NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005
Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 21, 2005
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.
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.
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.