Melissa Fye, April 22, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Melissa Fye
Onboard NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai
April 4 – 25, 2005

Mission: Coral Reef Ecosystem Survey
Geographical Area: Northwest Hawaiian Islands
Date: April 22, 2005

Location: Latitude: 23*36.3’North, Longitude: 164*43.0’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Visibility: 10
Wind Direction:90
Wind Speed: 14 knots
Sea Wave Height: 2-4 feet
Swell Wave Height: 5-7 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1018.8
Cloud Cover: 2/8 Cu, As, Si
Temperature outside: 24.4

Science and Technology Log

At 0500, surveying of the ocean floor was concluded and transit to Honolulu began.  Scientists in the lab compiled more data and finished up the survey trip with a benthic habitat map of the French Frigate shoals. There are still a few bits of editing to do on the map and some borders need to be added to the final form, but overall it is complete. Scientist Joyce Miller showed me an overview of the completed work using Fladermouse, or a computer mouse, that gives an onlooker the view a bat would have flying over the map. It is a 3-D view of the map, giving its operator the ability to zoom in on underwater pinnacles, sand waves, and coral reefs from any direction.  The contours of the ocean floor were very apparent and Joyce Miller commented that the AHI, new software, etc., enabled the scientists to create the final product much faster; this being the first time they had all the data compiled into map form before the end of a cruise. It was exciting to see all the surveying work put into one picture. With surveying complete for this cruise, and much of the editing done, scientists and crew spent the day doing laundry, finishing up tidbits of work, watching the sunset, etc. The HI’IALAKAI is expected to arrive in the University of Hawaii’s port by 0800, Saturday, April 23, 2005.

Personal Log

I spent the day answering the last of the emails from students, printing off previously completed emails and logs, and snapping pictures of the ship and persons aboard.  Scientists showed me completed benthic maps in the lab and I began packing up my things. It has been a terrific experience and I was lucky to be onboard with such hospitable people. I have truly enjoyed my time aboard the HI’IALAKAI and I have learned so much about ships, coral ecosystems, the Hawaiian islands, scientific data collecting, and those people on board this cruise.  I’m taking back to my classroom a wealth of resources like maps, charts, a binder of lessons, and many photographs and digital movies to weave into science lessons.  But more importantly than those things, I will be bringing back to the classroom real-life enthusiasm for the application of science in the real world.  I have experienced first hand, biological ecosystems, weather instruments and measurements, and map making, in a real life context. I want my students to know that life is not a collection of things, but a collection of experiences. I hope this trip (the resources and anecdotal stories I bring back to the classroom) encourages them to explore opportunities as they arise in their own lives. As a teacher, my underlying goal is to teach my students that learning should be a life long adventure!  And isn’t that what this trip is really all about? Even with all the pictures I have taken and emails I have written, no one will ever have an experience like I have had on board the HI’IALAKAI. Thank you to NOAA, CO Kuester, Lead Scientist Scott Ferguson, and everyone else I have encountered on this trip!

QUESTION OF THE DAY: There are “rivers” of water in oceans that are called currents.  What is name of the current that runs the entire length of the east coast? How does it affect people on the east coast?

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’s Question:  CO Kuester (commanding officer) has given commands for the ship to arrive at the entrance to Honolulu Harbor by 0700 on Saturday, April 23rd. The ship has 260 nautical miles to still cover, and we travel ten knots an hour.  1) How many hours will it take us to reach our destination? 26 hours 2) A nautical mile > a statute mile (mile on land)  if…

1 nautical mile (1 knot) = 1.15 statute miles  then… 260 knots = 299 statute miles

Melissa Fye, April 21, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Melissa Fye
Onboard NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai
April 4 – 25, 2005

Mission: Coral Reef Ecosystem Survey
Geographical Area: Northwest Hawaiian Islands
Date: April 21, 2005

Location: Latitude: 23*36.3’North, Longitude: 164*43.0’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Visibility: 10
Wind Direction:90
Wind Speed: 14 knots
Sea Wave Height: 2-4 feet
Swell Wave Height: 5-7 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1018.8
Cloud Cover: 2/8 Cu, As, Si
Temperature outside: 24.4

Science and Technology Log

The HI’IALAKAI continued running survey lines of the ocean floor near Nihoa. Scientists continued grouping together larger swaths of data in the drylab, like pieces of a puzzle emerging from the depths of the ocean. We cruised by Nihoa several times collecting benthic data.

