropping sensors into the ocean. It opens more doors, and by seeing the environment firsthand you are able to formulate more questions about it. All this helps you become a better marine biologist, even if you don’t dive all the time.”

Kimberly Pratt, July 21, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 21, 2005

Cornelia Oedekoven
Cornelia Oedekoven

Crew Interviews: Scientists on board the McARTHUR II

The scientists on board the McARTHUR II are hardworking, dedicated people.  Their shifts can start at sunrise 6:00 am and end at sunset 9:00 pm.  Most scientists are on watch for two hours then off for two hours during the whole day.  While on watch they are observing mammals or birds, entering data and taking photographs.  When they’re off watch, they eat, do laundry, exercise and relax.  On board a ship, there are no weekends, so their schedule is set 7 days per week.

An excellent Senior Marine Mammal observer as well as the photo ID specialist is Cornelia Oedekoven. Cornelia is a soft spoken person who has an eye for detail.  She meticulously goes through the photos taken on the cruise then enters them in the data base.  This can be quite a project as some days there are as many 300 photos to be  processed. Cornelia, whose background is in marine biology, graduated from Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universitaet, Bonn, or the University of Bonn, Germany.  She received her “diplom” which is equivalent to a master’s degree in Biology.  She came to the United States to study marine ornithology in San Francisco. She now lives in San Diego.  She enjoys ship life because she’s met a lot of friends, and there is no commute to work. While on board, Cornelia has been known to do haircuts for other scientists and she also does oil painting.  In the past she’s done sea bird work, and she’ll be involved with CSCAPE until December 10th at which time she’ll go home to Germany to visit her family.  To be a successful marine biologist, she advises to get your degree, and then do as many internships as possible.

Holly Fearnbach
Holly Fearnbach

When things slow down on this cruise, you can count on Holly Fearnbach to say “we need a good Killer Whale sighting”. Holly, who has always liked marine biology, grew up near the beach. She received her BS in marine biology from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and from Old Dominion University she received her MS.  She’s looking to get her PhD from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland where she will focus her research on Killer Whales.  She states that right now there are 3 different types of Killer Whales, residents, off-shores and transients.  She’s excited because they are now finding another type in Antarctica. She loves the discovery of different types of marine mammals and her past work was with Bottlenose Dolphins.  She likes being on these field work cruises because she learns so much from the Cruise leaders and has been taught much from the scientists at the South West Fisheries Science Centers.  To become a scientist who studies whales and dolphins, she advises to do internships, and do volunteer work early in school. She also states that you need a good work ethic.  Holly, who is a marathon runner, actually trains while on ship.  She has completed 12 marathons and says that it is a great stress reliever.  She does however miss dry land and her friends and family while she is away.

 Jan Roletto
Jan Roletto

An Independent Observer on board the McARTHUR II is Jan Roletto. Jan is the Research Coordinator for the Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary.  Her primary role as Research Coordinator is to attract researchers to the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is the management agency protecting these waters. The science department conducts research, monitoring, permitting, disturbance, and investigates pollution issues.  The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary protects the body of water from Bodega Head to Año Nuevo, south of San Francisco. The Farallon Islands are managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the  National Wildlife Refuge works to maintain the seabirds and pinniped colonies on the islands. Jan’s background is in Marine Biology and she attended San Francisco State University. She really likes seeing different things and is challenged by the Sanctuary work. She states that sometimes they work with boat groundings, environmental issues, watershed issues, estuaries, pelagic and coastal areas; all very different ecosystems.  Her challenge as Research Coordinator is the lack of funding that the sanctuary receives for research and monitoring.  To enter the field of Marine Science, she advises to do your schooling, learn about computers, math and statistics.  She states that you will apply these disciplines to biology. Furthermore, she advises to volunteer and do unpaid internships as it is a small field and can be competitive.

Sage Tezak grew up in the Pacific Northwest and currently lives in San Francisco.  Sage has run a volunteer program for the last 3 years monitoring harbor seals for human related and other disturbances. That job brought her to San Francisco. Before that she lived in Humboldt and she’ll be starting grad school in 2 weeks at Prescott College in Conservational Biology/Environmental Studies.  She likes having the opportunity to gain further field experience and to see the  operations of a research cruise.

Sage Tezak
Sage Tezak

Tamil Maldonado, July 21, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Tamil Maldonado
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 18 – 28, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 21, 2005

Science and Technology Log

Navigation… Today we studied latitude and longitude and their relation to each other.  We used geometry concepts like degrees, parallel lines, circles, transversal lines, alternate internal angles, and alternate external angles.  We used charts, grids, compasses, and different instruments from the bridge.  We shared information about how people were measuring latitude and longitude in olden days and how it is measured nowadays.  We discussed mathematical relations of degrees, minutes, seconds and nanomiles.  One question for you… how are the Sun and angles utilized in calculating latitude and longitude?

Hydrography Lab… I got the chance to look at some hydrographic data, and to get to know information about the different sonars they are using to retrieve all the data.  The Difference among sonars is the beams per particular time that sonars are shooting.  FAIRWEATHER ship has a sonar that does 160 beams in 220 microseconds.  They also use little boats to go to shallower grounds and have sonars of 111 beams and 101 beams per 220 microseconds.  They get a huge amount of data coming into their computer devices, and then they use software called Cares Hips and Sips, which recollects all the data plotting it in two dimensional and three dimensional grids.  It also used colors to identify how deep it is in that particular region. Blue is used for deeper regions, while red is used for shallower regions. There are a few issues that needed to be corrected.  There is some noise in the data due to salinity, movement of vessel, and tides.  An important key is that they need corrections on real time.  To correct this data, they use another instrument like POSMV.  After all data is collected they could go back and get pictures per zone, and per beam too.  Therefore they could analyze all data and get correct information.  They also use satellites called GPS – Global Positioning System.  In the future I will be talking to Richard (the ET- Electrical Technician) about all satellites they are using on board.

FOCI… They had some problems today too with the computer system,  so in order to know about the depth of the net in the seawater they have to calculate “by hand” using charts.  For an approximately 45 degree angle measured between the cord holding the net and perpendicular to the floor of the ship, you need how much wire is out, how wide the circle is that holds the wire, how many revolutions, and if there is a linear relationship between this information and the desired net depth.  For example if you want the net 40 meters deep vertically then you need 57 m wire out.  Remember that the boat keeps moving at certain time and that will give you an angle (in this case you need the angle to be approximately 45 degrees).  Scientists use available charts for this information, but we can actually calculate it manually.

JoAnne Kronberg, July 21, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
JoAnne Kronberg
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 12 – 22, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 21, 2005

Weather Data
Winds:  SW 15 knots
Waves: 5 feet

Science and Technology Log

We left Cushing Bay on Wednesday, July 20, and travelled between Semidi and Chinikof Islands. We arrived in Chiniak Bay on Thursday morning and anchored.  We sent a launch to pick up a team of Fleet Inspectors.

The entire day was spent with the Fleet Inspectors examining everything on the ship.  We had three drills– a Fire Emergency, an Abandon Ship and a Man Overboard exercise.  The inspectors observed all of these very carefully, because safety is so extremely important on a ship.  Everyone needs to know where to go and what their responsibilities are. I think that out ship performed very well.  All of us have been told repeatedly where we should go for each of these drills and what we should bring with us.  It is even posted on every berth on the ship. That way there are not questions and problems if a real emergency should occur.

After the inspection, we continued to travel toward Kodiak Island.  We arrived at the U.S.Coast Guard Fuel Pier, Berth 7 at about 5:00 PM.

Tomorrow, Friday, the ship will refuel and stay in port until Monday, July 25.

This is JoAnne Kronberg, Teacher-at-Sea, signing off. God bless to all of you.

Thomas Nassif, July 21, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Thomas Nassif
Onboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster
July 15 – 24, 2005

Mission: Invasive Lionfish Survey
Geographical Area: Southeast U.S.
Date: July 21, 2005

Thomas Nassif on the Bridge gathering measurements from the ship’s weather log.
Thomas Nassif on the Bridge gathering measurements from the ship’s weather log.

Weather Data

Latitude: 33°30’N
Longitude: 77°09’W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 290°
Wind speed: 15 kts
Sea wave height: 3′
Swell wave height: 3-5′
Sea water temperature: 28.9°C (84°F)
Sea level pressure: 1019.9 mb
Cloud cover: overcast, cumulus and stratus

Science & Technology Log

The day began with rocky seas, gusty winds, strong ocean currents, and the tallest swells we’ve had since our departure from port last week.  These ocean conditions are nothing extraordinary for the ship’s crew, but extremely tough for the divers.  The diving site for this morning was Southeast Tower 2, not far from the old Frying Pan Tower that was used by the Coastguard to collect and transmit ocean conditions.  The Tower’s location 35 miles off the Atlantic coast atop a 45-foot deep rock formation made it among the most valuable navigational aids for collecting ocean data such as wave height and water temperature.

The 187-foot NANCY FOSTER in the Atlantic.  The Bridge is located on the very top level of the ship.
The 187-foot NANCY FOSTER in the Atlantic. The Bridge is located on the very top level of the ship.

The first dive of the morning went smoothly.  But the second dive team was not so fortunate. After jumping off the ship they were swiftly pulled past the dive site buoy by strong ocean currents. Having missed the dive site, the divers ended up at an entirely different location on the ocean floor! This is why it is so important for ships to record the weather conditions and their location at sea.  These measurements take place on the Bridge, the command center of the ship.

Every day, I walk to the Bridge to get the weather data that appears at the top of my daily logs. Here is an explanation of the terms:  Latitude tells you how far north or south you are from the equator (which is 0° latitude), while Longitude tells you how far east or west you are from Greenwich, England (0° longitude).  Together, Latitude and Longitude give the exact location of the ship. Visibility is how far ahead you can see from the ship.  On a very foggy day you may only have a visibility of 10 feet, whereas on a clear day you can see all the way to the horizon, or 10 nautical miles.  Wind direction tells you which way the wind is blowing from – 0° is north, 90° is east, 180° is south, and 270° is west. Sea wave height and Swell wave height are height estimates of the smaller ripples and larger waves, respectively. Sea level pressure (or barometric pressure) indicates what the trend of the weather has been. High barometric pressures (like today – 1019mb) usually mean sunny weather; rain cannot build up in clouds if they are being squeezed together by high pressure. Low barometric pressures tell you that rain or stormy weather is on the way. Inside the eye of a hurricane barometric pressures can be as low as 875mb!  Under low pressures clouds can expand and fill up with rain.  Cloud cover is a number between 0 and 1 that describes how much of the sky is covered with clouds.  4/8 means that half of the sky is covered with clouds, 1/8 means very few clouds, 7/8 is mostly clouds, and overcast (or 8/8) is all clouds.

A lionfish has many fins.  The outstretched pectoral fins are not venomous.  The shorter, pointier spines are venomous.  From right to left they are: dorsal, pelvic, and anal spines. Photo courtesy of Christine Addison.
A lionfish has many fins. The outstretched pectoral fins are not venomous. The shorter, pointier spines are venomous. From right to left they are: dorsal, pelvic, and anal spines. Photo courtesy of Christine Addison.

Every day the ship sends all of this weather information to the National Weather Service (NWS) by satellite.  The NWS will in turn fax this information to other ships that will be traveling in our area so they can get a better idea of what the weather is like at our location. And when our ship steams ahead to a new dive site tomorrow, we will be grateful if another ship was in the same area.  The weather information that ship collected will help us know more about the weather!

Question of the day

How many sets of venomous spines do lionfish have?  Where are they found on its body?

Lionfish (like most fish) have five different types of fins.  But in Lionfish, some fins have sharp, venomous spines. The dorsal (back), pelvic (waist), and anal fins all have pointy, venomous spines that look like injection needles. The caudal and pectoral fins, on the other hand, are not venomous and look more like ordinary fish fins.

Kimberly Pratt, July 20, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Elegant Tern
Elegant Tern. Photo credit: Sophie Webb.

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 20, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude: 3602.734 N
Longitude: 12153.520 W
Visibility: 8 miles
Wind Direction: Variable
Wind Speed: light
Sea Wave Height: <1  ft
Swell Wave Height: 2-3  ft.
Sea Level Pressure 1014.0
Cloud Cover: Cloudy
Temperature: 16.0

Heerman’s Gull
Heerman’s Gull. Photo credit: Sophie Webb.

 

Scientific Log

Our days continue to be hazy and cloudy. We are getting more track lines done and are staying “on effort” more frequently, yesterday, we had around 70 sightings of marine mammals.  We are still seeing humpbacks, killer whales, Risso’s dolphins, harbor porpoises, pacific-white sided dolphins, minke whales, beaked whales, Dall’s porpoise, as well as California sea lions, northern fur seals, and elephant seals. The California current is one of the most productive in the world.

Yesterday, afternoon, about 3 miles from Big Sur, a Blue Whale surfaced right on the bow of the ship. It was beautiful to see the whale with the Big Sur coastline in the background.

Northern Fulmar
Northern Fulmar. Photo credit: Sophie Webb

Ornithologists are observing many birds including the resident breeders – Common Murre, Ashy Storm Petrels, Cassin’s Auklets, and Western Gulls.  Additionally, they’ve observed Black-footed Albatross – (Hawaiian Island breeder), Sooty Shearwaters (New Zealand breeders), Pink footed Shearwaters (breed in Chile), South Polar Skua’s (Antarctic breeder), Red Necked Phalaropes, Sabine’s Gulls (Artic breeders), Heerman’s comes up the California current from Mexico, also 95% breed on the same island as the Heerman’s Gull, the Terns winter in Northern Chile, and Southern Peru.

Personal Log

The days are getting busy with sightings as we continue to work track lines in the southern marine sanctuaries.  Although hazy and foggy, the weather has been quite pleasant.  The ocean has been relatively flat, with little waves and small swells.  This makes it easier to sight blows and marine mammals.

Today I’ll be editing video, and hopefully will have some good footage to share with you. We are trying a new way to get my logs off the ship.  I will still answer e-mail to scientist7.mcarthur@noaa.gov until Sunday afternoon.

Pinkfooted Shearwater
Pinkfooted Shearwater. Photo credit: Sophie Webb
Sooty Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater. Photo credit: Sophie Webb

Photos by: Sophie Webb

Tamil Maldonado, July 20, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Tamil Maldonado
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 18 – 28, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 20, 2005

Science and Technology Log

The Tucker trawl and Method Net had been deployed all night and day.  Scientists have shifts of 12 hours every day. Equipment is attached in the fantail area (back of ship).  There was a problem with the coaxial cable… it was broken, wet and they had to cut a portion of it.  The Electrical Technician needed to set up the cables, put them together, and use a cable coating so the wires would not get wet again.  Still, the data was not going through the wires into the computer data base.  After a few hours they had some data and started doing experiments with the CTD and Tucker net.  I was washing bottles they use to recollect larvae, taking them to the lab, freezing the bottles and chlorophyll filters, writing data down on their sheets, etc.  It was very exciting to see larvae, jelly fish, and little fish.

