Cassie Kautzer: It’s All About the Survey! August 24, 2014


NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cassie Kautzer
Aboard NOAA Ship Rainier
August 16 – September 5, 2014

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area of Survey: Woody Island Channel, Kodiak, Alaska
Date: August 24, 2014

Temperature & Weather:  12° C  (54° F), Cloudy with Drizzly Rain

Science & Technology Log

Survey work continues today (Yes- even on the weekend) in the Woody Island Channel.  While it is easy for me to see why this area is navigationally significant, it made me think about how one would identify which areas need to be surveyed.  The National Ocean Service compiles data and prioritizes areas in need of surveying.  Examples can be seen here for NOAA’s survey priorities in and around Alaska.

Using the areas of critical priority the Hydrographic Surveys Division (HSD) writes project instructions.  Project instructions include all necessary data and guidelines, including: project name, project number, assigned field unit (ship), assigned processing branch, planned acquisition time, purpose and location of survey, and necessary supporting documents.  On the project instructions, the Hydrographic Surveys Division also splits the assigned survey areas into sheets, or manageable sections.

This image shows the project on the North side of Kodiak Island.  The project area is split into sheets.  Sheet 6 is highlighted in pink.  (Photo Courtesy NOAA and Project Instruction packet.)
This image shows the project on the North side of Kodiak Island. The project area is split into sheets. Sheet 6 is highlighted in pink. (Photo Courtesy NOAA and Project Instruction packet.)
This is a completed sheet from the North Kodiak project.
This is a completed sheet from the North Kodiak project.

Each sheet is then assigned to a Hydrographic Survey Technician (HST), a Hydrographic Senior Survey Technician (HSST), or a NOAA Corps Officer.  Usually, one person will be the sheet manager and another will be the sheet assistant.  The sheet manager is often teaching and guiding the sheet assistant, to train them to be able to do this work on their own in the future.   The sheet manager is also responsible for dividing the sheets into polygons. Polygons for hydro surveys are used to divide the survey into smaller sections.  When planning polygons, it is important for the sheet manager to follow specific guidelines- shapes cannot just be randomly drawn on a sheet or chart.  The deeper the water, the larger the polygon can be; the more shoal the area, the smaller the polygon should be.  Polygons should be drawn with the ocean contours, and should be planned for launch boats to run them from offshore to nearshore.  This is a safety step in that launches should be working from deeper areas up to shoaler areas near the shore.  As the boats move back in forth collecting data, it is as if they are mowing the lawn.  The boats always try to slightly overlap the last strip so that no data is missed.  If a small spot or strip of data is missed, its like that little area of grass that didn’t get mowed.  It is called a Holiday in the data, because we have to make a special trip back to gather data on that spot.

Hydro Senior Survey Tech  Brandy Geiger analyzes data and creates polygons for the sheet she is managing for the Woody Island Canal Survey.
Hydro Senior Survey Tech Brandy Geiger analyzes data and creates polygons for the sheet she is managing for the Woody Island Channel Survey.
Senior Tech Barry Jackson, Assistant Tech Dan Negrete, Senior Tech Brandy Geiger, Chief Tech Jim Jacobson, and Senior Tech Starla Robinson look over Woody Island Channel plans to prepare for survey.
Senior Tech Barry Jackson, Assistant Tech Dan Negrete, Senior Tech Brandy Geiger, Chief Tech Jim Jacobson, and Senior Tech Starla Robinson look over Woody Island Channel plans to prepare for survey.

Once plans are completed, the Field Operations Officer (FOO) can plan how many survey launch boats will be deploying, who will be aboard each, and what polygons they will aim to cover each day.  Aboard each launch a skilled coxswain (driver) and a Hydrographer in Charge (HIC) are needed.  There is almost always a third person on board, as it is best/safest to deploy boats with one person at the bow (front), one at the stern (back) and one in the driver’s seat.  Once on the water, the HIC and Coxswain have to cooperate and communicate to make an efficient and safe plan for the day.

