NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
September 3 – 15, 2017
Mission: Snapper/Longline Shark Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: September 19, 2017
Sea wave height: NA
Wind Speed: 7 Mph
Wind Direction: W
Air Temperature: 20 degrees C (68 degrees Fahrenheit)
Barometric Pressure: 29.81″ Steady
Sky: scattered clouds
And just like that, it’s over. I am back in Flagstaff and have finally stopped feeling the boat rocking while on solid ground. Students have been working on a shark project in my absence and we are finishing it up this week. My first day back was a day of show and tell. The students were excited and full of questions about my trip. As I presented to my students, I realized how much I learned and how much more I still want to know! Here are some pictures from Monday.
As I reflect back on my adventure, I have many thoughts and wonder how the fourth and final leg is going. I think back to last year when I first learned I was selected to be on this adventure and how impossible it was to imagine that I was actually going to work with sharks. Then, as the date loomed closer, trying to best prepare for something that was a big unknown to me. And then I was at the dock looking at the Oregon II tied up for the weekend. I recall when I first reached the dock in the evening looking at the ship and thinking wow, pinch me, this is really happening. I remember being awed and out of my element those first few days just learning to navigate the ship. And then the first haul in! Now that was a rush as we pulled in not only small sharpnose sharks but larger sandbar sharks that needed to be cradled. It was unbelievable watching as the team worked and I was thrust into being a viable team member. After a week, it was a game I had to see if I could bait the hooks as fast as the veteran scientists. I automatically logged the fin clips and helped enter the data we had collected. Working on the ship became the new normal — knowing what to to do at each station’s deployment of the line and the haul back. I was feeling competent in my role. Even pulling in some sharks became routine…routine! Wow, had I come a long way. And then, just like that, I was on my last haul back and heading back into port.
Here are some of my favorite videos and photos from the adventure.
Below a time lapse of what a haul back at night looks like
Measuring a sandshark
And a video of my favorite shark- the great hammerhead being released out of the cradle.
And a baby hammy
So here I am, back in Flagstaff, reflecting back on my adventure. Did it really happen? I have pictures to prove it and stories I am sharing but it does seem like a lifetime ago that I was touching a shark and looking into the doe eyes of a ten foot hammerhead shark. The more I talk about what I have done, the more I realize how much I learned and how much more I still don’t know. The two weeks flew by but I am grateful for it. So for those of you out there reading this blog, make time for adventures, get out there and do it, follow your passion and immerse yourself. You might be surprised at what you can do!