I also went to the bridge and we started talking about the mathematics behind navigation, including all the geometry, trigonometry and vectors involved.  We used the charts (maps) to find out our position, calculate how much time it would take for us to get to the next station where we were going to do another survey on larval fish.  I also got to know all instruments on the bridge, and how they use them for traveling, and navigation.  Moreover, we calculated true speed looking at the relative speed and using instruments, vector, ship speed, and charts.

At the end of the day I read the Draft of the scientific research, which helped me to know more information about their equipment and specifications of nets, CTD, and computer interface, among others.

I also talked to some students that are doing their internship with NOAA vessels.  It was great to get to know them, and see their different interests on the ship.

Tomorrow I am going to interview people from the Hydrographic lab department, and learn some more about navigation.

Thomas Nassif, July 20, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Thomas Nassif
Onboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster
July 15 – 24, 2005

Mission: Invasive Lionfish Survey
Geographical Area: Southeast U.S.
Date: July 20, 2005

A underwater photograph of the City of Houston shipwreck. Over time the ribs of the ship’s hull have been covered by sponges (pink fluff) and soft coral (colorful branches). Tomtate fish are pictured to the right.
A underwater photograph of the City of Houston shipwreck. Over time the ribs of the ship’s hull have been covered by sponges (pink fluff) and soft coral (colorful branches). Tomtate fish are pictured to the right.

Weather Data

Latitude: 33°38’N
Longitude: 76°55’W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 240°
Wind speed: 13 kts
Sea wave height: 1-2′
Swell wave height: 2-3′
Sea water temperature: 28.9°C
Sea level pressure: 1018 mb
Cloud cover: 6/8, Cumulus, Altocumulus

Science & Technology Log  

My excitement and fascination with this entire diving expedition grew even more when I heard that the divers would be exploring two shipwreck sites on the ocean floor today – “18 Fathom” in the morning and “City of Houston” in the evening. Fathoms are an old unit of measurement still used by navigators today to describe the depth of the ocean (1 Fathom = 6 feet deep). The dive site “18 Fathom” is a mystery shipwreck that was discovered at a depth of 108 feet (18 Fathoms). Shipwrecks provide excellent habitats for a variety of fish, including lionfish. The broken down hull and old passageways of a  shipwreck create a manmade reef upon which algae and coral grow, smaller fish hide, and larger fish feed. Rather than scrap old ships, many countries around the world clean and sink their old ships to the ocean floor to create artificial reefs for fish and other marine organisms.

An explosion of Tomtate (white fish) and Vermilion Snapper (red fish) envelop the water in a silvery red glow.
An explosion of Tomtate (white fish) and Vermilion Snapper (red fish) envelop the water in a silvery red glow.

After lunch, the boat steamed ahead to the next dive site, City of Houston. Far beneath the ocean surface looms an old Civil War Era shipwreck. Thousands of fish including Tomtate, Vermilion Snapper, and Silverside enveloped the divers, making the surrounding waters shimmer with silvery red. At times the number of fish were so great that the divers had trouble seeing even a few feet in front of them! Over one  hundred years after the City of Houston wrecked and fell to the seafloor, you can now see coral and algae taking over the entire manmade structure. Even so, it is still possible to make out obvious structures of the ship, including the engine and the hull.

Personal Log 

Today I went snorkeling off the NF4 once again and had a fantastic time swimming in the 84°F water under a beaming sun – It’s unbelievable that the Atlantic Ocean can be so warm during the summer months! Also, I’ve watching the divers in action as they descend to the ocean floor, collect live lionfish, and take stupendous photos of the deep ocean all inspire me to someday become a professional SCUBA diver myself.

Question of the day

What type of air do SCUBA divers breathe?

This depends on how deep you plan to dive. Regular air (the kind we breathe on land) is mostly nitrogen and only 21% oxygen. The tanks that the deep-sea divers carry on their back are filled with regular air, and they can dive up to 150 feet by breathing this air through a mouthpiece (or regulator). Other divers that only need to dive up to 113 feet (like our safety divers) use Nitrox, which has more oxygen (36%) than regular air. Finally, at depths up to 20 feet deep, SCUBA divers can breath pure oxygen (100%). The deep-sea divers on our cruise switch to pure oxygen 20 feet before they reach the ocean surface to speed up their decompression.

The two dangers with SCUBA diving and the air they breathe are:

1 – Too much oxygen can be toxic to your body. The deeper you dive, the less oxygen you should have in the air you breathe. 2 – At the same time, too much nitrogen can make you feel light-headed and put you to sleep underwater. Jacques Cousteau, French inventor of the SCUBA, called this “Rapture of the Deep.” That is why it is so dangerous for divers to spend too long in the deep ocean.

Kimberly Pratt, July 19, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Greg Hubner
First Mate Greg Hubner

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 19, 2005

Crew Interviews: “The Officers of the McARTHUR II”

Officers of the McARTHUR II are commissioned by NOAA.  They are uniformed personnel with the exception of the First Mate.  They all are assigned different watches and their primary responsibilities are, under direction of the Commanding Officer, to run the ship, navigate, take care of the ship’s medical needs and to make sure that shipboard operations are running smoothly.

The McARTHUR II has 6 officers on board – LCDR Morris, First Mate Greg Hubner (who is not uniformed), Operations Officer Nathan (Herb) Hancock, Navigation Officer Paul Householder, and Junior Officers, Ensign Steven Barry, and Ensign Paul Smidansky.  All NOAA Corps Officers have two years at sea, initially followed by three years of shore duty and rotate between sea and shore duty unless they are aviators.

Nathan Hancock
Operations Officer Nathan Hancock

First Mate Greg Hubner has been with NOAA for 26 years. He has a background in the Navy and started with NOAA as a deck hand. He is currently a licensed Officer and enjoys being out to sea. He likes seeing different countries and his favorite port is an island off of Spain. Another NOAA ship, RONALD H. BROWN, is involved with international research so some NOAA ships travel the world, and Greg has had the opportunity to see many countries and cultures.

Operations Officer Nathan Hancock is readily noticeable by his sense of humor and laughter.  Nathan graduated with a BS degree in Environmental Sciences and a MS degree in Geology and Geophysics. Nathan really enjoys his position as it enables him to “drive the boat”.  In the future, he would like to be transferred to the Key Largo Marine Sanctuary or fly into hurricanes. Nathan developed a love for the water when he was a child living at the ocean and running charters with his father a marine biologist.

Navigation Officer Paul Householder is also the medical person in charge.  He has a BA/BS in Chemical Engineering and joined NOAA after being laid off during the downsizing of the semi- conductor era. He’s been with the ship for over a year and is adjusting to sea life. He likes seeing the different places, but does miss his weekends.

Paul Householder
Navigation Officer Paul Householder

Ensigns Barry and Smidansky both have a background in Meteorology and Barry would like to join the National Weather Service. Barry, who joined NOAA in February ’04, enjoys the adventure of meeting different people.  On this tour, it will be his first time visiting Hawaii.  Ensign Smidansky, is a licensed airplane pilot, and is looking to join the air fleet of NOAA, but for the time being is enjoying his time at sea.

In order to become a NOAA Corps Officer, you need a college degree, preferable with a background in science or math.  You must be under 35 years old, with no arrests or criminal background.  Also, it takes between 6-9 months for your application to be processed and then the Secretary of the Commerce grants you a temporary commission.  The Senate grants you permanent status.  You must undergo three months training at the Merchant Marine Academy and then are assigned to a ship at sea to become a qualified deck officer. NOAA is constantly training officers for higher positions and Officer Householder will be promoted soon to Lt. Jr. Grade. All of the officers while professional and polite still have a sense of humor, they are gracious enough to keep answering the question – “where are we?”

Question: Malka, grade 5 – Where does the ship/vessel get fresh water?  The ship makes its own water, we take salt water and process it to turn it into fresh water.  Everyday we make 2,000 gallons worth. The process is started 10 miles out to sea.

Steven Barry
Ensign Steven Barry
Paul Smidansky
Ensign Paul Smidansky

Tamil Maldonado, July 19, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Tamil Maldonado
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 18 – 28, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 19, 2005

Science and Technology Log

We took off from port at 10:00 a.m., after dealing with some ship problems.  An hour after we started testing all research equipment and noticed there was a problem with the coaxial cable that connects nets with computer interface.  The Electrical Technician worked with that issue for hours. Everything else was fine.  This coaxial cable and getting data information to computers was really important to get research correctly.  They should be able to know depth, temperature, salinity, pressure and chlorophyll information through the net’s path in water, main keys for their oceanographic research.

At night I interviewed Chief Scientist Janet T. Duffy-Anderson and other participating scientists (Colleen E. Harpold, Matthew T. Wilson, Miriam J. Doyle, Sigrid A. Salo, Dylan Righi, David G. Kachel and William J. Floering).  We discussed cruise objectives and operations.  FOCI will conduct an ichthyoplankton survey in the Gulf of Alaska in the vicinity of Kodiak Island, Alaska. This area is a known nursery ground for a variety of species of fish – walleye Pollock, Pacific cod, rock sole, Pacific halibut.  Work is needed to describe larval fish and zooplankton assemblages in summer, and to examine the movement of water and associated biota from the slope to the shelf.  Six satellite-tracked drifters will be released to study current trajectories in the vicinity of Port Lock Bank. Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth profiler casts will be made to characterize water column properties, collect nutrient and chlorophyll information, and to evaluate the flow field.

A goal of the Eco-FOCI is to identify the physical and biological factors that underlie ecosystem change, and to understand how those factors interact.  One focus is the effects of perturbation at lower trophic levels; therefore they will collect ichthyoplankton using a 1 m2 Tucker net and collect juvenile and small fishes using a Method net.  And Sea-Bird Electronics SBE 911plus Conductivity, Temperature and Depth (CTD) casts will collect physical data as well as water samples for nutrients and chlorophyll.

Scientific Computer System shall operate throughout the cruise, acquiring and logging data from navigation, meteorological, oceanographic, and fisheries sensors.

I recorded their first test and learned how to throw the nets, how to get them back, etc.   In that way I was going to be able to do it myself for the next stations.

JoAnne Kronberg, July 19, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
JoAnne Kronberg
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 12 – 22, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 19, 2005

Weather Data
Waves: 8ft during the day diminishing to 6 ft in the evening
Winds:  NW 25-39 knots

Science and Technology Log

We arrived at Mitrofania Island at about 5:00 am and anchored in Cushing Bay.  Our mission today was to do a Tide Station Installment.  The National Water Level Observation Network operates 175 continuous observatory stations in the U.S. coastal zone and the Great Lakes. All are equipped with satellite radios.  Of course, a Tide Station would only be placed in the coastal areas that are affected by tides.  Water Level Stations operate in the Great Lakes.

We had to replace the Tide Station in Cushing Bay.  The sensor that is installed is called a Bubbler Orifice. It is anchoring to the bottom of the bay and is powered by a long tube that is filled with Nitrogen gas.  Two divers went down to anchor the Bubbler and attach the tube. Meanwhile, other people in another launch were setting up a Tide Staff.  A Tide Staff is just a long stick that is marked with levels like a yardstick.  The Tide Staff has to be set up to correspond with the Bench Marks that have been already determined.  The Bench Marks may be located at different sea levels.  Both the Bubbler Orifice and the Tide Staff have to be at the same sea level to be accurate.

After the Bubbler Orifice is established and the Tide Staff is set up, we started taking the readings from these two sources. Readings were taken every 6 minutes for a period of one hour. If the readings after an hour are not the same, then the Bubbler Orifice has to be adjusted.

The data collected by the Bubbler Orifice is transmitted to the Data Collection Platform.  In turn, this information is transmitted to no less than four satellites and to the National Geodetic Survey.

The work today has taken most of the day.  We will stay anchored in Cushing Bay tonight. Early tomorrow morning, Wednesday, we will start cruising toward Chiniak Bay.

It was a very educational day and the weather was fantastic.  Thank you for this opportunity.

JoAnne Kronberg Teacher-at-Sea

Thomas Nassif, July 19, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Thomas Nassif
Onboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster
July 15 – 24, 2005

Mission: Invasive Lionfish Survey
Geographical Area: Southeast U.S.
Date: July 19, 2005

“A fiery ball of radiant yellow…penetrated the hues of deep blue and wispy whites.”
“A fiery ball of radiant yellow…penetrated the hues of deep blue and wispy whites.”

Weather Data

Latitude: 33°38’N
Longitude: 76°55’W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 240°
Wind speed: 13 kts
Sea wave height: 1-2′
Swell wave height: 2-3′
Sea water temperature: 28.9°C
Sea level pressure: 1018 mb
Cloud cover: 6/8, Cumulus, Altocumulus

Science & Technology Log  

Today was by far the most beautiful sunrise we’ve had since our departure from land last week. A fiery ball of radiant yellow captured the sky, as its luminous rays penetrated the hues of deep blue and wispy whites in the surrounding sky. This morning the divers visited Kinny 1 and 2 (also known as K1 and K2). But this was no ordinary dive… K2 happened to be the most challenging and strenuous dive yet. The ocean currents were moving faster than we expected. The ship pulled up-current from the dive site (marked by an orange buoy), to put the divers in position. All they would have to do is jump off the ship and drift down-current to find the buoy. But when the divers jumped off the ship they were swept away by the strong ocean currents well past the buoy. The NF4 picked up the divers, who had to take off all 200lbs of their SCUBA gear, and wait to be taken to the correct diving site. The divers eventually finished their mission at K2, but were very exhausted when they returned to the NANCY FOSTER.

Thomas Nassif aboard the NF4 dive boat. The NANCY FOSTER is pictured in the background.
Thomas Nassif aboard the NF4 dive boat. The NANCY FOSTER is pictured in the background.

Today I finally got my chance to step off the NANCY FOSTER for the afternoon. I boarded the NF4 (diver recovery boat) and we steamed off into the open sea. Soon thereafter we watched from a distance, as the divers leap off the NANCY FOSTER. Our job was to keep an eye on the divers to ensure their safety during the 130-foot descent to the ocean floor. The NF4, along with the NANCY FOSTER and RHIB, all bear the “divers flag” when we deploy SCUBA divers into the ocean. This red flag with a diagonal white stripe warns other ships in the immediate area that there are divers in the water.

I also went snorkeling in the ocean to watch the SCUBA divers decompress underwater. After the divers finished their dive to the ocean floor, they stopped at 20 feet from the ocean surface to breath pure oxygen from a long tube supplied from the surface by the RHIB (the air we breathe everyday is only 21% oxygen). If the divers chose instead to shoot straight up to the ocean surface, they risk getting the “bends,” a painful experience that occurs when nitrogen bubbles form in the blood.

The divers safely returned to the ship with 6 lionfish in their nets – the aquarium aboard the NANCY FOSTER now has a total of 25 live lionfish! The scientists plan to transport them to a more permanent home at the NOAA Beaufort Laboratory when we arrive at port next week. To simulate the natural conditions of the ocean, scientists will place the lionfish in a “flow through aquarium” that transports ocean water through a pipe into and out of the aquarium. By having several aquaria full of lionfish in the lab, scientists hope to learn more about their diet and how often they reproduce.

Question of the day

Do lionfish reproduce in the same way as fish? How often do they reproduce?

