Nancy McClintock, June 13, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy McClintock and Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006

Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 13, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility: Fair to poor
Wind direction:  ESE
Average wind speed: 7 knots
Wave height: 1-2’ SE
Air temperature:  75 oF
Sea temperature:  79 oF
Cloud cover: 100%
Barometric pressure:  10144 mb

Mark Silverman and Nancy  McClintock conclude their awesome adventure. My memories truly will last a lifetime and I thank NOAA for giving me the opportunity to participate in this excellent program.

Mark Silverman and Nancy McClintock conclude their awesome adventure. My memories truly will last a lifetime and I thank NOAA for giving me the opportunity to participate in this excellent program.

Science and Technology Log 

The FREEDOM STAR traveled approximately 200 miles during the night toward Port Canaveral, our final destination. Wave height increased and then decreased as morning arrived.  It will take approximately 15 minutes to go through the lock and then 1-½ hours to travel upriver to the dock at Hanger AF. The FREEDOM STAR is the sister ship of the LIBERTY STAR and they are both used in the recovery of rocket boosters for the NASA Space program.  Before leaving the dock, the FREEDOM STAR takes on freshwater that is stored in two tanks totaling 17,000 gallons – this is non-potable water. 5,000 gallons of potable (drinkable) water is stored in a separate tank.  Once the FREEDOM STR reaches the dock the wastewater goes through the city purification system before being released into open water.  Testing of this water reveals that it is drinkable at this time. However, it is not used for drinking water.  Legally, the wastewater can be released at sea, but the FREEDOM STAR  does not do this.

Personal Log 

The waves did not reach the expectations of 30 knots and the ship did not rock and roll as much as expected.  This morning is very gloomy and much cooler due to the cloud cover. The viewing of Port Canaveral in the distance brings a certain element of excitement, as does going under the drawbridge and entering the lock. However, I am sad to reach the conclusion of this wonderful adventure. I have many wonderful memories and pictures to keep forever. I thank NOAA for selecting me and giving me this fantastic opportunity to enhance my life and the lives of my students.

Mike Nicholas, FREEDOM STAR 2nd Mate, enters the lock at Port Canaveral as Allan Gravina, FREEDOMS STAR Able Bodied Seaman, looks on.

Mike Nicholas, 2nd Mate, enters the lock at Port Canaveral as Allan Gravina, Able Bodied Seaman, looks on.

Question of the Day 

Answer to yesterday’s question: In 330’ of sea water the pressure is equivalent to 10 atmospheres of pressure from the surface to outer space.  The fish have difficulty withstanding the increase in pressure and, quite often, do not survive. Fish have swim bladders that help them keep position in the water. When they are brought to the surface from a deep depth, the pressure decrease causes the bladder to expand.  Too much expansion kills the fish. Today’s question: How does it feel to be selected as a NOAA Teacher at Sea and spend six days on a NASA ship in the Atlantic Ocean?

Today’s answer: This has been one of the best experiences of my life and I can hardly wait to tell everyone about this cruise, the importance of exploring the ocean for scientific purposes, and show my pictures.

Interview with Marta Ribera 

The ship passes beneath the drawbridge as it returns home to Port Canaveral.

The ship passes beneath the drawbridge as it returns home to Port Canaveral.

Marta was born in Gainesville, Florida and moved to Barcelona, Spain at the age of 3 ½ years.  She received an undergraduate degree with major emphasis in General Biology and a minor in Ecology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Following a year of graduate work in GIS, Marta received an internship at the National Marine Fisheries Service in Panama City and has been with NMFS for the past three years. On this cruise, Marta oversees the use of the CTDs (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) and records all data collected.  The larger CTD (valued at $18,000) is used to record conductivity, temperature, depth, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and clarity of water.  A smaller CTD (valued at $1,800) is placed on the ROV and records pressure, temperature, and depth of the ocean.  At the Panama City Lab, Marta also works with multi-beam mapping, GIS, and is conducting a study on juvenile snapper with Stacey Harter. One of her goals is to complete a Master’s Degree in GIS applied to Fisheries and Marine Biology. “The best thing about my job is that I love the people with whom I work and nothing is ever the same.”

