Chris Henricksen: Marine Life is Amazing! May 14, 2014

Christopher Henricksen

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow

May 6 – May 16, 2014

Geographical area of cruise: Georges Bank & Gulf of Maine

Mission: Spring Bottom Trawl & Acoustic Survey

Date: May 14, 2014

Air Temp: 9.7°C (49.46°F)

Relative Humidity: 81%

Wind Speed: 10.76mph

Barometer: 1016.2mb

Science and Technology Log

The abundance and diversity of marine life in these waters is amazing.  Depending on the ship’s location, and the depth of a trawl, one may see any number of different species on the sorting table.  Bony fish, such as haddock, cod, red fish, dory, ocean pout, silver and red hake, winter flounder, four-spot flounder, longhorn sculpin and on and on.  In deeper waters (around 200 meters), one is likely to see crustaceans such as lobsters, which can get really big!  We also haul in scallops, shrimp, octopi, small sharks, such as dogfin and chain dog, a variety of sea stars, and squid.

Scientists who may not be aboard the Henry B. Bigelow make requests for different data regarding any of the species mentioned above.  Sometimes, a scientist needs a whole organism preserved, or just a part of its anatomy, such as the gonads, or the otoliths (ear bones that are used to determine age of a bony fish).  Often, all a scientist needs are measurements, which the ship’s science team input into a computer database, and which the scientist may access later as part of his or her research.

pic of preserving specimens
preserving specimens

Below are some of the astonishing critters I have seen on this cruise.  Enjoy!


Personal Log

I am so impressed by the people I have met aboard the Henry B. Bigelow.  Everyone is courteous and helpful and, above all, professional.  These folks take great pride in their work, and they enjoy doing it.  I visited the bridge yesterday, where the Commanding Officer (CO) and the Officer of the Deck (OOD) both welcomed me and were more than happy to answer my questions and to explain what they were doing at any given time.  The same can be said of the deckhands.  They don’t mind my questions, and they are amazing at what they do, which includes near constant physical labor. The scientists and techs I am working with are dedicated and do an outstanding job of teaching volunteers, such as myself, the ins and outs of processing a haul, and collecting the resultant data. These folks come from all walks of life, but one thing they have in common is a love for their job and it shows.

pic of fish lab
Science team at work in fish lab

On another personal note, I did laundry yesterday.  As one can imagine, working with marine life can be a seriously smelly endeavor, and keeping yourself and your clothing clean and fresh is a must.  The ship has a laundry room stocked with everything you need to wash and dry your clothes.  It’s a nice feeling to know that I will not leave the ship smelling like the creatures that inhabit deep blue sea.

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