NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
August 10 – 25, 2012
Mission: Shark Longline Survey
Geographical Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Current Geographical Position: Traveling south along the east coast of Florida to move into position to start survey work.
Date: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Weather Data from the Bridge:
Air temperature: 30.9 degrees C
Sea temperature: 28.9 degrees C
6/8ths cloud cover
10 miles of visibility
0-1 foot wave height
Science and Technology Log:
I spent time on the Bridge (where the Captain and Crew pilot the boat) this morning learning about the weather data collected and all of the gauges and levers and images that they use to guide us. Captain Dave Nelson was nice to share information with me while he did the important work of piloting. He was being careful to not get to close to all of the small boats that were out on the water fishing and enjoying the beautiful day. On the radar it looked like we were surrounded by about 20 boats, looking out the windows I could only see one. The radar technology helps extend the Captain’s view of the water so that all of the boats stay safe.
The Bridge Crew record the weather every hour of the day and night. The above readings are for 11:00 am. 27.1 degrees Celsius means it is warm out. It is about the same temperature here today as it is in Albuquerque. The difference is that there is more moisture in the air in Florida. I’ve always called it muggy, when I feel a little bit damp all the time. The crew measures cloud cover by dividing the sky into 8 sections and seeing how much is covered by clouds. 5/8ths means more than half of the sky is covered. Here on the water we can see pretty far out in all directions, which is called visibility. 0 visibility would mean that the boat is fogged or rained in and can’t see past the boat at all. We have 10 miles of visibility which is pretty far. The water is almost flat when I look at it, only a few ripples. The range of wave height is 0-1 foot, but what we are seeing is closer to zero. Since waves are caused by wind, there can be different heights of waves at the same time so a range is used for the measurement, sharing the shortest and tallest of the waves. Wind speed and direction are also recorded. The wind monitor looks like two small, wingless airplanes up on top of a mast.
Happy Birthday, Mom! It’s my mom’s birthday and since we are along the coast of Florida (I can see the buildings along the shore), I was able to call on my cell phone to personally wish her well. She was surprised! I told her before I left that I would not be available much since signals won’t work when we are out at sea. There is a satellite phone that works all of the time on board for emergencies. We are never completely out of contact, but people who work on a vessel go long periods of time without phones or internet. Since we are still moving toward the place where we will start work, many people are spending time out on deck on their phones connecting with their families and friends. They know if they can see the tall buildings lining the shore that they can call.
Since we are not going to be able to start the survey until we are past the Florida Keys and into the Gulf of Mexico, we spent time learning about NOAA Ship Oregon II and conducting safety drills.
The safety drills will happen every week to make sure that everyone knows where to go and what to do, just like we practice Fire Drills and Lock-down Drills at school. We have to listen carefully because there are different numbers and lengths to the alarm sounds and those sounds tell us where to go and what to bring. The abandon ship code is seven long tones. I brought my immersion suit with me the middle outer deck and pulled it on. It was like stuffing a sausage! Although the air and water feel warm, they are much colder than the human body – which is about 98.7 degrees Fahrenheit or about 37 degrees Celsius. If you look in the Weather Report above, I’d be really cold if I stayed in 28.8 degrees Celsius (~84 F) water for too long. It would be perfect for swimming on a hot Florida day, but not if you are stuck in the water for several hours waiting for help…
NOAA Ship Oregon II
A ship is like a city. Everything that people need to live, stay safe and be happy needs to be provided. William gave me a tour of the Engine rooms before we left Mayport. Once the boat is underway, the engine rooms are very, very hot and super noisy. The Engineers make sure to wear earplugs and drink lots of Gatorade to stay hydrated and keep their hearing. The engines are connected to a long shaft with gears (hey 1st and 4th graders, do you remember learning about simple machines last year?) which move the boat forward. There are two of everything on board so that if one breaks down there is a backup. This is called redundancy. For the really big pieces of equipment they need to be placed to balance the weight on the ship. This leads to something you have studied in math, Symmetry. Many places I look I see mirrored pairs of objects. See if you can find the lines of symmetry in the following pictures.
I will be sharing more about NOAA Ship Oregon II, the people on board and surveying sharks later. We will just keep heading south to the Gulf.