Kathy Schroeder, May 6, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kathy Schroeder
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
May 5 – May 18, 2010

Mission: Fisheries Surveys
Geographical Area: Eastern Bering Sea
Date: May 6, 2010

Out at Sea!

We left Dutch Harbor at 9pm on May 5th. I went to the bridge (where the Captain pilots the ship), which is 4 decks higher than where I sleep, and watched us depart. On our way out through the pass we passed a volcano. A scientist, Brian, works on the bridge watching birds. He has great binoculars and let me borrow them. I got to see my first Puffin! The sunset at 1030pm was gorgeous! Woke up 7 hours later to get to work. My shift will change, but for now it will be 7a-7p or 9a-9m. Began the day with a fire drill! Got to put on my survival suit! Now it was time to get back to work. I put on my orange suit (called a float coat) and went on the starboard side of the ship to help with releasing the tows. The first is the Neuston tow. It looks like a rectangular metal box with a net attached and a cylinder tube at the end. It collects plankton from the surface of the ocean. The tow stays at a 45 degree angle for 10 minutes and then is pulled onboard. We take the collection and put it in a quart size glass jar. On average, it is not very full. We then add sea water and formalin to preserve the specimens. Then we release the Bongo nets. They look just like two pairs of bongo drums, one large and one small.There are four circles (two different sizes) attached to nets and then connected to the collection containers (cups at the bottom of the net). They go down 300 meters or 10 feet off the bottom, and are then pulled back up. This takes over 30 minutes. (During this time a Laysan Albatross came along side the ship, and just wanted to hang out with us!) Once the nets are pulled in, three containers are preserved. We take the last container and sift through it using tweezers to pull out any larval fish (mostly pollock) and put them in a glass petri dish on ice. They are then taken to the microscopes and looked at closely for classification. Some are flash frozen on slides, others are individually preserved in alcohol. My best find last night was a squid the size of a tic-tac! After 14 hours of work it was time for me to go to bed. It was great waking up to so many messages and emails. Keep them coming. And for the questions-NO! I have not been sick 🙂

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