Marta Ribera and Andy David, NOAA scientists, prepare the CTD for deployment.  The CTD recorded conductivity, temperature, and depth of the ocean on this cruise.

Marta Ribera and Andy David prepare the CTD for deployment, which recorded conductivity, temperature, and depth.

Interview with Mr. Wally Exell 

Chief mate and Relief Captain of the M/V FREEDOM STAR

Mr. Exell is the Captain of the FREEDOM STAR for our NOAA cruise. He was born in Bermuda and received his education from the Merchant Marine School in England. Ever since he was young he wanted to go to sea. His love for the sea led him to working with the NASA Missile Retrieving program for the past 24 years.  He has been with the FREEDOM STAR for the past 16 years. When at sea, he is on an active duty for 4 hours and then on stand down (on call) for 8 hours. “The best thing about my job is that my work is very unique and interesting and I am honored working with this Program and the great crew.”

Please see Mark Silverman’s logs for additional interviews.

Captain Wally Exell, FREEDOM STAR, stands outside the bridge visually checking our passage through the lock at Port Canaveral.

Captain Wally Exell, FREEDOM STAR, stands outside the bridge visually checking our passage through the lock at Port Canaveral.

Nancy McClintock, June 11, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy McClintock and Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006

Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 11, 2006

The sun begins its amazing show of lights as it sets on the shimmering water of the Atlantic Ocean signaling the conclusion of another wonderful day at sea.

The sun begins its amazing show of lights as it sets on the shimmering water of the Atlantic Ocean signaling the conclusion of another wonderful day at sea.

Weather Data from Bridge – PM 
Visibility: Good, 10 miles
Wind direction:  S/W
Average wind speed: 14 knots
Wave height: 3-4’
Air temperature:  80oF
Sea temperature:  81.5 oF
Cloud cover: 35%
Barometric pressure:  1011 mb

Science and Technology Log 

The FREEDOM STAR traveled through the night to the Georgia site and today’s operations began at 0815.  We completed a CTD, two fish traps, and three ROV dives.  Once again, one fish trap came up empty and the other one contained 37 porgies that were measured, logged, and then released. Our focus is the grouper and only those are kept for biological study. Today’s ROV dives reached depths of 225 – 334 feet. The ocean floor consists of sand, small rock outcrops, and a few small crevices.

Stacey Harter and Marta Ribera, NOAA scientists, prepare one of two fish traps on board for deployment.

Stacey Harter and Marta Ribera prepare fish traps

The ship is having difficulty staying on track because it is on the edge of the Gulf Stream.  Several of the species observed are sea robin, arrow crab, saddle bass, red snapper, squid, flounder, rudderfish, eel, grunts, toadfish, and octopus. One large lionfish was seen. Due to the increased depth in the ocean floor, different species are observed. The camera array was not in operation today due to the strong currents that tend to flip over the cameras.  Also, Captain Exell wanted to shorten the workday and start heading to Port Canaveral, approximately 200 miles.

Personal Log 

Nancy stands by with buoy line as other members of the NOAA team stand by for deployment of the fish trap.  The fish trap is retrieved approximately two hours later.

Nancy stands by with buoy line as other members of the NOAA team stand by for deployment of the fish trap. The fish trap is retrieved approximately two hours later.

This is the best day ever!  I slept great, the weather is fantastic, and the food is very delicious. However, Captain Exell just informed the crew and scientists that the tropical depression is now Tropical Storm Alberto and will be in our area of operations by Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.  We are definitely cutting short our cruise by two days and plan to be tied up at Port Canaveral by noon on Monday. Everyone is making the best of this news and is ready for a full day of work.

