NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard USCGC Healy
August 7 – 25, 2018
Mission: Healy 1801 – Arctic Distributed Biological Observatory
Geographic Area: Arctic Ocean (Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea)
Date: August 9, 2018
Evening of August 9th
North of the Bering Strait, North of the Arctic Circle
Air temp 49F, sea depth 35 m , surface water temp 52F
The Globe Comes Alive with a Real World View on the USCGC Healy
This morning was very exciting moment for me to share with students. We crossed through the Bering Strait coming right next to the International Date Line and then crossed over the Arctic Circle. In the classroom we often look at these features on a globe. For me to see what my students and I have only seen on a globe or map for so many years in front of us on a clear sunrise morning was awesome! Looking at the panoramic picture below was my best attempt to share the Bering Strait with all of you.
The Bering Strait
Picture below, the Bering Strait at sunrise facing northeast to the rising sun.
In this picture we are passing through the Bering Strait and this is a 180 degrees panoramic picture from the port side of the ship. The Cape Prince of Wales is the westernmost point on the mainland of the United States and the continent of North America. Cape Dezhnev, Russia is the easternmost mainland point of Russia and the continent of Asia. Only 51 miles (82 km) separate these two points. This close proximity, shallow sea depths, and historical findings of the native settlements in the area have led historians to believe this was the entry point to the America’s first human inhabitants. This shallow sea only average in the 30s to 50s meters in depth and is also one of the reasons for the rich sea life in the area. The continental shelf extends throughout the Bering Sea and Chukchi Sea to help create this vast area of shallow seas rich in marine life. This area that extends all the way to the Northern edge the continental shelf to north of Alaska will continue to be the study area on our trip.
Looking at Tomorrow Across the International Date Line
One of the imaginary lines humans have created on globe is the International Date Line. Today we traveled right next to that imaginary line and were able to see tomorrow. In this picture below is the island that sits in middle of the Bering Strait, the Russian island of Big Diomede.
Between the ship and the island runs the International Date Line. So for us on the ship it was sunrise for Thursday Morning, but for the island of Big Diomede it was sunrise for Friday Morning. So yes, I saw tomorrow!
The Arctic Circle
The tilt of the earth on its axis is a topic we covered in my Science class this year. This tilt not only creates our seasons but the lands of 24 hours daylight in the summer and 24 hours of darkness in the winter. That line is just north of latitude 66°33′ and we have crossed that line. Its now August so we are headed to fall, but sun is out at midnight and is setting around 12:30 am and is up by 6am. In between these night time hours are still twilight, meaning never truly dark and typically you can still see the horizon.
Today’s Wildlife Sightings
Today a pair of Fin Whales swam by several hundred meters from the ship. Fin whales are the second largest animals on this planet second to the Blue Whale and are also endangered. So, it was special to see them. Fin Whales eat crustaceans, squid and small schools of fish and can grow up to 85 ft / 25 m.
Now and Looking forward
As we move forward in time the sun will rise 5 minutes later a day and set 5 minutes earlier. That means we lose 10 minutes of sun a day. In another 2 weeks towards the end of this trip in two weeks there will be 140 minutes less or two hours and 20 minutes of less day light!