NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
September 17 – 30, 2017
Mission: Shark/Red Snapper Longline Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: September 16, 2017
Welcome to my Teacher at Sea blog! My name is Kate Schafer, and I am a teacher at the Upper School at the Harker School in San Jose, California, right in the middle of Silicon Valley. I teach biology, marine biology and food science to mostly juniors and seniors. This may seem like an odd mix of courses, but I am so fortunate to be able to teach students about all my favorite topics. I have heard that the food is delicious on the Oregon II, and I’m interested in learning more about the challenges of keeping a crew fed when you can’t pop down to the corner grocery store when you realize that you forgot to order that crucial ingredient. I have spent many hours on the ocean, and spent six years studying coral reefs in Belize, Central America, but I’ve never been to sea on a research vessel. I’m thrilled to have that opportunity and to share it with my students.
The weather has been a big topic of conversation of late here in San Jose. Two weekends ago set all-time record high temperatures throughout the Bay Area, even along the coast. Living in close proximity to the ocean, we expect relief from that rare hot day to come rather quickly, but the heat lingered for days. We’re back to normal fall weather as I head off, though. This morning is cool and seasonable. I know from growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, that I’m heading to warm and humid conditions on the other end of my travels.
Science and Technology Log
On this research cruise, we will be conducting long line surveys, looking at shark and red snapper populations in the Gulf of Mexico. I will report more on where we are going and what we’re studying once the leg of the survey begins. There are multiple legs to the survey, and I’ll be joining in for the fourth and final leg. It has been a tumultuous time in the Gulf over the past few weeks, and it will be interesting to learn about how this has impacted the coastal waters in the area we will be surveying.
I am sitting in the airport in San Jose, ready to board my flight to Dallas, en route to Gulfport and my final destination of Pascagoula, Mississippi. Wow! It’s been a frantic week of getting all sorts of last minute pieces put together to allow things to, hopefully, run smoothly in my absence. It’s early morning, so I’m still in a bit of a groggy cloud, making the fact that I’m actually heading off on this adventure all the more unreal.
Even the grogginess cannot stifle my excitement, though, as I head off for two weeks of working with scientists and collecting data. As I was packing last night, I couldn’t help but be reminded of all the previous trips I packed for more than 15 years ago to conduct field research on coral reefs in Belize. I was studying a type of crustacean called the stomatopod and learning about the role that they play in coral reef ecosystems, how they interact with other species like pygmy octopus and crabs, their main source of prey.
I am thrilled to be heading out on this research trip and feel so fortunate for the opportunity. I look forward to questions from you about what we are doing and learning on our voyage. Check in frequently for updated blog posts once the trip commences.
Did You Know?
That the Oregon II has been part of the NOAA fleet since 1977?