NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker
April 11 – April 22, 2017
Mission: Spring Coastal Pelagic Species (Anchovy/Sardine) Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean
Date: March 22, 2017
Weather Data from the Bridge:
Although I have not boarded the Reuben Lasker yet, there are 446 bridges in Pittsburgh – the most in the world. Here is the weather, according to the National Weather Service) from the Roberto Clemente Bridge:
Lat: 40.36oN Long: 79.92oW
36oF, Wind speed: N 12mph, Barometer 30.31 in, Visibility 10.00 mi.
Greetings to everyone from the city of Latrobe, Pennsylvania (the home of Arnold Palmer and Mr. Rogers). My name is Mark Wolfgang and I have taught biology and zoology for the past 16 years at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, a community just east of Pittsburgh. I am excited to share with you my adventures on the Reuben Lasker as a 2017 NOAA Teacher at Sea.
Ever since my 4th grade class with Mrs. Kerr, I wanted to be a teacher. I entered the teaching profession right after college, so my scientific experience outside of the classroom and in the research world is limited. In college, I became enthralled with the world of insects and worked a summer in the department of invertebrate zoology at the Carnegie Natural History Museum where I got a small taste of scientific research. When I had the opportunity to create a new course at my high school, my thoughts automatically went to Zoology. I quickly discovered that although I knew a lot about the bugs crawling around us, I knew very little about the animals that live in our oceans. Over the past years of teaching this course to our juniors and seniors, I developed an appreciation for all the animals living on our earth and a drive to learn more about them. This is what led me to NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program – an exciting opportunity to combine my love for animals and quest for knowledge with the research opportunity and to share those experiences with my students.
I am incredibly excited to experience the oceans outside of my classroom full of videos, pictures, and preserved specimens and to help my students realize the career opportunities they have in the world of zoology. I want my students to see the importance of caring about the health of our oceans and gain an appreciation for animals they will probably never encounter. My interest in zoology did not start until I was in college, so it is never too late to produce this passion in my high school students.
Outside of the classroom, I am also the director of our school’s spring musical. This March, I directed my 15th show, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Admittedly, it is a little odd to go from the producing a musical to researching sardines in the ocean in 6 weeks, but I love the diversity of the experiences I have as a teacher. I have an incredible wife and two daughters (age 8 and 10) who are supporting me on this exciting adventure. In my spare time I love experiencing the richness of life with the three of them. I enjoy music and theater, hockey (Let’s Go Pens!), golf, kayaking, listening to podcasts, reading, and exploring our National Parks.
Scientific and Technology Log:
I will soon leave spring in Pittsburgh to fly 2,300 miles to the west coast where I board Reuben Lasker to begin my journey along the coast of central California. I am excited to see the city of San Francisco since I have never been here before. Before I return home, I hope to try some sourdough bread.
I will join the second leg of the Spring Coastal Pelagic Study, where we will be surveying the distributions and abundances of coastal pelagic fish stocks, their prey, and their biotic and abiotic environments in the California Current. We will be using acoustic sampling and trawling to investigate the Northen Anchovy (Engraulis mordax) and the Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax). Research will also include sampling pelagic fish eggs, plankton, and conducting unmanned aircraft surveys.
Acoustic-trawl method (ATM) is used to estimate the distribution and abundance of certain organisms. The ATM transmits sound pulses beneath the ship and receive echoes from animals and the seabed. The intensities of the echoes provides indications of type of organism and behavior. I hope to share more information with you after we get underway.
Did you know?
As of March of 2015 there are 228,450 known species in the ocean, ranging from seaweeds to blue whales. Scientists estimate that between 500,000 and 2 million more multicellular ocean organisms are still unknown. We have quite a lot to still learn about ocean ecosystems.