NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
June 22 – July 15, 2019
Mission: Pollock Acoustic-Trawl Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Alaska
Date: July 7, 2019
Weather Data from the Bridge:
Latitude: 55º 24.63N
Longitude:155 º 18.86 W
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Wind Direction: 210º
Air Temperature: 11º Celsius
Barometric Pressure: 1097 mb
Science and Technology Log
Fishing nets like the ones used on the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson or on commercial fishing boats can be very expensive. If one plans on doing a bottom trawl (fishing with a net that goes down to the sea floor) one wants to make sure that there are not rocks or other things that can snag or tear the net. If there are too many rocks or boulders or uneven topography, the area is considered “untrawlable”. While computer imagery can provide some guidance with regard to what lies deep beneath the surface, scientists onboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson are hoping that video images taken with an underwater camera can provide a more complete picture and be the basis for a more precise computer model of what areas are in fact untrawlable.
Why is this important? Scientists onboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson are surveying the fish that live in the middle of the water column. However, groundfish surveys account for all the fish living on the ocean floor. If the groundfish program can’t trawl in certain areas, then they don’t know what is there. For example, rockfish often live in untrawlable areas. If a groundfish survey can’t put a net in areas where rockfish live, then they won’t really “count” the correct numbers of rockfish in their survey. Data obtained using an underwater camera can help determine what species of rockfish are being underrepresented by the groundfish program.
One of the many perks of being on the 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift is that I get to watch the drop camera in action! The camera (with its attached light) is slowly lowered to the sea floor. I have seen the camera take 4 minutes to reach the bottom or as long as 8 minutes depending upon the depth of the water being surveyed. The camera is then “driven” along the bottom (or right above it) for 15 minutes via a control box on the boat (similar to a tiny joystick). I even got to “drive” it a few times!
The images are recorded and also seen in real time on a computer screen on the boat. We have seen rocks, of course, but also jellyfish, sea whips, crabs, octopi, sea stars, and a wide variety of fish. One night, there were thousands of sand dollars. It looked like we had come across a buried treasure! It is fascinating to see what is happening deep beneath the boat. It’s kind of like virtual scuba diving!
Drop Camera Elementary School Math Fun
If the stereo drop camera takes 8 minutes to reach the bottom when the water is 200 meters deep, how long might it take to reach the bottom if it was:
100 meters deep? ____________
50 meters deep? ______________
300 meters deep? _____________
It’s time to come clean and admit that I suffer from Pareidola. Don’t worry, it’s not contagious, or even dangerous. In fact, I think it’s a lot of fun. You see, Pareidola is a psychological phenomenon where you see patterns. Quite often, people with Pareidola will see faces in objects where there really isn’t one, like on an electrical outlet.
My Pareidola has reached a new level on the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson as I am seeing not just faces but ROBOTS like these:
Let me know if you see any robots at your house, and I am on the lookout for more here!