Kathleen Brown: Sea Science, June 11, 2011

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kathleen Brown
Aboard R/V Hugh R. Sharp
June 7 – 18, 2011

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical area of cruise: North Atlantic
Date: June 11, 2011

June 11, 2011

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time: 12:50 PM
Winds 12.9 KTs
Air Temperature: 11.94 C
Latitude 41 05.84N
Longitude 067 25.88 W

Science and Technology Log

Lowering the CTD
Lowering the CTD

Every third station along the journey, the crew takes a CTD reading. CTD stands for conductivity, temperature, and depth. Using a submersible set of probes, the characteristics of the ocean water are measured at set intervals, from the surface to the sea bottom, and then again from the sea bottom to the surface. Wynn, the marine technician, takes the time to explain to me that on this cruise the equipment is set to measure temperature, salinity, oxygen and phosphorescence. The probe is extremely heavy and must be lowered with a winch. The capability of the equipment is quite sophisticated and can take a water sample at any depth. A canister can be programmed to shut quickly, capturing approximately ten liters of water. The timing of the data collection process depends upon the depth of the water, but today it takes about five minutes. The data is collected for the NOAA team back on land.

Our journey will circle the outer edges of George’s Bank. We are on the eastern leg of the trip, somewhere between 80 and 100 miles from land. As far as the eye can see, it is ocean. Once in a while, we can see a fishing vessel off in the distance and we have seen dolphins and sunfish swimming near the ship. This afternoon I heard Mary, the First Mate, announce over the radio that she spotted a whale. I ran up to the bridge to see if I could get a look, but I was too late!

I have been eager to learn the stories of the scientists and crew, and to find out what has drawn them to the work at sea. The backgrounds of the people on the ship are varied, and they are both men and women of all ages. One person reports, “ I knew that I wanted to be a marine biologist since fifth grade.” Another says, “I grew up around boats.” Yet another speaks about wanting a hands-on career that could last a lifetime. There are several students on this leg of the cruise. I have learned there are many paths to the career at sea: experience in the military, technical school, college and university, and hands on experience over the years It seems that if you are attracted to the sea, you have a place on a scientific research vessel.

Personal Log
Toward the end of the day, the boat starts to roll a bit more than it has. We have been informed that the wave heights tomorrow may increase to 5 to 8 feet. Taking a shower while the boat rocks from side to side is challenging. I grip my flip flops to the floor of the shower and hang on!

Question of the Day
What do you think the level of salt in the water can tell scientists?

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