NOAA Teacher at Sea
(Almost) Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 8–25, 2013
Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Shumagin Islands, Alaska
Date: July 1, 2013
Greetings from the Oregon Coast! Thank you for visiting my blog, and I hope you continue to follow me this summer throughout my 18-day Alaskan adventure aboard the NOAA ship Rainier. I am elated and honored to be a NOAA Teacher at Sea—an experience that will undoubtedly shape me and my classroom instruction for years to come.
My name is Avery Marvin and I am a middle school General Science and high school Biology teacher at Taft 7-12, a mid-size public MS/HS in Lincoln City, on the Oregon coast. I moved here just one year ago, and have been discovering the unique facets of living and teaching in a coastal community ever since. I continue to be amazed and inspired by the natural surroundings and marine resources (i.e. the NOAA base in Newport, Hatfield Marine Science Center) at my fingertips. Knowing I am New York native, many of my students have quizzically asked me, “Ms. Marvin, why did you move here?” My hope, then, is that through this NOAA experience, I will be further able to inspire and show kids that “here” is a pretty amazing place to be—not just in terms of its natural beauty but its ecological and research significance moreover. With this awareness and education, students hopefully will feel a greater sense of ownership of—and thus appreciate and actively protect—the greatest resource in their very backyard: the ocean.
As an avid adventurer and ocean-goer, I have explored many waters both as a conservationist and a recreationist (i.e. scuba diver, fisherwoman). Yet Alaska is a place I have dreamed of visiting for most of my life, and to be able to combine my experience with like-minded scientists conducting vital ocean research is truly awesome to me. The Rainier, homeported at the NOAA Marine Operations Center – Pacific in Newport, Oregon, is a hydrographic surveying ship whose primary focus is mapping the sea floor in coastal areas. The depth data collected on the Rainier is used to update nautical charts. This is crucial work as commercial shippers, passenger vessels and fishing fleets rely on accurate nautical maps to safely traverse various ocean passages. In the case of Rainier’s work in Alaska, some of the terrain is being surveyed for the first time. Rear Adm Gerd Glang, director of Coast Survey, sums it up best, “Simply put, we have better maps of the moon than of our oceans.” Several multi-beam sonar systems located on the Rainier as well as on a few smaller launch boats are employed to acquire this mapping data. This six-minute video gives a good overview of the mission and daily operations of the Rainier.
My 18-day journey begins on July 8, 2013 in Kodiak, Alaska, where I will be meeting up with the Rainier. From Kodiak, we travel southwest to the Shumagin Islands, where the majority of the research on this leg of the trip will be conducted. We will then conclude our journey back in the Kodiak port. (Track Rainier’s movement here.) I can’t wait to dive in and absorb all that I can. I am particularly looking forward to working with and learning from all the scientists onboard, seeing the majestic Alaskan landscape and understanding how survey data can be used for mapping vital fisheries habitats.
I hope you will ‘virtually’ join me aboard the Rainier, this summer, and be a witness to some incredible scientific research. This blog will be updated weekly with interesting stories, pictures and lots of newfound information about our mission at sea. So check back often and feel free to leave comments and questions for me. If I don’t know the answer, I will ask a brilliant scientist to help me.
“For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.” -Jacques-Yves-Cousteau