Andria Keene: Awaiting Anchors Aweigh! September 26, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Andria Keene

Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II

October 8 – 22, 2018


Mission: SEAMAP Fall Groundfish Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico

Date: September 26, 2018


Weather Data for Tampa, Fl: 

Latitude: 27º56’38”N
Longitude: 82º30’12”W
Temperature: 33º Partly Cloudy
Winds Speed: S 4.34 knots
20% chance of rain


The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.

-Jacques Cousteau

first SCUBA gear
My first SCUBA gear! Age 3

My love for all things related to the ocean started at a very early age and grew into a passion by the time I graduated high school. As a young Floridian, exploring the beaches, boating through the intercoastal waterways, and visiting the Miami SeaQuarium were my way of life. When I was in elementary school, my family moved to Virginia and even though we spent the next ten years trading seahorses for Tennessee Walking horses, I still watched every rerun of Flipper and waited with anticipation for each Jacques Cousteau TV special. Then, when I was in high school, my grandparents moved from New Jersey to the Florida Keys and I was reunited once again with the beautiful underwater world that brought me such fascination. We spent our summers snorkeling, sailing, and fishing. In the evenings, we drove around searching for the elusive Key Deer. When we visited the Dolphin Research Center and the Turtle Hospital, I was shocked to learn that my beloved ocean was facing some serious threats.

Andria Age 5
Enjoying a day at the beach! Age 5


As I entered college, my interest transformed from a hobby to a lifestyle. I earned my first SCUBA certification, participated in my first coastal clean-up, and volunteered for restoration projects and turtle walks. I signed up for every life science course I could find. In my senior year at Stetson University, I registered for a class before I even knew what the title meant. Ornithology, with Dr. Stock. I found myself canoeing through alligator-infested waterways to investigate snowy egret rookeries, hiking through the forest at 5am to identify birds by only their calls, and conducting a post-mortem investigation on one of his road-kill specimens to determine its cause of death. Dr. Stock’s class was so different than anything I had experienced. I was in my element. I found myself constantly wanting to learn more. Not just about the organisms around me, but about how to fix the negative impacts we have on their environment. As I learned, I became motivated to teach others about what they could do to make a difference. My passion for teaching was born.

It is hard to believe that I have been teaching science in Hillsborough County for almost twenty years and that approximately 3,000 students have filled the chairs of my classroom. Years ago, I realized that even though we are located in west-central Florida, many of my students have little involvement with the ocean or our local beaches. I decided to change that fact by extending my classroom outside of my four walls.  In true Dr. Stock fashion, I attempt to bring the ocean to life for my students through field trips, restoration projects, and guest speakers. With the help of some amazing organizations like the Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay Watch, and Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, we have participated in many activities to help us learn about the ocean and about how to remedy our impacts.



We also love to get out in nature and explore the splendor that awaits us. In the pictures below, students from Plant High enjoy a day at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center where we participated in fishing and kayaking clinics and learned about protecting our local estuarine species.

Plant High students
A day of adventure focused on the importance of our beautiful estuaries!

As I head out for two weeks on NOAA Ship Oregon II, I am leaving my classroom and students behind but I know that the value of what I will bring back to them far outweighs the short time I will be away. I hope through my experience my students will see that you are never too old to learn something new and that even the teacher can improve her knowledge.

I am eager to develop first-hand experience with the technology and research methods currently being used to study the ocean. I look forward to meeting the scientists and the crew of my ship and learning about all of the career opportunities that are available to my students through NOAA. I am ready to turn my NOAA education into lessons that will benefit my students and infuse my curriculum with new life.

I cannot wait to see the beautiful sunsets over the gulf and maybe I’ll even catch a few sunrises. I am hoping for the occasional visit from a whale, a dolphin, or a sea turtle. Who knows? Maybe I will even get a chance to see a few of my favorite ornithological species!

Counting down … 12 days to go.

Fair Winds! 

Today’s Shout Out: To Mr. Johnny Bush (Plant High School Principal), Mr. Larry Plank (SDHC Director of STEM), and Mr. Dan McFarland (SDHC Science Supervisor) for all of their support in making this trip possible for me.

