Maggie Prevenas, Week 4 in Review, May 6, 2007


NOAA Teacher at Sea
Maggie Prevenas
Onboard US Coast Guard Ship Healy
April 20 – May 15, 2007

Mission: Bering Sea Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Alaska
Date: May 6, 2007

Science Log: Week in Review

Monday, April 30: The ice is here so ice observations take place every two hours. I had a feeling today was going to be a wildlife bonanza and it was. We saw lots of ribbon and spotted seals and birds. As always the time up in the bridge turned into hours.

I learned how to filter seawater and replace filter papers in Dr. Ray Sambrottos Lab. He is measuring the productivity of the Bering Sea.

I learned how to filter seawater and replace filter papers in Dr. Ray Sambrotto’s Lab. He is measuring the productivity of the Bering Sea.

After lunch I concentrated on getting my presentation to Dr. Ray to edit for the webinar on Thursday. Robyn and I worked out the times for the last webinar and got some images together for the Thursday show. David Hyrenbach as always came through with a good baseline Powerpoint for others to work off.

The ship is tracing a path we have gone before. It is tracing the path through the most productive areas we’ve been to. Much of that area is not under ice. Needless to say, I noticed that there was very little ice algae growth on the ice. The researches say the productivity is in the water, not on the ice. I am sure there will be some new conclusions brought forward.

Tuesday, May 1: Learn to Burn. First it was ‘learn to return,’ our survival safety class. Now it is ‘learn to burn?’

Well, the Healy works hard to be ‘green.’ There are only certain amount of resources available for a big 422 foot ship going out to sea for a whole month. Conservation of resources is a necessity.

We have been told how to conserve water when we take showers and wash and brush our teeth. We sort our trash into burnable, recyclable, and food compost. We only wash full loads of laundry.

The majority of the trash we are able to burn. However, not EVERYONE can burn. One has to be trained to burn. The two scientists that burned on the first leg of this trip, left on Saturday. The large pile of burnables present in the science conference room spurred Robyn and I to volunteer for a job that nobody wanted to do.

Steven Elliot, our coast guard science liason, took time out to teach us the specifics of burning. Lucky for us, two Coasties came in while we were being trained and put a bag of trash in the incinerator that was WAY too big. One of the ship engineers came down to the incinerator room and scolded them. We watched with eyes large, and vowed never to make the engineers angry at our burning ways.

Robyn and I were very happy to finish burning the bags of trash.

Robyn and I were very happy to finish burning the bags of trash.

It took the bulk of the afternoon to burn the many bags of burnable trash the science conference room had to offer. We collected bags from the science lab too. When we left the incinerator room it was 90 some degrees. Robyn named us the ‘Fire and Ice’ team. We observe the ice and we burn the trash.

Wednesday, May 2: The cups that the students from St. Paul decorated have been sent down to the deep and back up. They will be so excited to see the results. I will be sending them from Dutch when I get there next Monday.

St. Paul students will be happy to get their teeny weeny cups back.

St. Paul students will be happy to get their teeny weeny cups back.

The scientists have been named as chefs for the Morale Night Dinner on Saturday. It was decided we would cook with a Mexican theme, since it was the fifth of May. I wanted to make a piñata. After all who doesn’t like a piñata? We used paper mache and bright green gloves to try and make a hard ball. No go. It collapsed. So I talked with some guys who have made piñatas in the past and tried to follow their guidelines.

Our first attempt at making a pinyata out of paper mache failed.

Our first attempt at making a piñata failed.

The trick was NOT to use paper mache, but duct tape and cardboard to fashion a hollow container. I chose to make a diatom using cardboard and discarded egg dividers. At 7 pm, Janet Scannell, our dinner coordinator, told me the piñata was out. I was disappointed. After all that work, no piñata. I cleaned up my mess and focused on Thursdays IPY webinar.

The ice is back. As a loose loose pack. Still lots of open water amid the flows. Skimming the waves between the flows were Laysan and Short-tailed Albatross, my Hawaiian friends!

Thursday, May 3: An IPY webinar at an early hour on ship. 9:00! We had two very important guests so we wanted to do our best.  Somehow, between all the planning e-mail, a time reminder went out with the incorrect time.  Now a half hour of time is a precious thing to busy people. We told our guests to hang tight, we would let them know when time had come. Thirty minutes of time has never passed more slowly.

But pass it did, and a very informative hour followed. Between Dr. Ray Sambrotto, the cruise Principal Investigator, and Captain Tedric Lindstrom, the Healy captain, the internet audience was wowed.

Immediately after the webinar, the Arcus folk had arranged for me to talk directly to my students. This was a huge special treat for me. I teach very active seventh graders, and their attention span and the schools technical equipment did not lend itself to easy listening. For a whole half hour I was connected to my Green Honus (fourth period students) who asked me any and all kinds of questions. Oh my, how I missed my students.The rest of the day was spent catching up with journal writing, editing pictures, and ice observing.

Friday, May 4: Today, we decided to try and work with our mp3 voice recorders. Robyn had recorded Carleton Ray discuss walrus ecology and I wanted to work with a Frank DeLima presentation from my school. Ice observations, writing, answering questions from the webpages, cleaning our rooms, the day was done, and we weren’t any closer to our mastering the mp3 podcast platform.

To the Coast Guard, it’s all about safety.

To the Coast Guard, it’s all about safety.

There were many last-minute dinner problems that came and went. And the ice was always present and changing, we made sure of that.

Saturday, May 5:

Between cooking a Mexican banquet for 130, I ran up to the bridge to take ice observations.

Between cooking a Mexican banquet for 130, I ran up to the bridge to take ice observations.

Started like any ordinary day, but soon morphed into a remarkable one. Check out my journal entry for May 5 to fill in the blanks between. OH, by the way, we also took in a tour of the ships engine, and cooked a Mexican banquet for 130. It was fun and delicious. And so ended our next to the last week on the icebreaker Healy.