Personal Log

I began the day answering emails from students and teachers. I edited a file of data in the drylab and flitted about taking pictures of people and places on board. The cruise is beginning to wind down, so there isn’t as much to do at this point and no boats are being deployed either. I must admit my stomach is a little upset from the rolling and pitching of the boat. I sleep terribly one night, then like a rock the next.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: CO Kuester (commanding officer) has given commands for the ship to arrive at the entrance to Honolulu Harbor by 0700 on Saturday, April 23rd. The ship has 260 nautical miles to still cover, and we travel ten knots an hour.  1) How many hours will it take us to reach our destination? __________________ 2) A nautical mile > a statute mile (mile on land)  if…

1 nautical mile (1 knot) = 1.15 statute miles  then…       260 knots =____________ statute miles?

(thanks to Lt. Wingate and ENS Jones for help with this question!)

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’s Question: I have seen many sea creatures around the Northern Hawaiian Islands coral reef ecosystem. Animals such as the whitetip shark,  sea turtles, and monk seals. These animals are all living things that eat other living things for energy. In a food web, they are called consumers.

Melissa Fye, April 20, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Melissa Fye
Onboard NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai
April 4 – 25, 2005

Mission: Coral Reef Ecosystem Survey
Geographical Area: Northwest Hawaiian Islands
Date: April 20, 2005

Location: Latitude: 23*36.3’North, Longitude: 164*43.0’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Visibility: 10
Wind Direction:90
Wind Speed: 14 knots
Sea Wave Height: 2-4 feet
Swell Wave Height: 5-7 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1018.8
Cloud Cover: 2/8 Cu, As, Si
Temperature outside: 24.4

Science and Technology Log

Early before daybreak we arrived at Nihoa island to conduct a CTD cast (conductivity, temperature, and depth measurements).  By three o’clock a.m., the HI’IALAKAI began running north/south and east/west survey lines of the ocean floor. The ship continued throughout the day, surveying the ocean floor using the multibeam system for benthic habitat mapping.

Personal Log

The trip is winding down and as the end approaches, I am finishing my interviews with the crew of the HI’IALAKAI.  I sent out word that I would take anything that anyone has to give away. Several of the officers and crew have been kind enough to give me CDs of past diving trips, maps, and photographs taken on board that I may have missed. I have been reading some of the weather and ocean resources aboard also. We did have an unexpected visitor aboard today. A four foot Wahu fish was caught on the chief steward’s fishing line and filleted for dinner. Its scales were a silvery blue/green color and it had rows of very sharp teeth. I’ve included pictures of it in this log.  I also concluded some interviews with other members of the scientific team. Information on scientists Scott Ferguson, Kyle Hogrefe, Emily Lundblad, Jonathan Weiss, and Rob O’Connor are included in this log.

Lead Scientist Scott Ferguson works for the University of Hawaii and acts as a contract scientist for NOAA. He is originally from Colorado and Tennessee and went to college in Boston. While in high school, he remembers becoming interested in oceanography and also recalls opening a National Geographic Magazine as an adolescent, which contained hand drawn maps of the ocean and may have subsequently planted the seed for his current specialization in benthic habitat mapping. He obtained a degree in biology, specializing in genetics, while an undergraduate student in Boston. His current assignment is based on grant work submitted by a group of scientists to collect data, based on the most available science, about the sea floor in the Northwestern Hawaiian Island chain. The data collected from this trip, which in turn will be made into maps, will be made available to any managers of the various resource management groups (including the Fisheries Department, state agencies, agencies which protect sea turtles, monk seals, etc.). Nautical charts available at this time are inadequate for use for management of resources in the area, so the multibeam sonar and the scientists aboard have been collecting much more detailed data about the ocean floor for these agencies.  The information gathered will determine fishing guidelines, etc., and will help determine boundaries for sanctuary designation of this ecological system. Mr. Ferguson finds this career interesting because it is not routine and provides opportunities for problem solving. The tool he uses most is the computer to collect data.  He comments that someone interested in this field of science should build knowledge through mathematics courses, computer classes, and be able to express themselves well through written medium. Persons who consistently pay attention to detail and are inquisitive are well suited to this work, according to Mr. Ferguson.  Mr. Ferguson and his wife, scientist Joyce Miller, will spend 3-4 months a year on assignment in the Pacific Ocean.  As an added side note, he, his wife, and their cat take up permanent residence on a boat when not working in the office or out to sea!