Everything is going very smoothly and I feel that I really know what I am supposed to do when in the Lab or on the rear deck. Patrick cooked fresh fish for lunch and it was so good. The food is really great and there is always so much of it.  We got into the ice cream bars this evening – yum!!

Stacey Harter removes the ear bone from a grouper as darkness sets in.  The ear bone is similar to a tree ring and reveals age and growth rate of the fish.

Stacey Harter removes the ear bone from a grouper as darkness sets in. The ear bone is similar to a tree ring and reveals age and growth rate of the fish.

Be sure to read my interview with Patrick.  Once again, my desk chair is rocking and rolling in synchronization with the ship. There are whitecaps on the ocean and there is a definite change in the weather.  We are beginning to feel the first effects of Tropical Storm Alberto.  I am a little uneasy, but know that the FREEDOM STAR is in the capable hands of the Captain. We may have a rough ride into the “house” (Port Canaveral), but I know we will arrive safely.  Actually, this is very exciting because I have never been in a tropical storm. This is just one of the many things I will tell my students, friends, and family.

Question of the Day 

Answer to yesterday’s question: One of the scientists said this afternoon that he felt, “Since oceans make up the majority of our planet, the only way to study our planet is to study the ocean.”  This is a thought-provoking question written to have you start thinking about this.  There is no right or wrong answer. Today’s question: How does the deep-sea water-pressure affect fish when they are caught and quickly brought to the surface?

Patrick Downey, FREEDOM STAR cook, is preparing lunch on the barbeque.  The barbeque was designed and built by the crew and is securely bolted to the deck.

Patrick Downey is preparing lunch on the barbeque, designed by the crew

Interview with Patrick Downey 

Cook, M/V FREEDOM STAR

Patrick joined the Coast Guard as an FS 3 – Food Service Technician and has spent the last 5 ½ years with the FREEDOM STAR.  He creates the menus, does all of the food shopping, and prepares all of the meals while at sea.  Once a moth he prepares a food report and takes inventory of all food related items on the ship.  When he goes shopping, it takes lot of shopping carts for all of the necessary items to feed the crew.  He is constantly changing the menu and has to plan menus correlated to the weather conditions – even seasoned seamen are affected by the rough weather and high waves.  When asked why he likes his job, Patrick replied,” I love the ocean and I have always liked being on boats. Especially, I like traveling with the space program and working with the great crew of the FREEDOM STAR.

Tony Freeley, FREEDOM STAR Chief Engineer, explains to Nancy the operations of the two diesel engines while touring the engine room.

Tony Freeley, FREEDOM STAR Chief Engineer, explains to Nancy the operations of the two diesel engines while touring the engine room.

Nancy McClintock, June 10, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy McClintock and Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006

Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 10, 2006

Kevin Joy and Craig Bussel, ROV crew navigator  and pilot, install one of the cameras in preparation  for ROV deployment.

Kevin Joy and Craig Bussel, ROV crew navigator and pilot, install one of the cameras

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  Excellent
Wind direction:  SSW
Average wind speed: 15 knots
Wave height: 4-6’ with higher swells
Air temperature:  73oF
Sea temperature:  79 oF
Cloud cover: 20%
Barometric pressure:  1010 mb

Science and Technology Log 

The FREEDOM STAR traveled approximately 121.4 miles north toward the coast of North Carolina during the night of June 9. Operations for the morning were delayed due to the reporting of strong winds and currents in opposite directions and a tropical storm forming in the Yucatan/Honduras area and moving toward the western coast of Florida.  Predictions are that the storm will cross the peninsula and track along the northeastern coast in our direction.  If this occurs, Captain Exell wants to be back at Port Canaveral on Monday, which means shortening our cruise.  Andy, NOAA Principal Investigator, has decided to scrap the North Carolina site, a man-made reef called the Snowy Wreck.  The FREEDOM STAR traveled 50 miles from North Carolina to the South Carolina Site A.  Today’s operations began at 1100 and Options 1 and 3 were successfully completed along with 2 camera arrays, 2 fish taps, 1 CTD, and 3 ROV deployments.  However, Option 2 was scrapped due to lack of time.  The ROV continues to record excellent images of the ocean floor and the species that inhabit it.  Today’s dives yielded the greatest diversity of species and a larger number within a species.  ROV dive #1 revealed several scamp (a type of grouper), soap fish, puffer fish, tattler fish, a field of sea urchin, and several lion fish.  The lionfish is native to the colder waters of the Western Pacific and is thought to have been intentionally released in the Florida area.

