Kimberly Gogan: The Creatures That Are Always There but We Never See! April 15, 2014

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kim Gogan
Aboard NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter
April 7 – May 1, 2014

MissionAMAPPS & Turtle Abundance Survey Ecosystem Monitoring
Geographical Area of Cruise:  North Atlantic Ocean
Date: April 15, 2014

Weather Data from the Bridge
Air Temp:  14.1 degrees Celsius
Wind Speed:32  knots
Water Temp: 5.7 degrees Celsius
Water Depth:  24.5 meters


Science and Technology Log

Today’s blog is about a piece of equipment called a Video Plankton Recorder or VPR for short. The VPR is attached to  the bottom of a yellow V-fin that helps it stay under water when it is being towed.  Scientists would want to use a VPR instead of a Bongo Net because the Bongo Net is very rough on the creatures that are captured in it as it is towed through the water, especially the very, very soft and fragile ones. The VPR allows the scientists to capture pictures of the creatures in their natural habitat.  It also allows them to get close-ups of these creatures so they can really see what their body structures look like.  The VPR also allows the scientist to collect data on many creatures are found in a given area in the body of water they are looking at.  The VPR has two arms, one on each side about 2 feet apart. One arm has a camera and the other arm has a strobe or flash. The camera and strobe focus on taking pictures between the arms at a rate of 20 pictures a second. The VPR captures all the images as it goes through the water and stores them on a disk drive that the scientists can then upload to their computers. The VPR is generally towed at a speed of around 2-3 knots , or 3-4 miles per hour.

Science Spot Light

The scientist in charge of running the VPR here on the Gordon Gunter is Betsy Broughton.  Betsy is an Oceanographer who works on the night crew here on our ship. Betsy has been working on ships for 31 years and has been to sea for close to 1300 days on 18 ships including 3 international ships!  When she isn’t on a ship she works at  National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Betsy primarily studies baby Cod and Haddock. She is trying to understand  how they survive when they are really little, before they look like a fish, what they eat, where they live and what eats them.  If you want to learn more you can visit the Fish Facts on the NMFS webpage. Betsy also works on designing the sampling gear that will work faster and give scientists more accurate information.  In her spare time, Betsy is an International Challenge Master for Challenge A with Destination Imagination.

Personal Log

We have been on the NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter now for 8 days. It’s really hard to believe how much I have learned in a little over a week. It’s been a crash course in a whole bunch of cool science, as well as life on ship.  It’s been a little crazy with the weather, it has not been very cooperative, especially the wind. Even though the weather has forced us to make changes in our original plans, the scientists have been very flexible and have done what they can to get their jobs done. Today we have come back from Georges Banks and we are going to be passing through the Cape Cod Canal and spending some time in Cape Cod Bay. Luckily there are a lot of Right Whales known to be there. It’s been really fun getting to know all the scientists, NOAA Corps folks and the crew.  Everyone is very nice and it’s amazing how quickly I feel like I have known these people for a long time in just over a week. It is nice to be around like-minded folks who also love science. Yesterday was one of the nicest days, it was warm enough that we didn’t have to wear the mustang suits.  I was also able to decorate and deploy a drifter buoy, but more on that later!

Me catching the beautiful sunset before the storm came in.
Me catching the beautiful sunset before the storm came in.


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