NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Pisces
April 22-May 5, 2023
Mission: SEAMAP Reef Fish
Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: April 26, 2023
Temperature: 77 degrees F
Wind: 12 kt.
Waves: 2-4 ft.
Science and Technology Log
Each day is started and then ended with a water sample from the ocean. The technology is called a CTD, but the procedure would be called a CTD cast (as if we were casting it in the ocean). CTD stands for conductivity, temperature, and depth. The CTD consists of a collection of electronic instruments that measure the properties of the water, including a laser that checks the clarity of the water. Sampling water bottles are connected to a metal frame called a “rosette”. This information on water characteristics is important to both the scientists and the survey mapping team that use cameras and sonar. This information lets them know how well the clarity of the water is and the speed of sound that helps with the depth finders and sonar.
What is Conductivity?
Conductivity is a measure of the ability of water to pass an electrical current.
What is Salinity?
Salinity is the dissolved salt content of a body of water and is a strong conductor of water.
So why is it important for scientist to know what each of these are?
The higher salinity the water is, the higher the conductivity of electrical currents.
Temperature also plays a role in the density. Knowing each of these is important because it lets the scientists know the water quality at different depths so they can make adjustments to their cameras and sonar.
Jack Prior, Chief Scientist
Jack is a pretty “chill” guy, and I have enjoyed watching him in action the past few days. Jack is the field party chief of this mission which involves everything from planning the trip, to deciding the daily sampling locations, deploying cameras, mapping, and figuring out what to do when things go wrong. Jack is in charge of planning and submitting the protocol for the entire mission and also is responsible for the end reports of the mission. You will find Jack on this leg sitting behind multiple computers regulating and keeping a watchful eye on all of the important information regarding this mission. Jack attended the University of West Florida to get his degree in marine biology.
Student Question of the Day
Whenever I get a chance, I ask random crew members questions that my students back home were curious about. Here is how Jack answered some of the students’ questions.
Konnor, Nichole, Lillian ask: What degree do you have and what all is needed to do your job?
Jack started his major in biology and had originally planned on going on to be a pharmacist, but then moved to Florida where he ended up getting his degree in marine biology instead. Jack continued to also get his Masters at the University of West Florida, too. Jack changed his career path because he enjoyed marine life. Volunteer work is crucial to get experience, and can benefit you on becoming more diverse when it comes to getting a job in marine biology.
Alyson asks: What would be your dream job?
Someday Jack wants to explore the seafloor in a submarine.
Blake, Sailor, Lilli, Jenna ask: What is your favorite food on the ship?
Taco Tuesdays seem to be a huge hit on the ship, as well as Friday pizza day.
Auburn, Ashton M., Karson, Liam: What would you consider to be the coolest marine life you have seen?
Seeing large diverse reef habitats is what Jack says he finds the most interesting, especially uncommon invertebrates that you’d never see on the beach.
Jaxon and Dwight: Can you be on the ship if you have health issues and what happens if there is a medical emergency?
The ship is a pretty confined space with steep stairs, uneven footing, areas you have to be able to step over, and have the ability to carry heavy weight. If there is ever a medical emergency, the ship works alongside the United States Coast Guard to get them the help they need. However, the ship is great working with all issues and plans accordingly to those who may have special diet restrictions.
Well, I will say that I am getting better at having my sea legs but that is still a work in progress. I have really enjoyed getting to understand the life on this ship, and I am just amazed at how diverse everyone is and yet still make this an amazing environment. It has taken me a few days to get the hang of where things are and to get out of my comfort zone to ask what I feel like has to be a million questions about everything. I have really enjoyed getting to hear and learn about the crew’s background and how they ended up on NOAA Ship Pisces. I greatly appreciate their willingness to answer my questions, even though I am sure I am in their way at moments. Everyone has a job to do and work different hours and shifts. It is great to see how they all respect each other’s space and sleeping hours.
There is so much science around me that I never knew existed, and I am shocked on how much technology is actually being used and heavily relied upon. Today was the first day the waves were calm enough that I was able to go out on the stern (learning names of different areas of the ship) to work on the blog and soak up a little bit of Sun. It was nice to be able to get some fresh air. The food has been amazing on the ship. I love how everyone is so courteous by thanking the cooks, as well as cleaning up after themselves before leaving the mess. The mess is the area in which we eat and the kitchen is called the galley. It has taken me a few days to understand the boat “lingo” but I am starting to catch on. The stairs are pretty steep, and everyone on board says to use 3 points of contact when walking. This is so that if they hit a wave while walking you are more stable. I could definitely see this being an issue going up and down the stairs. The doors are super heavy and I am still learning how to get those twisted and sealed tight the first time I close it (I am getting there).