Craig, ROV pilot, monitors the ROV transect as Stacey Harter, NOAA scientist, identifies and records species, and Freshteh Ahmadian, ROV crew, pilots the ROV.

Craig, ROV pilot, monitors the ROV transect as Stacey Harter, NOAA scientist, identifies and records species, and Freshteh Ahmadian, ROV crew, pilots the ROV.

Personal Log 

I awoke this morning feeling great and looking forward to another busy day. Hearing the news of the tropical depression has put a somber overtone on the morning.  Andy, the Principal Investigator, is rethinking our cruise plan and working out the best possible alternatives. There is talk about shortening the cruise and returning to Port Canaveral two days earlier. The weather outside is gorgeous, warm, very sunny, and it is hard to believe that such a big weather change is a possibility. Our workday began late because we scrapped the North Carolina Site and moved 50 miles south to South Carolina. It is nice to sit in the sun, interview the scientists and crew while waiting for our arrival.  Speaking of the crew, they are great guys who love to fish and have fun by kidding around. However, they work very hard and are always there when needed and know exactly what to do. We are all settling into a routine and the deployment and retrieval of equipment is going very smooth. I get to help with almost everything and feel like I am playing a very important role in the name of science.  Seeing a moray eel on the ocean floor is just awesome.  It is amazing to watch these creatures moving in their habitat and not just as a picture in a book.

Steve Matthews, NOAA scientist, and Nancy McClintock, NOAA Teacher at Sea, celebrate the success of another ROV deployment.

Steve Matthews, NOAA scientist, and Nancy McClintock celebrate the success of another ROV deployment.

Question of the Day 

Answer to yesterday’s question: There are many answers to this controversial question. If the MPAs designated on this cruise were established in the future, over fishing of five species of grouper and 2 species of tilefish might be prevented.  Hopefully, this would protect them from endangerment or, possibly, extinction.  Whenever one part of the “Web of Life” is affected, the entire “Web of Life” is affected.  The designation of MPAs is a very controversial topic. Today’s question: How does the introduction of a non-native species of fish affect the biodiversity of the ocean ecosystem?

Interview with the ROV TEAM 

Marta Ribera, NOAA scientist, records habitat description and fish species on a laptop as observed on ROV monitors.

Marta Ribera, NOAA scientist, records habitat description and fish species as observed on ROV monitors.

Craig Bussel 

NURC (National Undersea Research Center), ROV Pilot Craig spent most of his early years in Missouri and became a certified scuba diver at the age of 16. While in the Army, he learned about hydraulics and was assigned (via the Army) to a Navy ship with a ROV (remotely operated vehicle) on it.  This piqued his interest in ROVs and he went to work in California for a ROV manufacturer.  After forming his own company repairing and operating ROVs, Craig began working for the National Undersea North Atlantic and Great lakes Center.  The Hela ROV (formerly Phantom ROV) used for this cruise was originally built in 2002 by Deep Ocean Engineering.  In 2005 Craig helped to redesign it to carry HD-TV (high-definition) and it was renamed Hela.  “The best thing about my job is that I get to see things first and go places no one has ever been – it’s cool!  We are professional explorers.”

Kevin Joy 

NURC, ROV Navigator Kevin grew up in the New England area and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in Environmental Design.  He received a Master’s Degree in Geography from the University of Connecticut where he became proficient in GIS.  He worked at a Consulting Firm in GIS that contracted with NURC (National Undersea Research Center) to build and maintain a GIS system.  He is now an IT Group Leader at NURC and designs databases, websites, and programs using a long-range wireless network. In other words, he wears many hats.  “The best thing about my job is that I never do the same thing twice.”

