NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy McClintock and Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006
Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 10, 2006
Weather Data from Bridge
Wind direction: SSW
Average wind speed: 15 knots
Wave height: 4-6’ with higher swells
Air temperature: 73oF
Sea temperature: 79 oF
Cloud cover: 20%
Barometric pressure: 1010 mb
Science and Technology Log
The FREEDOM STAR traveled approximately 121.4 miles north toward the coast of North Carolina during the night of June 9. Operations for the morning were delayed due to the reporting of strong winds and currents in opposite directions and a tropical storm forming in the Yucatan/Honduras area and moving toward the western coast of Florida. Predictions are that the storm will cross the peninsula and track along the northeastern coast in our direction. If this occurs, Captain Exell wants to be back at Port Canaveral on Monday, which means shortening our cruise. Andy, NOAA Principal Investigator, has decided to scrap the North Carolina site, a man-made reef called the Snowy Wreck. The FREEDOM STAR traveled 50 miles from North Carolina to the South Carolina Site A. Today’s operations began at 1100 and Options 1 and 3 were successfully completed along with 2 camera arrays, 2 fish taps, 1 CTD, and 3 ROV deployments. However, Option 2 was scrapped due to lack of time. The ROV continues to record excellent images of the ocean floor and the species that inhabit it. Today’s dives yielded the greatest diversity of species and a larger number within a species. ROV dive #1 revealed several scamp (a type of grouper), soap fish, puffer fish, tattler fish, a field of sea urchin, and several lion fish. The lionfish is native to the colder waters of the Western Pacific and is thought to have been intentionally released in the Florida area.
I awoke this morning feeling great and looking forward to another busy day. Hearing the news of the tropical depression has put a somber overtone on the morning. Andy, the Principal Investigator, is rethinking our cruise plan and working out the best possible alternatives. There is talk about shortening the cruise and returning to Port Canaveral two days earlier. The weather outside is gorgeous, warm, very sunny, and it is hard to believe that such a big weather change is a possibility. Our workday began late because we scrapped the North Carolina Site and moved 50 miles south to South Carolina. It is nice to sit in the sun, interview the scientists and crew while waiting for our arrival. Speaking of the crew, they are great guys who love to fish and have fun by kidding around. However, they work very hard and are always there when needed and know exactly what to do. We are all settling into a routine and the deployment and retrieval of equipment is going very smooth. I get to help with almost everything and feel like I am playing a very important role in the name of science. Seeing a moray eel on the ocean floor is just awesome. It is amazing to watch these creatures moving in their habitat and not just as a picture in a book.
Question of the Day
Answer to yesterday’s question: There are many answers to this controversial question. If the MPAs designated on this cruise were established in the future, over fishing of five species of grouper and 2 species of tilefish might be prevented. Hopefully, this would protect them from endangerment or, possibly, extinction. Whenever one part of the “Web of Life” is affected, the entire “Web of Life” is affected. The designation of MPAs is a very controversial topic. Today’s question: How does the introduction of a non-native species of fish affect the biodiversity of the ocean ecosystem?
Interview with the ROV TEAM
NURC (National Undersea Research Center), ROV Pilot Craig spent most of his early years in Missouri and became a certified scuba diver at the age of 16. While in the Army, he learned about hydraulics and was assigned (via the Army) to a Navy ship with a ROV (remotely operated vehicle) on it. This piqued his interest in ROVs and he went to work in California for a ROV manufacturer. After forming his own company repairing and operating ROVs, Craig began working for the National Undersea North Atlantic and Great lakes Center. The Hela ROV (formerly Phantom ROV) used for this cruise was originally built in 2002 by Deep Ocean Engineering. In 2005 Craig helped to redesign it to carry HD-TV (high-definition) and it was renamed Hela. “The best thing about my job is that I get to see things first and go places no one has ever been – it’s cool! We are professional explorers.”
NURC, ROV Navigator Kevin grew up in the New England area and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in Environmental Design. He received a Master’s Degree in Geography from the University of Connecticut where he became proficient in GIS. He worked at a Consulting Firm in GIS that contracted with NURC (National Undersea Research Center) to build and maintain a GIS system. He is now an IT Group Leader at NURC and designs databases, websites, and programs using a long-range wireless network. In other words, he wears many hats. “The best thing about my job is that I never do the same thing twice.”
NURC, ROV Fresteh is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Nevada – Reno and is a Hollings Scholar, a scholarship program sponsored by NOAA. She has always been interested in robotics and is pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering. This summer she is completing a 10-week internship with NURC. This is her first time being on a ship like the FREEDOM STAR. “This cruise has been very educational and I am learning lots of new things.”
ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle)
The original Phantom ROV cost $80,000. The redesigned Hela ROV is now valued at $250,000. It has 3 cameras (capable of 4), video fiber optic, scanning sonar, acoustic tracking system, and 4 ••• horsepower horizontal thrusters. It is rated to 1,000 feet depth with 1,500 feet of fiber optic cable. There are two daylight quality lights on the front. The pictures and videos taken by the ROV are archived and then given to the scientists for three years.