Yes – Lionfish reproduce like most fish, through External Fertilization. Eggs are released from the female into the water and then fertilized by sperm from a male fish. The thing that makes lionfish so different from most fish is this: Female lionfish release a floating mass of eggs that stick together (most fish release eggs that disperse and spread out from each other in the water). Scientists think that lionfish are more successful at reproducing because the floating masses of eggs are more likely to be fertilized. We do not know how often lionfish reproduce – this is one of the biggest questions scientists want to find out! The reproductive periods of fish overall can be very different. Some species of fish, like Salmon, reproduce only once in their entire lifetime. Tropical organisms like the Parrotfish, on the other hand, reproduce every day! It will be very helpful for us to know how often female lionfish reproduce so that we may better understand their impact on the local ecosystem.

Kimberly Pratt, July 18, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

MAC433-AR1, OO
Photo credit: Cornelia Oedekoven

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 18, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude:  3614.084N
Longitude: 12213.868W
Visibility: <1 mile
Wind Direction: 340 Wind Speed:  22 knots
Sea Wave Height: 5-6 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1014.6
Cloud Cover: Foggy, Drizzle
Temperature:  14.8

MAC433-AR1, OO
Photo credit: Cornelia Oedekoven

Scientific Log 

Our days have been mostly foggy with the sun peaking through rarely. After not seeing the sun for days, we were all delighted when the bridge announced that there was sun and many of us ran outside right away!  Right now we’re outside of Pt. Reyes, continuing on transect lines. The animals we’ve observed lately are: a pod of Killer Whales feeding, several Humpback Whales, schools of Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and Northern Right Whale dolphins.

The Zodiac was launched and tissue samples and photo ID was taken of the Killer Whales. (photos attached) This evening two Humpbacks gave us quite a show.  They rolled next to the ship, breached, and slapped their flippers. Many times we could see their bellies as they lazily made their way by the ship rolling and diving, quite peacefully.  Video and photo was taken of these amazing animals.

MAC433-AR1, OO
Photo credit: Cornelia Oedekoven

The bird observers have been especially busy. In the past few days they’ve identified Black-footed Albatross, Common Murre, lots of Sooty Shearwaters, Pink footed Shearwaters, Ashy Storm Petrels that breed on the Farallons, and Cassini’s Auklets. Also seen are South Polar Skua’s, and Red Neck Phalaropes who are Artic breeders.  We’ve also seen Mola Mola fish, and a Mako shark with a pointy snout.  We’re continuing Bongo Net Tows and continue to collect plankton, larvae and small jellyfish.

Personal Log

Thanks to Rich Pagen being back on board, I am now focusing more on taking video, completing interviews, doing logs and e-mail correspondence. My interviews have gone well; the crew has been responsive and also forgiving when I’ve made mistakes.  For the remainder of the trip, I’ll be focusing on interviewing more of the scientists, developing curriculum and completing logs.  It’s been great meeting all the crew and finding out more about them. With less than a week to go, I’m treasuring every moment. This has been a great trip!

MAC433-AR1, OO
Photo credit: Cornelia Oedekoven

 

Until later…
Kim

Thanks to Cornelia Oedekoven for the Orca photos.

Tamil Maldonado, July 18, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Tamil Maldonado
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 18 – 28, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 18, 2005

Personal Log

Today we did not get out of port. We were supposed to sail this morning, but there were a few problems we needed to take care of.  First, the scientists’ equipments did not come to the ship on time.  Second there was a problem with the fuel pier.

I read the Standing Orders and saw a video about FAIRWEATHER Ship.  Both helped me to understand some rules, daily duties, safety information, and hierarchy of people and their positions in the ship.  For example, the highest position in the ship is called Commanding Officer (CO),  then we have the Executive Officer (XO), Officer of the Deck (OOD) and Officer In Charge (OIC).

I also learned some concepts that are well used in the ship.  Some of these concepts are brow, galley, bridge, fantail, etc.

I got to know people in the ship and scientists that were part of ECO- FOCI research.  ECO-FOCI stands for Ecosystem and Fisheries- Oceanography Coordinated Investigation.  It is the first time these scientists are on FAIRWEATHER ship since the boat it is mostly used for Hydrographic work.

After the scientists got their equipment (sent from Seattle), they installed machinery, nets, and computers.  It took a long time to do this.

Thomas Nassif, July 18, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Thomas Nassif
Onboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster
July 15 – 24, 2005

Mission: Invasive Lionfish Survey
Geographical Area: Southeast U.S.
Date: July 18, 2005

Diver Christine Addison conducts a visual transect survey with a clipboard and meter tape along the ocean floor.
Diver Christine Addison conducts a visual transect survey with a clipboard and meter tape along the ocean floor.

Weather Data

Latitude: 33°38’N
Longitude: 76°55’W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 240°
Wind speed: 13 kts
Sea wave height: 1-2′
Swell wave height: 2-3′
Sea water temperature: 28.9°C
Sea level pressure: 1018 mb
Cloud cover: 6/8, Cumulus, Altocumulus

Science & Technology Log  

Today we awoke to a cloudy overcast day, providing the divers some relief from the sweltering heat we’ve had the past few days. The jet-black wet suits that keep the divers thermally insulated on the ocean floor can become extremely hot under a scorching sun! Every day for the remainder of the cruise we will try to complete 2 dives in the morning and 2 dives in the afternoon, each at a different location along the seafloor. (The divers are divided into two rotating teams, so that each person will only have to dive once in the morning and once in the afternoon).

Thomas Nassif watches Roldan Munoz perform a lionfish dissection, removing the stomach and gonads for further analysis.
Thomas Nassif watches Roldan Munoz perform a dissection, removing the stomach and gonads for further analysis.

This morning the divers visited Big Fish 1 and Big Fish 2, appropriately named after an 18-inch lionfish that was caught by a local fisherman. At Big Fish 2, the dive team descended to a depth of 143 feet, and they were stunned at the sight of 5 enormous lobsters; several were hiding beneath rocks while two other lobsters chased after one another across the sand. They also spotted several large grouper (approx. 30 lbs each). They conducted a 100-meter visual transect by steadily unreeling meter tape in a straight line. Along those 100 meters of line, they counted 17 lionfish (mostly juveniles), a big surprise considering the sandy bottom and featureless bathymetry (elevation) of the region. Lionfish typically thrive near rocky outcrops and coral reef structures that provide niches for other organisms that would serve as potential food sources (including baby shrimp, grouper, and snapper). Findings like the one at Big Fish 2 suggest that lionfish can flourish anywhere, from flat sandy bottoms to hard rocky outcrops, we suspect that as long as the water temperature remains warm enough to support a tropical habitat.

On the fourth and final dive of the day, the divers speared 3 lionfish and brought them back onto the ship for analysis. The scientists dissected the lionfish within 30 minutes of being brought onto the ship to ensure high quality stomach and reproductive system samples. First they recorded the weight, total length, and standard length (backbone only) of the lionfish. Next they removed both gonads and recorded the combined weight to determine the reproductive status of the lionfish. Finally they removed the stomach to determine the diet of the lionfish. We found two small fish that the lionfish had ingested. The lionfish remains were then frozen for future morphological (external) analysis. Scientists at the NOAA Beaufort Laboratory will conduct spine & ray counts on the fins and observe the facial features to see if there is any correlation with the development of the bearded spine, a feature that lionfish are thought to acquire as they age.

Question of the day

Do lionfish have any predators?

Great question! Lionfish do not have any known predators, but scientists aboard the NANCY FOSTER are hoping to someday answer this question. In Florida there was a reported sighting of a goliath grouper eating a lionfish. Other than that we do not know for sure. Of course it would be a good thing to find out. If it turns out that lionfish do not have any predators, then that would be bad news for the local ecosystem. Lionfish would be able to reproduce without limit and continue eating prey until resources are heavily depleted, thereby starving other fish that are important to the fisheries industry such as grouper.

Kimberly Pratt, July 17, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Kevin Lackey

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 17, 2005

Crew Interviews: “Dynamite Deck Crew”

If you walk around the McARTHUR II you will encounter hardworking and dedicated Mariners.  These individuals are the deck crew. Outside my door every morning is Korie Mielke, diligently sweeping and swabbing the hall.  On the deck below you will find Charles Sanford painting along with Dave Hermanson, and Teresa Moss. In the evenings, Jake Longbine operates the cranes and wenches for the CTD tests. Throughout the day you’ll find Steve Pierce and Kevin Lackey busily fixing items or on the bridge.The deck crew is responsible for the operation of all the ship’s machinery.  They also paint and clean the ship.  They are instrumental in helping the scientists complete their mission assisting with collections and run the small boat operations.  A deck hand will do watches as a quartermaster who is a lookout for things that may damage the ship and also report on weather observations. In addition, they drive the ship at the Officer’s command.

Jake Longbine

The deck crew comes from a variety of backgrounds, some have college degrees, and others have prior military experience.  Teresa has a fashion and marketing background. She joined NOAA through her mother who is a security officer for NOAA in Seattle. Charles’ who has a military background often thinks about becoming a teacher.  Kevin’s background is in wildlife conservation and his position with NOAA is the first sea duty he’s had.  Kevin really likes the variety and has enjoyed going to see Alaska and sail in Russian waters.  He, like some of the other deck crew found that being on duty with no weekends is taxing.  Also, living and working with other people in a space the size of 224 x 42 ft, (about the size of Cabello’s cluster of classrooms #22 – 26), can be difficult at times.  The deck crew like being a part of the McARTHUR II and it is evident by their good nature and hardworking spirits. After porting in San Francisco, they will be headed off to Hawaii – to warmer waters and climates.

Charles Sanford

School Questions:

Aira grade 5: What is the size of one room on a ship?

Answer: Average size is 10×12

Tania, grade 5 – Where do you guys sleep?

Answer: Some people have a single room with a double sized bed. Others sleep in bunk beds.

Malka, grade 5 – What type of food do you eat?

Answer: The food is very good, usually at every meal there is a meat choice and a vegetarian choice.  At lunch and dinner, you can have salad bar and there is always dessert.

Teresa Moss

 

Korie Mielke

Tamil Maldonado, July 17, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Tamil Maldonado
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 18 – 28, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 17, 2005

Personal Log

I was supposed to fly on July 15 at 9:40 a.m. by United Airlines, going from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Chicago, then from Chicago to Anchorage, Alaska; and finally from Anchorage to Kodiak. All the same day.

Well… this is what really happened. I woke up at 5:00 a.m., traveled from Humacao to San Juan, got in there at 7:30 a.m., and United Airlines attendant told me the flight got cancelled. They changed my airline to American Airlines departing at 1:30 p.m., therefore I was not going to get to Kodiak that same day.

I checked my bags with American Airlines… sending them to Anchorage.  My flight with American got delayed for two and a half hours; therefore I missed my flight from Chicago to Anchorage. I had to stay in Chicago one night with no bags, leaving to Anchorage the next day in the afternoon.

July 16 at noon I was back in O’Hare Airport in Chicago.  My flight was again delayed for an hour. I got to Anchorage with no place to stay.  My flight to Kodiak was going to be for the next day, July 17, in the afternoon. It was 2:30 a.m. in the morning and I still couldn’t find a place to stay. Every hotel was packed, no place to go. Finally somebody cancelled their hotel reservation and I stayed at the Johnson Howard Hotel.

During this time I kept calling Elizabeth McMahon, the XO Lieutenant E.J. Van den Ameele, the hotel at Kodiak called the Buskin River Inn, and my family to let everybody know about my locations.

I got to Kodiak on July 17, 2005 at approximately 5:00 p.m.  I e-mailed the XO and found a taxi to drive me to NOAA’s boat.  I came into the boat, they gave me some paperwork and forms (emergency information and NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER visitor orientation packet). I got to know few people on the boat: Abigail, Daniel, and Mark.  Abigail showed me around the ship including my cabin room, the galley (kitchen), the different decks (floors), the lounge, computer labs, the bridge, etc.

I went to downtown Kodiak and got back to the hotel.

Thomas Nassif, July 17, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Thomas Nassif
Onboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster
July 15 – 24, 2005

Mission: Invasive Lionfish Survey
Geographical Area: Southeast U.S.
Date: July 17, 2005

Deep-sea diver Christine Addison takes a leaping plunge into the ocean off the deck
Deep-sea diver Christine Addison takes a leaping plunge into the ocean off the deck

Weather Data

Latitude: 34°43’N
Longitude: 76°42’W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 200°
Wind speed: 11 kts
Sea wave height: less than 1 foot
Swell wave height: none
Sea water temperature: 87 F, 30.5°C
Sea level pressure: 1017.9 mb
Relative Humidity: 86%
Cloud cover: 2/8, Cumulus, Stratocumulus, Cirrostratus

Science and Technology Log

Early this morning at 0545 hours the NANCY FOSTER arrived at her next two dive locations (SEPAPNEW1 and SEPAPNEW2), 34 nautical miles due south of Beaufort Inlet. We are traveling along the Atlantic Continental Shelf, which runs along the Western boundary of the Gulf Stream. I asked the Chief Scientist, Paula Whitfield: “Why do all of our dive sites fall along the border rather than in the heart of the Gulf Stream? Since the water is much warmer in the Gulf Stream wouldn’t we be far more likely to see Lionfish since they are a tropical fish?” Paula informed me that further east of us the ocean depth drops to about 300 feet, beyond the maximum depth (150 feet) our SCUBA divers could reach. Furthermore the Gulf Stream currents would pose many risks to the divers – even a 1-2 knot current is enough to rip off a diver’s mask. Paula carefully chooses the dive locations using a bathymetric map of the ocean floor (similar to a topographic map for land).

The NF4 (shown in front) is transporting divers back to the ship after a successful dive. The RHIB (shown behind) carries an oxygen manifold that delivered pure oxygen to the divers during their ascent from the ocean floor.
The NF4 (shown in front) is transporting divers back to the ship after a successful dive. The RHIB (shown behind) carries an oxygen manifold that delivered pure oxygen to the divers during their ascent from the ocean floor.

Several things must happen before the SCUBA divers actually jump off the boat. First, drop buoys are deployed into the water to mark the exact location of each dive site. A drop buoy basically consists of bright orange buoy that floats on the ocean surface to let the ship know where the divers are located. To hold the orange buoy in the same location, it is attached to an anchor and a 10-lb weight by a 150-ft cord that sinks to the ocean floor. The drop buoy also helps the divers orient themselves during their descent to the ocean floor. By following the bright yellow cord during their descent, the divers can reach the exact dive location on the ocean floor.

The next step is to deploy two small boats, the RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) and the NF4. The RHIB holds the oxygen manifold, which supplies pure oxygen to the SCUBA divers after they finish their dive and begin their gradual ascent to the ocean surface (divers must decompress or wait at 20 feet below the ocean surface after their dive to ensure they acclimate to the change in pressure). The NF4 is a larger more sturdy boat used to recover the divers and bring them back safely to the ship.

