Kathleen Harrison: Introduction: Starting in Hampton, Virginia…

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kathleen Harrison
Aboard NOAA Ship  Oscar Dyson
  July 4 — 22, 2011

Location:  Gulf of Alaska
Mission:  Walleye Pollock Survey

June 2011 Field Trip
Here I am with my IB Biology students, exploring a mud flat that is part of a barrier island of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Personal Log
In February, I found out that I was selected to be a Teacher at Sea.  This was very exciting at the time, but it seemed a bit unreal.  By the end of March, I completed the online training, had several more e-mails from the Teacher at Sea program, and was coming to the realization that I actually would be going to sea with NOAA.

Around the first of May, I learned that I would be participating in the Walleye Pollock Survey, in the Gulf of Alaska, for 3 weeks in July.  Teaching in Hampton, and living in Virginia Beach, I am used to very hot summers, with plenty of sunshine.  It took me a few days to get used to the idea of being cold in July.  Now, one day before I fly to Kodiak, I am so excited, I doubt that I will sleep much tonight.  I don’t care what the weather is.  I am extremely grateful for this opportunity, and will gladly count every pollock that comes up in the net.

On July 3, I will board the NOAA ship Oscar Dyson in the port of Kodiak, Alaska.  You can learn more about the Oscar Dyson here:    http://www.moc.noaa.gov/od/    I am thrilled to have the chance to participate in real-world research with NOAA, and learn more about marine science careers.   Already, I have been asked to share what I learn with a group of students at my school this fall.  My International Baccalaureate (IB) Biology students will be reading these posts for their summer homework, and choosing an animal to research.   I hope that you will continue to follow my exciting adventures over the next few weeks, as I figure out what a pollock looks like, and identify other Gulf of Alaska marine animals.

15 Replies to “Kathleen Harrison: Introduction: Starting in Hampton, Virginia…”

  1. Hello Mrs. Harrison,
    I enjoyed reading your much anticipated post! I’m glad to hear you are doing well. I was just curious as to how you are finding the living conditions aboard the Oscar Dyson?

    1. Deb,
      Thanks for your comment! The living conditions on the ship are great – I share a stateroom with a young woman who is part of the crew, the food is wonderful, and everyone is very friendly and nice.

      1. Hey its Barbara Jeanne making sure i follow your adventure I love the pics what an exciting time ofr you what is the empt please….

      2. Hi Barbara Jeanne, thanks for reading my blog. I am glad that you are enjoying reading along. There should be a new post in a couple of days.

  2. Kathy,

    I hope you had a happy 4th of July getting settled into your new home for the next few weeks. I am looking forward to all your updates. Have a safe trip!


    1. Mary, thanks for your comment!
      I didn’t see fireworks (I was asleep at midnight, when it was dark enough for them), but I had an exciting day because we pulled away from the dock. Today we will fish for the first time, hopefully we will catch a lot! I have learned a lot about living and working on board a ship, check the blog for more details.

  3. Hi Mrs. Harrison,
    How do you like living on the boat? What is the most difficult thing to do onboard? Has the weather been good? Can you eat any of the pollock or can you only record them?
    Wishing you all the best,
    Julia Cooley, HHS

    1. Hi Ms. Cooley, thanks for your comment!
      I love being on the ship, it is different than anything I have ever done. The staff and crew are very friendly and helpful. The most difficult thing to do is put on my makeup – imagine standing in a rocking chair with someone else rocking it, and looking in a mirror on the wall. The weather was spectacular the day we left, but I was told that sunny days are unusual. It is about 40 degrees F, windy, and overcast today – which is typical for summer in the Gulf of Alaska. We haven’t caught any pollock yet, but the chief scientist says that we don’t eat those, only halibut or salmon will end up on the dinner table.
      still staggering about,

  4. Hi Mrs. Harrison!!
    I’m so glad to hear things are going well.
    I can’t wait to read more about your adventures. A truly once in a lifetime adventure.
    Any sea sickness?

  5. Hi Mrs. Harrison!
    I’m so glad to hear things are going well. What a great adventure.
    Any sea sickness?

    1. Hi Mrs. Cataldo,
      We did a trawl today, and I got to sort, identify, and measure fish. Great fun! No sea sickness yet. We have had smooth sailing for 2 days, and today the seas are rougher, but not too bad.
      Mrs. Harrison

  6. Hello Mrs. Harrison!!

    I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying your blog! So fascinating … The experience you are having is one in a lifetime… What a wonderful example you’re setting for your children… Momma is “get after it”….when you get home, I believe that a Mani-Pedi is in order… After all, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! And why the heck are you wearing mascara???

    Yours in Scientific Research,
    Joan Allison

    PS…. Do they need security aboard your ship? I’m willing….;)

    1. Hi Ms. Allison, thanks for reading my logs! I am having a great trip – learning so much about real-world science. Can’t wait to share with everyone. A Mani-Pedi sounds good to me, anything that doesn’t smell like fish. I am wearing mascara because I have an image to keep up – and can’t scare the science team away with my natural 3:30 am look!
      Actually, security is hired for the ship when it is in port – to keep strangers off. Interested in living in Kodiak? I think the summer high temp. is about 60 degrees.
      loving pollock,
      Mrs. Harrison

  7. Hello Mrs. Harrison.

    How were you chosen for such a wonderful opportunity? Did you first contact the NOAA, or did they find you because of your wonderful teaching skills? Being on a boat while learning new things sounds exciting. What kind of training was required? Did your sicence background help with the training, or was this mostly new information to you?
    -David Mitchell

    1. Thanks for your comment David, I really had a great trip. I had to complete a lengthy application and obtain 2 letters of reference, and was lucky to be one of 30 teachers chosen out of 250. I had to complete an online training course that helped to prepare me for life on a ship. My science background helped a lot, because I understood the principles of research, but all of the organisms I saw were new to me, since I had never been to Alaska before.
      Mrs. Harrison

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