NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker
June 2 – June 13, 2017
Mission: Pelagic Juvenile Rockfish Recruitment and Ecosystem Assessment Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean -Off the California Coast
Date: May 25, 2017
Weather Data from the Bridge
Since I am still in Central New York, that is not an easy answer. This week – 60s and rain. Last week it was 85, hot & muggy; the week before saw a Frost Advisory. CNY meteorologists certainly earn their keep.
I will be traveling off the coast of California, which I have heard is nice. I expect 50’s to 60’s during the day, warming as we move south.
Science and Technology Log
Not much to report yet as I am still landlocked, but I am looking forward to seeing how the scientists work!
For some background, I pulled some information about the Rockfish Survey from the NOAA Fisheries website, and the official NOAA website of the Rueben Lasker (as well as the Facebook and Wikipedia entries for the vessel).
From the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations:
Built in Wisconsin by Marinette Marine Corporation and commissioned in 2014, the ship is named after Dr. Reuben Lasker (1929-1988), who served as the director of SWFSC’s Coastal Fisheries Division and as adjunct professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, U.C. San Diego. Dr. Lasker built a renowned research group that focused on the recruitment of young fish to the adult population — a topic with implications for fisheries management throughout the world. Reuben Lasker is homeported in San Diego, California.
The Juvenile Rockfish Survey dates back to 1983. Since that time, NOAA has expanded the range of coastline studied and added a great deal in terms of information gathered and instruments utilized. The Reuben Lasker is a very recent addition to the fleet, being commissioned in 2014, and has state of the art instrumentation. Oceanographic data collected includes conductivity, temperature, depth, chlorophyll and light levels as well as turbidity and dissolved oxygen concentration.
I will have to brush up on my rockfish (Sebastes spp.), as there 16 species that can be caught off the California coast, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. There are many other species that are documented during the survey, including juvenile and adult Pacific whiting (Merluccius productus), juvenile lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus), northern anchovy (Engraulis mordax), Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax), market squid (Loligo opalescens), Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas), krill (Euphausiacea). Data gathered includes the number and size of individuals collected. Rockfish will also have genetic tissue samples and otoliths (used for daily aging) taken. Finally, the crew conducts a seabird and marine mammal count as well.
I would like to start this section by stating how deeply honored I am to be selected for the Teacher @ Sea program and I want to thank NOAA for giving me this chance to further stretch my horizons. I have always seen science as more than just a class trapped in a four wall classroom, and I have been fortunate enough to take advantage of a few very exciting opportunities. Every time, I add to my repertoire, my knowledge base and my network. I can not tell you how excited I am to be able to take advantage of this opportunity from NOAA. Although I have been teaching science for almost 20 years, I have not done much in terms of field work. It is one thing to promote the exciting work being done in the world of STEM, but I feel it is another to actually talk from experience. I aim to bring as much of the field work from the Reuben Lasker to my classes as I can – and I am already thinking about how I might do that.
I am definitely stepping out of my comfort zone on this trip. Not only do I not blog on a regular basis (or ever), but I can not tell you how many times I have been asked “So do you get seasick?” I don’t really know! I have taken a couple cruises and my dad took me fishing on the Great Lakes as a kid, but this voyage will be very different. I’m going with the meds. I hope people find my writing to be informative and entertaining, and that I can be an asset for the program moving forward.
Did You Know?
Otoliths are bony structures behind the brains in fish. They make annual layers and can be counted to determine the age of a fish, like tree rings.
Video excerpt from “Microworlds: How Old is A Fish?” produced by NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center, available for download here.
Want to try it? Here is an interactive from NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center: https://www.afsc.noaa.gov/refm/age/interactive.htm