NOAA Teacher at Sea
Stephen Anderson Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman June 28 – July 12, 2007
Mission: Hake Survey Geographic Region: California Date: June 30, 2009
We’re on station south of Monterey Bay and starting our pattern of parallel east and west course up the coast of California. Imagine a block capital “S” , and you get the idea. Using different frequencies on the sonar, Dr. Chu and his colleagues from NOAA/NMFS/NWFSC can detect various types of marine organisms. Here is a picture of what the screen looks like.
Because we didn’t find any hake, we looked at the small fish to see if they had a swim bladder. The swim bladder on a fish is like a balloon that inflates and deflates depending on the depth of the fish. However, when the sound bounces off these swim bladders it may make the fish appear bigger than it actual size. The dissection of these small fish was no fun.
It’s amazing the number of scientific instruments and studies that are being carried out on this ship. In the following picture a marine biologist is taking a salt water sample. He will then filter it to identify the presence of toxic plants (algae) and animals (plankton). These microorganisms not only affect the food chain, but can also be a threat to humans.
Another instrument they use to monitor the ocean is an XBT. This lead weight is attached by a very thin copper wire. In the following picture a scientist is attaching this to a cable that goes to a computer. This is then “launched” or dropped overboard reading temperatures and sending them to the computer as it sinks to the bottom (greater than 760 meters or 2200 feet).
The food has been great. There is only an hour for each meal, and you have to eat fast. But there is always a great menu. I’ll have to try to get to the gym or else I’m going to gain weight.
Everyone has been very cooperative. Being on a ship puts you in tight quarters with everyone. This cooperation and team spirit helps to make everything work very smoothly.
There is an emphasis on safety. You can tell that everyone is highly trained for their job and role. Yesterday we had our fire and abandon ship drills. On the deck we wear life jackets and hard hats. Everyone watches out for everyone else. The level of expertise and professionalism is impressive.
NOAA Teacher at Sea
Stephen Anderson Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman June 28 July 12, 2009
Mission: Hake Survey Geographic Region: California Date: June 29, 2009
We anchored in Monterey Bay. After putting the anchor down there were several tests that had to be made. The first was to send in SCUBA divers to check our propeller. The second test was to check on the transducers for our sonar. The third was to put over the side the CTD (conductivity, temperature, and density instruments). This instrument is useful not only to tell the composition of the water, but also to determine currents. Included in this set of instruments is an automatic camera that will catch video of the small animals (micro-organisms) at various depths (what the fish eat). The fourth test was to send three balls of different sizes and materials to hang under the boat using what we in Michigan would call salmon downriggers. Dr. Chu, our chief scientist, and Stan Tomich, our engineer, can control these miniature cranes to raise and lower these balls. They can then calibrate (set the readings on the sonar sensors) to make sure they have the correct depth for the fish they will be able to see with the sonar. The sonar array in this boat is accurate to within one centimeter. Later tonight we will weigh anchor to go further south to begin our chase after hake.
For those of you who don’t know hake. This is a cod type of fish that is very important to the fish industry on the west coast of the US and Canada. If you’ve had a fish stick, you’ve probably had hake.
We were visited today by some very interesting animals: several species of jelly fish, several sea lions, a few dolphins, and a mola mola fish which is sometimes called a sun fish.
NOAA Teacher at Sea
Stephen Anderson Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman June 28 – July 12, 2009
Mission: Hake Survey Geographic Region: California Date: June 28, 2009
Boarded NOAA ship Miller Freeman, a government research ship of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in San Francisco Harbor, Pier 27, at 1600 hours (4 p.m.). We went through our emergency drills of donning a survival suit and learning how to use an EBD (emergency breathing device).
Beautiful sunny weather. Wind picked up from the west.
We weighed anchor and went past Alcatraz, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and then out into the Pacific Ocean. Once we got past the outer marker we turned south to Monterey Bay.