Finally the divers are ready to jump off the ship, and this is no easy task. Imagine having to jump off the side of the ship with 200 pounds of SCUBA gear strapped to your back. Most of this weight is due to two enormous air tanks that deep-sea divers must carry to ensure they have enough air to

Personal Log

Today was an extremely busy day! Somehow the dive teams were able to squeeze in 4 different dive locations on the ocean floor in the same day – 2 dives in the morning and 2 dives in the afternoon. This time the divers were equipped with nets to capture live Lionfish and spear guns to collect dead Lionfish. The divers returned to the ship with 19 Lionfish! Amazingly, they collected 17 live Lionfish and stored them in the holding tank aboard the ship. The scientists performed a dissection on the remaining two Lionfish (that arrived to the ship already dead). Watching the dissection made me realize that the internal anatomy of the Lionfish is no different from any other fish (except for their venomous spines of course!)

Question of the day

Are Lionfish edible?

Jose, I must admit that I answered your question incorrectly at the Carnegie Institute summer course…Yes (to my surprise) Lionfish can be eaten, and their venomous spines have no harmful affects when ingested. In fact, some members of the scientific team have tasted Lionfish, and described the white meat of the fish as chewy, not tender, and a bit fishy tasting. Hopefully I will have the opportunity develop a recipe for Lionfish curry before the cruise is over.

Kimberly Pratt, July 16, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 16, 2005

Humpback Fluke – white and black
Humpback Fluke – white and black

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude: 3650.918 N
Longitude: 12159.753 W
Visibility: < 1
Wind Direction: 280
Wind Speed: 3 knots
Sea Wave Height :< 1
Swell Wave Height: 3-4 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1011.6
Cloud Cover: Foggy/light drizzle
Temperature: 16.7 c

Scientific Log 

Our days lately have been mostly foggy and drizzly, making marine mammal observations very difficult. During the times that observations were made, we’ve seen Humpback Whales, Fin Whales, Harbor Porpoise, a Blue Whale, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Grampus Dolphins, and Sea Lions.  I’ve attached pictures that show Humpback Whale flukes.  The scientists are using the pictures to ID them.  Yesterday, Fin Whales surfaced approx. 200 meters off our bow and swam with the ship for a little while.

Humpback Fluke – all black
Humpback Fluke – all black

We observed Harbor Porpoise as we entered Monterey Bay. They are a small porpoise and are identified by their small pointy dorsal fin.  Observation of Harbor Porpoise is difficult and you can only get a fleeting glance at their dorsal fins before they are gone.

At first you might mistake Grampus dolphins for Killer Whales by looking at their dorsal, but upon closer inspection you’ll find they have a light body marked by scratches or lines. Two nights ago, we did a Bongo Net drop and were able to collect 7 jars full of krill, plankton and myctophids (small Lantern fish).  This showed that the area was very healthy and full of abundance. As far as birds go, we observed part of the Monterey Bay flock of Sooty Shearwaters numbered at approximately 250,000. Today we picked up Scientist Rich Pagen in Santa Cruz, joining us after being ill and we hope to continue observations as we head back out to sea from Monterey Bay.

Humpback Fluke – barnacle marking
Humpback Fluke – barnacle marking

Personal log

We’ve had quite a bit of down time enabling me to answer e-mail, do logs, and interviews. When we are “on effort” I am on the Flying Bridge helping with data entry, observations and trying to video our sightings. At night I help the Oceanographers, Mindy Kelley and Liz Zele doing the Bongo Net Tows and we are often out until 10:30 or 11:00 pm.  Today, we were close to shore, so we had cell service to call friends and loved ones.   I’m still having a really good time, the whales and dolphins are breathtaking. I envy your hot weather!

Sea Lions
Sea Lions

JoAnne Kronberg, July 16, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
JoAnne Kronberg
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 12 – 22, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Gulf of Alaska
Date: July 16, 2005

Weather Data
Winds:  Southwest at 20 knots
Waves: 7 feet
By tonight, the winds should become totally west at 20 knots the wave height should drop to 6 feet.

Science and Technology Log

We have finally gotten across the Gulf of Alaska and tomorrow will begin some real work again. We entered the Shelikoff Strait and will proceed toward the vicinity of the Semidi Islands.  Our goal is to reach Mitrofania Island by Tuesday morning.

The Plotting Room on the NOAA ship RAINIER

Today I spent my day in the Plotting Room with one of the navigators named Brent.  He showed me how they use the information we accumulated on July 13 while on Launch #5 in Barrows Bay. On that day we were surveying two different sections by the multi-line sensors. As the beams were sent out, they recorded whatever was in the water and on the bottom to the computer on the launch.  This information was also transmitted to the proper program on a computer on the RAINIER.  Now the technologists, interns, scientists and engineers analyze the information as it appears on the computer screens.  Daily, already programmed into the computer, are the variations that will change such as the tides, currents and temperatures. In this way, the information is as accurate as possible. By observing the screens, the scientists, plotters and hydrographers can chart the depths, obstacles,(such as crab pots or rocks), temperatures and currents.  All of this information is plotted on paper charts for all navigators and ship captains, whether their ships are owned by the United States, commercial enterprises or private sailors.

The men and women who do this work have varied backgrounds and education.  Some are mechanical engineers, geography scientists, geologist, interns and college students who are learning hydrography.

That’s it from the RAINIER JoAnne Kronberg Teacher-at-Sea

Thomas Nassif, July 16, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Thomas Nassif
Onboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster
July 15 – 24, 2005

Mission: Invasive Lionfish Survey
Geographical Area: Southeast U.S.
Date: July 16, 2005

Underwater photograph of a lion fish taken by Doug Kesling, deep-sea diver on the NANCY FOSTER.
Underwater photograph of a lion fish taken by Doug Kesling, deep-sea diver on the NANCY FOSTER.

Weather Data

Latitude: 34°43’N
Longitude: 76°42’W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 200°
Wind speed: 11 kts
Sea wave height: less than 1 foot
Swell wave height: none
Sea water temperature: 87 F, 30.5°C
Sea level pressure: 1017.9 mb
Relative Humidity: 86%
Cloud cover: 2/8, Cumulus, Stratocumulus, Cirrostratus

Science and Technology Log

After the final computer tests, our ship finally left for sea today at 1310 hours. The NANCY FOSTER steamed ahead through choppy waters to the first dive site of the Lionfish study, “210 Rock.” The dive site is located 27 nautical miles off the coast of Cape Lookout, North Carolina. At 1800 hours four SCUBA divers leaped off of the starboard side of the ship in search of Lionfish. They were equipped with two underwater video cameras and two waterproof clipboards to record their observations. The divers leaped off the boat and dove to the ocean floor (to a depth of 108 feet) to tally the number of Lionfish compared to other native species of fish within a given distance (this is called a visual transect survey).

Thomas Nassif helping on deck to deploy a drop camera that sends real-time video footage of the deep sea to the ship’s television monitors.
Thomas Nassif helping on deck to deploy a drop camera that sends real-time video footage of the deep sea to the ship’s television monitors.

Now for a brief interlude…

What are Lionfish and why are we taking the time to study them? Lionfish are members of the scorpion fish family that are not native to the Atlantic Ocean. Organisms like the Lionfish that arrive, survive, and successfully reproduce in an ecosystem where they did not previously exist are called an invasive species. Lionfish are a very colorful fish with venomous spines originally from the Indo-Pacific coral reefs of southeastern Asia. Ever since their accidental release into the Atlantic Ocean in 1992, Lionfish have reproduced quickly and established themselves in increasing numbers along the Atlantic Coast from Florida to North Carolina. Lionfish are ambush predators that use their venomous spines to paralyze and swallow whole fish (baby shrimp, snapper, and grouper). For this reason, their presence in the Atlantic may negatively impact the local ecosystem and pose a vital threat to the commercial fisheries industry.

Back to the divers…

Upon their return to the ship from 210 Rock, the divers discovered 10 Lionfish, all of them juveniles, approximately 20 cm. in length. Lionfish have been reported in the vicinity before, but not until recently. This suggests a possible Lionfish migration into the area from the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream several miles away in the Atlantic (Lionfish can only survive in warmer, more tropical water temperatures). Now for some good news: The divers saw an impressive variety of native fish including Adult Gag, Scamp, Red Grouper, Blue Angel Fish, Soap fish, Spotfin Hogfish, Spanish Hogfish, White Grunt, Bank Sea Bass, Black Sea Bass, Almaco Jack, and Spade Fish. All of this suggests that the ecosystem near 210 Rock is biologically diverse, vibrant, and healthy. Hopefully it will remain that way, despite the looming threat of the Lionfish in the horizon…

This map clearly shows the Gulf Stream in the Southeastern Atlantic (look for a dark red streak off the coast of Florida).  Darker reds are the warmest ocean temperatures, blues are the coldest.
This map clearly shows the Gulf Stream in the Southeastern Atlantic (look for a dark red streak off the coast of Florida). Darker reds are the warmest ocean temperatures, blues are the coldest.

Personal Log

I was relieved that we were able to get at least one dive off today, despite our ship’s delayed departure. Most amazing was the video footage that the divers brought back onboard the ship – they captured several Lionfish on video, hidden beneath rocks and carefully camouflaged in their background environment. Watching the video makes me realize that the ocean floor is a dramatically different landscape than what we are accustomed to on land!

Question of the Day

Should we worry about Lionfish closer to shore along the beaches of the Atlantic Coast? Is their sting venomous enough to kill a person?

Luckily for us, a venomous spine from a Lionfish is not enough to kill a person, but they can cause a painful sting. You will also appreciate the fact that Lionfish will probably never invade beaches along the Atlantic coastline. This is because temperature limits their distribution in the Atlantic. The Gulf Stream is a warm current of the Atlantic Ocean that originates in the Gulf of Mexico and runs northeastward along North America. Because the Gulf Stream remains several miles offshore from the Atlantic coastline, these waters can remain somewhat warm during the winter, despite frigid inshore water temperatures. This is why Lionfish can survive in the Gulf Stream (where it is warmer in the wintertime) but not closer to the coast (where winter water temperatures are far colder). Additionally, Lionfish cannot survive north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina due to the colder water temperatures along the northeastern Atlantic coastline. For this reason, scientists consider Cape Hatteras a “Zoo-geographical boundary” beyond which Lionfish cannot stay alive.

Kimberly Pratt, July 15, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

pratt_interview8Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 15, 2005

Crew Interviews: “Electronic Gurus”

The McARTHUR II is fortunate to have two very talented men handling its electronics and surveys.  They are Electronic Chief Clay Norfleet and Sr. Survey Tech Lacey O’Neal. Electronic Chief Clay Norfleet is responsible for all the radar, radio, Simrad, computers, networks e-mail communication and ship cell phones. Clay comes to NOAA after an extensive career in the US Navy. In the Navy, he conducted torpedo research and traveled extensively. His favorite port was Seychelles, 200 miles east of Madagascar. He enjoys his position with NOAA and likes the camaraderie with his shipmates.  He will be sailing with the McARTHUR II to Hawaii and then will be boarding the OSCAR ELTON SETTE, sailing to Guam and Saipan to lend support to NOAA personnel. Clay is used to extended time at sea.  In the Navy, he was out for 9-10 months at a time and one time he didn’t see land for 124 days.  While in port in San Francisco, he plans to shop for things for the ship.  His advice for someone wanting to be an Electronics Tech would be to get certifications before applying.

pratt_interview8aAnother talented man works in the dry lab, surrounded by beautiful photos of Humpback, Killer Whales and dolphins. This man is the very helpful Sr. Survey Technician, Lacey O’Neil.  Lacey helps the oceanographers do their work. He runs the computers for the CTD, SCS system an also runs the ship store. He’s been on both the McARTHUR and McARTHUR II for a combined 7 years.  He was previously in the military serving as a paratrooper. His hobby is photography, so being on the McARTHUR II gives him an opportunity to take great pictures of marine mammals.  He also enjoys going to Hawaii with the ship and gets to meet a lot of interesting people.

JoAnne Kronberg, July 15, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
JoAnne Kronberg
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 12 – 22, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 15, 2005

Weather Data
Latitude:  55N
Longitude: 144W
Winds:  55 knots
Sea Wave Height: 7-8 feet
Wave Swells are from the Southwest
Cloud cover: Totally overcast with occasional showers (no storms)

Science and Technology Log

The Officers, Intern officers, Survey crew and Engineering Staff are working all day producing the charts from the technological information we compiled from the work we did on the launches on Tuesday and Wednesday. It is very careful and detail-oriented type of work. They often work together to “bounce” ideas off of each other.

Today, I took the NOAA Security Awareness Course.  It was very long. It took me over an hour to complete it, but I learned a great deal.  At the end of the course, I took the test and got all of the answers correct.  I must have been paying attention!  Now I know how to make my own computer at home more secure and what to look for.

That’s it for today.

JoAnne Kronberg Teacher-at-Sea

Thomas Nassif, July 15, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Thomas Nassif
Onboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster
July 15 – 24, 2005

Mission: Invasive Lionfish Survey
Geographical Area: Southeast U.S.
Date: July 15, 2005

THE BOUNTY: A replica of The Bounty, an 18th Century British Naval Research Vessel.
THE BOUNTY: A replica of The Bounty, an 18th Century British Naval Research Vessel.

Weather Data

Latitude: 34°43’N
Longitude: 76°42’W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 200°
Wind speed: 11 kts
Sea wave height: less than 1 foot
Swell wave height: none
Sea water temperature: 87 F, 30.5°C
Sea level pressure: 1017.9 mb
Relative Humidity: 86%
Cloud cover: 2/8, Cumulus, Stratocumulus, Cirrostratus

Science and Technology Log

My first morning aboard the NOAA research vessel NANCY FOSTER began with a loud pounding sound on my door at 2am. I immediately awoke to a voice from the Lieutenant, “Thomas Nassif, you must move your car immediately!” Evidently I was parked directly in front of a giant crane on the portside of the ship. Later in the day I marveled at the enormous size of the NANCY FOSTER, which stands at 187 feet long and 894 tons. Eight SCUBA divers diligently worked on deck to ensure that their diving equipment was in good working condition when the deep-sea dives get underway tomorrow. We were scheduled to depart Morehead City today, but due to a problem with the ship’s computer system we are not leaving for the open sea until tomorrow morning at 1000 hours. Two specialists arrived early this afternoon to work on the computer system that runs the entire ship, including propulsion, navigation, lighting, and air conditioning. Imagine how complicated the computer system must be, having been built in Canada, programmed with Russian software, and used on an American ship! Evidently they are the only computer specialists in the entire US who know how to fix the NANCY FOSTER’s intricate computer system.

Thomas Nassif stands in front of the NOAA research vessel NANCY FOSTER.
Thomas Nassif stands in front of the NOAA research vessel NANCY FOSTER.

