NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
May 23 – June 7, 2018
Mission: Spring Ecosystem Monitoring Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Northeastern Coast U.S.
Date: May 24, 2018
Weather Data from Bridge
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 feet
Wind Speed: 12 knots°
Wind Direction: west
Air Temperature: 13.5°C
Sky: Few clouds
Science and Technology Log
Tuesday, May 22, I arrived at Newport Naval Base and boarded NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow to begin my Teacher at Sea journey by staying overnight on a docked ship. Day 1 was filled with many new experiences as we headed out to sea. The Henry B. Bigelow is part of a fleet of vessels commissioned to conduct fishery surveys. To learn more about the Henry B. Bigelow, check out this website: Henry B. Bigelow. The objective of this cruise is to access the hydrographic, planktonic and pelagic components of North East U.S. continental shelf ecosystem. The majority of the surveys we will take involve the microbiotic parts of the sea – phytoplankton, zooplankton and mesoplankton. Plankton are small microscope organisms in the oceans that are extremely important to the entire Earth ecosystem. These organisms are the foundation of the entire ocean food web. By studying their populations. scientists can get an accurate picture of the state of larger ocean organism populations.
Before leaving the dock, I met with Emily Peacock from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) to learn how to run an Imaging Flow Cytobot instrument that uses video and flow cytometric technology to capture images of phytoplankton. The IFCB was developed by Dr Heidi Sosik and Rob Olsen (WHOI) to get a better understanding of coastal plankton communities. The IFCB runs 24 hours a day collecting sea water and continuously measuring phytoplankton abundance. Five milliliters of sea water are analyzed every 20 minutes and produces the images shown below.
The science party on board is made up of scientists from National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) part of NOAA Fisheries Division. The chief scientist, Jerry Prezioso, works out of Narragansett Lab and the lead scientist, Tamara Holzworth Davis, is from the Woods Hole Lab, both from the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Other members of the Science Party are Seabird/Marine Mammal observers and a student from Maine Maritime Academy. The Crew and scientist group work together to coordinate sampling stations. The crew gets the ship to the site and aid the scientists in deploying instruments. The scientists collect the data and samples at each station. The Crew and scientists work together to find the best and most efficient sea route to each sampling site. Note all the stops for specimen collection on map below. There definitely has to be a plan!
Because research instrument deployment is done 24 hours a day, the NOAA Corps crew and scientists are divided into two shifts. I am on watch 1200 – 2400 hours, considered the day shift. This schedule is working good for me. I finish duty at midnight, go to sleep till 9:00 AM and rise to be back on duty at noon. Not a bad schedule. Due to clear weather and calm seas, the ship headed east out of Newport Harbor towards the continental shelf and started collecting samples at planned stops. I joined another group of scientists observing bird and marine mammal populations from the flying bridge of the ship. Humpback whales and basking sharks breached several times during the day
It has only been two days but I feel very acclimated to life at sea. I am not seasick, thanks to calm seas and the patch. Finding the way around the ship is getting easier- it is like a maze. Spotting a pod of humpback whales breaching and basking sharks was a highlight of the day. My Biology students back at May River High School scored great on End of Course Exam. Congratulations May River High School Sharks! Thinking of y’all.