A dolphin, one of six (a pod), swims along  the FREEDOM STAR and frolics in the wake created by the bow.

A dolphin, one of six (a pod), swims along the FREEDOM STAR and frolics in the wake created by the bow.

Freshteh Ahmadian 

NURC, ROV Fresteh is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Nevada – Reno and is a Hollings Scholar, a scholarship program sponsored by NOAA.  She has always been interested in robotics and is pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  This summer she is completing a 10-week internship with NURC.  This is her first time being on a ship like the FREEDOM STAR. “This cruise has been very educational and I am learning lots of new things.”

ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) 

The original Phantom ROV cost $80,000.  The redesigned Hela ROV is now valued at $250,000. It has 3 cameras (capable of 4), video fiber optic, scanning sonar, acoustic tracking system, and 4 ••• horsepower horizontal thrusters.  It is rated to 1,000 feet depth with 1,500 feet of fiber optic cable. There are two daylight quality lights on the front.  The pictures and videos taken by the ROV are archived and then given to the scientists for three years.

Nancy McClintock, June 9, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy McClintock and Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006

Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 9, 2006

The camera array secures four digital video cameras in waterproof containers to a frame that is tethered and lowered to the ocean floor.

The camera array secures four digital video cameras in waterproof containers tethered and lowered to the ocean floor.

Weather Data from Bridge

Visibility:  good with a little haze
Wind direction:  SW/W
Average wind speed: 20 knots
Wave height: 8-10’
Air temperature: 72oF
Cloud cover: 70%
Barometric pressure:  1010 mb

Science and Technology Log 

The FREEDOM STAR traveled approximately 134 miles north toward the coast of South Carolina during the night of June 8. Due to increased winds, the waves reached a height of 8-10 feet. Operations for the morning were cancelled until conditions improved.  At approximately 1300, the fish trap was deployed with 450 feet of Amsteel Blue line 7/16 inches in diameter and a breaking strength of 27,000 pounds tethered to high-flyer floats as markers for a later retrieval.  Upon recovery after 90 minutes, the fish trap contained 7 porgies and 1 triggerfish.   Three measurements were recorded for the fish – standard length (mouth to the beginning of the tail), fork length (mouth to the fork or middle of the tail), and total length (mouth  to end of tail). The camera array was readied and deployed as waves soaked the back deck. The CTD was deployed and rested in the water for 1 minute to let the water flow through the instrument and acclimate it.

Upon retrieval by NOAA scientists and FREEDOM STAR crew, containers are rinsed several times in freshwater and wiped down to remove the saltwater.  Tapes are removed, logged, and can be viewed on a small digital player.  Data is meticulously analyzed later in the NOAA Lab.

Upon retrieval, containers are rinsed several times in freshwater and wiped down to remove the saltwater. Tapes are removed, logged, and can be viewed on a small digital player. Data is meticulously analyzed later.

It was lowered to the ocean floor for 15 seconds during which time conductivity, temperature, and other data were collected. The ROV (Hela) was successfully deployed.  However, after reaching the ocean floor, one of the  cameras was not functioning and the ROV operation was terminated.  The camera was repaired, the vehicle was launched, and the ROV dive was successfully completed at 1930 at a depth of 222 feet.  This was the first of the dives during which the strobe functioned and images were excellent.  The bottom consisted of hard compacted sand called pavement, crevices, and relief rocky outcrops. Some of the species identified included a sea cucumber (an invertebrate), razor fish, porgies, groupers, hogfish, a school of amberjack, and 2 lionfish. Lionfish is an introduced species in this area and appears to adversely impact the biodiversity of native species. In spite of early morning weather conditions and the late start, all planned operations were concluded by the end of the day.