17 Replies to “Andria Keene: Awaiting Anchors Aweigh! September 26, 2018”

  1. What are some of the organisms you hope to see while you are out there on the boat?
    Also how deep is the water you will be dragging your nets in? I think it’s so cool that you get to do this and i hope you have a great time.

    1. I am excited about seeing all the different species and wondering how the biodiversity will change in different locations. I will have to let you know about the water depth because I do not know that answer yet. I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it!

  2. This is so amazing that you get to do this!!! Which part of the gulf are you traveling? Which states will you be “bordering”?

    1. I will be in the northern part of the Gulf of Mexico. I am leaving from Mississippi and will return to Texas. I do not know the route yet but I will be posting my coordinates for you guy to track me on my adventure. 🙂

  3. I think it is so cool that you are doing this! What new things do you hope to discover, and do you think you will get seasick or miss home on the boat? Have a great trip!

    Also, I think you look so much like Toni in that picture!

    1. I hope I do not get seasick! I have grown up on boats and love sailing but I have never been on a ship like this or so far out to sea for such a long period of time. I packed some medicine for just in case. I am not sure what I will discover but I am hoping to learn about how eutrophication and pollution are affecting the populations of the Gulf.

      Too funny…sometimes people think Toni and I look just alike and other times she is all her dad 😉

  4. Are you going to be researching any specific organisms while you’re off at sea? And will you be using any of the technology we were learning about from our projects in class? Hope you have a great time at sea!

    1. Great questions, Anton! I will update you guys as soon as I know more about our species or focus. I am excited to learn more about the technology that is aboard the Oregon II. I have seen pictures of them using a CTD, Bongo Nets and of course, trawling nets. I am sure they have much more and I hope to to use as much as I can to study the Gulf while we are at sea.
      I can’t wait to share what I learn with you!

  5. Are there any specific organisms that you will be looking for? Which organisms do you hope to find? I think it’s so cool that you are getting to experience this. My last question is what zones will you be dragging the nets through ?

    1. Such good questions, Kendrick! I know that we will be looking specifically at grouper, snapper, and shrimp as well as whatever else shows up in the nets. I am learning more about the mission each day. For now we are delayed because of the hurricane in the Gulf! But once we are out there I will be sure to answer your questions about the depths and the zones. See you soon.

  6. Hope you have a great and safe time at sea! Aton is super excited that he is featured in your first blog pictures; he will not stop gloating to sam haha. If you could choose one marine animal to see that you haven’t yet what would it be? Make sure you come back to us safe so that you can tell us to put our phones in the pocket and talk about Europa.

    1. I love sharks, turtles, and whales so if I see any of them I will be thrilled. Guess Sam will have to catch a bigger fish next time we go so he could take Anton’s picture spot! Be good while I am away or your phones will go in the pockets EVERYDAY and I’ll be sure to plan more lessons on Europa since it is your favorite topic!

  7. This is so cool!! Hope your trip goes GREAT Mrs. Keene. What type of activities are you doing on the boat? Will you be able to get up close and personal with the sea life? Will you be able to bring any animals back to school with you? Most importantly what animals have you seen so far? Is there anything special about the creatures you’re studying?

  8. This is so cool!! Hope your trip goes GREAT Mrs. Keene. What type of activities are you doing on the boat? Will you be able to get up close and personal with the sea life? Will you be able to bring any animals back to school with you? Is there anything special about the creatures you’re studying?

  9. Hey Sarai! Thanks for asking so many great questions! Right now we are stuck at the dock waiting for the hurricane to pass but once it does we will be heading out hopefully on Thursday. The goal of our mission is to monitor the health of the populations of species in the gulf. We will be focusing on grouper, snapper, and shrimp but also whatever shows up in the nets. We will do this by catching and counting and gathering lots of information to see if their numbers are good. I will not be able to bring anything back for our classroom tanks because I have no way of keeping things alive for that long but I will bring tons of pictures! I have only seen a few animals hanging around the boat like seagulls and pelicans 🙂

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: