NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
September 4 – 17, 2017
Mission: Juvenile Walleye Pollack Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Alaska
Current Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Weather Data from the beach
Currently Virginia Beach is experiencing Potential Tropical Cyclone 10. The temperature is topped out at 75°F. The winds are out of the NE at about 13 mph right now. That’s expected to increase to 25-35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph this afternoon. Forecasts predict mild flash flooding and some tidal flooding around the 2 pm high tide.
Introduction – Personal Log
My name is Jenny Smallwood, and I’m a school and youth programs educator at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I’m in my 11th year as an educator, which included 8 years as a high school science teacher. These days I get to hang out with and educate scouts, school groups, and other visitors to the Aquarium. One of the coolest things I’ve experienced working here is watching as a student sees the ocean for the very first time! It was that experience that helped me realize how important it is to share the oceans and oceanic research with people who can’t experience it themselves. I want to bring my Teacher at Sea experience to those individuals who don’t have the Chesapeake Bay or an ocean in their backyard. I want to help them experience the life of a marine researcher.
Outside of my role as an educator, I love to go on all the adventures. My husband, Lee, and I enjoy traveling and have nicknamed ourselves “adventure nerds.” We even have a theme song. Like I said, we’re nerds. I’m super excited about this latest adventure with Teacher at Sea. I’m still amazed that I was one of the few chosen for this year’s research cruises.
Science and Technology Log
The Oscar Dyson is a NOAA research vessel used for fisheries surveys important to fisheries management. Commissioned in 2005, this 208.6 feet long ultra-quiet survey ship is considered one of the most technologically advanced fisheries survey vessels in the world. That’s right. This ship is super stealthy so we can sneak up on the fish. It also has numerous labs onboard, including a wet, dry, bio, and hydro lab.
On this trip, the Oscar Dyson will pull out of Kodiak, Alaska and make its way southwest through the Gulf of Alaska to take up position for Leg 2 of the EMA-EcoFOCI Juvenile Walleye Pollock and Forage Fish Survey.
What does that mean exactly? Well, it means that scientists will collect Walleye Pollock data to get an idea of what the population looks like. They’ll also take zooplankton samples, smaller prey fish samples, and collect environmental data to see how these factors might be affecting Pollock. Basically scientists and policy makers need information in order to properly manage this fishery, and this is where NOAA comes in. I can’t wait to learn more about the application of this research as scientists learn even more about the ecology of Pollock.
To collect these samples, scientists will be using a variety of tools. Bongo nets will be used to collect zooplankton samples. From what I’ve learned so far, it sounds like specially mounted equipment collects water data along with the plankton. A Stauffer trawl net will be used to sample fish species. A CTD rosette (CTD stands for conductivity, temperature, and density) will be used along the way to corroborate that the other water data equipment is indeed working correctly. Scientists, like mathematicians, do love to double check their work.
Did You Know?
Did you know that NOAA is part of our daily lives? Both the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center are part of this organization. To learn more about the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Harvey, or Potential Tropical Cyclone 10, visit their website: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/