Elizabeth Bullock: Day 3, December 13, 2011

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Bullock
Aboard R/V Walton Smith
December 11-15, 2011

Mission: South Florida Bimonthly Regional Survey
Geographical Area: South Florida Coast and Gulf of Mexico
Date: December 13, 2011

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time: 4:45pm
Air Temperature: 23.5 degrees C
Wind Speed: 15 kt
Relative Humidity: 68%

Science and Technology Log

Liz deploys a drifter
I'm deploying a drifter!

Last night, we deployed our first drifter.  There will be three deployed over the course of this cruise.  The frame of this drifter is built by the scientists at AOML (Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory).  Afterwards, they attach a satellite transmitter so they can track where the drifter goes.  This helps them measure the surface currents.

What are some other types of research being conducted onboard?  I’m glad you asked!  Two NOAA researchers, Lindsey and Rachel, are studying water chemistry and chlorophyll.  They take samples of surface water from the CTD to study CO2 and the full carbonate profile.  They also use water collected at many different depths to study the chlorophyll content.  Chlorophyll is an indicator of the amount of phytoplankton in the water.

Collecting water from the CTD
Collecting water from the CTD.

Sharein, a PhD student at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, is studying a specific type of plankton called copepods.

The particular copepod that she is studying is food for the larval stages of some commercially important species of fish such as bill fish (which include blue marlin, sail fish, white tuna, and yellowfin tuna) and different species of reef fish.  If a species is commercially important, it means that many people depend on this particular fish for their livelihoods.

Female Copepod
Here is one of the species of copepods that Sharein is studying.

Do you think you would be interested in working at sea?  You would be a good candidate if you:

1)      Like meeting new people and working as part of a team

2)      Are interested in the ocean, weather, and/or atmosphere

3)      Don’t mind getting your feet wet

Personal Log

When we were on our way to the Tortugas, we didn’t have cell service and the TV in the galley had no signal.  It was nice to be disconnected for a while.  Although there are still 29 computers onboard which all have the internet, so we’re hardly off the grid!

It was hard at first to adjust to the night shift, but everyone onboard was really supportive.  Working the night shift means that you work from 7pm to 7am.

Species seen last night in the Neuston net:

Flying fish

Needle fish

Different kinds of sea grasses and sargassum

Moon jellies

6 Replies to “Elizabeth Bullock: Day 3, December 13, 2011”

  1. to answer your question on blog number 2: Water is comprised of two elements – hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O). Distilled water is pure and free of salts; thus it is a very poor conductor of electricity. By adding ordinary table salt (NaCl) to distilled water, it becomes an electrolyte solution, able to conduct electricity Ionic compounds such as salt water, conduct electricity when they dissolve in water. Ionic compounds consist of two or more ions that are held together by electrical attraction. One of the ions has a positive charge (called a “cation”) and the other has a negative charge (“anion”). Molecular compounds, such as water, are made of individual molecules that are bound together by shared electrons (covalent bonds).

  2. I went to GYLI camp in Connecticut, I got a chance to go on a boat and catch cool animals. It was really fun, and I got to meet new people who had the same interests as me. I got to see, touch, and catch creatures, that I didn’t even know existed, it was such a rush. I would like to ask you a question: Does the equator and where it is, or how hot or cold the water is due to the weather, affect the species that live in the different parts in the ocean? What animals live in cold water climates?

    1. Hi Sam,
      I had a great time on that GYLI trip also!
      The temperature of the water definitely helps to determine the kind of species in any particular area. For example, in cold water, you would find organisms that have adapted to the climate by accumulating body fat or thick hair. Warm water species in the ocean tend to be smaller in size, with less body fat and less hair. They also don’t have a specific breeding season, because there isn’t a particular season with more food available than any other season.

  3. Electrical conductivity is the measurement of the water’s capability to conduct electricity. The EC varies from region to region, but higher EC is usually found in places with many rocks, especially limestone, which has more concentrated solution of dissolved carbonate minerals. The higher the amount of positively charged or negatively charged ions, the more conductive the body of water is. So, the more salt, then the higher EC.
    Here’s my question: What are some other ways that you can measure the things that you catch? Where else do you use displacement on the ship?

    1. Hi Franni,
      We use displacement on the ship to measure the weight of what we catch in the neutson net. We can measure many different organisms this way, not just moon jellies. This is the only place we use displacement on the ship. We can also measure what we catch with a ruler. For example, we caught many different flying fish which varied from 5cm – 10cm.

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