Marine Ecosystem Specialist, Kyle Hogrefe, spoke to me in an earlier log about the Ghost Net Project and marine debris trips he has taken part in. I took the time today to interview him more thoroughly about the work he does.  Mr. Hogrefe is originally from Medina, Ohio and obtained an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in environmental science.  He has worked as a debris specialist, fisheries observer in Alaska, and taken jobs related to data management and mapping to increase his knowledge base. His duties on this cruise involve the deployment and retrieval of oceanographic data platforms.  His job is important because these devices collect long term data about ocean currents, temperatures, etc. which may effect populations of aquatic species of plants and animals over time. Mr. Hogrefe comments that the best part of his job involves the sense of adventure, travel, and diving he gets to do. He comments images from childhood watching Jacques Cousteau may have led to his career choice.  He will spend roughly 6 months at sea this year and the drawbacks of his career involve time away from friends and family. The tool he uses most often is his brain to make decisions and a physical piece of equipment he utilizes often is a lift bag. Patience and an ability to put personal differences aside while working with colleagues are attributes one should possess; according to Scientist Hogrefe.

GIS (Geography Information Systems) scientist Emily Lundblad is originally from the state of Texas and has a master’s degree in Marine Resource Management. Her interest in mapping was sparked from a guest speaker who spoke at her high school. It is a very math/science oriented field and the computer is her most important tool.  She believes the best part of her job is the travel and the ability to see the application of her work. She enjoys going to sea to help collect the data, whereas she would normally just edit and process it. Miss Lundblad will take part in three cruises at sea this year to help collect mapping data.  She mentions that her job on land requires normal eight hour days, but time at sea is different , requiring 12 hour shifts.

Sea floor mapping specialist Jonathan Weiss is a Northern Virginia native, originally from Alexandria, and a graduate of William and Mary. His undergraduate degree is in Geology and he received a graduate degree in Marine Geology from the University of Hawaii. He comments that he has always been curious about the earth and its structure and that research on plate tectonics has revolutionized this field of scientific research. His job requires him to work on backscatter to process the imagery data about the sea floor texture and his most important tool is the computer.  He encourages anyone interested in this line of work to take lots of math courses and a broad overview of the sciences. He enjoys his first post graduate job because the hours are flexible enough for hobbies (like surfing), his bosses are encouraging, and he works with many people his own age. He will spend roughly four months at sea this year in the field.

Rob O’Connor, GIS specialist, originates from Texas but has spent most of his life in Maui, Hawaii. His educational background includes an undergraduate degree in Geography from the University of Hawaii. He comments that the computer is also his most important tool for his job and that he became interested in aspects of the earth after taking some introductory geography courses in college. His duties include data processing and cartography (map making). The travel is an added benefit for this line of work and Mr. O’Connor adds that a person should possess good interpersonal skills and computer knowledge to be successful in this occupation.  This is his first cruise of the year as a GIS specialist.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: I have seen many sea creatures around the Northern Hawaiian Islands coral reef ecosystem. Animals such as the whitetip shark,  sea turtles, and monk seals. These animals are all living things that eat other living things for energy. In a food web, they are called _______________________.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’s Question: Ms. Fye saw a humpback whale near the starboard side of the ship the other day. It was performing an adaptive behavior.  Fill in the blank to find out what adaptation the whale was performing.  The movement of an animal from one region to another and back again is called migration.

Melissa Fye, April 19, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Melissa Fye
Onboard NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai
April 4 – 25, 2005

Mission: Coral Reef Ecosystem Survey
Geographical Area: Northwest Hawaiian Islands
Date: April 19, 2005

Location: Latitude: 23*36.3’North, Longitude: 164*43.0’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Visibility: 10
Wind Direction:90
Wind Speed: 14 knots
Sea Wave Height: 2-4 feet
Swell Wave Height: 5-7 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1018.8
Cloud Cover: 2/8 Cu, As, Si
Temperature outside: 24.4

