NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
June 6 – 21, 2014
Mission: SEAMAP Groundfish Survey
Gulf of Mexico
June 14, 2014
Weather: Partly cloudy. Winds 10 to 15 knots. Waves 1 to 2 feet.
Science and Technology Log:
We have been very busy with stations. The catch on Thursday included a variety of shrimp. There are many different kinds of shrimp and a lot of them can be found in the Gulf of Mexico. Did you know that most shrimp have a short lifespan, maybe only two to three years?
Some of the ones we caught were the Rose Shrimp (Parapenaeus politus), Roughback Shrimp (Rimapenaeus constrictus), Brown Rock Shrimp (Sicyonia brevirostris stimpson) and the Spiny Rock Shrimp (Sicyonia barkenroadi). Since the scientist use the proper names for each species, I am trying to learn those names too!
NOAA is one of the primary agencies that watches over the aquaculture or farming in the water. With surveys such as the one the NOAA Ship Oregon II is conducting they are able to calculate the amount of fish, shrimp, and other organisms that can be taken out each year. It is similar to the hunting season we have for deer at home. This protects the industry and allows for the species to grow and not be overfished.
Red snapper is a species that was being overfished for many years and because of this they were not growing to maturity. Now with limits on how many red snapper can be caught, it is making a comeback.
Another way that the scientist collect species on the NOAA Ship Oregon II is by using the Neuston nets. These large nets float half in the water and half under the water. They are designed to collect the tiny organisms that float on the top of the water or live right under the surface of the water.
When the nets are being brought back to the ship, we must rinse everything down into the bottom collection container. The material is then placed into jars and chemicals are added to preserve everything.
Later the material collected must be transferred into other chemicals and then sent back to the lab on land to be identified.
In the photo I am helping Scientist Andre Debose prepare the samples for transfer.
It takes many people doing many different jobs to keep a ship like the NOAA Ship Oregon II running smoothly.
One job is the ET or Electrical Technician. The ET is a person that helps maintain and repair the electronic components and equipment or devices that use electricity. The NOAA Ship Oregon II is very fortunate to have Brian Thomas as their ET. Brian is ready to work on anything from the radar of the ship to my laptop that I am using to write my blog.
He has been with NOAA as an independent Federal worker since 2006. Before that he was in the Navy for 20 years working with sonar, so Brian knows his way around the ship! He also worked at the shipyards before joining the crew.
He said he had training for three years to learn his present job and because so much of the ship’s equipment works with electricity, Brian is on call 24 hours a day. Normally he said ships have rotating ET’s, but he is the only one on this ship.
Brian said it is a very interesting job and the best part is when everything is going well!
NOAA has two college students doing an internship on the NOAA Ship Oregon II this season. One of them is Robin Gropp who will be a sophomore at Lewis and Clark College in the state of Oregon in the fall.
Robin is a biology major and his future goal is to be a marine scientist and maybe work with alternative energy, mainly tidal power, also called tidal energy. This is a form of hydropower that using the tides to make energy. (Kind of like how we have the wind mills that use wind near Amboy to make energy)
Robin is working for NOAA this summer to learn more about the sea turtles and study why they sometimes get stranded or caught on piers. He is also studying the sharks and rays that we might catch while on the Groundfish Survey.
The best part of being involved with a NOAA internship to Robin is the hands-on research that he is conducting.
Today the Lead Fisherman, Chris alerted me to the fact that there were bottlenose dolphin swimming behind the ship. The dolphin were following the nets in hopes of snagging a free meal. I quickly grabbed my camera and headed out to watch the dolphins!
The bottlenose dolphins are the most common and well-known members of the marine family. They can live up to 50 years and can be found in temperate and tropical waters around the world. For more information, go to this link:
The dolphins were amazing to watch as they slapped the water with their tails and followed the net right up to the ship. I have included a video and a picture, but this really does not show the true beauty it was to watch them live. I am so lucky to be out here in the Gulf of Mexico aboard the NOAA Ship Oregon II.
Click this link to watch my video of the dolphins!
There is such a wide variety of species living in the Gulf of Mexico. I have included some photos of just a few of the ones we have caught in the nets.
The Atlantic flying fish uses its pectoral fins to “catch” the air currents and moves it’s tail back and forth to move forward.
I am feeling much better now that we have been out to sea for seven days. Walking around on the ship can be tricky somedays, but I am getting better at it everyday!