We took advantage of the delay in our departure to walk along the Morehead City Port to check out The Bounty, a replica of the legendary 18th century British Naval ship that sank off the shores of Tahiti. I imagined what it must have been like to be aboard The Bounty in the 1700’s. Unlike the NANCY FOSTER’s heavy reliance on computers to run the entire ship, the Bounty only needed a ship’s wheel for steering and enormous sails to propel the ship forward. This replica of the Bounty was built in 1961 for the Marlin Brando movie “Mutiny on the Bounty” and more recently appeared in “Pirates of the Carribean.” The original Bounty was an 18th century British Naval ship under the direction of Captain Bligh. A member of the crew, Fletcher Christian, led a mutiny against the ship’s captain to protest his extremely strict and regimented control over the crew. While on route to Tahiti, a mutiny erupted between the Captain Bligh and the crew over whether to proceed around the tip of South America (Cape Horn), one of the most treacherous routes for ships to circumnavigate. And to think that one of the major goals of the Tahiti expedition was to collect Bread Fruit for possible use as a food staple for British colonies in the Caribbean. One of the scientists aboard our cruise commented: “I tasted bread fruit once in Micronesia. I must admit it was one of the foulest tasting foods I’d ever had. Bread fruit is hard, yellow, grainy, and terribly bitter.”

Question of the day

How many people are aboard the ship for the Lion Fish Cruise?

There are 16 crew members aboard the NANCY FOSTER to ensure the ship runs properly and 7 scuba divers who will conduct deep-sea research on Lion Fish. Additionally there are two reporters from the Philadelphia Enquirer who are researching the Gulf Stream. And finally one teacher (that’s me) who plans to create a video documentary about the Lion Fish cruise.

Kimberly Pratt, July 14, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Humpback fluke
Humpback fluke. Photo by Cornelia Oedekoven.

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 14, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude:  3544.108 N
Longitude: 12151.852 W
Visibility: <1 mile
Wind Direction: 330
Wind Speed:  5 knots
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1013.2
Cloud Cover: Foggy, Drizzle
Temperature:  15.0

Blow hole
Blow hole. Photo by Cornelia Oedekoven.

Scientific Log

Again, it’s been very foggy or windy, limiting our time out observing mammals and birds. We are however, seeing many Humpback Whales. During two of the sightings Humpbacks came up to the boat – 300 meters away.  Humpbacks are named because their dorsal fin is on a hump.  Also Humpbacks surface and blow for a couple of minutes, allowing the scientists to get a good look at them.  After surfacing and blowing, they then dive, showing off their impressive flukes. Scientist ID Humpbacks by their flukes, dorsal and bumps or knobs on their rostrum (or beak).  An interesting fact is that the underside of a humpback’s fluke is different for each animal, (like their fingerprint) so getting good photo ID is imperative. Along with the Humpbacks, we’ve seen Pacific Whiteside Dolphins who ride the bow of the Humpbacks.  As far as birds go, we’ve seen a migration, 15-20 Red necked Phalaropes, South Polar Skuas who breed in the Antarctica, Pink-footed Shearwaters, Albatrosses, Gulls, and many Sooty Shearwaters.

Personal Log

It’s quite impressive to actually hear the whale’s breath. In fact being on the “fantail” rear of the boat, we located them by their breathing.  Being so close to the Humpbacks was really a great experience. I was able to get video, so I look forward to sharing it with you all.  The cruise is still going well, when we’re slow, I’ve been e-mailing, reading and doing interviews.

Yesterday the swells were as high as 10-12 ft. with 5-6 foot wind waves, so unfortunately, my sea sickness flared up again.  After speaking with the Medical Officer and resting, I feel much better.  I didn’t know that your body has to acclimate to different sea states so my sea legs are still growing.  Maybe after the cruise I’ll be taller!  Hope all is well. Thanks for all of the e-mails.

Thanks to Cornelia Oedekoven for the photos.

JoAnne Kronberg, July 14, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
JoAnne Kronberg
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 12 – 22, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 14, 2005

Personal Log

Thursday and Friday are traveling days for the NOAA ship RAINIER.  At 6:00 a.m. we left the Puget Sound and transit Seymour Narrows.  By evening we will transit Queen Charlotte Sound.  We expect to reach and transit Lama Passage (also known as Bella Bella) by 2030 (8:30 p.m.).

On board, the officers, junior officers, Safety Director and Engineers have been having meetings.

As a new person on board, I viewed the three videotapes that are required by OSHA for all persons on the ship.  The videotapes were entitled Hazardous Materials and Hazardous Waste Management, Are You at Risk–Asbestos Awareness, and Emergency Escape Breathing Device.  They were interesting and make the viewer more aware of the importance of knowing this information.  We must all take responsibility for our own health and safety and those among us.

That’s it for Thursday.  I hope that I have something more exciting to tell you tomorrow.

JoAnne Kronberg Teacher-at-Sea

Debbie Stringham, July 14, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debbie Stringham
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 5 – 15, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: July 14, 2005

NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER docked at US Coast Guard Station, Kodiak, AK.
NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER docked at US Coast Guard Station, Kodiak, AK.

Weather Data 

Location: U.S. Coast Guard Dock, Kodiak, AK
Latitude: 57 48.6′ N
Longitude: 152 21.9′ W
Visibility: 10 nm
Sky Description: partly cloudy

Science and Technology Log 

The ship has reached Kodiak, AK and has docked at the U.S. Coast Guard Station. Preparations are already underway for an inspection and the departure of crew members and arrival of returning or new crew members. The next leg will focus on fisheries research so preparations of the winches for nets is underway.

I’m a little wistful in returning to shore. I’ve grown accustomed to the rocking of the ship and have thoroughly enjoyed my entire experience aboard the FAIRWEATHER. I’m amazed at the autonomy of the ship and the crew aboard. I’m walking away with valuable and useful information that can be applied in laboratory experiments in the classroom and can hardly wait to implement them.

Kodiak, AK
Kodiak, AK

Tonight, I spend my last night aboard the ship and tomorrow morning depart for a day ashore Kodiak and then a long flight home. What an amazing experience this has been!

Answer from Previous Day 

Believe it or not, the Indonesian tsunami and Alaska 1964 earthquake are important to hydrographic survey. Plates shifting near Indonesia created the large tsunami that traveled so far and decimated so many villages. The 1964 earthquake, also caused by shifting plates, creating likewise devastating effects. This impacts hydrographic survey, because the navigation charts printed before 1964 would not show the rise in sea floor of over 30 feet that occurred because of the shifting plates!

Kimberly Pratt, July 13, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 13, 2005

Mindy Kelley
Mindy Kelley

Crew Interviews: The Oceanographers

Every evening, one hour after sunset, while everyone on the ship is settling down to a good night’s rest, the oceanographers are busy, collecting samples, analyzing data and preparing for the next collection that has to be taken.

On board the McARTHUR II, you will find oceanographers, Mindy Kelley and Liz Zele.  When you first meet them you’re struck with their laughter, and the lightheartedness of these two scientists. You have to have a sense of humor when working at odd hours and conditions, and these two scientists know how to do serious science and yet still have fun.

Mindy Kelley has always enjoyed the ocean, especially when she visited Florida during family vacations.  Born in Pennsylvania, she treasured these trips and it led her to becoming a Marine Scientist.  She went to school at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania and did summer field work through Wallops Island, VA.  Her field work led her to the Assateauge Island National Seashore where she gained extensive experience within the Barrier Islands and its marshes.  She obtained a BA in Biology and a BS in Marine Science/and Environmental Studies.

Her education took a total of 5 years.  Her first job was working with the Pennsylvania’s Department of Environment Protection – West Nile virus surveillance program. It was a great experience and pushed her forward to pursue a Marine Science career instead a settling on an environmental career.  Mindy really likes the computer aspect of being an oceanographer and hands on collecting of specimens.  She enjoys seeing her field work and data analysis come together and makes sense.  Working in the field is quite challenging.  This tour she will be gone from July 2nd to November 30th on the McARTHUR II.  After porting in San Francisco on the 24th she’ll head to Hawaii for the rest of her tour.  In order to meet the demands of ship life she relaxes by e-mailing, doing art projects, listening to music and practicing ballet. With a long history of practicing ballet, Mindy has adapted her routine so she can still work out on the ship.  While in port in Hawaii, she’ll attend some classes to make sure that her training is not being compromised.  Her advice to someone perusing a career in Oceanography would be to take a lot of math.  She says, “even if you don’t like math, when you can apply it to science, you’ll start to like it”. She also advises to take calculus, chemistry and physics.  Most importantly is the desire to make it work.

You have to be assertive and aggressive to work in the field and if you are, then you’ll be successful. Her goal is to return to school, and do further studies in computer science, physical and biological oceanography. A typical day in the life of an oceanographer is demanding.  They arise 1 hour before sunrise, around 4 am, collecting chrophyll,  nutrients, salt samples and productivity.  Next, throughout the day they collect surface chlorophyll, temperature, and record other data.  1 hour after sunset, they run a CTD station and then to a Bongo Tow. They also send daily reports to their home base in LaJolla, CA and monitor their data throughout the day.

Liz Zele
Liz Zele

Helping Mindy with this large task is Liz Zele.  Liz has a background in marine mammal identification and acoustics. She attended the University of San Diego where she received her degree in Marine Science with a biology emphasis.  After she graduated, she was involved with science education and informal science.  Liz has worked for NOAA for almost three years and this is her second long cruise. She enjoys field work because it lets her use what she learned in school, but she does admit however that she misses her family and friends while out at sea.

This project started for her in late June and will end on December 7th on board the DAVID STARR JORDAN working with another oceanographer. In order to relax on board a ship, Liz reads, watches movies, and goes to the gym.  In December, Liz hopes to buy a home and would like to open an education facility and continue with marine mammal acoustics.  For anyone wishing to enter the field of marine science she advises to volunteer and go after opportunities.  She states the field is very competitive so network and meet as many people as you can.

JoAnne Kronberg, July 13, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
JoAnne Kronberg
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 12 – 22, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 13, 2005

Weather Data
Latitude:  46.28N
Longitude: 122.4 W
Wind:  West at 20-30 Knots
Waves:  3-5 feet subsiding to 2-3 feet
Temperature: 70 degrees
Cloud Cover: Partly Cloudy with possible drizzle

Science and Technology Log

I boarded the RAINIER cruiser RA4 at 7:00 am to begin our mission today.  Our mission today was to survey the waters between Alan Island and Burrows Island.  There are two separate waterways between the Islands and they are called Allan’s Pass and Barrows Pass.

Of course, before heading out to this area, we dropped the CTD Cast in the water beside the boat to determine the Conductivity, Temperature and the Density of the water.  We need to know this information before we begin to do our survey.  These factors will certainly affect readings that we receive from the sensors.

The four computer screens were operating just find giving up the pictures of the bottom, the range of the sensors, the location of the sensor in relationship to the surrounding waters and the lines we were following to survey. The second computer screen specifically gives us the depth of the water.  Depth is indicated by different colors- brownish color indicates shallow and green indicates more depth.  Our average depth today was 79.6 feet.

When we finished surveying the waters around the two islands, we moved to the south of Alan Island to complete a survey that had been started earlier this spring.

I noticed two interesting items today.  There was a lighthouse on one promontory called Fidalgo Head. I saw a large solar panel located at the base of the lighthouse.  I assumed that the energy was used to light the lighthouse and this was confirmed by our engineer.  I also noticed a great deal of kelp in the waters around the islands.  I was told that a great deal comes from the islands when it washes down from the stiff cliffs.

It was an exciting day for me because I got to drive (pilot) for a short while around the islands. I am experiencing and learning so many new things.

Signing off for today, JoAnne Kronberg Teacher-at-Sea

Debbie Stringham, July 13, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debbie Stringham
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 5 – 15, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: July 13, 2005

Stringham photographing tsunami buoy recovery.
Stringham photographing tsunami buoy recovery.

Weather Data 

Location: in transit
Latitude: 52 44.1’N
Longitude: 156 45.3’W
Visibility: 10 nm
True Wind Speed: 10 kts.
True Wind Direction: 270
Sea Wave Height: none
Swell Wave Height: 6 ft.
Swell Wave Direction: 220
Sea Water Temperature: 11.0 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1008.0
Sky Description: partly cloudy
Dry Bulb Temperature: 14.0 C
Wet Bulb Temperature: 12.5 C

Operations in progress
Operations in progress

Science and Technology Log 

Last night, the ship received word that a tsunami buoy had gotten loose and needed to be retrieved in waters to the south. So, heading to the farthest waters south that the FAIRWEATHER has seen since March, the ship made its way to the last known location of the buoy. I stood watch on the bridge from 0400 until 0800 and no sight of the buoy had been taken on RADAR or by person. At about 0830, the buoy was spotted and operations to retrieve it were commenced. A smaller vessel with four crew members was launched to aid in the retrieval and the A- frame on the fantail was rigged to pull the large instrument aboard. By 0930 the buoy was captured and hoisted onto deck and by 1030 it was securely fastened to the fantail. The issue of pulling aboard several thousand meters of the buoy’s rope took several more hours after that. Whew!

The December 26, 2004 Indonesia tsunami “traveled at 700 kilometers per hour to rear up like a hydra onto shores, sweeping away some 225,000 lives and millions of livelihoods across 12 nations,” Madhusree Mukerjee reported in the March 2005 issue of Scientific American. That historic tsumani event raised a lot of concern regarding the early warning systems that are in place for tsunami events. Unlike the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean is known to have a well established warning system in place, but efforts are being taken to ensure that we know as much as possible about possible tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean. Tsunami buoys are located extensively along the major coastlines of countries neighboring the Pacific Ocean and the data collected from those buoys is carefully analyzed and recorded.

Ships similar to the FAIRWEATHER, in the NOAA fleet, usually perform routine maintenance and retrieval of buoys. The FAIRWEATHER has been looked at for this purpose, but never actually engaged in the process. This is the first time the FAIRWEATHER has taken part in tsunami buoy retrieval.

Question of the Day 

What do the 2005 Indonesian tsunami, the Alaska 1964 earthquake, and hydrographic survey have in common?

Answer from Previous Day 

The best types of sea floor to anchor a ship are mud/clay or sandy, mud combinations. Firm sand is okay, but loose sand, soft mud, rocks, and grassy/kelp areas should be avoided.

Kimberly Pratt, July 12, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 12, 2005

Fluke that helps in photo identification
Fluke that helps in photo identification

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude:  3614.084N
Longitude: 12213.868W
Visibility: <1 mile
Wind Direction: 340 Wind Speed:  22 knots
Sea Wave Height: 5-6 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1014.6
Cloud Cover: Foggy, Drizzle
Temperature:  14.8

Scientific Log 

For the past few days, it’s been either foggy or too windy to do observations.  The last big sighting was on July 10th where we spotted about 30 Sperm Whales.  It was easy to identify the Sperm Whales as their blow is at a 45 degree angle.  Also Sperm Whales like to float at the top of the water so tracking and finding them is relatively easy.  Juan Carlos Salinas and Tim O’Toole, was able to obtain 10 different biopsy samples and Holly Fearnbach and Cornelia Oedekoven obtained photo id. Sperm whales are identified by their flukes, noting scratches, tears or missing pieces.  The scientists will try to identify specific whales.  In the attached pictures, you will see heads of Sperm Whales, note the blow hole on the side of one, also try and look for scratches or cuts on the flukes.