Ship safety drill

Ship safety drill

Science and Technology Log

The AHI was once again placed in the water with Joyce Miller and Jeremy Jones aboard to continue running benthic habitat lines around shallow areas in the area of French Frigate Shoals. A wire jumped out of a sheave (pulley) while trying to deploy the AHI. Boatswain O’Connor and other deckhands secured the line, deployed the boat, and went on to repair the sheave. The ship continued to run benthic habitat lines in the area while scientists edited swath data in the drylab.  In the wheelhouse, NOAA corps officers continued to plot the ship’s position, using charts and GPS systems. GPS (Global Positioning System) are satellites positioned up in space which provides a map of any place on earth. The system sends out a signal that a receiver (like on top of the ship) captures. At least 3 satellites are used to obtain a map because of time delay and other extraneous factors needed to determine one’s position. The Nobel Tec software, used on the bridge, combines GPS systems with charting to provide a location. GPS alone cannot provide location coordinates, so additional technology is combined with it to provide exact positions on a chart. Fire and Abandon Ship drills were also performed prior lunchtime today. Everyone on board has certain positions to be at and jobs to do in case of emergency.  Members of the fire team completely suit up, get out hoses and equipment, etc. The AHI was brought back on board in the late afternoon and TOAD operations continued into the evening.

Personal Log

Today consisted mostly of answering emails from students and interviewing more members of the HI’IALAKAI.  The drills broke up the usual routines and the seas picked up towards the evening hours, making it more difficult to travel down the passageways and do simple tasks.

I interviewed some members of the ship on watch in the wheelhouse. They included Executive Officer John Caskey, GVA Jason Kehn, and deckhand/survey technician Jeremy Taylor.  XO John Caskey has lived many places including Georgia, North Carolina, and California. He has many duties onboard including administrative tasks like hiring, firing, and paying people on the ship. He has been employed by NOAA for twelve years and after graduating from college with a degree in Marine Biology, traveled to Alaska, to be a Fisheries Observer on a NOAA ship. As a Fisheries Observer, people perform sampling techniques (tallying, tagging, counting) to measure the reproductive and population rates of fish. XO Caskey comments that he has known since he was seven years old that he wanted to have a job centered around marine life because his father was a diver and took him on expeditions under the water. NOAA provides the same pay, benefits, and sights to see as the Navy but caters more to scientific research; which attracted Mr. Caskey to the NOAA corp. The travel is a perk in the job but he says the drawbacks include sea sickness and time away from his growing family. Independence, patience, and good interpersonal skills are attributes a qualified applicant should possess for this type of job because XO Caskey comments that it isn’t an easy lifestyle. The Executive Officer will spend approximately 190 days at sea this year.

GVA Jason Kehn was also interviewed in the wheelhouse.  He is originally from Santa Rosa, California but has spent most of his life moving from place to place. He has worked for NOAA for over 3 years on and off, and his title GVA, stands for General Vessel Assistant. His duties include anything associated with working the ship, to include steering the vessel, being a coxswain of the small boats, as well as operating cranes and machinery while aboard. He enjoys the travel associated with the job and has hobbies like recreational diving and photography (which are very compatible to this profession). He would like to learn more about the biological aspects of the work onboard the HI’IALAKAI and he comments that rope is the tool he uses most in his job.  Compatibility is a character trait he believes a person needs to possess in order to function in close quarters. GVA Kehn will spend an average of 190 days at sea this year also.

Deckhand Jeremy Taylor is a wage mariner employed by NOAA.  His duties include operating machinery on the ship, conducting CTD casts, but he additionally helps out as a survey tech in the drylab of the ship. Taylor has degrees in computer science as well as marine biology. His job is tied to the HI’IALAKAI and he enjoys the views, troubleshooting, and computer work he does out at sea.  Mr. Taylor believes a person should be inquisitive and enjoy problem solving to do a job such as this one. The myriad of responsibilities he has everyday makes this job interesting in his opinion and the computer is his most used tool on this research trip.

QUESTION OF THE DAY for my fourth grade students: Using a reference source:  1) List the 3 types of coral reefs. 2) What type of reef is common in Hawaii (and parts of the Caribbean)? 3) What was your reference source?

