NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
June 12 – July 12, 2007
Mission: Lobster Survey
Geographical Area: Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Date: July 10, 2007
At 11:19 a.m. today, Jonathan, the Lead Fishermen, yelled out “last trap” and hauled the last trap aboard the ship for this lobster cruise. I would be lying if I said I did not feel relieved, because I was. The general consensus among the other scientists is that it is time to get back to our “other” lives. Ones that are not regulated by wind speed, waves, medical emergencies, and the cutting of mackerel.
Today did not see the monster haul of lobster that we would have liked to have seen. We did get a very large Ridgeback lobster and a large sea star, but not many of the spiny and slipper lobsters that I have learned to identify, determine the sex of, and appreciate. I understand now why in the past, cruises would start at Necker then go to Maro Reef. Necker is training for Maro Reef. We did have some lobster, and that is all that matters.
Before this trip I had never been in the Pacific Ocean. When I was in Chile, I saw the Pacific, but not quite like this. In the course of the month as Teacher at Sea I have learned a lot about the Pacific. I learned that it could be a lonely place. Especially on the nights when I would stand on the observation deck and look out and see water and stars, nothing else. I learned that it has a lot of secrets to keep and that we as scientists will never know all of them, but we must pursue them. I learned how to tie knots, clean squid, handle sharks, eat fish heads, and bottom fish. I learned that dental floss is a great substitute for thread when a button breaks and that eating fish for breakfast is not such a strange thing to do. I learned to relax and appreciate a sunset. I learned that it is important to make decisions based on good science and that even though people have good intentions, what seems right at the time, may not be in the future. Finally, I know I will pass onto my students my adventure and hopefully they will be able to get in them, some of the enthusiasm and sense of wonder that I did.