NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
June 10 – 24, 2013
Mission: Deep-Sea Corals and Benthic Habitat: Ground-Truthing and Exploration in Deepwater Canyons off the Northeastern Coast of the U.S.
Geographical Area: Western North Atlantic
Date: June 18, 2013
Weather Data from the Bridge:
Air temperature: 13.50 oC (56.3 oF)
Wind Speed: 20.05 knots (23.07mph)
Science and Technology Log
On a research vessel such as NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow, does the ship support the science? Or are the ship’s activities separate from those of the Science Crew? I didn’t realize how much the Ship’s Crew and the Science Crew worked hand-in-hand until I toured the Bridge.
First off, the ship is what’s known as an FSV. What does FSV stand for? FSV stands for Fisheries Survey Vessel. The primary responsibility of the Henry B. Bigelow is to study and monitor the marine fisheries stocks throughout New England (the Northeastern section of the United States). There are many scientific instruments aboard the Henry B. Bigelow that allow crew members and visiting science teams to do this and other work.
The ship has multiple labs that can be used for many purposes. The acoustics lab has many computers and can be used for modeling data collected from multibeam sonar equipment. The chemistry lab is equipped with plentiful workspace, an eyewash, emergency shower, and fume hood. Our TowCam operations are being run from the dry lab. This space has nine computers displaying multiple data sets. We have occupied the counter space with an additional eight personal laptops; all used for different purposes such as examining TowCam images or inputting habitat data. The wet lab is where the collection sorting, and filtering take place. It is used during fisheries expeditions to process and examine groundfish. During our research expedition, the wet lab is used mostly for staging TowCam operations. We also process sediment and water samples that were collected from the seafloor. Sediment is collected using a vacuum-like apparatus called a slurp pump; water is collected in a Niskin bottle. The sediment is sieved and any animals are saved for later examination. Water samples are also filtered there, to remove particulate matter that will be used to determine the amount of food in the water column.
Walking around the ship, I noticed a psychrometer set, which is used to monitor relative humidity, or moisture content in the air. There is also a fluorometer, which measures light emitted from chlorophyll in photosynthetic organisms like algae or phytoplankton. The CTD system measures physical properties of the ocean water including conductivity/salinity, temperature, and depth. Additionally, the ship has a thermosalinograph (therm = heat, salin = salt, graph = write). Saltwater is taken into the ship and directed toward this instrument, which records the sea surface salinity and sea surface temperature.
The crew of the Henry B. Bigelow not only supports the research efforts of the science team but is also actively involved in conducting scientific research. Their instrumentation, knowledge, and team work enable them to protect and monitor the western North Atlantic waters and its living marine resources.
Dewey the Dragon, all the way from Crest Middle School, enjoyed getting a tour of the Bridge. Dewey the Dragon learned how to steer the ship, read charts, and monitor activity using devices such as the alidade. Thanks to Ensigns Katie Doster and Aras Zygas for showing us around.
Did You Know?
The alidade is a device that allows people on the ship to sight far away objects, such as land. The person on the ship spots three separate points on land uses these sighting to determine the location of the ship. Alidades can also be used as a tool when making and verifying maritime charts.