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’s Question: Find out more about the giant green sea turtle. List the answers to the sea turtle’s niche: Answers to yesterday’s question are provided by Sai, one of my 4th grade students at Ashburn Elementary. 1) Where does it live? They live mostly in warm and temperate water, also among sea grass. 2) How does it eat (what body parts does it have to aid in eating?) 4 flipper- like appendages with 2 tiny claws on each leg. They also have a hawk like beak. 3) What does it eat?  Jellyfish, crabs, shrimp, snail, seaweed, small fish, mollusks, and algae. 4) How does it reproduce?  They lay ping-pong sized eggs on land and bury the eggs in the sand. They return to the same beach where they hatched to reproduce again. 5) What resource did you use to find these answers? Enchanted Learning.com and Kids Planet.com

Melissa Fye, April 18, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Melissa Fye
Onboard NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai
April 4 – 25, 2005

Mission: Coral Reef Ecosystem Survey
Geographical Area: Northwest Hawaiian Islands
Date: April 18, 2005

Location: Latitude: 23*36.3’North, Longitude: 164*43.0’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Visibility: 10
Wind Direction:90
Wind Speed: 14 knots
Sea Wave Height: 2-4 feet
Swell Wave Height: 5-7 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1018.8
Cloud Cover: 2/8 Cu, As, Si
Temperature outside: 24.4

Sea turtles on the beach

Sea turtles on the beach

Science and Technology Log

The AHI research vessel was launched just prior to eight a.m. this morning with Scientist Joyce Miller and Jeremy Jones aboard.  The red and silver sonar boat would continue mapping shallow areas near 23 degrees North and 166 degrees West in the Northern Hawaiian Island chain. The ship resumed running benthic habitat mapping lines also, filling in gaps from previous surveys. Half past noon brought the deployment of several divers to the hull of the ship to determine the installation of the Trackpoint II testing. They dove in adorned with black suits, colorful air tanks, and metal weight belts.  It turned out that the Trackpoint II wasn’t installed properly and was off by 15 degrees.  That noted, changes were made to computer software to account for the degree change. Another boat trip was organized for the La Perouse Pinnacle area. Coxswain Merlyn Gordon led me, ENS Amy Cox, Scientists Rob O’Connor and Jonathan Weiss out to sea to snorkel the reef ecosystem.  Upon approaching La Perouse, it was determined to be too dangerous, so we changed course and swam the reef area near East Island.  We returned to the ship a few hours later and the AHI followed suit, and was hoisted out of the water once again. The HI’IALAKAI transited to deeper waters and ship based TOAD operations and Trackpoint II testing carried on once again. Ten p.m. brought about the reoccurrence of shipboard mapping around the outer circumference of French Frigate Shoals using the onboard multibeam sonar system.

Personal Log

I awoke and after the morning ritual of breakfast and shower, I answered emails from students in my fourth grade classroom in Ashburn, VA.  I climbed the stairs and passageway to the drylab to check to see if I could be of some assistance editing data.  The efficient scientists were caught up on the editing so my services were not needed.  I soon found out about an impromptu snorkeling trip and clambered to get ready and join the expedition. The seas were the calmest I had seen yet, so the ride was very smooth across the Pacific towards Perouse Pinnacle (a volcanic rock out cropping that serves as a good landmark in this area). The ocean looked like glass and the sun rays flashed and hit the water like bright diamonds. There was an underlying surge though, which might indicate a coming storm in the next 48 hours (according to sailors onboard).

After nearing Perouse, we could see the waves crashing around the rock, and pressed on for a safer snorkeling environment where we wouldn’t be churned to bits! We approached East Island and could see dark figures grazing the beach.  Upon closer inspection, we realized they were not monk seals, but giant green sea turtles basking in the sun. Mating season was upon us, and many of the sea turtles were populating this area to find mates. We snorkeled in four different areas of the reef, being careful not to get near the beach or disturb the coral reef ecosystem.  Several sea turtles were curious and encircled our boat, whereas I snapped some good photos.

I finally saw my first Ulua fish, indigenous to this area.  The fish had eluded me prior to today and I had been told stories of their aggressive biting behavior. Although quite large, about 3-4 feet, I was told it was small compared to most.  It swam around us, but never ATTACKED! It wasn’t nearly as ferocious as the picture the crew on board had painted in my mind.  It was a very flat, circular fish with a silver sheen. We saw many school of fish, one of which was bright yellow, and neon green coral. I learned from Coxswain Gordon that some of the clouds above the reef bore a greenish undercast or tint.  The color was reflected from the coral below and was an aide in locating reef areas. We returned to the HI’IALAKAI later in the afternoon and I spent the evening conducting some more interviews (which will be included in future logs). The sun and exercise tired me out and I fell asleep as soon as I hit the pillow in my stateroom.

QUESTION OF THE DAY for my fourth grade students:  A habitat is the place where an organism lives and grows.  Examples include ponds, forests, and a coral reef. A niche is the role an organism plays in its surroundings. A niche includes an animal’s complete way of life–where it lives, how and what it eats, and how it produces. Find out more about the giant green sea turtle. Think about why the turtle is laying on the beach also. List the answer’s to the sea turtle’s niche: 1) Where does it live? 2) How does it eat (what body parts does it have to aid in eating?) 3) What does it eat?  (don’t say it eats Ms. Fye:)!! Ugh! 4) How does it reproduce?  (Does it give birth to live young, lay eggs, etc?) 5) What resource did you use to find these answers?

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’s Question:  The ocean floor is full of nutrients and food particles resulting from decaying matter settling on the bottom.

Melissa Fye, April 16, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Melissa Fye
Onboard NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai
April 4 – 25, 2005

Mission: Coral Reef Ecosystem Survey
Geographical Area: Northwest Hawaiian Islands
Date: April 16, 2005

Location: Latitude: 23*36.3’North, Longitude: 164*43.0’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Visibility: 10
Wind Direction:90
Wind Speed: 14 knots
Sea Wave Height: 2-4 feet
Swell Wave Height: 5-7 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1018.8
Cloud Cover: 2/8 Cu, As, Si
Temperature outside: 24.4

Science and Technology Log

Sunrise brought the morning launch of the AHI, Acoustic Habitat Investigator, once again. Scientist Joyce Miller and Jeremy Jones deployed the sonar research boat to 23 degrees 43.6′ N and 166 degrees 15.7′ West to map shallow areas of the ocean bottom. Throughout the morning and mid-afternoon, the ship, HI’IALAKAI, resumed running benthic habitat mapping lines; filling in gaps around the reef from previous runs.  Scientists onboard continued editing swaths of sonar data in the computer lab (dry lab).  By 1630, the AHI was recovered in the southern work area and lifted back onto the ship using the cranes. Ship based TOAD camera operations began at 1800 as the sun was setting. The TOAD was set down in the water off the aft deck.  The camera recorded images as the ship drifted. Images of coral, sand beds, and small fish zipped by on the monitors. Scientist Chojnacki, commented he would email me some of the images at a later date, since we couldn’t capture them any other way at the time.  By 2300, TOAD camera operations concluded and the ship resumed benthic mapping around the outer circumference of the French Frigate Shoals.

Personal Log

I awoke from a much calmer night at sea and felt refreshed! The day was spent on the ship, interviewing members of the NOAA corps and crew. I also helped edit pixels of data for the multibeam sonar mapping project ongoing in the dry lab. The following interviews were conducted aboard ship on the bridge:

The four to eight watch shift on the bridge is conducted on a daily basis by Operations Officer Lt. Matt Wingate, ENS Sarah Jones, and ABS Gaetano Maurizio. Lt. Wingate is originally from Connecticut and is the Operations Officer for the HI’IALAKAI. Besides having watch duties on the bridge, he is responsible for collaborating with the lead scientist and CO to act as a go between to establish the P.O.D. (plan of the day) for each day at sea. He posts the P.O.D. around the ship every morning to inform all hands of the day’s activities.  His job involves some paperwork handling and coordinating details. He comments that the best part of his job is that it is different everyday, and every cruise has varied goals. He enjoys the variety on the job but does admit being far from friends and family can be a hindrance in this line of work.

Like many other people onboard the ship, the lieutenant has an alternative sleep schedule.  He works from four p.m. to eight p.m. as well as four a.m. to eight a.m. everyday. This type of schedule forces a person to sleep during daylight hours in order to get sufficient rest. Mr. Wingate possesses a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and advises anyone thinking of a career in the NOAA corps (officer division) to obtain a degree in science to meet the requirements. It is also helpful to not get seasick in this field of work! The resources he uses the most for his job are the lead scientist and the computer.  He will spend an average or 190 days at sea this year, usually in intervals of 3 weeks at sea and 6 days on land in a one month period. He is the third highest ranking officer aboard the HI’IALAKAI.

Ensign Sarah Jones was also present on watch this afternoon. ENS Jones is originally from Kansas and joined the HI’IALAKAI officers in June of last year. Her undergraduate degree is in meteorology, a perfect fit for the extensive weather data being collected everyday aboard the ship and NOAA’s objectives. Upon entering the NOAA Corps (the nation’s smallest and most elite uniformed division) she was given a three month hands-on course on driving a ship, using radar, Nobel Tec, and other various equipment located on the helm.  Her responsibilities while on watch include the equipment on the helm, observing the depth sounders, using paper charts and the Nobel Tec system to see the ship’s course across the Pacific Ocean.  She works with the scientists in the survey room (using walkie-talkies) to keep the ship on course, following established survey lines to fill in benthic habitat data needed for the scientific work being conducted onboard. She commented that the perks of her job include the travel and dive training, and the worst part is the occasional sea sickness she suffers from. Patience, situational awareness, and the ability to multi-task are all traits ENS Jones believes someone should embody to perform well at this type of job. Her current assignment will be approximately two years at sea, then a three year land assignment.  After accruing years with NOAA she can then decide to go back out to sea or apply for positions in the aviation sector of the organization.

Lastly, I interviewed ABS Gaetano Maurizio.  ABS stands for Able Bodied Seaman, which encompasses a myriad of responsibilities. ABS Maurizio originates from Molokai, Hawaii and was in the U.S. Navy prior to his current position at NOAA.  He has brought with him knowledge of maritime search and rescue and fire fighting from his previous training in the Navy. His current job encompasses being a coxswain (steering the ship or a Zodiac boat), a deck hand (involved in any aspect on deck, including crane systems), preservation of the ship in emergencies (like fire fighting), and he also occasionally helps the engineering department with tasks as they arise. He comments the pay he receives in this job is encouraging and he enjoys the travel.  Drawbacks include being far from friends and family for long periods of time. ABS Gaetano Maurizio reflects on the fact that someone should be mechanically inclined and react quickly to stress or emergencies to perform well at this job.

The ongoing interviews I conduct are helping me to better understand the interdependence between the officers, crew, scientists, and engineers aboard the HI’IALAKAI!

QUESTION OF THE DAY for my fourth grade students:  Multiple Choice! The ocean floor is full of nutrients and food particles resulting from___________________. a) tornadoes.  b) water currents. c) salt water. d) decaying matter settling on the bottom.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’s Question: All living things in an area, together with their environment, is called an ecosystem.

Melissa Fye, April 15, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Melissa Fye
Onboard NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai
April 4 – 25, 2005

Mission: Coral Reef Ecosystem Survey
Geographical Area: Northwest Hawaiian Islands
Date: April 15, 2005

Acoustic Habitat boat

Acoustic Habitat boat

Location: Latitude: 23*36.3’North, Longitude: 164*43.0’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Visibility: 10
Wind Direction:90
Wind Speed: 14 knots
Sea Wave Height: 2-4 feet
Swell Wave Height: 5-7 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1018.8
Cloud Cover: 2/8 Cu, As, Si
Temperature outside: 24.4

Science and Technology Log

The AHI (Acoustic Habitat Investigator) research boat was once again launched from the decks of the HI’IALAKAI this morning with scientists Joyce Miller, Joe Chojnacki, and Jeremy Jones aboard. They set a course for 23*43.6’N and 166* 15.7’N.  Their daily ritual involves mapping the sea floor using multibeam sonar technology (sound waves) in more shallow areas than the ship can pass over. While those persons were out to sea, editing of swath data continued in the onboard computer lab and the lead scientist worked out some data involving conductivity readings. After lunch, the HI#1 10m speedboat was launched from the HI’IALAKAI to shuttle another scientist out to the AHI in a swap. (The AHI is a small research boat and isn’t really suited for more than 3 people at a time). The CO, (Commanding Officer)  and other members onboard accompanied scientist Kyle Hogrefe out to check on a buoy nearby and they then went scuba diving at La Perouse Pinnacle.

The ship resumed shipboard mapping throughout the afternoon. Around three o’clock PM, the AHI and HI#1 boats were recovered and brought back on board.  Later that afternoon and into the evening, scientist Joe Chojnacki began Trackpoint II testing over the side of the ship. Finally, about seven o’clock p.m. the TOAD was fed on a cable line overboard for preliminary testing. TOAD stands for Towed Optical Assessment Device.  Basically, it is two cameras and lights attached to a metal apparatus, which is used to ground proof the acoustic data that has been collected by the sonar systems.  To break it down even more simply, the sonar system creates data in number form, about the ocean floor, which is then translated into colorful dots of data and made into a map.  The sonar detects different heights of the sea floor, including atolls, pinnacles, and such.

