NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster
May 14 – May 24, 2012
Mission: Collecting Zebra Arc Shells and Multibeam Mapping
Geographical Area: Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Date: Friday May 18th, 2012
Weather Data from the Bridge: Skies are overcast. Temperature 75 degrees
Science and Technology Log
Today I want to talk about two research projects that are going on aboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster. The first project is the Arca zebra collection.
Scientist, J.D. has completed eleven dives to collect ten samples of the Arca zebra, which are also known as “turkey wing” shells. By collecting the arc shells, scientists can examine the soft tissue inside the shell to determine the ecological conditions at Gray’s Reef. Human activities such as using pesticides can make their way to the reef. If you have read “The Lorax”, by Dr. Suess, you know that human activities could cause habitat destruction. By monitoring Gray’s Reef, scientists can assess how healthy the reef is. Two thirds of the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary are used by recreational boaters, however no anchors can be used. Anchors could damage habitats on the reef. One third of the reef is used solely for scientific research.
The second research project is Multibeam Mapping of the ocean floor using the N.O.A.A. ship NANCY FOSTER multibeam sonar system. Three people on board the ship monitor the computers for the mapping in the dry lab. The dry lab and wet lab are next to each other. No food or drinks are allowed in dry lab, because of the equipment. Samantha Martin is the Senior Survey Technician and is in charge. Kacey Johnson just graduated from the College of Charleston with a Bachelor’s degree in Geology. Walter Potts is a Survey Technician. All three rotate in shifts to monitor the mapping.
During the Multibeam Mapping, the NANCY FOSTER is moving. The multibeam sonar system is sending out “pings” into the water. The pings travel through the water until they reach a surface that reflects sound, such as the sea floor. Then the sound travels back to the receiver. The receiver can calculate the depth measurement for each “ping”.
The Multibeam Mapping can be compare to dolphins “echolocation”. Dolphins send out sound wave that sound like a click, which hits an object and then bounces back. Dolphins’ sound waves gauge the distance of the object, and also the shape.
Friday’s dives were suspended early due to rough ocean conditions. The crew told us stories about times the sea got rough. There are railings on beds. There is also an extra board you can slide on the side of your mattress to insure that you stay in the bed. One crew member told me that they went airborne. It has been raining on and off. We may not be able to go on small boats on Saturday, unless seas calm down.
Quote: “Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not”. (The Lorax, by Dr. Suess)
Ocean Riddles:What do fish and maps have in common? They have scales…
Why are fish so smart? Because like Locke School students, they are in a school…
What has a beginning, middle, or end and touches every continent? The Ocean
What do you get when you graduate from scuba diving school? A Deep-loma