Mechelle Shoemake, June 23, 2010


NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mechelle Shoemake
Onboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
June 19 – 30, 2010

Mission:  SEAMAP Groundfish Survey
Geographical Area of Cruise:  Northwestern Gulf of Mexico
Date:  Friday, June 25, 2010

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time: 1300 hours (1:00pm)
Position: Latitude = 30.22.02 N; Longitude = 088.33.80 W
Present Weather: partly cloudy
Visibility: 8-10 nautical miles
Wind Speed: 6 knots
Wave Height: 1-2 feet
Sea Water Temp:  30.9 degrees Celsius
Air Temperature: Dry bulb = 32.7 degrees Celsius; Wet bulb = 23.2 degrees Celsius

Science and Technology Log
Hello everyone!  I am Mechelle Shoemake from Laurel, MS.  I am a teacher at South Jones Elementary school.  I was chosen by NOAA to participate in their TAS (Teacher at Sea) program.  I was chosen to sail aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II.

Here I am aboard the Oregon II, ready to sail!

The Oregon II conducts a groundfish cruise in the summer and fall across the northern Gulf of Mexico from Alabama to the Mexican Border in depths between 5 and 60 fathoms.  The Oregon II conducts strong bottom trawling.  This is a type of fishing where you drag a net along the sea floor.  The primary sampling objective in the summer is to determine the abundance and distribution of shrimp by depth.  Since shrimp are animals that live near the sea floor, bottom trawling is the best way to catch them.  Due to the recent Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill, we will be gathering samples of oiled shrimp and fish for further testing to be done.

We will be studying three types of shrimp:  white, pink and brown shrimp.   For more information about these shrimp, go to http://www.dnr.sc.gov.  This website explains how to identify the different species.

The bow (front) of the Oregon II, as she sits tied to the dock in Pascagoula.

We have had a slow start on the Oregon II due to repairs being made to the vessel that were necessary to keep  her in service for the next 6-8 years.  Our date of departure changed many times. We finally set sail on Wednesday, June 23, 2010.  Before we reached our destination, we started having some small problems with the vessel.  We turned around and we are now sailing back home to Pascagoula so repairs can be made.   Although we had to come back to port, we did sail for many hours.  During that time I had a lesson in line tying.  Line is the word used for rope when you’re on a ship.  This is task that many skilled and experienced sailors learn.  Believe me, it is harder than it looks.

Learning to tie line knots is harder than it looks!

I also had a lesson on how to read nautical charts and how to chart the longitude and latitude of a certain point. My first morning on the ship was breathtaking. The sunrise was beautiful, as you can see in the picture below.   Personal Log My first few hours at sea were not the greatest in the world.  I came prepared for sea sickness…maybe a little TOO prepared.  I was beginning to wonder if I would make it on the Oregon II.  But, thanks to Lindsey, our XO, she suggested that I remove my “sea patch” from behind my ear.  Wow, what a miracle!  I was no longer sick!  Lesson to the wise:  don’t overdose with the medicine.  Question of the Day How many feet are in a fathom?

Animals Seen Today: Dolphins, Pelicans

Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico

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