Andrea Schmuttermair: Eager Anticipation from Land-locked Colorado, June 7, 2012

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Andrea Schmuttermair
Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
June 22 – July 3, 2012

Mission: Groundfish Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico (between Galveston TX and Pascagoula, MS)
Date: June 7, 2012

Personal Log (pre-cruise)

What does

      +     +       =   ?

That’s right! Ms. Schmuttermair is heading to sea this summer as a participant in NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program!

Me and my forever hiking pal, Wesson

Hi! My name is Andrea Schmuttermair, and I am a 3-6 grade science teacher at The Academy in Westminster, CO.  I just finished up my first year in this position, and absolutely love engaging my students in important science concepts. Outside of the classroom, I can be found hiking, biking, and exploring the mountains of beautiful Colorado with my dog, Wesson.

Growing up in San Diego, CA, I would definitely consider myself an “ocean lover”. I grew up spending countless hours at the beach, checking out the sea life that washed up in the tide pools and snorkeling in La Jolla Cove. When I heard about the Teacher at Sea program, I knew it was right up my alley. Living in land-locked Colorado, I strive to bring both my love and knowledge of the ocean to my students. One of the most memorable teaching moments for me this year was seeing my 3rd graders have that “Aha!” moment when they realized what we do here in Colorado greatly affects our oceans, even though they are hundreds of miles away.

Now, in just a couple short weeks, I will  don my sea legs, leave dry land behind, and set sail on the Oregon II. The Oregon II, one of NOAA’s 11 fishery vessels, conducts fishery and marine research to help ensure that our fish population in the ocean is sustainable. Fishery vessels work with the National Marine Fisheries Service to provide important information about fish populations and what regulations about fishing practices need to be in place.

This summer, we will be conducting the summer groundfish survey, a survey that has been conducted for the past 30 years. This particular survey is conducted during the summer months between Alabama and Mexico. On this second leg of the survey, we will be sailing from Galveston, TX to the Oregon II’s home port of Pascagoula, MS.

What exactly is a groundfish survey, you ask? When I first received my acceptance letter, they informed me that this was the “critter cruise”, and I, being the critter lover, was thrilled! The main goal of this survey is to determine the abundance and distribution of shrimp by depth. In addition to collecting shrimp samples, we may also collect samples of bottomfish and crustaceans. It will also be important to collect meteorological data while out at sea. I am excited to see what kind of critters we pull up!

Ms. Schmuttermair LOVES critters, as seen here with Rosy the scorpion.

How will we be catching all of these critters and collecting data while out at sea? The Oregon II has a variety of devices to help collect information about the ocean, including bottom trawls and a CTD. The bottom trawl is a large net that is towed to collect shrimp and other bottom dwellers that will be sorted once the catch is brought aboard. A CTD (stands for Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth) is an instrument that can collect a wide variety of data, including temperature, salinity and oxygen content. I can’t wait to learn how some of these tools are operated!

What are my goals while out at sea?

  • To learn as much about the environment I am in as possible.
  • To ask the scientists plenty of questions about their research, and why collecting data is so important.
  • To take many pictures to bring back to my students
  • To get to know the crew on board, and how they came to work on the Oregon II
  • Not getting seasick!

Now it’s your turn: What would YOU like to know more about? Is it more about the animals we bring up in our trawls? Maybe it’s to learn more about life on the Oregon II, and specifications about this ship. Perhaps you’d like to know how to become a scientist with NOAA and work on board one of their many ships.  Leave your questions in the “Comments” section below (you are welcome to do this in any of my entries), and I’ll do my best to answer them!

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the challenge questions, which from this point forward I will refer to as the “Critter Query”.

20 Replies to “Andrea Schmuttermair: Eager Anticipation from Land-locked Colorado, June 7, 2012”

  1. Hey Ms.schmuttermair I was wondering if you could put a few science challenge before you go oh and i’m getting two or one box turtles can i bring them to class next year make the challenges hard not easy bye for now

    1. Thanks for reading and checking in, Trinity! I’ll put some questions up as soon as I’m on the boat. Congratulations on your box turtles- they will be fun!

      1. Thanks and l have one and it’s a girl russian tortoise i miss you

  2. So excited to follow you on your fantastic journey!! Have a blast and learn lots:) We will be eagerly awaiting your post on the type of “critters” you find!

  3. Yeah! Another exciting adventure,I can’t wait to read all about it, and I hope I can answer the critter queries 😉 have so much fun!

  4. Enjoy your exciting adventure! I hope to read more about your experience (& pass it along to my grandkids). You are an awesome role model!

  5. Hey Ms. Smuchmuttermair,
    It’s your sixth grade Leila. Just wanted to see how you were doing on your AWESOME trip! I hope you learn a lot!

  6. Hey Ms. Schmuttermair!!!! It looks like you are having tons of fun at this program! I will miss you next year as I go to seventh grade. Please keep posting more photos! Thank you!

    Audrey Herrera

  7. So wonderful to hear from all of you! I am having a BLAST so far. It’s been very busy, and a lot of work, but I am loving every minute of it. We’ve seen all sorts of critters from fish to squid to sharks. Stay tuned for the next blog entry!

  8. Hi Andrea, I’m glad to hear you’re having a fun and informative trip so far. Have you pulled up any shrimp yet? Uncle George and I used to buy and eat loads of shrimp right off the docks in Biloxi, MS, so I’m curious as to how the oil spill has effected them, if at all. What about food, are you allowed to eat any of your catch or are they strictly for study? Enjoy the rest of your trip, see you soon!

    1. Oh yeah, we’ve had lots of shrimp! Doesn’t seem to be any lasting effects from the oil spill. We get to eat some of the catch- just had a shrimp omelet this morning from the shrimp we caught this morning. We also caught a 20lb red snapper yesterday and had that for lunch. tomorrow they’re making some shrimp gumbo- yum! Love all the fresh seafood!

  9. Hey Ms. Schmuttermair how is the trip so far? Wesson looks like my dog but more furry.

    1. Hi Cameron! It’s been great so far, and I’m learning a lot. We’ve seen some neat animals too- you’ll see the cow nose ray we caught in my next blog. I’m sure I’ll see you at Freedom Service Dogs doggie plunge again at the end of summer!

  10. I am so excited for you and can tell you are learning so much and having fun! I can’t wait to see photos when you get back.

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