Blow hole
Blow hole

Personal Log

Because of the weather, observations have been slow.  Yesterday, I did observe a Humpback Whale breaching in the distance. Today I’ve been doing interviews, reading and doing e-mail correspondence.  Hopefully the weather will clear and we can go back to regular observations to see more wildlife.  Right now we’re off of Pt. Sir, near Big Sur and will continue to track right outside our own coastline.  Hope all is well.

JoAnne Kronberg, July 12, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
JoAnne Kronberg
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 12 – 22, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific
Date: July 12, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge
Latitude:  48.2W
Longitude: 122.46N
Wind:  SW10 knots to 15-25 knots in the afternoon
Waves: 1 foot increasing to 2-4 feet
Wave Swell:  5 feet
Cloud Cover: Overcast

Science and Technology Log

I was assigned to the RAINIER cruiser #5.  Our mission today was to survey the water in the lanes parallel to the shore and outside the northbound commercial freight lanes.  This area had been surveyed before, about 1995, but a few tugboats had questions about the depths in this area. We were told to complete as many crosslines as possible.  Our map to follow was Sheet H (H11375) – Specifically Sections 27 and 28.

Before we could begin the survey, we had to put the CTD Cast in the water for about 10 minutes.  This device is called the CTD because it registers the Conductivity, Temperature and Depth of the water.  The computer needs this information before we can turn on the Sensor to start the charting.  We traveled about 7-8 knots because the water was fairly calm.  When it is rough, we can only travel about 6 knots.

Now we could start traveling in lines as the Sensor at the bottom of the ship starts sending out beams.  The Sensor we use is a multi-beam model; the double beams span a 150 degrees area, but only 120 degrees range of the information is used.  The information at the outside of this range is not reliable.  As the ship travels, the beams ping the ocean floor and send the information to the four computer screens set up on the “dash board” of the boat. The four screens show (a) a map of our location, (b) a picture of the floor of the ocean, (c) the lines that the sensors have covered, and finally (d) the position of the Sensor on the bottom of the boat.  All of this information is recorded on the computers.  Then later today, a technologist will be able to print out a map and chart all the information on the map for other ships.

When we finished with our assigned mission, we still had time.  So we radioed back to the RAINIER and asked for our next assignment. The ship directed us to another section, Section 24. We surveyed this Section, near Hocky Point, and then returned to the ship.

It has been a very interesting and exciting day.

Debbie Stringham, July 12, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debbie Stringham
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 5 – 15, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: July 12, 2005

Stringham on shore, Eagle Harbor, Shumagin
Stringham on shore, Eagle Harbor, Shumagin

Weather Data 

Location: Eagle Harbour, Shumagin Islands, AK
Latitude: 55 06.8’ N
Longitude: 160 06.9’ W
Visibility: 10 nm.
True Wind Speed: 16 kts.
True Wind Direction: 340
Sea Wave Height: 1 ft.
Swell Wave Height: none
Swell Wave Direction: none
Sea Water Temperature: 12.0 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1011.5 mb
Sky Description: Partly Cloudy
Dry Bulb Temperature: 15.5 C
Wet Bulb Temperature: 12.5 C

Science and Technology Log 

View from vessel during bottom sampling operations.
View from vessel during bottom sampling operations.

Today, is a quiet day aboard the FAIRWEATHER. There are no vessel launches to join, but it is a good opportunity for me to work on lesson plan ideas. I’ve been most interested in the bottom sampling operations and why it is important to understand the nature of the sea floor for anchorage. I found a very helpful seaman text that should provide good direction for a lesson plan.

Earlier in the leg, a crew member and survey tech exchanged with a member of a contractor for NOAA that acquisitions hydrographic data using airplanes. The airplanes essentially have two beams, one that hits the top of the water and one that penetrates to the sea floor. The data is then compared and the difference between them equals the water depth. The survey tech said that there are some benefits and limitations to the use of airplanes.

Benefits are that it can collect data much more quickly than our ship. Our ship travels at ten knots, but the airplane can fly over a hundred knots and cover many more miles. The airplane can also collect data in shallow water and pinpoint water depth over shallow rocks whereas the ship cannot. Also, Surveyors do not have to stay at sea for weeks at a time and can go home to dry land at the end of the day.

On the other hand, limitations of the airplane include lower resolution because the plane is flying so fast. Choppy seas or kelp forests impede data collection, as is true for data acquisition from the ship as well, and the planes cannot collect data from deep waters.

Question of the Day 

What type of sea floor is best for anchoring one’s ship?

Answer from Previous Day 

Understanding atmospheric sciences is important in navigating ships because the weather affects the ship’s course and ability to conduct business or research every day. Understanding such basic concepts as weather fronts, air mass characteristics, large scale wind systems (ie.  Polar Easterlies), and weather phenomenon (ie. hurricanes) can be life saving when out at sea.

Shumagin Islands, AK. Islands, AK.
Shumagin Islands, AK. Islands, AK.

Debbie Stringham, July 11, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debbie Stringham
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 5 – 15, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: July 11, 2005

Weather Data

Shumagin Islands, AK --on shore in Eagle Harbor.
Shumagin Islands, AK –on shore in Eagle Harbor.

Location: Shumagin Islands, AK
Latitude: 55 17.7’ N
Longitude: 160 32.1’ W
Visibility: 8 n.m.
True Wind Speed: 12 kts.
True Wind Direction: 190
Sea Wave Height: 1 ft.
Swell Wave Height: none
Swell Wave Direction: none
Sea Water Temperature: 11.7 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1014.0 mb
Sky Description: Cloudy, Drizzle
Dry Bulb Temperature: 11.5 C
Wet Bulb Temperature: 10.0 C

Daily Log 

Returning to ship due to stormy seas.
Returning to ship due to stormy seas.

Last night, some of the crew, including myself, went ashore while anchored in Eagle Harbor. I was eager to learn of the geology of the Shumagin Islands, but have had no opportunity to take samples from shore. It is not so much the composition of the rocks that I’m interested in as the process and time frame of which they formed. I collected both rounded pebbles from the beach and oxidized, angular fragments from a cliff face. I’m extremely impressed by the magnitude of folding, faulting, and glaciation process that are apparent–even from the deck of the ship many miles away. Upon inquiring, I have discovered that there is only one crew member who has any geologic text on the area and she is not on board for this leg.

This morning, I was once again assigned to a launch that would collect bottom samples, but the unfortunate event of well-developed seas and high winds drove us back to the ship. Our sunny weather for the past two days is definitely at an end and our bottom sampling is postponed until further notice.

On this leg, the ship does not have any tide stations to install, but I inquired as to how that affects data collection anyway. Tide stations are used as vertical control on water depths. The Chief Survey Technician said that local tidal data is collected from a primary station on Sand Point and vertical corrections are made to the hydrographic survey data as it is collected. If the data were not corrected to the Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW), the depths displayed on hydrographic charts could mislead ships navigating in shallow waters.

Question of the Day 

Why is knowledge of atmospheric sciences helpful in navigating ships?

Answer from Previous Day 

SONAR stands for Sound Navigation and Radar. Essentially, the purpose is to emit sound waves and capture their echo as they bounce off of the sea floor or other objects to determine shape, position, and/or location. Marine organisms use a similar type feature to detect prey.

Kimberly Pratt, July 11, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 11, 2005

Crew Interviews: “Serving up Yummy treats – The Cooks of the McARTHUR II”

pratt_interview6Sitting in the galley of the McARTHUR II, is like sitting in a warm kitchen with good food all around. The Cooks, Art Mercado- Chief Steward and 2nd Cook Art Mercado, has been with NOAA for 32 years. He started as Mess Man, then was promoted to 2nd cook, and then to Captain Steward. He’s sailed on the FAIRWEATHER, the Old McARTHUR, and the DISCOVERER to Guam. He’s sailed all over the world, including Hawaii, Costa Rica, Montecito, Mexico and the Galapagos Islands. His duties as Chief Steward is to order all the food, plan menus, supervise the 2nd cook, and do all the cooking with the 2nd cook. He cooks for 39-40 when there is a full compliment.  The best thing about his position is that it keeps him busy; he gets to talk to officers, crew and  scientists. Also he loves it when he can fish and has caught 110 lb. Yellow fin, 35 lb, Mahi Mahi, a 95 lb. Wahoo.  The only challenge is that sometimes he gets bored and sometime feels like he has too much to do.  When he gets bored, he watches TV and walks around the ship.  Art will be retiring in 1 ½ years and is thinking about Hawaii for his retirement years.  His most memorable cruise with NOAA is when he was in Alaska, not only did they have beach barbeques, but they also were allowed to go on-shore and see beaver, deer and moose.  His toughest cruise was in the Bering Strait when the weather became very rough. Even though his supplies were secure, they still fell off the shelves and made a big mess.

pratt_interview6aHelping Art is 2nd Cook Carrie Mortell, who has been with NOAA one year in August. Carrie’s experience is with a fishing boat in Alaska. She used to fish for Salmon in the summer and Black Cod and Halibut in the spring and fall. She loved the excitement of being out at sea on a 40 ft. Power Troller. At that time she lived in Prince Wales, Alaska. She enjoyed Alaska because she was surrounded by water and saw plenty of deer, moose and even bear.  She came to work for NOAA because she really likes being on the water, and is looking at either Alaska or Hawaii as her home port.  Her life on the McARTHUR II is very busy.  She needs to be at work at 5 am and finishes her day between 6-6:30 pm.  She likes the fast paced work on the McARTHUR and during her time off she likes to read, relax, exercise and play cards, Carrie along with Art prepare 3 meals per day, along with a morning snack.  Her favorite thing to bake is desserts and her favorite fish to eat is King Salmon, which she states is high in Omega-3.  Carrie’s having fun working for NOAA.

Debbie Stringham, July 10, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debbie Stringham
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 5 – 15, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: July 10, 2005

“FISH” Collects sound velocity data while vessel is moving.
“FISH” Collects sound velocity data while vessel is moving.

Weather Data 

Location: Eagle Harbour, Shumagin Islands, AK
Latitude: 55 06.8’ N
Longitude: 160 06.9’ W
Visibility: 10 nm.
True Wind Speed: 16 kts.
True Wind Direction: 340
Sea Wave Height: 1 ft.
Swell Wave Height: none
Swell Wave Direction: none
Sea Water Temperature: 12.0 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1011.5 mb
Sky Description: Partly Cloudy
Dry Bulb Temperature: 15.5 C
Wet Bulb Temperature: 12.5 C

Science and Technology Log 

This morning, I assisted a survey technician entering the bottom sampling data we collected on yesterday’s launch. I also read through training materials about the SeaBat Mutlibeam Survey System and learned  how the system works.

“FISH” winch. Instrument attached collects sound velocity data.
“FISH” winch. Instrument attached collects sound velocity data.

Basically, there are six parts to the system: the multibeam sonar, data acquisitioning software, beacon receiver, SeaBird Water “FISH” winch. Instrument attached collects sound velocity data. Column Profiler, Velocity Probe, and data processing software. When activated, the system generates “pings” that are transmitted through the water column. Those “pings” collide with targets and return echo signals to the receiver. The hydrophones convert the pressure from the echo into an electrical signal. The signal is amplified and the software processes it and displays the information on the computer.

In order to understand SONAR, one must also understand sound. Sound is produced by a vibrating source that causes compression waves which are detectable pressure changes. The speed of the propagation depends on the medium it is traveling through. For instance, sound travels about 390 meters per second in air and 1500 meters per second in water. The velocity of sound in water is dependent on three main factors: salinity, temperature, and pressure.

I interviewed an Ensign on the crew this afternoon about the career paths she had taken to be a part of NOAA. She received her bachelor degree in Marine Studies with an emphasis in marine mammals. She was investigating the Peace Corps and the Navy when she came across NOAA and decided to enroll in their three month officer’s basic training. After three months of studying radar and navigation, she was assigned to the FAIRWEATHER for two years at sea. After her two years are complete, should she decide to continue, she will then be assigned to a three year term in a land-based position. In order to qualify for officer’s training, one needs a bachelor’s degree in any science or engineering related field.

Question of the Day 

What does SONAR stand for?

Answer from Previous Day 

Looking at the nature of the sea floor is important because of implications relating to anchoring, dredging, structure construction, pipeline and cable routing, and fisheries habitat.

Kimberly Pratt, July 10, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 10, 2005

Orca pod
Orca pod

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude: 38,55.2 N
Longitude: 124.22.003 W
Visibility:  < 1miles
Wind Speed & Direction:  200 degrees, 8 knots
Sea Wave Height: 1-2
Sea Swell Height: 5-6 ft.
Sea Level Pressure: 1016.2
Cloud Cover: cloudy and foggy
Temperature:  21.8 Celsius

Scientific Log

Orcas found! Yesterday evening, approximately 8 Killer Whales were tracked and observed off the bow of the McARTHUR II. Scientists are right now trying to determine if they are resident, off-shore, or transient whales.  This they will do by looking at their saddles, the area just under the dorsal fin.  It has already been determined that this pod did not have a large bull as none of the whales had the very large dorsal fin.  Male bull fins can be as large at 6ft high. A southern resident Killer Whale is reported to be over 100 years old. Attached are 2 photos of the group we observed last night, and also an  older picture of a baby Orca, as evidenced by the yellow/pinkish coloring.  Thanks to Holly Fearnbach for the photos.

Orca dorsal fin
Orca dorsal fin

Today we are heading closer to the California coast, north of Bodega Bay. It has been foggy all day with no chance to do observations.

Personal Log

I had to get these out to all of you. Seeing so many wild Orcas was breathtaking. The flying bridge was full of oohs, and awes as everyone ran to get their cameras.  One of the animals spy-hopped to look around and we observed them for about 40 minutes.  I also thought you might enjoy the “baby” orca picture. Last night there were some juveniles in the group, as evidenced by the smaller dorsal fins.

Kimberly Pratt, July 10, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Jay Prueher
Jay Prueher

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 10, 2005

Crew Interviews: Interview with the Engineering Dept.

The Engineering Department onboard the McARTHUR II is really amazing.  They are responsible for many of the operations on board.  They maintain and operate the 4 generators that provide all the electricity.  One generator can power 10, 075 light bulbs!  The electric/diesel engine has 3400 HP and consumes 2,850 gallons of fuel a day.  The ship that was built in 1984 was originally a Navy spy ship, spying on submarines.  The ship also makes its own water by taking in sea water, boiling it, letting it evaporate, treating it, and then it can be used by everyone on the ship.  The ship processes approx. 2400 gallons of water and 2200 gallons are used, so a 2 day reserve is kept on board.  The ship also has a machine shop to fix or create parts that my break down while out at sea.  The ship has two propellers and its top speed is 11.5 knots.

Luke Staiger, Jim Reed
Luke Staiger, Jim Reed

The ship can go 90 days at 3 knots. The ship has 7 levels including the fly bridge.  The person in charge of the Engineering Department is Jay Prueher who is the Chief Engineer. He’s worked for NOAA for 10 years and has a total of 20 years in Alaska. His favorite ports are Sitka and Juneau. What he likes best about ship life is no commute and dislikes being away from his family.  His wife, who won the Washington State lottery, resides in their home in the Cascade Mountains with their 6 cats and 6 dogs. During his time off, he likes to visit his daughter in warm and dry Tennessee. He really likes this department because all the engineers work together to envision what the scientists need to complete their mission.  Then they plan to make it real.  Even though Jay does enjoy his job, he plans to retire in 1 year, 11 months and 13 days, to spend time with his family in their beautiful home.

