NOAA Teacher at Sea
Germaine Thomas (she/her)
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
August 7 – August 21, 2023
Mission: Acoustic Trawl Survey (Leg 3 of 3)
Geographic Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean/ Gulf of Alaska
Date: Monday August 7, 2023
Lat 58.31 N, Lon 151.58 W
Sky condition: cloudy
Wind Speed: 12.43 knots
Wind Direction: 357.55°
Sea Wave height: 1 ft | Swell: 340°, 1-2 ft
Air Temp: 12.35 °C
The purpose of this trip is acoustic trawl sampling for pollock (Gadus chalchogrammus). There are other projects that people are working on during this leg that I will report on in other upcoming blogs.
Today, at about 5:30 pm we deployed a CTD (Conductivity, Temperature and Depth – Probe). This probe measures the salinity using conductivity, the temperature with a digital thermometer, and records the data all at different depths in the water column. This CTD also records fluorescence which is an easy way to determine the amount of plankton present. The plankton at the surface are producers and have chlorophyll, which reacts to fluorescence and can be recorded. This information will be important when we start taking trawl samples, so the ships crew will routinely send out the CTD while we cover our transects.
Watch the videos below of the crew members deploying and recovering the CTD.
The data from the CTD collection are shown on the picture of the computer screen below:
The data from the CTD are presented in graphical form. The first frame shows chlorophyll, which is the green line. The second frame is percent oxygen (which they were not measuring so it remains zero). The third frame shows salinity (yellow line) and water temperature (blue line).
Currently we are cruising out to our transect destinations over the continental shelf. The seas are a little rough (6-8 foot waves) and I am enjoying some saltine crackers that help with mild sea sickness. It has been a while since I have been in a large boat in rolling seas.
Three days ago, I flew from Anchorage to Kodiak Island on an a sunny afternoon and met the science team for the cruise. The whole team was extremely welcoming, sharing stories of past cruises, colorful characters and the science behind acoustic trawl sampling. Later, they invited me to go surfing the next day at a beach on the far side of the island.
Through the camaraderie of playing in the waves I was introduced to these amazing people and their knowledge and love of the ocean. They are very professional and willing to share what they are studying. They also have a deep concern for the changes occurring in the ocean and honestly hope that their information can be shared and understood in order to mitigate the impact of change. Sitting on my surfboard I quickly learned I was the beginner, and they were the experts. With the experience of time, they would effortlessly snap up and slice through the waves. Smiles and whoops encouraged each other as the sea crashed into the beach.
Surf photos courtesy of Mathew Phillips
The next day was spent with the science crew getting ready to bring aboard equipment they will be using, accessing and streamlining the information they need for the data collection, and also a little bit more shore time with fishing and hiking. I hiked up a local mountain called Pyramid.
Overall this has been a great start for a wonderful trip. I love to get my students outside experiencing the real world. After a year of taking both Oceanography and Marine Biology my students get to touch, see and smell the ocean through a field trip. They get to see marine birds and mammals, touch and taste icebergs and smell the brine scent of the ocean. They also get a chance to apply the knowledge and skills that they have learned in my class. The NOAA as Teacher at Sea Program is my field trip. I get to see the science and technology in action and share it with my students, friends and family. Thanks so much for letting me play!