NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard R/V Tommy Munro
July 19 – 27, 2022
Mission: Gulf of Mexico Summer Groundfish Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Eastern Gulf of Mexico
Date: August 14, 2022
There was no doubt about my excitement of being named as a NOAA Teacher at Sea and the opportunity to immerse myself in marine science and participate in scientific research. But the one aspect of this experience that I particularly looked forward to was being able to do this on a ship at sea. The ship would serve as a classroom like no other…a classroom where I could learn as a student and yet serve as a basis for me to develop instructional activities and projects for my students as a teacher. The classroom, as I described in the prior post, was originally scheduled to be NOAA Ship Oregon II but eventually turned out to be the R/V Tommy Munro.
While both ships were equipped with the facilities, resources and infrastructure required to conduct the samplings necessary for the survey, the main difference was that the Oregon II was part of the NOAA fleet of research vessels while the R/V Tommy Munro was not. Rather, the R/V Tommy Munro is operated under the management of the University of Southern Mississippi. Of course, when a ship is named after a person, there is always a sense of interest about the individual and what background, experience, and contributions to ocean sciences warranted such an honor. Tommy Munro has a compelling biography and can be read by accessing the following link:
It was a thrill seeing the R/V Tommy Munro for the first time on Tuesday, July 19 in preparation of my upcoming cruise.
As I arrived at the docked ship, I was first met by John Z., the ship’s cook, who treated me to a tour of the vessel. I know you are just as anxious to see the various spaces inside the ship so come on aboard and let me take you on a tour. The first stop was my living quarters.
I was assigned to State Quarters 2 which consisted of 4 bunks. My bunk was on the bottom to the left as you can see my belongings on the bed. Interestingly enough, it would turn out that 3 individuals were assigned to the quarters which meant that the upper bunk above mine was open. This was important because if the upper bunk was occupied, that would mean that I would have no other place to store my luggage than with me on the bed. So the upper bunk served as storage for the luggage from all three of us, giving us much need space to rest comfortably in our bunks.
The next stop on our tour involves meals on the cruise. The dining room is a table where all formal meals were served and offered an opportunity for those around the table to engage in conversation and watch television. It was not required for anyone wanting a meal to eat at the dining room table but it did offer a unique and comforting diversion from the long hours and hard work exerted while collecting samples for the survey.
Of course, the dining room would not have much of a purpose were it not for a kitchen to prepare the meals.
The picture on the left is the cooking station with the stove and oven where the meals are cooked and the picture on the right is where the meals are prepared. These two spaces appear to be very small areas and they are but there was enough room for the vast amount of groceries purchased prior to each cruise. I remember speaking to John Z. the cook about the grocery shopping for an upcoming cruise and he relayed to me that when he returns from shopping, it takes him approximately 3 hours to put up all of the groceries!
The tour continues with the areas of the ship dedicated to the research conducted during the cruise.
The first area is referred to as the wet lab – the space where the samples collected from each sampling are processed, and measurements are recorded and uploaded to a database.
Just located across the hallway from the wet lab is the dry lab, the area with several computers allowing the scientists to track the motion of the ship, confirm its arrival at each sampling site, and store data acquired by the Secchi disk, the CTD array of sensors unique to each sampling site, and the species analysis of marine life species collected during each sampling.
As we near the end of the tour of the R/V Tommy Munro, let’s proceed from the wet and dry lab to a flight of stairs to the upper deck of the vessel to the captain’s deck.
The captain’s deck is equivalent to the cockpit of an airplane where the captain and his crew navigate the vessel to the assortment of sampling sites in coordination with the science team.
We wrap up our tour of the R/V Tommy Munro from atop the upper deck with the view from the stern of the ship. This was a spot that I found myself many times, particularly in the evening, as I took in the scenic views of the surrounding seas.
In this installment of my exercise of the Ocean Literacy Framework, I would like to ask you to respond to three questions about the third essential principle:
The ocean is a major influence of weather and climate,
presented in a Padlet accessed by the following link:
Remember, there are no right or wrong answers – the questions serve not as an opportunity to answer yes or no, or to get answers right or wrong; rather, these questions serve as an opportunity not only to assess what you know or think about the scope of the principle but also to learn, explore, and investigate the demonstrated principle. If you have any questions or would like to discuss further, please indicate so in the blog and I would be glad to answer your questions and initiate a discussion.