NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Pisces
April 22-June 5, 2022
Mission: SEAMAP Reef Fish Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: April 23, 2023
Temperature: 73 degrees F
Wind: 20 kt.
Waves: 4-5 ft
Science and Technology Log
As I am still figuring my way around the boat, it is very apparent that their need for technology can be found all throughout the ship. There is a remarkable amount of knowledge regarding technology all around me, and I am feeling a bit uneducated compared to the scientists, engineers, officers, and the rest of the crew. As I mentioned in the introduction, we will be using cameras to collect video of fish along the coastal shelf of Texas to Louisiana, on this leg. This is used to categorize habitats. Each spot has been well orchestrated where the cameras will be dropped to collect footage. It takes several different people to make this happen. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is also being collected at various sites. At nighttime, sea mapping is being done as the boat travels by multi-beam sonar.
I am joining this part of the journey, which is leg 3. There is one more leg after this one and in total there are 537 planned Reef Fish Video Survey drops throughout this entire survey (legs 1-4). They are working around the clock to keep this mission going.
After my flight from St. Louis to Houston, I made my way to Galveston in a shared shuttle service. The shuttle consisted of several people going on different cruise ships the following day. I enjoyed telling them, when they asked, what ship I was going on, that I would be boarding NOAA Ship Pisces. The questions really started rolling in then, and they were fascinated to hear all about it. I was lucky enough to have gotten a hotel that was right across the street from the beach, the famous Pleasure Pier, and a seafood restaurant was just steps away. After check in, I went to the restaurant to enjoy some spicy shrimp tacos, and then headed across the street to the beach where I spent most of the evening just walking up and down the beach. Living in Missouri, you have to take in as much scenery at the beach while you can.
The next morning I was picked up by two officers from NOAA Ship Pisces and taken to the ship. The ship was much larger than I thought! I was shown my room and was told that my roommate would be arriving later that day. I got one of the larger rooms of the ship consisting of 4 beds, and its own bathroom. However, it would just be me and one other person in there so we would have plenty of room. After getting settled into my room, I was able to take part in a tour given by the ship with two professors and some students from Rice University. This allowed me to become more familiar with the vessel, and I learned a lot from listening to their answers that the professors and students asked about life on the ship. I was able to meet my roommate later that evening who is here to collect eDNA samples for the University of West Florida. I think it is so neat that NOAA works with others to enable research to be completed. That night we slept on the ship at that port. The ship is scheduled to leave the port at 10:00 am in the morning. I was still nervous about being on the ship but had already met so many supportive and friendly people, that I knew they would be welcoming for the next few weeks while on the water.
This morning we left the port as scheduled. It didn’t take long to realize the ocean was a little angry today, with what I thought was some pretty big waves. I have a feeling I will be living on Dramamine for the next few days. So needless to say I was pretty worthless the first day out. It is apparent that it is going to take a little bit of time to get my sea legs in the rough water, and I find myself extremely clumsy falling into the walls as if I am walking in one of those funhouses with the sloping floors. I am amazed how well everyone else on the ship can walk. So hopefully there is promise that the longer I am on here, the better I will, too.
We completed safety drills to ensure that everyone on the ship, in case of an emergency, would know what to do. We went over fire safety, and had a fire drill. We then did an abandon ship drill (we didn’t actually abandon ship), where we had to put on an Immersion Suit. That was not as easy as I thought it would be! I am amazed how everything on the ship is ran, planned out, and everyone knows exactly what their job is.