NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard R/V Tiglax
September 11 – September 26, 2019
Mission: Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program.
Geographic Area of Cruise: Northern Gulf of Alaska (Port: Seward)
Date: September 5, 2019
Weather Data from Bartlett High School Student Meteorologist Jack Pellerin
Latitude: 61.2320° N
Longitude: 149.7334° W
Wind: Northwest, 2 mph
Air Temperature: 11oC (52oF)
Air pressure: 30.14 in
Partly cloudy, no precipitation
On September 10th, I enter my 46th year on this amazing planet, and on the 11th, I depart on a trip that will be a birthday gift to remember. I will be departing Seward on U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s R/V Tiglax to assist in the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-Term Ecological Research study. To understand why I am so excited about this trip, I have to rewind about 30 years.
On March 24th, 1989, I watched in shock, along with the world, as the oil from Exxon Valdez swept across Prince William Sound. I was a 15-year old budding scientist learning about the importance of baseline data for ecosystems. I didn’t know how, but I envisioned myself someday assisting in science research for this beautiful ecosystem. I dreamt of the day I would end up in Alaska and experience the Pacific Ocean.
In 2006, I was fortunate to be offered a teaching position in Cordova, Alaska on Prince William Sound where I became an oceanography and marine biology teacher. I was in awe of the ocean and what it had to teach myself and my students. Having the ocean at our front door made hands on learning in the field possible each and every week. We were also fortunate enough to partner with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Sycamore for a marine science field trip each year along with scientists from the Prince William Sound Science Center and U.S. Forest Service.
Since 2017, I have been teaching at Bartlett High School (BHS) in Anchorage School District. I again have the opportunity to teach oceanography and marine biology and I am thrilled. Although we live only a few miles away, many of my students have not yet seen the ocean. It is so important for me to make learning relevant to their lives and their locality. As much as we can incorporate Alaska and their cultures into the lessons the better.
Here are just a few snapshots from our classroom:
In a few days, I will begin my two-week mission to assist in important science research in Northern Gulf of Alaska (NGA) and I feel like my 30-year old dream has come true. I will be participating in the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) study, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
This cruise will be the third survey for the 2019 season for this area and the 23rd consecutive season for sampling along the Seward Line. The goal of the NGA-LTER program is to evaluate the ecosystem in terms of its productivity and its resiliency in the face of extreme seasonal variations and long term climate change. The mission entails doing a variety of water and plankton sampling at different stations along four transect lines in the NGA, as well as a circuit within Prince William Sound.
I will be sailing aboard R/V Tiglax (pictured below) which is the Aleut word for eagle and is pronounced TEKL-lah. My primary mission is to assist on the night shift with the collection of zooplankton at each station. In addition to this, I look forward to learning as much as I can about the other work being done, including water chemistry, nutrient sampling, phytoplankton collection and analysis, and seabird and mammal surveys. As a NOAA Teacher at Sea, I am tasked with creating lesson plans that connect this science research to my classroom. My goal is to develop lessons that will help my students understand the importance of whole systems monitoring, as well as the important connections between ocean water properties, microfauna and megafauna.
When I am not in my classroom, I like to be outside as much as possible. I enjoy hiking, backpacking and spending time with my family on our remote property in Bristol Bay.
My husband and I also like to travel outside of Alaska whenever possible during the winter months and see the world. One of our favorite trips was completing a full transit of the Panama Canal. This winter break we will be headed to the barrier reef in Belize to experience the beautiful tropical ocean.
I tell my students we have researched and explored more of space than we have of our own ocean.
I am so excited to be working to help change that statistic!
Did You Know?
This summer has broken many records in Alaska for warm dry weather and Southcentral has been in an official drought. How will this impact ocean temperatures out in the NGA and will we see evidence in the plankton or other organisms we examine?
Stay tuned to my blog and I will let you know the answer to this as well as so much more!