Thanks to all the engineering staff for touring me around and teaching me about the ship.

Jim Johnson
Jim Johnson
June Bruns
June Bruns

 

Debbie Stringham, July 9, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debbie Stringham
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 5 – 15, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: July 9, 2005

Debbie Stringham pulling lines for bottom sampling
Debbie Stringham pulling lines for bottom sampling

Weather Data 

Location: Eagle Harbour, Shumagin Islands, AK
Latitude: 55 06.8’ N
Longitude: 160 06.9’ W
Visibility: 10 nm.
True Wind Speed: 16 kts.
True Wind Direction: 340
Sea Wave Height: 1 ft.
Swell Wave Height: none
Swell Wave Direction: none
Sea Water Temperature: 12.0 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1011.5 mb
Sky Description: Partly Cloudy
Dry Bulb Temperature: 15.5 C
Wet Bulb Temperature: 12.5 C

Science and Technology Log 

Today, I was assigned to go on a bottom sampling launch. The purpose of these launches is to collect floor samples to determine the nature of the sea floor. The instrument used is called a bottom sampler and looks like a large heavy metal pipe about a foot in length and four inches in diameter. There is a large metal spring attached to the top of it along with a scooping mechanism that clamps shut when it hits the sea floor. On the other end, is an O-ring where a line can be strung through and attached to a pulley.

Bottom Sampling Device
Bottom Sampling Device

First, the designated sampling locations are decided by where they lie in relation to the coast. There are collection standards that regulate where sampling can occur and how often. If the region is deemed anchorage, then samples may be taken 1200 meters apart. If the region is not considered anchorage, then the samples need to be spaced 2000 meters apart. Using a Digital Terrane Model (DTM), the survey technician chooses an arbitrary point and fans out from there, choosing collection locations in accordance with the regulations above.

Once the bottom sampling is underway, the boat will use a Global Positioning System (GPS), to locate where a sample will be taken from. The survey technician will open the scooping mechanism and lower it over the side of the boat. When the bottom sampler hits the bottom, it will be brought back to the surface where the sample, if any, will be analyzed and recorded. If no sample is retrieved after three attempts, then the sea floor is recorded as hard. Survey technicians use abbreviated terms to describe the bottom samples. For example: crs S = coarse sand, brk Sh = broken shells, gy M = gray mud, med P = medium pebbles.

Question of the Day 

Why is looking at the nature of the seafloor material important?

Answer from Previous Day 

In the early days of sailing, the steering board (eventually to become starboard) was on the right hand side of the ship. And the side of the ship that was usually tied up to port was the left hand side. Sailors began calling the right side of the ship (when facing front) the starboard side and the left hand side of the ship port.

Kimberly Pratt, July 9, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 9, 2005

Blue whale
Blue whale

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude: 41.16.4’ N
Longitude: 125.58.30W
Visibility: 10 miles
Wind Speed & Direction:  Light and variable
Sea Wave Height: <1
Sea Swell Height: 5-6 ft.
Sea Level Pressure: 1016.0
Cloud Cover: 5/8 of sky cloudy, AS (Alto Stratus), CS (Cumulus  Stratus), AC (Alto Cumulus), C (Cumulus)
Temperature:  21.8 Celsius

Scientific Log

Yesterday was a very slow day.  One of the scientists became ill so the ship was diverted to Coos Bay, Oregon. After a medical evaluation, it was decided that he would return to the ship at a later time.  We then left Coos Bay, and came into stormy weather, so operations were at a stand-still. We did still do bird observations, and we spotted Black footed Albatrosses, Sooty Shearwaters, Common Murres, Fulmars, and Leech’s Storm Petrels. At 2100, I met with Oceanographers, Liz Zele, and Mindy Kelly and proceeded to help with the CTD and the Bongo Nets.  The CTD gives scientists samples for conductivity, temperature, depth.  Next, a bongo net is lowered to a specific depth (300 meters) and brought to the surface at a constant angle. In this way a variety of fish and plankton can be collected and later identified. The specimens collected are very special because many of them are species in larval stage. By looking at this microscopic view of the ocean you  may easily identify it as the “nursery of the ocean”, displaying the many larval forms. The tests were concluded at approx. 2300 hrs.

Launching the zodiak
Launching the zodiak

Today was a much busier day.  Watch started at 0600 and as I was entering data for the bird observations we spotted some Blue whales.  Dr. Forney decided to launch the smaller boat (the Zodiac) for a closer look at the whales. I boarded the boat with the other scientists and we were lowered into the ocean. After getting everyone secure, we took off in pursuit of the Blue whales.  We spotted approximately 6 whales including a mother and calf. Biopsies were taken of these whales and we spent approximately 3 hours in pursuit to identify them.  We also identified Dall’s porpoise.

Personal log 

I must say climbing into a Zodiac in pursuit of whales has to be one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had.  The Zodiac skims the water at about 35 mph. and often we were airborne. The Blue whales that we found were unbelievably huge, as they can grow to 20-33 meters long.  We were approximately 100 meters away from them; I could hear their blows and was amazed at their gracefulness.  Besides the whales being exciting, all is going really well. I did have another bout of seasickness, but now that I’m wearing the patch, (medication for seasickness) I’m doing fine. The food here is very good, and there is down time to read, learn or watch movies.  Ship life is like a great  big family and everyone gets along pretty well.  Right now we are south/west of Crescent City, headed south to the Cordell Banks, Gulf of the Farallones, and Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuaries.  Soon, I’ll be in closer waters. Hope all is doing well back at home.  Thanks for responding to my logs, I welcome comments, corrections or questions. It keeps me busy!

P.S. In the Zodiac, I’m the one in the back with the orange “Mustang Suit” on, looking a little confused. If you look closely you can see the biopsy dart on the side of the Blue whale.

Debbie Stringham, July 8, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debbie Stringham
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 5 – 15, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: July 8, 2005

Survey launch
Survey launch

Weather Data 

Location: in transit
Latitude: 59 02.8’ N
Longitude: 152 33.6’ W
Visibility: 10 nm.
True Wind Speed: 10 kts.
True Wind Direction: 235
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 ft.
Swell Wave Height: 2-3 ft.
Sea Water Temperature: 12.7 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1000.5
Sky Description: Partly Cloudy
Dry Bulb Temperature: 15.9 C
Wet Bulb Temperature: 13.9 C

Science and Technology Log 

I Woke up early again to stand watch on the bridge, but was informed by the XO that I would be out on a launch at 0800. He suggested I go back to bed and get ready for the day since it would probably be a long one. At 0800, the crew met on the fantail (stern of the ship) to discuss safety precautions, then the vessels were lowered over the side of the ship, where all of the equipment and crew were loaded, then placed in the water. Normally, the boat would head to a section of the coast, in this case the Shumigan Islands, to begin sound velocity casts, but our boat was having generator and engine troubles so we had to head back to the ship shortly after we departed. The captain, or commanding officer, gave me a book titled, How to Read a Nautical Chart, and briefly explained why ships travel the “great circle”. I read sections of the book and learned about Gnomonic versus Mercator projections.

On a Mercator projection, where latitudes and longitudes cross each other at right angles, a straight line is not the fastest course. This type of projection is best used for coastal sailing and is where the “great circle” comes in to play as the shortest route.

On the other hand, the Gnomonic projection is best used for open passage sailing. The latitude lines are seen as curved and the longitude lines are straight. On this type of projection the shortest distance is a straight line.

Question of the Day 

Why do sailors refer to the sides of their boats as port side and starboard side?

Answer from Previous Day 

Hydrography is the science that deals with the measurement and description of the physical features of bodies of water and their littoral land areas. Its primary use is for nautical charting, but it is also important for port and harbor maintenance, coastal engineering, coastal zone management, and offshore resource development.

Kimberly Pratt, July 8, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 8, 2005

pratt_interview4Crew Interviews: the Commanding Officer

Today, I met with LCDR Daniel Morris on the McARTHUR II.  Morris is one of 270 uniformed officers of the NOAA Corps.  His assignment is varied with 2 years of duty on a ship and 3 years at shore. Morris’ background is in the Navy, where he attended the Naval Academy, and was promoted from Ensign to Lt. Jr. Grade, to Lt. Upon leaving the Navy, after some time he joined the NOAA Corps.  In NOAA he again started as an Ensign, Lt. Jr. Grade, Lt. Commander and now is a Lt. Commander.  In August, Dan will be completing this tour of ship duty and will then be posted at NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. While on board the McARTHUR II, Morris is responsible for all the operations on the ship, and the safety of personnel on board.  One of his challenges as Commanding Officer is to make the ship a better place to work and live.  Morris is on-call at all times aboard the McARTHUR II.  He is consulted with navigation questions and vessel traffic situations. During his down time he likes to ride his stationary bike and read. He keeps in contact with his wife who he met while he was a sailing instructor in the Navy and two daughters who live in Gloucester, Massachusetts via e-mail.  In the past, Dan has sailed the original McARTHUR, and the FERREL.  A port of call that he really enjoyed was in Panama, where he spent time with a friend whose backyard was in a rainforest. He describes life on board a ship like a very small city, and close attachments are made.  All personnel who have experienced storms and challenging situations work harder together and become closer.  There are 22 people who work together to run the ship, and Morris, admires the crew who work onboard a ship year in and year out. Morris also believes that educating others about sea life is important as he’s done outreach and worked with teachers to give them reports and pictures from sea to share with their students. His advice for anyone wanting a career in maritime is to learn the skills you need for working on board a ship.  He also stresses the importance of learning the Maritime traditions, and getting a mentor to help you to get the most out of a maritime career.

Debbie Stringham, July 7, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debbie Stringham
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 5 – 15, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: July 7, 2005

The Fairweather, Shumagin Islands, AK
The Fairweather, Shumagin Islands, AK

Weather Data 
Location: in transit
Latitude: 55 37.5’ N
Longitude: 156 17.8’ W
Visibility: 10 nm.
True Wind Speed: 14 kts.
True Wind Direction: 295
Sea Wave Height: 1 ft.
Swell Wave Height: 2-4 ft.
Swell Wave Direction: 270
Sea Water Temperature: 13.1 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1007.6
Sky Description: Clear
Dry Bulb Temperature: 14.9 C
Wet Bulb Temperature: 13.0 C

Science and Technology Log 

I woke up at 0300 to stand watch on the bridge with the XOs– Shifts are usually four hours on and eight hours off. I learned how to use the Combined Wind Plotting Board Calculator to determine true wind speed and direction. I estimated wave and swell heights and direction and collected data on dry and wet bulb temperatures, latitude and longitude, barometric pressure and sky description. Weather readings are collected every hour on the bridge while en route.

In order to find true wind, one must find the bearing and speed of the ship from a GPS unit and correlate that on the plotting board. Then, apparent wind speed and bearing are taken from an anemometer and plotted on the board. When the board is spun and the two points are aligned vertically, one can correlate those points to find the true bearing and the difference between those two points give true wind speed in knots.

While on the bridge, I also learned the reference system that crew members use to indicate another ship, landmark, or object in the ocean. For example, if a light is spotted at 45 degrees from the bow of the ship, then one would say, “There is a light, broad on Starboard Bow.” If the light were on the portside at 270 degrees, then one would report, “There is a light, broad on Port Beam.” The 360 degrees view is actually broken into bearing points. A point equals 11 degrees and there are 32 points in all. During my watch, I was able to spot whales at both of the locations mentioned above.

Question of the Day 

What is hydrography and why is it important?

Answer from Previous Day 

1 fathom equals six feet.

Kimberly Pratt, July 7, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 7, 2005

White-sided dolphins
White-sided dolphins

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude:  44, 20, 7 N
Longitude: -126, 27, 7 W
Visibility:  10
Wind direction: 220
Wind Speed: 220
Sea Wave Height:  12
Swell Wave Height:  3-5
Sea Level pressure: 16.1
Cloud Cover: 7/8, AC, AS, CU
Temperature:  17.1

Scientific Log

Yesterday, we had the good fortune to see a school of Pacific White Sided dolphin, which swam at our bow for about 1/2 hr. A biopsy was taken of two of the animals, by Scientists, Tim O’Toole and Juan Carlos who used a crossbow with a special “grabber” attached to the arrow. A piece of skin and a piece of blubber will be analyzed.  Also swimming with the school were 2-3 baby dolphins.  Also spotted was a Humpback whale. A very busy day…

Today, we’ve spotted 2-3 Fin whales, along with a pod of Killer Whales.  The small boat was launched and tissue samples were taken from one of the Fin whales.  The Fin whale seemed rather curious as it approached the small boat at a close range.  The Killer Whales, however, were more cunning and a tissue sample could not be taken because their swimming pattern was very erratic.

As far as birds go, we spotted several Puffins, with beautiful markings on their heads; Black footed Albatrosses, Sooty Shearwaters, Leach’s Storm Petrels and lots of Seagulls.  Peter Pyle and Sophie Webb have trained me in the data entry part of their observations, so I am now helping them on the bridge when possible.  Tonight, I’ll be learning more about the CDT cast and also the Bongo Tow.

Personal Log

Yesterday was our first day out to sea, and my first experience with ocean swells.  I will admit I did develop sea sickness – or getting my sea legs as it’s called.  Chief Scientist Karen Forney, joked that may my sea legs grow quickly.  Ha! I’m now recovered, with no worse for wear. I guess it’s a rite of passage that all sea goers must experience.  So now I’m seasoned.  I’m very grateful to Chief Scientist Forney who in the middle of my sickness, came to my room and let me know about the dolphins outside.  She knew I wouldn’t want to miss it and she was right!  Another wonderful sight is the different tones of blue that can be seen when looking out over the water.  The weather has been nice, and we are now in the waters off of central Oregon.  We hope to be in central California by this weekend, depending on how things go.  The crew and scientists are extremely supportive and patient with all of my questions, and I’m learning a lot. I’ll post another log in a day or two.

Debbie Stringham, July 6, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debbie Stringham
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 5 – 15, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: July 6, 2005

stringham_logsWeather Data 

Location: in transit
Latitude: 59 02.8’ N
Longitude: 152 33.6’ W
Visibility: 10 nm.
True Wind Speed: 10 kts.
True Wind Direction: 235
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 ft.
Swell Wave Height: 2-3 ft.
Sea Water Temperature: 12.7 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1000.5
Sky Description: Partly Cloudy
Dry Bulb Temperature: 15.9 C
Wet Bulb Temperature: 13.9 C

Science and Technology Log 

Departed Homer at 1333, assisted with the mooring ropes, and explored facilities to orient myself with the ship’s layout. The Field Operations Officer (FOO), former Executive Officer (XO), and the XO’s replacement showed me safety drill procedures for fire, abandon ship, and man over board. The crew is required to practice these drills weekly and be prepared for any such event that might occur. Everyone on board has a specific place they need to be when they hear a specific alarm.

One long wailing blast, 10 seconds or more, means fire, more than six blasts means abandon ship, and three blasts means man over board. I was also given safety tips of when to wear a hard hat, gloves, and positive buoyancy clothing. I watched the NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER Vessel Familiarization CD on a crew computer, set up and checked my NOAA email  account, and looked through maritime books in the lounge in order to familiarize myself with basic seamanship terms.

I spoke with three survey technicians about their education and where they were from and was surprised to find that two of them had graduated in Geography and one of them in Biology. Most crew aboard this ship come from coastal areas such as California, Washington, or Florida where the ocean has been a strong influence in their lives. One survey tech said that the coolest thing he’s seen while surveying was when he had to stop operations because there were too many whales.

Question of the Day 

How deep is 1 fathom?

Kimberly Pratt, July 6, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

pratt_interview3Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 6, 2005

Crew Interviews: “Making a Difference, One Survey at a Time”

Conservation, helping our oceans and educating others is Karin Forney’s goal. As a young girl, she was mystified by the ocean, but moved overseas to Germany.  Missing the ocean, she knew she had to return and when she did she became one of the leading experts in the field of whales and porpoises on the West Coast. Karin is one of a few scientists in the Coastal Marine Mammal Program which focuses on determining the numbers of marine life, human impact and what influences their population.  During the CSCAPE (Collaborative Survey Cetacean Abundance Pelagic Ecosystem) project, she is serving as Chief Scientist.  Her position while on the ship for 3 legs is that of Cruise Leader who is responsible for all aspects of the research program while under way. In port, at her home base in Santa Cruz, California, her job responsibilities are to assess marine mammal populations in the EEZ, (exclusive economic zone) of CA/OR/WA and  Hawaii. To do this she conducts surveys to estimate abundance and trends, studies stock structures and sub-populations.  She also estimates the human caused mortality of marine mammals by the fishing industry and ship strikes.  This she does by applying a formula to evaluate the level of human take that will still sustain a population.  If the level is too high she then works with the fisheries to bring down the mortality rates caused by humans.

Karin’s broad background in marine science has given her the skills and knowledge that she needs to make a difference.  Karin received her BA in Ecology Behavior and Evolution, her MA in Biology both from UC San Diego, and her PhD. in Oceanography, studying at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  Her dissertation focused on the variability of marine ecosystems and how it affects abundance, using environmental data to predict when and where marine mammals will be found.

Married to another Marine Biologist, Karin spends extensive amounts of time working in the field. She loves seeing the animals, yet sometimes it’s difficult when the weather is bad and observations can’t be made.  Karin has had many accomplishments, but she’s been personally moved by the fact that 18 years ago, she didn’t know anything about marine mammals, and now she’s a leading expert in her field. She’s grateful for the opportunities she’s had to learn about cetaceans and most importantly always tries to teach others about conservation efforts to help our marine environment. She advises to never underestimate the potential to do damage to our oceans, every meal, fish, and trash has implications for species.

For a person interested in becoming a Marine Scientist, she recommends that you develop a broad knowledge base, learn physics, chemistry and math.  You may like dolphins and whales, but you need to develop good skills.  Karin’s computer programming skills got her this job, even though she was a Marine Biologist.  She also recommends that you follow your heart, and do a good job at whatever you do.  Also be flexible and seize opportunities when they become available to you.

Answers to students questions: Elijah – 3rd grade:  How deep is the ocean? Karin: The deepest parts are over 30,000 feet, (10,000 meters), but most of the oceans are about 12,000 feet (400 meters) deep.  That’s about 2.5 miles deep.

Jennie 5th grade: Where do you find dolphins, whales, sea otters and seals? Karin: All in the ocean. (Ha) Some prefer closer to shore like the otters and Bottlenose Dolphins, some are far from shore like Sperm Whales.  Essentially, you can find marine mammals everywhere.

Amber – 5th grade:  What do jellyfish eat? Karin: Jellyfish are fierce predators.  They capture zooplankton, little fish and larval crabs. Because Jellyfish are clear, you can look into their stomachs and see what they’ve been eating,

Sana – 5th grade: Why are most small fish skinny and thin? Karin: Actually it’s hydrodynamic, they are like little torpedoes.  If they swim a lot they are long and thin, whereas; bottom dwellers are rounder. Also the little fish need to swim fast to get away.

Sana – 5th grade: Do sharks eat anything else but fishes? Karin: Sharks also eat marine mammals, including; seals, sea lions, squid, Blue sharks eat krill too.

Haleermah – 5th grade:  How much do dolphins weigh? Karin: The littlest ones weigh about as much as a fifth grader, (90 lbs).  The biggest ones- a male Killer Whale, can weigh over 8 tons.

Haleermah – 5th grade:  Do whales ever bite? Karin: Baleen whales have no teeth, they swallow things whole, toothed whales – the dolphins will bite, sort of like a “bad dog”.  Killer Whales generally don’t bite people, but they will bite each other.

Vince Rosato – 4th/5th grade Teacher – How many varieties of dolphins are there?  What is the percent of Bottlenose Dolphins?  What are the differences between porpoises and dolphins?

Karin: There are approximately 40 different dolphin species.  The Bottlenose is the most abundant near shore, yet they are a small fraction of the total dolphin population.  Less than 10% of all dolphins are Bottlenose. The difference between porpoise and dolphins are:

  1. Their skull shape – the porpoise has a blunt head,
  2. Teeth – tooth shape in a dolphin is conical, the porpoise is spade like.
  3. Porpoises are in smaller groups – less social.
  4. Porpoises are generally found in the higher latitudes except the Finless porpoise.

Debbie Stringham, July 5, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debbie Stringham
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 5 – 15, 2005

Mission: Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: July 5, 2005

Personal Log 

I arrived at Homer Airport at 2015 and called the FAIRWEATHER Officer on  Deck (OOD) to find the location of the ship and if there was a ride available. Unfortunately, I was only able to reach answering machines. It seems all of the ship’s phone lines were down. At 2230, two local girls offered me a ride to the harbor and assisted in finding where the ship was docked. By 0000, I was on board and given a tour, along with the two locals, by the FAIRWEATHER’s Chief Survey Technician. The ship is 231 feet long and 42 feet in breadth and I’m amazed at how large it feels inside. I’ll inhabit a single state room on the starboard side of the ship for the next ten days!

 

Kimberly Pratt, July 5, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Elliot Bay, Seattle
Date: July 5, 2005

Kim Pratt in her survival suit
Kim Pratt in her survival suit

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude: 47.37.2’ N
Longitude: 122.22.3’W
Visibility: 8-10
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 ft
Sea Swell Height: 0
Sea Level Pressure: 1012.2
Cloud Cover: 8/8, AS, AC
Temperature:  20 Celsius

Scientific Log

Chief Scientist Karin Forney called all the scientists together for our first meeting at 0930 in the dry lab.  She gave an overview of the schedule of operations for our cruise and explained the day’s activities which were drills, CDT calibration, and scientist set-up and prep. The CDT or Conductivity, Temperature/Depth devices are used to get readings of salinity, temperature, depth, density and conductivity of the ocean water.  The CDT will be lowered to 500 meters when deployed.  Scientists also set-up their stations and  prepared for their busy days ahead. I worked with Rich Pagan, Sophie Webb, and Peter Pyle to create range finders out of pencils.  The range finders will help them determine whether the birds they observe are at 300, 200 or 100 meter distance.

Seabird illustrations, Sophie Webb
Seabird illustrations, Sophie Webb

Personal Log

Beautiful fireworks, warm weather and a wonderful array of boats showed Seattle in its glory! I spent the evening on board the McARTHUR which had an awesome view of the fireworks. What a send off for our cruise the next day.

I awoke to the smell of breakfast cooking and looked forward to today’s launch. We left Seattle, at 0930, and headed out of Lake Union.  After motoring through two draw bridges – the Fremont Bridge and the Ballard Bridge, we then got a special treat by going through the government locks – or the Hiram M. Chittam locks.  Locks are used to raise or lower water levels to allow passage from one body of water to another.  In this case, we were leaving Lake Union (freshwater) and going to Elliot Bay (salt water).  We waited patiently as the gates closed, and the water lowered us down for passage into Elliot Bay.  Upon leaving Elliot Bay, we dropped anchor to start the CDT calibration.  We then had an abandon ship drill in which I had to put on a very funny orange suit, affectionately know as Gumby suits.  As soon as it was donned, Chief Scientist Forney and Jan Rolleto ran to get their cameras because I looked so comical.  Finally, we had a fire drill and then the scientists set to work.  It was really fun working with Rich, Jim and Sophie. Sophie Webb has published two children’s books, Looking for Seabirds and My Season with Penguins, which are very well done and illustrated.  Recommended reading….. Right now, we’re still anchored in Elliot Bay with a beautiful view of the Seattle skyline, the Space Needle and Mt. Rainer. Tonight we’ll head off to the ocean and all the wonders we will see.

Kimberly Pratt, July 4, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

pratt_interview2Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 4, 2005

Crew Interviews: “A Beautiful Birder”

Walking into the Dry Lab on the MCARTHUR II ship, you are likely to find a quiet, unobtrusive, and humble woman, carefully and delicately sketching her latest find.  You have just found Sophie Webb, Senior Bird Observer on the MCARTHUR II. Sophie has been sailing with NOAA for over 13 years. Her responsibilities are; to census sea birds, and edit and organize data at night. Sophie’s love for birds started at a young age, when living is Cape Cod she attended Audubon Camp, a camp for young Ornithologists or Birders as they are called.   After that she attended Boston University, and received her BA in Biology. During college she volunteered at the New England Aquarium and worked on college projects.  After college she lived in a 12 sq. ft cabin outside of Stinson Beach and also in New York, working at the Museum of Natural History painting bird specimens.  Now, she does field research on ships, sketches at the Museum of Natural  History, paints and is working on her latest children’s book.  Her accomplishments are many, she co-authored and illustrated Field Guides to Birds of Mexico and Central America published by Oxford Press and completed two children’s books, My Season with Sea Birds and Looking for Penguins. She has just recently finished another book titled the Birds of Brazil.

She really loves seeing birds that you normally would not see and an interesting bird she observed is a Honduran Emerald hummingbird seen in Honduras.  This is very special because one had not been identified since the mid 1950’s. She views these birds during her extensive travel to locations such as the Galapagos Islands, Bolivia, Australia,  Aleutian Island chain, and the Antarctica on her various research projects.  Doing field work at sea can be either very busy or very quiet.  To fill in the down time, Sophie, exercises, paints, writes and does e-mail.

Her career has depth and variety, and in order to be a successful birder she advises that you volunteer for field studies whenever possible.  Learn good computer and camera skills, practice field sketching and learn all about birds at every opportunity.

The other day I witnessed Sophie’s love for her craft.  We were watching Pacific White-Sided Dolphins when all of a sudden a large flock of birds was seen.  Her blue eyes sparkled with delight, when resident and long distance birds were identified. Some birds had traveled to the area from New Zealand, the Artic, Hawaii and Chile. These long distance birds come to this area because it is so productive.

Sophie is an inspiration to all women, especially girls or women wishing to enter scientific fields. She demonstrates that being a scientist is fun and exciting, yet she advises, that you have to stand your ground and sometimes be assertive yet non-confrontational. Sophie demonstrates that she has all these talents as evidenced by her successful and beautiful career.

Kimberly Pratt, July 3, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

pratt_interview1Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 3, 2005

Crew Interviews: “Capt. Cotton of the Flying Bridge”

Entering the Flying Bridge on the MCARTHUR II is to enter into Jim Cotton’s personal playground.  Laughter fills his face and excitement abounds as he listens to Johnny Cash and looks through the “Big Eyes” telescopes (25 power telescopes that enable the viewer to see over 7 miles) to see what he loves most of all – marine mammals.  Jim’s reputation preceded him on this cruise as one of the finest marine mammal observers to be found. Jim is a Senior Mammal Observer with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association).  He’s been working for NOAA since 1978 and his primary responsibilities are; Field Biologist, Observer, Flying Bridge quality control, data editing, and photo biopsy. Jim’s background is a BA in Zoology, BA in Biology and a minor in Botany, all received at Humboldt University.  One of his most rewarding projects was collecting flying fish in the East Tropical Pacific and helping Bob Pittman collect 35,000 samples to work on a new taxonomy (classification system) for flying fish.   Jim has always wanted to be a biologist, and his dedication to his field is evident.  However, it’s not easy being a field biologist and the hardest part is the time spent away from his daughter who is studying business and also away from his sweetheart of 15 years. Yet, he believes the sacrifice is worth it.  One of the most motivating factors in his career is being able to look at animals that few people will ever see.  He encourages all people to follow their dreams and especially students to learn to write well, learn computer science, and have a background in statistics.  Finally, in a laugh and big smile Jim simply says, “I have the best job in the world”.  That says enough…

Questions answered by Jim Cotton.

Sarbjit, 5th grade: How will you peel the skin from the whales and dolphins (for biopsy)?

Jim:  Their skin is very thin like a cuticle on you finger.  It can be cut with a scalpel.  When we do a biopsy the animals don’t do avoidance behavior (running away) so it doesn’t look like it bothers them.  Actually, it spooks them more if you don’t hit them and it splashes into the water.

Michelle – 5th grade: How do dolphins communicate with other dolphins?

Jim:  They use echolocation, sending off a sonar wave and having it hit an object and bounce off back to them.  They also use their vision, they look around and lastly many are brightly colored allowing them to see each other more easily’

Michelle – Do young dolphins hunt their own food?

Jim:  Actually it is a learned behavior the parents teach their young.  There were school of Spotted dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico that he observed being taught how to hunt.  Killer whales had surrounded prey, kept them corralled as the mother dolphins taught their babies how to hunt the prey inside of the corral. In the end the big male Killer whale ate the prey, but it gave the dolphin’s good practice at hunting.

Michelle: What do dolphins eat?

Jim:  They eat fish, squid. The Killer Whales eat marine mammals.

Kimberly Pratt, July 2, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 2, 2005

Teacher at Sea, Kim Pratt
Teacher at Sea, Kim Pratt

Weather Data from Bridge

None, in port.

Personal log

Today has been a very busy and productive day. After getting up at 5:30 AM, I boarded Alaska Airlines and headed to Seattle. Upon landing in Seattle, I was greeted by a cloudy, humid day and luckily no rain.  After taking a shuttle to the NOAA Headquarters I caught my first glimpse of the MCARTHUR II – I was not disappointed! The ship was larger than I expected with many decks.  I met with the 3rd Mate – Donn Pratt! (No, we are not related!)  He gave me the grand tour, showed me my room and helped me learn the terms starboard and port. Starboard means the right of the ship when looking towards the front and port is the left side of the ship when looking towards the front. Also starboard side is odd, with green coloring and port is even with red coloring. My first lesson of the trip!  After unpacking I then met with the Chief Scientist, Karin Forney, who again toured me around and showed me the various locations of where we’ll be doing observations.

In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve already been impressed with the friendliness of all on board, the organization of the ship and the equipment they have for research.  I hope to learn more about the ship in the upcoming weeks, and report back some amazing whale and dolphin sightings as well as the progress of the research we’re doing.  I look forward to an exciting, educational and fun trip!