Thomas Ward, September 12, 2010

NOAA Teacher At Sea: Thomas Ward
Aboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman

Mission: Fisheries Surveys
Geographical Area of Cruise: Eastern Bering Sea
Date: September 12, 2010

Getting Started

The cruise and scientific research seems to be finally going forward.  We are currently in the Eastern Bering Sea.  You can find the exact location of the ship by clicking on the following link  then going to the drop down menu “Pick a Ship” and clicking on the “Miller Freeman”  That long list that you see are ships in the NOAA Fleet. While looking at the map you will see data about the ship’s location, speed and other interesting things.  One bit of data that is given is the current water depth.  The water depth here is relatively shallow because we are on the continental shelf. Currently, we are in 44 meters of water, about half a football field. If you look at the map and notice just below, or south of the islands that we are near, the blue shading becomes a little darker. This is called shaded relief bethymetry and indicates that the water gets deeper.  This is where the continental slope is.  The cartographer, map designers, could have used isolines to show this change.  Another bit of data at this site is water and air temperature.  I want to remind you that if you come upon a unit of measurement that you do not understand or can not relate to, such as air temperature given in degrees Celsius, you can use Google to convert it.  For example, the current air temperature is 9.15 degrees Celsius.  That is difficult for me to relate to, do I need a hoodie or not, so if you type “convert 9.15 c to f” Google will tell you that it is 48.47 degrees Fahrenheit.  A little chilly but not too bad.  In fact check out how close the air temperature is to the water temperature. Also, putting “define” before a word in Google will define a word that you may not understand. While reading this or looking at any of the other data you can always ask me a question through this blog.

The scientific research is primarily based around conducting an ichthyoplankton (remember Google) and juvenile fish survey in the waters around the Alaskan Peninsula, and the Bering Sea middle shelf.  The locations of the 113 sampling stations are predetermined and the ship’s crew is responsible for getting the scientific crew to these locations.  The sampling stations are found using latitude and longitude.  We are currently at 5510.825N, 16343.513W.  We are at 55 degrees north, 163 degrees west.  The numbers that follow are minutes measured to an accuracy of thousandths.  If you noticed the data on the ship tracker web site is a little different and not as precise as the on board data.  The negative in front of the longitude indicates west.  Degrees and minutes are used and not seconds.

NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
NOAA Ship Miller Freeman

This adventure for me has started out pretty rough but now that we are collecting data and doing science it is getting very exciting. The phrase “getting your sea legs” which refers to your body becoming accustomed to the movement of the ship is very true.  On the other hand I had never heard of “land sickness” before.  When we first went out the seas were relatively flat, 3-4 feet, and I felt just a little off (my students would say I am alot off, but that is OK) and it took me a few days to adjust.  Then we had to go back to port and while back on land I felt ill.  The Earth would appear to move and I would have to hold on to something to help reality take hold.  After talking to a few people they said this is common.  Everyone on board is really nice and the food is plentiful and delicious.  I really want to get this posted so I can have something for everyone to read so I will end it here.  I will post again soon so stay tuned, pictures of our catches and a description of how we perform the sampling soon to come.


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