Cece Linder, NOAA scientist, records the full-length measurement of a porgy caught in the fish trap. This is one of three measurements recorded for each fish caught

Cece Linder, NOAA scientist, records the full-length measurement of a porgy caught in the fish trap. This is one of three measurements recorded for each fish caught

Personal Log 

Little did I know that the “flight simulator” from the night before was only to be an introduction to 8-10’ waves. I experienced the effect of anti-gravity as I was bounced around in my bunk.  After trying to get out of my bunk several times, I was successful only to find that I was overtaken by motion sickness.  Weather conditions cancelled the morning operations and I was very content to spend the morning in my bunk trying to recover. The afternoon arrived, weather conditions improved, and a light lunch made everything better. On rocky days it helps to keep your eyes on the horizon at the rear of the ship, just like our field investigations to Shaw Nature Reserve.  I always teach on the way to the Reserve and keep an eye on the rear of the bus – it really does help with motion sickness. This afternoon was a full-gear day and I donned my lifejacket and hardhat to help with the deployment of the fish trap and camera array.  This gear is always necessary when the crane is in operation.  Safety of everyone on board is first while conducting the operations.  It feels great to be an active member of the scientific team.  The images from the ROV are amazing and I sit at the laptop and continue to take digital images of the ocean floor.  The brightly colored sponges, the darting of the fish, the sea anemone, starfish, and sea cucumber bring excitement to the crew in the lab. This is an entirely different ecosystem that is so different to those that we see and study in Missouri and I am truly in awe!  Another unique experience is sitting at the computer working on my daily log as the ship is underway to our new position.  This is a flat-bottom ship and it really rocks and rolls.  It is a challenge to type and keep my chair (that is on rolling wheels) close to the keyboard.  Even though the weather and equipment did not cooperate 100%, it was another successful day and I am looking forward to many new adventures.

Nancy McClintock, NOAA Teacher at Sea, tries on a survival suit informally known as a “Gumby Suit.” The suit helps to prevent hypothermia in case there is an emergency requiring evacuation of the ship.

Nancy McClintock, NOAA Teacher at
Sea, tries on a survival suit informally
known as a “Gumby Suit.” The suit
helps to prevent hypothermia in case
there is an emergency requiring
evacuation of the ship.

Question of the Day 

Answer to yesterday’s question: There are many answers to this controversial question. If the MPAs designated on this cruise were established in the future, overfishing would be prevented. Hopefully, this would protect fish from endangerment or, possibly, extinction.  Whenever one part of the “Web of Life” is affected, the entire “Web of Life” is affected. The designation of MPAs is a very controversial topic.

Today’s question: How does the introduction of a non-native species of fish affect the biodiversity of the ocean ecosystem?

Interview with Stacey Harter 

Stacey is the NOAA data manager for the cruise.  She annotates the positions, and habitats, and ocean life for the ROV tapes.  She grew up in upstate New York and always knew that she wanted to have a career in the field of marine biology.  While at Florida State University she completed an internship at the Panama City NOAA Fisheries Lab.  Upon graduation, she began working for NOAA and has been there for the past 4 years.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Marine Biology and loves her job.

Addendum 1: Scientific Personnel for the M/V FREEDOM STAR 

Andrew David, NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) Panama City, Principal Investigator Stacey Harter, NMFS Panama City, Data Manager Marta Ribera, NMFS Panama City, GIS/ROV/Deck Craig Bussel, NURC (National Undersea Research Center), ROV Pilot Kevin Joy, NURC, ROV Navigator Freshteh Ahmadian, NURC, ROV Steve Matthews, NMFS Panama City, ROV/Deck Cecelia Linder, NMFS Headquarters, ROV/Deck Nancy McClintock, NOAA Teacher as Sea Mark Silverman, NOAA Teacher at Sea.