Rainier Survey Launch - RA3.
Rainier Survey Launch – RA3.
Hydrographer in Charge (HIC) Starla Robinson and Seaman Surveyor Dennis Brooks look over multibeam data together, as they safely plan next steps to survey in shoal, rocky waters.
Hydrographer in Charge (HIC) Starla Robinson and Seaman Surveyor Dennis Brooks look over multibeam data together, as they safely plan next steps to survey in shoal, rocky waters.

Personal Log

Every day is an adventure!  I so enjoy learning – and it’s a good thing – because just about everything here is new to me!

Jellyfish!
Jellyfish!
Enjoying this beautiful evening- oceanside!
Enjoying this beautiful evening- oceanside!
Assistant Survey Tech Thomas Burrow [from Rogers, Arkansas :) ] processes multibeam data brought back from the launches.
Assistant Survey Tech Thomas Burrow [from Rogers, Arkansas 🙂 ] processes multibeam data brought back from the launches.
A black sand beach on the Kodiak Coast Guard Base.
A black sand beach on the Kodiak Coast Guard Base.
Observing from the observation deck as the Rainer gets underway.
Observing from the Flying Bridge as the Rainer gets underway.

For My Students

The survey says…

*What observations did you make in trying to answer the trivia question about what I found in the water?  Did you decide you saw Harbor Seal, Otter, Octopus, Plants, or Aliens?

You were actually seeing a plant/plants called kelp.  Kelp is a large brown seaweed that often has a long, tough stalk.  Kelp can often be found growing in and around shoal, rocky areas in the ocean.  A lot of kelp in the area is a warning to boats and other vessels that shallow areas or rocky obstructions may be near by, and caution is needed.

A new question for you:

1) What is a polygon?

2) What experiences have you had with the ocean?

 

33 Replies to “Cassie Kautzer: It’s All About the Survey! August 24, 2014”

  1. Hi Cassie,

    I have enjoyed reading your blog. I was on the Rainier May 2013 surveying in the Inside Passage. Fascinating work – been fun to recapture some of these memories through your writing. Sounds like a number of the same folks are around.

    Embrace the adventure – truly a unique experience to be a Teacher at Sea.

    Take care,
    Bill Lindquist

    1. Hi Bill!
      I completely agree – such a unique experience and new perspective! Several crew just returned from helping the Fairweather through the Inside Passage. We are headed out on a new leg now, and I am excited to see life in motion!
      Thanks for the message,
      Cassie

  2. Hi Cassie,
    I’m so impressed with your adventurous spirit! It’s great to read about all the math connections your students are going to make with real-world science exploration.

    Hi Monitor students – it’s Mrs. Groomer. Ms. Kautzer’s comment “…helping the Fairweather through the inside passage” reminds me of The Adventures of Captain Hatteras” by Jules Verne. Even though it’s set further north, it’s about exploring the Northwest Passage. It’s a great classic book. It’s so cool your teacher is an explorer!

    I’ll be checking in to learn even more about hydrographic surveys; it’s so interesting. Take care; I can’t wait to see what you blog about next time!
    Victoria

    1. Hi V!
      Thank you for the sweet message.
      I am learning so much here – and making so many connections to school and our students in Northwest Arkansas!
      🙂
      Cassie

  3. When you say the abbreviations in your blog, like (HIC), do you actually use that type of language or do you say the really long and big words?

  4. DO you have a hard time driving the boat and understading what your spouse to do / just confused.And there would to be a storm and the waves start goining crazy what will happen? Also are you learning new things? HAPPY TOUR AND THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Wow it was kelp. Thats wierd. O ne time I thought it was a stingray or sea otters. what did u think it was. Hmm kelp is tricky. OH and i the the sand is black because its burned

  6. i miss u and was it fun on the boat?And how cold do u think the water is?And do u think if u go in the water u would turn into a big ice cube.

  7. I’m curious why go back if you miss a few polygons if its a small ship that’s there for a long time it will rust and break wont it because I think it will and I think the sand is black because the stuff that could of spilled and piloted the water ore its a different type of sand that’s my guess well I hope your having fun and I cant wate to see you bye
    Austin Roberts.

  8. I miss you.And are you havin fun.And how are you.What have you seen the most out of animals?Anddo you likedriving the boat?iDIDT KNOW THAT in the pic of kelp in thuoght it was a jellyfish

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