NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard Oscar Dyson
June 30 – July 18, 2012
Mission: Pollock Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Bering Sea
Date: July 22, 2012
Myself: airports, airplanes, and Maryland
Oscar Dyson: Crowley pier in Dutch Harbor, AK
Science & Technology Log
On July 17, as we were “cruising” around 12 knots back to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, I had one more GREAT tie in to chemistry class that I just wanted to share because it was that cool to me! Every few CTDs, a water sample would be collected to later be tested for levels of dissolved oxygen. At the end of the cruise on our way back, Bill allowed me to watch him test those samples using a Winkler titration.
Why do we care how much dissolved oxygen is in the water in the first place? Dissolved oxygen levels provide an excellent indication of the underwater biological activity. If levels are extremely low (2 mg/L or lower), animals fail to survive during this “hypoxia”. If there is no dissolved oxygen at all (0 mg/L), this is known as “anoxia”, meaning without oxygen. Areas that are hypoxic or anoxic are known as “dead zones”. Luckily there aren’t really any reported dead zones around Alaska, but knowing the level of dissolved oxygen is important to the scientists as another piece of data to analyze from this cruise.
How does the Winkler titration work and why did I find it so cool? First off, in chemistry class, we use a buret to add a titrant manually drop by drop into a solution containing a phenolphthalein indicator that turns from clear to pink to signify the endpoint of the titration. On board, the actual titration is automated and there is no indicator! It was nice to see chemistry in action, and even nicer to see the process automated, removing any human error in the actual titration.
Steps to performing the Winkler titration on the Oscar Dyson:
1. Collect water sample during CTD and add manganese chloride (MnCl2) and sodium iodide/sodium hydroxide solution (NaI/NaOH) to sample. Stopper and mix well.
2. Store all water samples for testing at the end of the cruise (this is how it’s done on the Oscar Dyson to test all samples at once, although you could test them each individually after collection).
3. When ready to test all samples, remove stopper and add magnetic stir bar and 1mL of sulfuric acid (H2SO4). Mix well. If precipitate does not completely dissolve, add more sulfuric acid.
4. Titrate and record results!
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for each sample 🙂
My final days/adventures in Dutch Harbor? Enjoy the brief descriptions and photos below!
– arrived in Dutch early morning to beautiful blue skies all day and I watched as the Dyson docked at Crowley pier
– another Alaskan water adventure when Brian and I donned arctic survival suits, got in Captain’s Bay, and yelled up drafting readings of the water level from various points on the outside of the ship to Neal (while Chelsea took photos)
– went for a run over to Unalaska to see the Russian Orthodox church, walk along the beach, go to Memorial Park, check out some gravestones, and jog around town
– hung out in Dutch with some people off the Dyson, where Brian turned into Billy Idol, Chelsea got a new ‘do, and Kevin got a haircut
– the day started off looking bleak, and I got covered in mud running back into Captain’s Bay to check out the gigantic oil rig barge
– then it turned into another afternoon of beautiful blue skies to allow me to hike with Brian to the back of Captain’s Bay and up to a really pretty waterfall
– hung out in Dutch with some locals I’d met the night before, including an Aleut with the nose ring and face tattoo
– was supposed to fly out this afternoon but lo and behold, the skies turned gray, the fog rolled in, all flights in and out of Dutch were cancelled for the day, and I headed back to the ship
– hung out in Dutch with some people off the Dyson and celebrated Patrick’s birthday
– attempted to get on flights from standby multiple times throughout the day, and finally got on a flight at 8:45pm that got me to Anchorage after midnight, where I slept on a bench in the airport until about 4am
– no flights out of Anchorage available until almost 9pm! luckily I called Delta, got on standby for a 6am flight where enough people took a later flight (and everyone on standby ahead of me was in pairs) that I got out of Anchorage and to Minneapolis, where I had about 35 minutes to get on standby for another flight that I was able to get on as well; the flight goddesses were with me today
– arrived home to Maryland about 20 hours after leaving Dutch, happy to be back but sad this adventure is officially over
THANKS THANKS THANKS
I’d just like to say one last time how AMAZING this adventure was on the Oscar Dyson and how incredibly BLESSED I was to meet such great people and learn some many new and EXCITING things. I owe a huge amount of thanks to plenty of people:
* Thanks to the chief scientist Neal along with Bill and Anatoli for all of the fun science and fish stuff I learned during my shift
* Thanks to the rest of the science party (Scott, Denise, Carwyn, and Nate) for more science and technology that I learned and for the card games I played after my shift and to Kathy for doing her survey tech thing (and helping me find my luggage and get to the airport on time)
* Thanks to the CO CDR Mark Boland for allowing me to be on the OD in the first place and for always seeming to have a smile on your face when I was around
* Thanks to the XO 1M Kris Mackie for all of his help in getting me to the ship, for never sugar-coating life, for a great espresso machine in the galley, and for life lessons, knowledge, and personal growth he probably doesn’t even know he taught me
* Thanks to the OPS LT Matt Davis for reading and approving all of the blogs and for the vast amount of knowledge I gained from him in multiple aspects of ship life
* Thanks to ENS Libby, Kevin, and Chelsea for plenty of information, stories, good laughs, and great memories
* Thanks to LTJG Dave for recommending thought-provoking movies and answering all my questions
* Thanks to the engineering crew (Brent, Tony, Vincente, Garry, Robert, Terry, Joel) for all of their hard work that kept the ship running during the entire trip and for everything you guys taught me
* Thanks to Vince for keeping the internet up and running so I could update my blogs, get on facebook, and let my parents know I was still alive with the VOIP
* Thanks to the stewards Tim and Adam for some of the best cooking I’ve had in a long time and for “encouraging” me try things I didn’t think I liked but wound up enjoying because you made them so delicious
* Thanks to the deck crew (Willie, Patrick, Deeno, Jim, Brian, and Rick) for putting up with my incessant chatter, photo taking, curiosity, and questions, for letting me crash your table at mealtimes, and for every little thing that you’ve each taught me, even if you didn’t know you were teaching me something at the time
* Thanks to GVA Brian for all the photos he took whenever I asked, for the awesome headphones he let me borrow most of the trip, for the knowledge he shared about everything he knew related to boats and fishing, and for adventures kayaking, taking draft readings, and hiking in Dutch
* Thanks to the NOAA Teacher at Sea program for providing this incredible opportunity in the first place
* Thanks to everyone that has been reading (and sometimes commenting on) my blogs