NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
April 29–May 10, 2014
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Maine
Mission: Spring Bottom Trawl & Acoustic Survey
Date: May 7, 2014
Air Temp: 9.1°C (48.38°F)
Relative Humidity: 73%
Wind Speed: 10.83mph
Science and Technology Log
My section stands watch from midnight to noon–twelve hours on, twelve hours off. Today I stood my first watch, acting as one of three “recorder” on the fish sorting line. A recorder’s role is to assist his assigned “cutter” by entering requested measurement data (e.g., length, weight, etc.) of individual fish into a computer database. The cutter processes fish by identifying the species, then performing any number of actions (i.e., cuts, as in, with a knife) in order to retrieve information about particular fish for later use by scientists. Such data will consist of measuring, weighing, and sexing the fish, as well as checking the contents of its stomach. Other particular data may be gathered, such as collecting otoliths (ear bones) from the head of the fish.
After getting underway, the captain called a series of drills, one of which was abandon ship. During this exercise, I reported to the aft deck of the ship, donned a “Gumby” survival suit, which is bright orange/red, keeps you warm while in the water, and helps you to stay afloat. Following that, we had a collision drill. In a disaster scenario, everyone has a muster station, so that we can be counted, and then help control the situation, if need be.
Today was my first of about a dozen watches I will stand. It went smoothly, but there was considerable down time. The first stations (the areas in which the nets are lowered and trawling begins) were about 25 nautical miles from one another, so it took a couple of hours to steam from one station to the next. During this time, I was able to relax, grab a bite, or hang out with other members of my watch. Personal Log The food aboard ship is very good, and there is plenty of it. Between mealtimes, the cook makes sure that plenty of drinks and snacks are available, so there is no reason to go hungry aboard the Henry B. Bigelow. The ship has a huge library of DVDs with many new movies. We can also watch TV thanks to a satellite connection (DirectTV). The only things I am not allowed to do are 1) re-enter my stateroom after going on watch, as there is always an off-watch shipmate trying to catch some shuteye, and 2) make a surprise appearance on the bridge, which is where the NOAA officers navigate and steer the ship. That’s for safety, and I am sure they would welcome me, as long as I called ahead first. I am tired, but feeling pretty good. I boarded the ship wearing an anti-motion sickness patch, fearing that, after twenty years of not being at sea, I might be susceptible to seasickness. The medicine made me feel awful, so I took it off, and now feel much better! I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy the rocking of a ship. It’s an especially good way to fall asleep–gently rocking…