The TOAD is a camera system which records pictures of the ocean floor to reinforce the data collected by the sonar system.  The TOAD feeds real time images on film through its cables directly into monitors in the dry lab onboard the HI’IALAKAI.  While testing proceeded last night, myself and a few others gathered around to see images on the monitors of the sea floor below us. We saw huge table coral and fish swimming below.  Benthic habitat mapping proceeded throughout the night.

Personal Log

I spent most of the day recording weather readings, interviewing three more scientists on board, editing data, and watching video from the aforementioned TOAD system.  It was exciting to see the ocean floor teeming with life right below our massive ship.

Joe Chojnacki was interviewed today. He is a graduate student at the University of Hawaii, studying geomorphology.  Joe is originally from Wisconsin, but grew up living overseas, the son of two teachers who taught abroad. His main responsibility on this cruise at sea, is to deploy the TOAD (towed optical assessment device) and assist with any diving operations on board. His work is primarily filming underwater to substantiate data being collected by the multibeam systems.  He has also done work towboarding, an operation in which two divers are pulled (towed) below the surface to scan the ocean floor for debris or bottom type, for further investigation.  He enjoys his job and graduate school work because he gets to help solve the puzzle about underwater geography and he is also getting to learn about other facets of the work, like sonar mapping and data editing. The tools he uses most often are the computer, dive and TOAD equipment, as well GPS systems (global positioning systems). He will attend one cruise out at sea a year while taking classes. Mr. Chojnacki comments that a person well suited for this type of career needs to be willing to take risks and be well motivated because it is a difficult lifestyle and not very well paid. There are no well defined career paths, so one must be willing to take opportunities as they arise, to persevere, and be curious about the things around them.

Sea floor mapping specialist, Alyssa Aaby is also onboard for this cruise.  She originates from Portland, Oregon and is enjoying her first post graduate job. Her duties involve editing data collected from the sonar and putting the information together into a map. Alyssa is also learning new tasks, like the onboard mapping involved on the AHI.  She has been working in Hawaii since August for HMRG (Hawaii Mapping Research Group), which is supported through grant funding by the University of Hawaii. Ms. Aaby has an educational background in environmental science and a graduate degree in GIS through Oregon State. She believes the best part of her job is getting to learn new tasks, like coming out to sea to help collect data while traveling across the Hawaiian Island chain.

Because she spends a majority of her time in front of a computer, she believes the long stretches of nonhuman interaction in front of the screen can sometimes be a drawback in this type of career. She credits a college advisor for helping her narrow down her career path and she believes that anyone interested in this type of career needs to take the path of a computer programmer in their studies. An ability to take an image and rotate it in your mind is also important. Alyssa works 9-5 hours while in her office on land but will travel to sea 5-6 times this year to visit places like Fiji and Papa New Guinea.

My final interview of the day was with Coral Reef Ecosystems Specialist, Jeremy Jones.  Mr. Jones is originally from Indiana but has spent the last four years here in Hawaii. Like Mr. Chojnacki, he has worked as a towboard specialist, and has had jobs working in aquariums, a vet technician, and marine debris specialist.  He possesses a bachelor of science degree in marine science and credits a high school library advisor with helping him to narrow down his field for college studies. He believes the travel is the best part of the job, and even as a teenager, he enjoyed studying the stars up above and the ocean down below. He has many responsibilities on this cruise; to include the repair and maintenance of the AHI research vessel, assist in dive operations, as a coxswain (driver of the AHI boat), and he is learning more about the collection and editing of the sonar data. Mr. Jones admits that this type of job has a “hurry up, and wait” mentality about it. In other words, someone who is interested in this type of career needs to understand that you must be flexible, think quickly in times of emergency, have infinite patience, and be a people person. You need to be able to adapt to living in close quarters with other people. Mr. Jones will spend 5-6 months at sea this year.

The interviews I have conducted have made me realize the infinite number of occupations in this area of science and I am looking forward to my future interviews this week.

QUESTION OF THE DAY for my fourth grade students: Multiple choice question! All living things in an area, together with their environment, is called a (an) ________________________. a) marine habitat b) ecosystem c) continental shelf d) gulf stream

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’s Question: 1)What is the name of the wettest place on earth? (Hint: it somewhere in Hawaii.) Mount Waialeale, Hawaii 2)List the name of the reference source you used (this includes websites remember!) Earth and Environmental Facts book 3)The annual average rainfall of this place is 661 inches a year.  How many feet of water is that? about 55 feet  How many yards? about 18 and 1/3 yards