NOAA Teacher at Sea
Lynn M. Kurth
Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
July 25 – August 9, 2014
Mission: Shark/Red Snapper Longline Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic
Date: July 28, 2014
Lat: 24 17.334 N
Lon: 082 30.265
Weather Data from the Bridge:
Wind: 7.52 knots
Barometric Pressure: 1017.85 mb
Temperature: 31.1 Degrees C
Science and Technology Log:
We have been traveling across the Gulf over the past two days and will continue traveling until Monday night when we will reach our first testing station. Wondering exactly where we are? You can see the ship’s location live at: NOAA Shiptracker
Our official survey has not begun but Dr. Jim Nienow, an instructor from Valdosta University, is aboard for the cruise and has been doing some basic plankton sampling while we are on the move. Dr. Nienow participated in his first shark longline survey back in 2008 and this is his sixth cruise aboard the Oregon II. He enjoys being part of the shark longline survey because it provides him with the opportunity to collect the samples that he analyzes with his students when he returns to the university. In the first few years that Dr. Neinow began collecting plankton samples he was interested in the overall biodiversity he found in the samples.
But over the past few years his work has evolved and he is currently focused on the distribution of diatoms. Diatoms are microscopic single celled photosynthesizing algae and are the most common type of phytoplankton found. Diatoms represent approximately half of the ocean’s production. In other words, these little buggers are important because they serve as the base of the food chain for the ocean. By studying diatoms scientists are able to study the overall health of the particular environment that they were collected from.
We have spent some time preparing the gear for the survey by getting the fishing lines ready. Circle hooks are used for the shark long line survey vs. J hooks so that the sharks are rarely hooked deep which makes the hook easier to remove and reduces the potential of harming the shark.
Did you Know?
Diatoms are used for the following:
- as mild abrasives found in cleaning products and sometimes toothpaste
- as filter material when making alcoholic/non alcoholic drinks, syrup and medicines
- as insulation in sound proof or fire proof doors
During our time traveling we had an abandon ship drill. If we were to abandon the ship we would put on a full neoprene survival suit before entering the water. The water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico is around 87 degrees Fahrenheit so the suit protects folks from hypothermia that would occur over time.