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 of U.S.
Date: June 3, 2018
Weather From Bridge
Sea Wave Height: 4-6 ft
Wind Speed: 20 knots
Wind Direction: NE
Air Temperature: 10°C
Sky: few clouds
Science and Technology Log
As the Henry B. Bigelow traverses the Gulf of Maine sampling the microorganisms at stations, another pair of scientists are observing bird and marine mammal populations. Much of my time between sampling stations, I head up to the flying bridge and join Nicholas Metheny and John Loch, Seabird Observers, on the lookout for the seabird and marine mammals. The seabirds most commonly observed in the Gulf of Maine are the Wilson Storm Petrel and the Sooty Shearwater. These two species account for 60% of the birds seen. These pelagic seabirds live offshore and only return to land to breed, often on remote islands.
All the samplings taken with bongo nets are samplings of the producers and primary consumers, the small organisms in the food chain. On the observation deck, the fish and marine mammals that rely on a healthy bottom food chain are observed. Spotting marine mammals adds much to the excitement of the day. The bridge will announce a sighting and if possible, one gets to the flying bridge to see the wildlife. One of the first sightings was of humpback whales in the distance, followed by sperm whale and pilot whale sightings.
The most fascinating sightings were of Mola Mola- Ocean Sunfish. They were spotted often and very close to the ship.
The science crew is kept busy sampling at each station. There is some down time steaming from station to station at 12 knots but it is enjoyable. I spend the down time talking to crew and scientists. Chief Scientist Jerry Prezioso has been an awesome mentor and photographer! I am learning so much and am so excited to bring it back into my classroom next year. The seas have been relatively calm but the forecast for the end of the cruise is not favorable for sampling due to high winds. If winds are over 30 knots, the crew has difficulty deploying the nets so sampling is suspended. The science crew has taken samples from 114 stations. These samples will be sent off to be analyzed at different labs.
The deck crew and scientist party have been a pleasure to work with. I have learned so much from each of them
The cruise was cut short by two days due to high winds. The last sampling station was in Cape Cod Bay. Tomorrow the ship will head back to port through the Cape Cod Canal, ending a fantastic cruise. I am so excited to see the data from all these samples. Thanks Teacher at Sea program for a great adventure!