Stephen Anderson, June 30, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Stephen Anderson
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
June 28 – July 12, 2007

Mission: Hake Survey
Geographic Region: California
Date: June 30, 2009

We’re on station south of Monterey Bay and starting our pattern of parallel east and west course up the coast of California.  Imagine a block capital “S” , and you get the idea.  Using different frequencies on the sonar, Dr. Chu and his colleagues from NOAA/NMFS/NWFSC can detect various types of marine organisms. Here is a picture of what the screen looks like.

Once they detect what we think are hake, we make ready the net and drop it
Once they detect what we think are hake, we make ready the net and drop it 

Because we didn’t find any hake, we looked at the small fish to see if they had a swim bladder. The swim bladder on a fish is like a balloon that inflates and deflates depending on the depth of the fish.  However, when the sound bounces off these swim bladders it may make the fish appear bigger than it actual size. The dissection of these small fish was no fun.

However, today we didn’t find hake.  Instead, we found a Humboldt squid, several small fish, and some shrimp.
However, today we didn’t find hake. Instead, we found a Humboldt squid, several small fish, and some shrimp.

It’s amazing the number of scientific instruments and studies that are being carried out on this ship.  In the following picture a marine biologist is taking a salt water sample.  He will then filter it to identify the presence of toxic plants (algae) and animals (plankton).  These microorganisms not only affect the food chain, but can also be a threat to humans.

Big squid!
Big squid!
Biologist Anthony Odell conducts a test for toxic plankton
Biologist Anthony Odell conducts a test for toxic plankton

Another instrument they use to monitor the ocean is an XBT.  This lead weight is attached by a very thin copper wire. In the following picture a scientist is attaching this to a cable that goes to a computer.  This is then “launched” or dropped overboard reading temperatures and sending them to the computer as it sinks to the bottom (greater than 760 meters or 2200 feet).

Biologist Chris Grandin prepares to launch an XBT
Biologist Chris Grandin prepares to launch an XBT

Personal Log 

  • The food has been great.  There is only an hour for each meal, and you have to eat fast.  But there is always a great menu.  I’ll have to try to get to the gym or else I’m going to gain weight.
  • Everyone has been very cooperative.  Being on a ship puts you in tight quarters with everyone.  This cooperation and team spirit helps to make everything work very smoothly.
  • There is an emphasis on safety.  You can tell that everyone is highly trained for their job and role. Yesterday we had our fire and abandon ship drills. On the deck we wear life jackets and hard hats.  Everyone watches out for everyone else.  The level of expertise and professionalism is impressive.

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