NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard Research Vessel Knorr
June 10 – July 1, 2005
Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographical Area: Bering Sea, Alaska
Date: June 24, 2009
It has been a very strange couple of days. One of the routines that you have to get used to on a research vessel is that there are no routines. When I first got on the ship I went to bed at regular times, eat my meals at the same time, for a couple of days at least. Now that I have a project that I am working on I have to be available to collect samples whenever and wherever they are required. A lot of what I have to do is to balance collecting samples in route between stations verses collecting data while on station. This means getting two hours of sleep, getting up and collecting water from the CTD and run them before we leave station. I am working with what’s called a Advanced Laser Fluorometer (ALF). It is a tool that helps determine what species of phytoplankton are present, and it does it very quickly. I can look at individual water samples that contain phytoplankton while we are not cruising to another station.
When we are in route, the ALF goes into automatic mode and looks at what plankton is present in the water as we transit from one station to another. So my day (and night) gets to be a balancing act between sleeping and being available to collect data. But that really is no different then all of the people on the ship. We have a little more then four weeks to collect as much data as possible. The research plan is carefully set up to hit as many “hotspots” as possible so that all groups get the data that they need. What else has been strange is the rapid change in the weather. It has been cloudy and foggy the last couple of days or so. Yesterday things really changed. As we crossed the shelf break again the weather turned clear and cold. The color of the ocean was a beeper blue also. It was really bright out there as you can see from the pictures. Previously the water ws a steel greyish color. Now it has a much more rich blue hue to it.
One of the things I was able to see and photograph was an actual Bering Sea sunset, which was actually at about 12:30 this morning. It was good to see the moon again also. Fairly bright also. But the weather has changed even again. We are supposed to drop a couple of people off at St. Paul Island on Sunday so they can catch a plane back to their homes and at the same time we were to pick up their replacements. The problem is the fact that we have fog again and the pilots wont take off from Anchorage. This could really mess things up for the ships plan if they have to wait for too long a time for those coming aboard. This is especially true if their plane hasn’t gotten out of Anchorage because of the weather. Everybody is just waiting and keeping their fingers crossed.