Jenny Hartigan: Ready to ACCESS the Seas! July 18, 2017

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Jenny Hartigan

Aboard NOAA Ship R/V Fulmar

July 21 – July 28, 2017


Mission:  Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies: Bird, mammal, zooplankton, and water column survey

Geographic Area:
North-central California

Date: July 18

Weather Data from the “Bridge” (My Kitchen): 22.4 degrees Celsius, Wind: kts, Air pressure: 1018 hPa, Humidity: 56%, partly cloudy, Rainfall: 0 mm


Personal Log

Hello! My name is Jenny Hartigan and I am getting ready to travel Friday on the Research Vessel Fulmar with the ACCESS program. I’ll explain the program below.

I am a middle school integrated science teacher at Lincoln Middle School in Alameda, CA. This year will be my 19th year of full-time teaching, although I became a teacher in 1991. I’m looking forward to seeing my eighth grade and Environmental Science students in August!

Outside of teaching, I have been married to my wonderful husband Mike for 24 years, and we have 2 “children”: Cari (21 years old and a fourth-year civil engineering/architecture student at Carnegie Mellon University) and Calder (16 years old and a senior at Alameda High School). Kody (AKA “goofiest dog in the world”) makes us laugh every day. We enjoy hiking and building things together; I also enjoy swimming, reading, watching movies and growing my own vegetables.

Why am I doing this?

I believe science should be relevant to students’ lives. Four years ago I developed an environmental science class generously funded by NOAA. 7th and 8th grade students participate in an environmental stewardship project. Since our campus borders the San Francisco Bay, students have immediate impact on our local watershed by removing non-native plants, planting native plants and analyzing litter. They also communicate the importance of taking care of our national marine sanctuaries to the public. We are an Ocean Guardian School!

I am excited to be selected for the Teacher at Sea program and have the opportunity to assist with research in a marine sanctuary, as well as learn about marine science careers. Thank you to NOAA for giving me this opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and stretch my horizons. My students will be interested to learn about people involved in science outside of school (there may be questions about sharks, too!) I can’t wait to get back and share it with them.

Personally I am hoping to see whales on this trip! My chances seem pretty good since friends have seen humpbacks off Baker Beach (near the Golden Gate Bridge) recently. I don’t know if I’ll get seasick. I have spent 3 days sailing on the Chesapeake Bay without getting sick, but that may be different from the Pacific Ocean! I have meds and lots of support from the scientists and crew just in case. Also, I’ve never blogged before, so I will be learning a new skill.

 Science and Technology Log

Did you know the Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies Survey (ACCESS) is a partnership that supports marine wildlife conservation and healthy marine ecosystems in northern and central California by conducting ocean research to inform resource managers, policy makers and conservation partners? ACCESS data is used to determine the severity of harmful algal blooms that affect the commercial fishing industry, protect whales from ship strikes, and assess how the ecosystem responds to changing ocean conditions. An example of how NOAA data is used to learn about the effects of water temperature on ecosystems is found at

The R/V Fulmar is a 67’ Teknicraft hydrofoil-assisted, aluminum-hulled catamaran homeported in the Monterey Harbor. It carries 2-3 crew members, 27 passengers and has 10 berths (that’s beds!) and serves the Monterey Bay, Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries. The boat is named after the northern fulmar, a gull-like bird related to an albatross that lives in the North Pacific Ocean. A catamaran has two parallel hulls instead of one hull like a traditional ship. This construction can reduce wave-induced motion. (I hope that helps to offset seasickness!) My duties will be to assist the scientists, stand watch and do housekeeping activities.



R/V Fulmar


Northern Fulmar

Northern Fulmar

Where am I going?

We will be sampling transects off the coast of North-central California between Sausalito and Bodega Bay on an 8-day research cruise. What is a transect, you wonder? Transects are lines along which measurements and observations are made, and are located in hotspots of marine animal activity. We will operate on transects 1-12 and N1-N7. If you’d like to find out where that is, look at the ACCESS map below.



I can’t wait to hear your questions and comments. Please write, and I’ll respond to you!

14 Replies to “Jenny Hartigan: Ready to ACCESS the Seas! July 18, 2017”

  1. Hi Ms. Hartigan! I hope you have an amazing time on your expedition! A few weeks ago, I was near Point Reyes and I noticed just how thick the fog was on land, I could barely see five feet in front of me. I was wondering if the fog was that thick out at sea. In class, you showed us so much about our local ecosystem, I cannot wait to learn more about another.

    ~Ezra Frary

    1. Hey Ezra, Great to hear from you! On Sunday the fog closed in right after we left Sausalito. It made it more difficult to spot whales, but we still saw some humpbacks. Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll explain the process for recording observations.

  2. Jenny, I read your blog today and am excited for you and to learn each day what you post ! Wishing you a great learning adventure !!! Marilyn Ebel

  3. Hi jenny. This is your mom on the Chesapeake bay where we had several horrendous lightning storms last night. Keep the blogs coming. Love ’em.

  4. Hi Jenny, I’m so excited for your adventure out at sea! I hope you see lots of whales! I look forward to reading your blogs. Have a wonderful time, Naomi Pollack

  5. Hi Mrs. Hartigan! Your adventure sounds amazing. Your descriptions are vivid and informative. I look forward to reading more.

  6. Hello Ms. Hartigan!
    This is so cool! This past summer my brother and I went to a sleepaway camp at Point Bonita. We saw aw porpoise that had washed up on the beach and its front was all mauled. (It was dead.) The people from the Marine Mammal center came and brought it back to the post mortem lab and did an autopsy. It just so happened that some of the other people from camp were going to the Marine Mammal center that day and they asked what had happened to it. The scientists said that it had washed up dead and then a raccoon came and got it. We also saw a pod of whales breaching. Thank you for the card! I wrote you a post card from the Greenwich Observatory and Westminster Abbey and will put it in your box at Lincoln. I hope you have had a good summer and best of luck in the coming school year!


    1. Hi Maggie, Sorry I’m late in posting a reply. Seeing a pod of whales breaching sounds amazing! My experience was fantastic and I’m looking forward to working more with NOAA in the future. Hope you are having a good start to the school year.
      I can’t wait to get your postcard.
      Mrs. Hartigan

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