NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
June 10 – June 22, 2023
Mission: 2023 Summer Acoustic-Trawl Survey of Walleye Pollock in the Gulf of Alaska
Geographic Area of Cruise: Islands of Four Mountains area, Western Gulf of Alaska
Location (site of calibration, June 11): 57o 32.6154′ N, 153o 55.8318′ W
Data from 2PM (Alaska Time), June 11, 2023
Air Temperature: 8.29 oC
Water Temperature (mid-hull): 6.3oC
Wind Speed: 10.35 knots
Wind Direction: 166.14 degrees
Course Over Ground (COG): 222.34 degrees
Speed Over Ground (SOG): 0.13 knots
COG = The direction the ship is heading relative to land. Over Ground means in relation to the Earth, so COG means the true direction free from the effects of sea currents.
SOG = Speed, real progress with respect to Earth. SOG means the true speed free from the effects of sea currents.
Date: June 12, 2023
I am pretty sure that, on a daily basis, I mention NOAA in my classroom, during public outreach events, and in conversations with colleagues and neighbors. But too often, individuals are not aware of this government agency and the critical role NOAA plays in our lives, even for those that are not scientists. So this blog post is for everyone not familiar with the services NOAA provides us all, along with a focus on NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (aka “NOAA Fisheries”).
NOAA is an agency that enriches life through science. Our reach goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor as we work to keep the public informed of the changing environment around them. — from About our agency
The letters N-O-A-A stand for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce. NOAA has a fascinating history, going back to 1807 and President Thomas Jefferson founding America’s first physical science agency, the Survey of the Coast. Fast-forward to 1870, when the Weather Bureau was establshed as the first agency dedicated to the atmospheric sciences. In 1871, the first conservation agency, the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries, was in place. All three of these agencies were brought together in 1970 with the formation of NOAA. (*yes, NOAA recently celebrated its 50th anniversary! See this playlist of videos to learn even more about its history and the people of NOAA from over the years. There is an additional video that goes back to the original agency and mission of 1807.)
NOAA mission: To understand and predict changes in climate, weather, ocean, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. — from Our mission and vision
View this video for an overview of NOAA “meeting the moment.”
When I think of and hear “NOAA”, there are several terms/phrases that pop into my mind – science research, atmosphere, hydrosphere, weather and climate, health and safety, economy, conservation, sustainability, and so many more. The educational resources provided by NOAA are also valuable for additional background reading, citizen science opportunities, and multimedia materials (including podcasts!).
A STEAM Moment
I mentioned in my first blog post how I have a passion for and explore the integration of science and creative arts, specifically crafting via crocheting and quilting. To help others learn about the mission of NOAA and its key focus areas, I created a quilt to showcase NOAA’s work in research, weather, climate, ocean & coasts, fisheries, charting, satellites, marine & aviation, sanctuaries, and education. This quilt is just another tool in my education/outreach toolkit! To learn more about this quilt and to view a video, see this post.
NOAA Fisheries provides science-based conservation and management for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, marine mammals, endangered species and their habitats. — from Fisheries
NOAA Fisheries, also known as the National Marine Fisheries Service, is a NOAA office composed of five regional offices, six science centers, and more than 20 laboratories around the United States and U.S. territories. Working with additional partners, NOAA Fisheries achieves its two core mandates: (1) to ensure the productivity and sustainability of fisheries and fishing communities through science-based decision-making and compliance with regulations; and (2) to recover and conserve protected resources including whales, turtles, and salmon.
There are several NOAA websites and videos that showcase the history and work of this office. I recommend the NOAA Fisheries About Us page, History page, YouTube playlist of NOAA Fisheries videos, and especially this overview video:
The main Fisheries page on NOAA’s website has fascinating facts you can scroll through. For example, I did not know that the total area NOAA Fisheries is responsible for monitoring and enforcing regulations for marine fisheries is 4.4 million square miles! This area is the largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world! And the Fisheries News & Announcements page is a wealth of articles, press releases, multimedia material and more that will soon become required reading for students in my courses, adding to the materials I already tap into on NOAA’s Climate.gov and NOAA’s Ocean Facts!
NOAA has an incredible range of resources and materials that are constantly being updated and expanded upon. There is something for everyone! (*including on Twitter, where you will find individuals and organizations highlighting NOAA’s work with the hashtag #TheMoreYouNOAA)
I’ll end this post with one of the fun audio narratives from the NOAA Ocean podcast series, which details phrases we use today that came from the Age of Sail (the period of time between the 16th and 19th centuries, transcript available).
The Challenger mission – so much more than fish
The mission of H.M.S. Challenger 150+ years ago was not as developed as the statements for NOAA and NOAA Fisheries – terms such as ‘conservation’, ‘management’, and ‘sustainability’ were not part of the expedition. Challenger was all about collecting samples, whether those samples be seafloor mud, manganese modules, corals, crabs, and plant and animal life from the islands they visited over their 3-year journey. The six Challenger scientists were not concerned about aquatic systems or human/environment interactions – this really was a journey of discovery and documenting what exists in these unexplored areas. It took 50 volumes of the Challenger Report to describe what was seen and collected – including roughly 4,700 new plant and animal species!
For the fish samples collected at that time, the “Challenger fishes” were incorporated into the British Museum (of Natural History) collection. There were 688 specimens of shallow water, shore and miscellaneous estuarine and freshwater fishes; 261 deep-sea fishes; and 125 pelagic fishes. Some of the fish were then sent over to the National Museum of Ireland in 1899, including type specimens of sixteen species (*data on the Challenger fishes from Wheeler and O’Riordan, 1969).