Nancy McClintock, June 8, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy McClintock and Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006

Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 8, 2006

Early morning sunrise 50 miles off the coast of North Florida viewed from the deck

Early morning sunrise 50 miles off the coast of North Florida viewed from the deck

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  unlimited
Wind direction:  S/W
Average wind speed: 7 knots
Wave height: 1-2’
Air temperature: 78oF/25oC
Cloud cover: None
Barometric pressure:  1011 mb

Science and Technology Log 

The FREEDOM STAR left Port Canaveral at 0010 and traveled 92.3 miles north during the night of June 7. At about 0800 the CTD was launched and recovered successfully in the Option 2 area about 50 miles off the coast of North Florida.  A fish trap baited with Spanish mackerel was deployed with high-flyer floats as markers for a later retrieval. After overcoming a few difficulties, the ROV was launched to a depth of 207’ and rested on the ocean floor.  Visibility was excellent and two successful transects were accomplished.  The bottom consisted of mixed hard bottom that visibly contained invertebrate species such as black coral, Oculina varicosa coral, Lophelia pertusa and other branching corals as well as basket sponges and various algae.  In addition, sand with several good ledges was encountered. The fish were most prolific in areas where the most relief was seen. Fish species spotted included tomtate grunts, scamp (a type of grouper), three types of porgies, blue angelfish, reef, bank and spot fin butterfly fish, blue and queen angel fish, almaco and greater amberjacks, yellow tail reef fish and many other types of damsel fish, filefish, scrawled cowfish, and Cuban hogfish.  After the ROV run, the fish trap was retrieved with two red porgies that were measured and released.  The camera array with four video cameras was dropped to the ocean floor for 30 minutes and then retrieved.  After cruising approximately 26 miles north, a similar protocol at Option 1 was repeated.

Recording digital images relayed from the ROV at 207 feet below the surface of the ocean.

Recording digital images relayed from the ROV at 207 feet below the surface of the ocean.

Personal Log 

The ignition of the diesel engines and the roar of the bow thrusters was just the beginning of my first real night as sea.  I felt like I was in a flight simulator at an amusement park for six hours. I am beginning to get my “sea legs” and have learned that motion sickness medicine helps and that you have to stand with a wide stance without locking your knees to prevent losing your balance. Walking on deck in the early morning presented me with one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen.  What a wonderful way to begin a day! The deployment of the research equipment and the recording of data is a key component to the mission of this cruise.  I recorded digital pictures with a laptop computer of the ocean floor images relayed from the ROV and helped wherever I could be of assistance. The retrieval of the almost-empty fish trap brought groans and moans from the crew.  However, seeing a huge Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Caretta caretta, surface next to the ship will be in my dreams tonight.

Question of the Day 

Answer to yesterday’s question: The FREEDOM STAR holds 44,000 gallons of diesel fuel in ten tanks.  A gallon of diesel fuel costs approximately $2.25.  Just imagine the fuel costs for this week! Today’s question: If the government designated certain areas as Marine Protected Areas and limited their public use, how would this affect the ocean ecosystem?

Deployment of the ROV by NOAA scientists and crewmembers at Option 2 from the rear deck of the FREEDOM STAR.

Deployment of the ROV by NOAA scientists and crewmembers at Option 2 from the rear deck of the FREEDOM STAR.

Addendum 1: Glossary of Terms 

Millibar (mb):  a unit of pressure equivalent to 1/1000 atmospheres of pressure.

Atmosphere: a unit of pressure that is the average air pressure at sea level.

Transect:  a sample area taken along a straight line used to estimate populations and habitat coverage.

Option: Proposed areas for deep water MPA’s that are under evaluation.  Each MPA has 2-3 Options for a total of eleven.

Prolific:  found in abundance or in large amounts.

Relief:  distance above or below relatively flat, featureless sea bottom.

Protocol:  a series of steps and procedures used in an operation.

