NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006
Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 9, 2006
Weather Data from Bridge
Latitude: 22, 33.4n
Longitude: 162, 06.2W
Wind direction: 070
Wind speed: 21 kts.
Sea wave heights: 2-4
Swell heights: 4-6
Seawater temperature: 24.8
Sea level pressure: 1020.4
Cloud cover: 4/8 Cumulus, Altocumulus
Science and Technology Log
Yesterday was primarily orientation and familiarizing myself with the ship, staff, and scientists. It was so interesting to talk to the scientists and discover that the main motivation for their chosen profession was the same as that of artists: Passion! Most of them had an early interest in animals or plants and were now fulfilling a life-long dream. In spite of all of the sacrifices (money, family, material possessions) they love what they do and consider themselves lucky to be doing it.
Part of the day was spent on a cetacean watch, or marine mammal search, from the flying bridge. We used two Fujinan, 25×150, 4-mile range, light gathering, “Big-Eye” binoculars to methodically scan 180 degrees in front of the ship. Ironically, a mother and baby calf Humpback whale surfaced almost directly in front of the ship. That was the only sighting, mostly due to choppy wave conditions. I have to tell you that methodically scanning the ocean all day on a boat that is pitching and rolling can be very tedious, but very ZEN.
I also witnessed an XBT (Expendable Bathymetry Thermalgraph), a foot-long torpedo attached directly to the ship’s computer by a thin, hardly visible copper wire, dropped 460 meters. It sends back the temperature data to the ship’s computer and then is released, thus the name, “expendable.” I asked the scientist conducting the test if there had been any significant temperature changes during the past 10 years but that information was not available to her.
Today was a repeat of yesterday’s data gathering except for a CDT (conductivity, depth, temperature and oxygen) cast. The “fish” CTD, or data sampling device, is hoisted with a crane over the side of the ship and submerged to a depth of 500 meters. I found that the most interesting information taken was the chlorophyll count. There was a dramatic increase spike at 100-200 meters, and then a dramatic drop to about zero. Chlorophyll is the beginning of the food chain.
A large part of the day on a research vessel like this deals with the practical everyday functioning of the voyage. Today we had a fire drill, which was very straightforward and required that we all meet on the escape boat deck. We also had an abandon ship exercise, and we all gathered on the same deck next to our prospective escape boats with our life vests and immersion suits. We tried on our one-piece, head-to-toe, neoprene suits and got a good laugh because we looked like bright orange GUMBYS. Actually, we felt a sense of relief mixed with anxiety that if we had to use them that we would be prepared.