NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard US Coast Guard Ship Healy
April 20 – May 15, 2007
Mission: Bering Sea Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Alaska
Date: April 24, 2007
Before I started this adventure onboard the Healy, we were told about the opportunity to run a deep-sea pressure experiment with our students. All that was needed was a Styrofoam object decorated with Sharpie pens. I got some Styrofoam balls and bowls, a package of Sharpies and the students went to work decorating the objects.
They were a bit difficult to pack. The goal was to get them here in one piece. The TSA at most airports did all they could to protect my fragile cargo (NOT!) When I got on the ship, I put them on my desk and waited for the opportunity.
It just so happened that on Saturday night, April 21, we were going to have a deep, deep, station collection. The CTD (rosette water sampling machinery) was to be dropped down to 2500 METERS. So we gathered our travel mesh bags together, stuck the Styrofoam in the bags, and went in search of the CTD operator, Scott Hiller, from Scripts Oceanography Institute. He said no problemo! He’d make sure the Styrofoam balls, bowls and cups got down there and back.
So in the interest of science, I stayed up late, determined to see the experiment through from start to finish. The hours ticked away. 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock. The rosette sunk deeper and deeper. 11 o’clock, 12 o’clock, 1 o’clock, 1:30 it hit the bottom.
It had to sit on the bottom for 45 minutes, and then get hauled back up to the surface. 2:00, 3:00. Wow, I was up, witnessing a science experiment at 6 hours past my regular bedtime. Now this is science!
When the rosette hit the surface, attached were the Styrofoam forms, but what did they look like? Your assignment is to write a hypothesis as to what you think happened to the balls and bowls that were lowered into the deep deep Bering Sea.