Addendum 2: Officers and Crew of the FREEDOM STAR 

Captain: Walter Exell, Chief Mate: George Kirk, Second Mate: Mike Nicholas, Boatswain (Lead Seaman):  Darrell Hoover ,Ordinary Seaman:  Cody Gordon, Able Bodied Seaman:  Allan Gravina, Cook : Patrick Downey, Retrieval (Crane Operator):  Wayne Stewart, Retrieval (Crane Operator):  Darin Schuster,  Deck Supervisor : P.J. Zackel, Chief Engineer: Tim Freeley, Assistant Engineer:  John Heer.

Nancy McClintock, June 7, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy McClintock and Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006

Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 7, 2006

Nancy and Mark on the bridge of the NASA ship FREEDOM STAR ready to begin an awesome week as NOAA Teachers at Sea.

Nancy and Mark on the bridge ready to begin an awesome week as NOAA Teachers at Sea.

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility: excellent – over 10 miles
Wind direction:  ESE
Average wind speed: 9 knots
Harbor wave height: light chop
Air temperature:  75 oF at 1900 hrs.
Cloud cover: partly cloudy
Barometric pressure:  1014 millibars

Science and Technology Log 

Upon arrival Tuesday, June 6, we loaded equipment onto the ship such as: Chevron fish traps, a four-camera video array, an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), a Blue Spectra Line (1 cm diameter, rated to 27,000 lbs, cost $2.00 foot),  a Seabird 19+ CTD ( Conductivity, Temperature, Depth), buoys, and bait.  Next, we toured the ship, settled into our staterooms, were introduced to our survival suits, and received an informal technical briefing from Andy David, the Principal Investigator, from NOAA fisheries.  We also were introduced to the rest of the NOAA scientists and the crew of the FREEDOM STAR.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 was the official start of day 1 of our cruise.  We met with the Captain of the FREEDOM STAR, Dave Fraine, who graciously gave us a tour of the bridge and an overview of ship operations, navigation, and piloting.  At 1100 Capt. Fraine briefed the entire crew on safety regulations and drill procedures.  We also had a fire drill and an MOB (Man Overboard) survival drill.  Walter Exell, Chief Mate, relieved Capt. Fraine and is the captain for the rest our cruise.  At 1600 the vessel shifted to Port Canaveral from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to take on fuel in preparation for departure on June 8th at 0001.

NASA ship M/V FREEDOM STAR docked at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

NASA ship M/V FREEDOM STAR docked at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Personal Log 

It is a great honor to be selected as one of 30 NOAA Teachers at Sea and words can hardly describe the beginning of this awesome, fantastic adventure.  Viewing the FREEDOM STAR for the first time, seeing the Kennedy Space Center from the water, and watching the manatees and alligators swim within a few feet of the ship are breathtaking. The equipment and technology to be used for this cruise is at a very high-level and it will be impressive to watch the videos and actively participate in the collection of scientific data.  I survived my first fire drill (even though I put my life jacket on inside out) and passed the survival drill with success.  I donned my Gumby (survival) suit with great ease—I just couldn’t move very easily and had it zipped up to my nose because of my short stature. My first full day has been filled with excitement, wonderful memories, and the establishment of many great friendships.  I am learning about ecosystems so totally different from those found in Missouri and look forward to sharing this information.  I can hardly wait for tomorrow to come and begin the actual data collection!

Until tomorrow… Nancy

Question of the Day 

How many gallons of commercial diesel fuel does a NASA ship like the FREEDOM STAR (176 feet in length) hold?

Addendum: Glossary of Terms 

  • MPA: Marine Protected Areas are areas closed to all fishing, both commercial and recreational.
  • ROV: Remotely Operated Vehicles robotic vehicles tethered to a crane that will be employed to search for spawning aggregations, determine habitat coverage, topography and composition, and detect new sites for inclusion into the sample site universe using video cameras, and data.
  • CTD: Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth, utilized for physical oceanographic data acquisition.  The CTD actually collects more data than its name implies such as light transmission, salinity, and dissolved O2 (oxygen).
  • M/V: Motor Vessel 
  • NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
  • NASA: National Aeronautical and Space Administration