NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard R/V Fulmar
July 24– July 29, 2012
Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic area of cruise: Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries
Date: July 25, 2012
Latitude: 37 53.55 W
Longitude: 123 5.7 N
Weather Data From Bridge:
Air Temperature 12.2 C (54 F)
Wind Speed 15 knots/ 17 mph
Wind Direction: From the South West
Surface Water Temperature: 13 C (55.4 F)
Science and Technology Log
Wednesday July 25, 2012
I woke up at 6 AM to the sounds of the people scurrying around to get ready for departure. The Captain, Erik, and Mate, Dave were preparing the boat while the rest of us were getting breakfast and loading gear. We welcomed four people onto the boat to complete the team for the day.
Today we are completing both the Offshore and Nearshore Line 6 transects. It is going to be a long day for me with eight stations along the transect for deploying different instruments for gathering data. I’ll tell you more about that a little later. The scientists and crew decided to start at the West end of Offshore Line 6. It took about two hours to get out there so while the crew was in the Wheelhouse the rest of us were able to settle in for little cat naps. It felt so good to be able to get a little more sleep before the work began.
Gear Up and Get to Work!
With ten minutes until “go” time, the team started to get ready for the long day ahead. Everyone had on many layers of clothes with a protective waterproof outer layer. I put on my black rubber boots, yellow rubber overalls, and bright orange float coat (jacket with built-in floatation). I looked like a bumble bee who ran into an orange flower. It was definitely one of my better fashion statements. I think everyone should wear rubber clothes in bright colors, just kidding :P.
The boat stopped and then Kaitlin and I got to work on the back deck. At each station we deployed at least two pieces of equipment. The first is the CTD which means Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth. This machine is so cool. It gathers information about a bunch of different things. It has four different types of sensors. They include percentage of dissolved oxygen, turbidity (amount of particulates in the water), fluorometer for chlorophyll A (the intensity and wavelength of a certain spectrum of light), and a conductivity/ temperature meter in order to calculate salinity.
The second piece of equipment is the Hoop Net. The name is pretty intuitive, but I’ll describe it to you anyway. There is a large steel hoop that is 1 meter in diameter on one end. The net connects to it and gradually gets smaller to the cod end at the collection bucket which is 4.5 centimeters in diameter.
The net is 3.5 meters long from hoop to where it connects to the collection bucket and the mesh is 333 microns. The bucket has screens that allows water and phytoplankton to escape. The purpose of the hoop is to collect zooplankton. The samples we collect to go the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Canada to be processed after the cruise is over.
The third piece of equipment is the Tucker Trawl. We deploy it once each day near the Shelf Break in order to collect krill. This net is huge and heavy. This net allows the scientists to get samples at different depths within the water column. The Tucker Trawl has three separate nets; top, middle, and bottom. They deploy it with the bottom net open and then close the bottom and open the middle and top nets in order as the net raises. They let out 400 meters of cable in order to be at a depth of 200 meters below the surface to start and raise the net from there stopping twice to open the next two nets. The scientists watch the eco-sounder (sophisticated fish finder) and determine at what depth they would like to open the next two nets. Please watch the video to get a clear picture of what is going on and how awesome it is.
The Funny Part!
Ok so working on the back deck has a lot of ups and downs literally. When Kaitlin and I are deploying or recovering the CTD and Hoop Net we are bending, stretching, working on our knees and more. The first time I bent over to rinse down the hoop net I accidentally dropped the spray nozzle and it locked in the open position; I was sprayed with a steady stream of seawater right in the face until Kaitlin was able to turn in off. It was definitely a cold welcome to work on the boat. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you we use seawater on the back deck for rinsing nets, etc. There is a freshwater hose, but that is mainly used to clean the boat after each cruise. The second time I got on my knees to collect a specimen from the Hoop Net I had a blow out! My rubber pants split right down the middle. So much for being prepared. The Mate Dave was nice enough to let me borrow his rubber pants for the remainder of the trip. Thanks Dave – you’re a life saver.
Camaraderie and Practical Jokers!
In between the stations and observing we all like to have a good time. We always snack in between. If someone gets something out then we all help ourselves to some of theirs or our own concoction. We’re eating pretzels, chips and salsa, carrots and humus, pea pods, dried apple chips and more.
Erik had been planning to punk the scientists during this trip. He bought a blue glittery fishing lure that looks like a centipede and waited for the most opportune moment to pull his prank. While the scientists were getting the Tucker Trawl ready he tossed the lure into one of the nets so that it would come up with the sample. When we pulled up the net Kaitlin and I saw it in the collection bucket and were very curious about what it was. We called Jamie over and after a few moments realized it was a lure and looked up to see Erik and Dave laughing hysterically at us. It was a good time all around. At the same time the observers where coming down from the Flybridge and Jamie was able to continue the prank for at least fifteen minutes. We all had a good laugh when the second group realized it was a lure too.
View from the Boat!
This is one of the best parts of the day! I saw so many different animals from the boat during the day. Here are just a few of the highlights. A mother whale and calf pair were breaching multiple times. Another Humpback Whale was tail slapping at least 12 times that I counted. We saw Blue Whales too. The seabirds were around as well. The most common were Sooty Shearwaters, Common Murres, Pomarine Jaegers, and Black Footed Albatrosses. All of these birds are amazing. If you see a Common Murre adult and chick; the adult is the dad he’s the one that raises the chick. The Jaeger has a special kind of scavenging style called Cleptoparasitism (stealing food from other birds). I saw one chasing another bird till it dropped its food in mid-air and the Jaeger caught the fish before it hit the water. Pretty cool right?!
On the way back to Sausalito we went right under the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather was perfect. The sun was setting with puffy clouds in a baby blue sky. As my eyes drifted down towards San Francisco I was mesmerized by the view. I could see the entire Bay. The buildings reflected the golden glow of the sunset perfectly. There wasn’t a whisper of fog on the water; I could see Alcatraz Island, Angel Island, and The Bay Bridge.