NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
June 19 – 30, 2010
Mission: SEAMAP Groundfish Survey
Geographical Area of Cruise: Northwestern Gulf of Mexico
Date: Sunday, June 27, 2010
Weather Data from the Bridge
Time: 0700 hours (07:00am)
Position: Latitude = 28.80.02 N; Longitude = 090.20.40 W
Present Weather: partly cloudy
Visibility: 8 nautical miles
Wind Speed: 8 knots
Wave Height: 3 foot swells
Sea Water Temp: 29.8 degrees Celsius
Air Temperature: Dry bulb = 27.9 degrees Celsius; Wet bulb = 25.5 degrees Celsius
Here I am measuring and weighing the fish.
Science and Technology Log
We are on twelve hour shifts while on the Oregon II. That means that we have two crews of scientists that work around the clock taking fish, plankton, and water samples. My shift begins at 12:00 noon and ends at midnight. Our first shift began on Sunday. We had finally reached our first station for study, so we took over for the first set of scientists. They had just finished a trawl and had separated the fish.
We finished weighing and measuring the fish. Next on the agenda was a fire and abandon ship drill. We had to “muster” to our stations for a head count during the fire drill. Next, the alarm sounded for the abandon ship drill. We all had to get our survival suits and meet on the top deck.
As soon as the drill was over, we were able to get back to work. we first did a CTD test, which stands for conductivity, temperature, and density. This fancy machine tests these variables of ocean water at different depths. We took water samples from the bottom of the ocean, in the middle, and on the surface of the water column. This is a very important sampling because it will help to determine if the shrimping and fishing waters can be opened back up since the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.
We then had to take a plankton samples. This is done buy using a plankton net called a Neuston net. it is very fine woven net that catches all of the small fish and other animals that we label as plankton. This was amazing to see. The net caught “floating nursery,” a plant called sargassum. Many fish lay their eggs in this floating grass. Sea turtles also use it as a resting ground. We gathered all the plankton and preserved it for further testing. Sad to say, we also picked up some tarballs in our plankton net. This is not a good sign.
We soon did a trawl with the shrimping nets. This was very interesting to see what we caught. You never know what you might catch when you drag the ocean floor with a net. I never realized how many different species of fish there are. We caught some very nice sized brown shrimp. We had to count, weigh, and preserve all the fish and other critters.
I really admire the NOAA employees. They all work very hard for us. Our ship is performing a very important job by determining whether areas of the Gulf will be safe for fishing again. These men and women are gone from their families for extended periods of time and stay at sea for long voyages. I am enjoying my stay on the Oregon II, but I have to admit that I am still trying to grow my “sea legs”.