NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard USCGC Healy
August 7 – 25, 2018
Mission: Healy 1801 – Arctic Distributed Biological Observatory
Geographic Area: Arctic Ocean (Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea)
Date: August 25-26, 2018
Past – Current – Future locations/conditions:
72.5 North latitude: This past week we had 3-4 days of below freezing temperatures (27) with snow showers
Nome, Alaska: (8/25/18) Departing temperature 51 and cloudy
Contoocook/Hopkinton, NH: First day of school Tuesday (8/28/18)- Forecast 94 degrees Mostly Sunny (did I mention we don’t have air conditioning in New Hampshire?)
Ashore and I am headed back to NH
After completing our work in our most Northern point stop, we steamed back to Nome with just one more set of measurements on the way back, then had one final day of travel. It was sunny on the first day back but rougher seas than we had experienced thus far.
There were estimated 8-12 ft waves and some even larger that crashed over the Healy. To the right is a picture that I captured of the bow during this portion of our trip and the rocky seas. Keep in mind that for most of the day we were lucky enough to be on the front deck of the boat! After the waves calmed we were in the fog for most of the way home so spotting more whales and seals was difficult.
In short, the trip was a success with the tremendous amount of data collected. This data will now be analyzed by scientists and students and I hope to see some scientific papers on this research in the future. Here is a list of what was done on this trip:
- 31 mooring deployments and 24 mooring recoveries
(To review what the work involved in this see my blog: Moorings all day
- 142 CTDs (that’s a lot of up and downs!)
(To review what a CTD see my blog: Measuring Ocean Properties with the CTD)
- 51 Bongo samples
(To review what a bongo see my blog: Bring in the Bongos)
- There were several Methot net tows.
To review what a Methot net tow is see my blog: Catching the Tiny Fish in the Big Sea
- There was constant monitoring for birds and marine mammals with all sightings recorded. This experience was my personal favorite of the trip.
To review, see my blog: Walrus and Polar Bears on Ice
In addition to the above, there were many (I don’t have the exact count) Van Veen Grabs. I did not get to explain these in a blog so here is a quick overview. Scientists that study the sea floor, including the top layer of soil called the benthic zone, use a VanVeen Grab Sampler pictured below. It is lowered to the sea floor and then the scissor-like arms close the catch capturing a hunk of the sea floor and everything that was living on it. Once on shore the catch is rinsed through a sieve until all the clay is rinsed away leaving just the organisms that were living there (such as mollusks, clams, starfish, worms and more) and a few stones.
The scientists on the team also took HAPS core samples. I did not get to explain these in a blog so here is a quick overview. The HAPS corer, pictured below, is a gravity corer. This is a device that is lowered to the sea floor and then the weight of the device settles into the sea floor. When the HAPS corer is lifted, the bottom of the tube containing the cut into sediment closes, trapping the sample. These samples are then stored in clear tubes as shown in the picture. Scientists can examine sentiment layers to gain a better understanding of the sea floor at that location by studying the sedimentary layers.
All this above data has been copied and specimens are stored. The primary focus of this trip was to gather data and now the long process of analyzing and communicating the results will begin.
This was such a great opportunity for me to meet so many different scientists and to both observe and assist the varied scientific studies occurring all at once. I needed all three weeks to get a handle on it all. I am looking forward to sharing what I have learned with my Maple Street School students back in New Hampshire and following the scientific studies as they move forward. Thanks to NOAA, Maple Street School, everyone else that allowed this learning opportunity to happen. It was a summer I will not forget experiencing a ship crash through ice in August! I leave you with some of the reflections of the birds I captured on those calmer days at sea.
The tufted puffin is not all that graceful at taking off. (below)
The Common Murre (below)
Three male Eider Ducks