With our stations complete, we headed home a bit early on Saturday, and with the approaching nor’easter on Mother’s Day, it was probably a good decision. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and value the efforts, hard-work, professionalism and teamwork that make an undertaking of such enormity a valued and fun endeavor. The camaraderie of the team will be forever cherished.
We came back through the Cape Cod Canal late in the evening, on our return to Newport, RI. We spotted joggers with head lamps running along the path of the canal. Perhaps a local road race?
It was interesting feeling in my kitchen rocking and rolling all day Sunday …. dock rock or kitchen rock??? That was a fun sensation!!
It was nice to see my students this morning, Monday, all welcoming me home and curious about my trip. On Sunday, I had prepared a slide-show of many of my photos and projected my blog on the “Smartboard” to share with my classes. They had a wide range of questions from what did I eat, was I seasick, what fish did we catch, did you dissect any fish, did you see any whales, how old do you have to be to go out on the ship, to what will the scientists do with the samples that were saved. They were impressed with my pictures of the goosefish, (who wouldn’t be impressed with such a fish!) and laughed at how the scientist I worked closely with nicknamed me a “Fish Wrangler” as I had caught, in midair, some slippery, squirming, flip-flopping Red Fish as they had managed an attempted escape off the scale when a big wave hit. I’ll wear that tag with pride!
Thank you to NOAA and their staff that prepared me for the journey. Thank you to all the wonderful people I met on the ship. A “Teacher at Sea” is a monicker of which I will be always proud … as well as “Fish Wrangler!”
Underbelly of the Sea Raven
Wolffish on the scale
The skate has a very interesting expression.
A very small Skate
Setting the CTD
CTD being hauled back up.
Glen with a large crab.
Closeup of the crab
Eggs of a female lobster
Another lobster with a lot of eggs
Female with eggs and a notched fin indicating it had previously been caught and released.
Henry B Bigelow tied to dock in Newport
Working on the nets
Scientist weather gear
Ready to sort
At muster station
A lot of hard work in getting the net back onboard with the catch
Tony measuring Dogfish
Wet Room all clean
Nearly time to be home. Wet Room clean and conveyor dismantled
Cute logo on the wet weather gear
In the stateroom the life suit storage container is luminescent.
Emergency and Fire Drill
Beautiful clouds in the welcome blue skies
One lone squid
Grey sky and shimmering seas
Just in case!
Picked up a few passengers outside of Boston
These fish “buzzing ” feeling when placed on your hand.
As soon as the day group’s shift started at noon we were right into sorting the catch and doing the work-up of weighing, measuring and taking samples.
It’s with a good bit of anticipation waiting to see what the net will reveal when its contents are emptied! There were some new fish for me to see today of which I was able to get some nice photos. I was asked today if I had a favorite fish. I enjoy seeing the variety of star fish that come down the conveyor belt as we sort through the catch even though they are not part of the survey. The Atlantic Mackerel (Scomber scombrus) are beautiful with their blue and black bands on their upper bodies and their shimmering scales. They are a schooling fish and today one catch consisted primarily of this species. I’m fascinated with the unusual looking fish such as the goosefish, the Atlantic wolffish (Anarchichas lupus) with its sharp protruding teeth, and some of the different crabs we have caught in the net. Another catch today, closer to land where the seafloor was more sandy, was full of Atlantic Scallops. Their shells consisted of a variety of interesting colors and patterns.
Today I also had a chance to have a conversation with the Commanding Officer of the Henry B. Bigelow, Commander Jeffrey Taylor. After serving as a medic in the air force, and with a degree in Biology with a concentration in marine zoology from the University of South Florida. What he enjoys about his job is teaching the younger NOAA officers in the operation of the ship. He is proud of his state-of-the-art ship with its advanced technology and engineering and its mission to protect, restore, and manage the marine, coastal and ocean resources. Some things that were touched upon in our conversation about the ship included the winch system for trawling. It is an advanced system that monitors the cable tension and adjusts to keep the net with its sensors open to specific measurements and to keep it on the bottom of the seafloor. This system also is more time efficient. The Hydrographic Winch System deploys the CTD’s before each trawl. CO Taylor also related how the quiet hull and the advanced SONAR systems help in their missions. What we discussed that I am most familiar with since I boarded the Henry B. Bigelow is the Wet Lab, which was especially engineered for the Henry B. Bigelow and its survey missions. This is where I spend a good bit of time during the survey. The ergonomically designed work stations interface with the computer system to record and store the data collected from the fish samples 100% digitally. I was pleased to hear what thought, skill and fine tuning had gone into designing this room as I had earlier on the trip mentally noted some of the interesting aspects of the layout of the room. Commanding Officer Taylor also had high praise for his dedicated NOAA Corps staff and the crew, engineers and scientists that work together as a team.
I am on the day schedule which is from noon to midnight. Between stations tonight is a long steam so I took the opportunity with this down time to visit the bridge where the ship is commanded. The NOAA Corps officers supplied a brief history of the corp and showed me several of the instrument panels which showed the mapping of the ocean floor.
“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, known informally as the NOAA Corps, is one of seven federal uniformed services of the United States, and operates under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a scientific agency within the Office of Commerce.
“The NOAA Corps is part of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) and traces its roots to the former U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, which dates back to 1807 and President Thomas Jefferson.”(1)
During the Civil War, many surveyors of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey stayed on as surveyors to either join with the Union Army where they were enlisted into the Army, or with the Union Navy, where they remained as civilians, in which case they could be executed as spies if captured. With the approach of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson, to avoid the situation where surveyors working with the armed forces might be captured as spies, established the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Corps.
During WWI and World War II, the Corps abandoned their peacetime activities to support the war effort with their technical skills. In 1965 the Survey Corps was transferred to the United States Environmental Science Services Administration and in 1979, (ESSA) and in 1970 the ESSA was redesignated as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and so became the NOAA Corps.
“Corps officers operate NOAA’s ships, fly aircraft, manage research projects, conduct diving operations, and serve in staff positions throughout NOAA.” (1)
“The combination of commissioned service with scientific and operational expertise allows the NOAA Corps to provide a unique and indispensable service to the nation. NOAA Corps officers enable NOAA to fulfill mission requirements, meet changing environmental concerns, take advantage of emerging technologies, and serve as environmental first responders.” (1)
There are presently 321 officers, 16 ships, and 10 aircraft.
We are steaming on a course that has been previously mapped which should allow us to drop the net in a safe area when we reach the next station.
What can you do ?
When I asked “What can I tell my students who have an interest in NOAA ?”
If you have an interest in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts you might begin with investigating a Cooperative Observer Program, NOAA’s National Weather Service.
“More than 8,700 volunteers take observations on farms, in urban and suburban areas, National Parks, seashores, and mountaintops. The data are truly representative of where people live, work and play”.(2)
Did you know:
The NOAA Corps celebrates it 100 Year Anniversary this May 22, 2017!
NOAA Teacher At Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B Bigelow
May 2 -13, 2017
Mission: Spring Bottom Trawl
Geographic Area: Northeastern Atlantic
Latitude: 4311.534 N
Longitude: 06938.601 W
Science and Technology
As a math teacher accustomed to measuring and collecting data in the classroom, a simple measuring tool caught my interest in the wet lab. Among the computerized scales and measuring system is a tool that has been around for a long time. This tool is referred to as “wind chimes” and is used to measure the volume of the contents of the fishes’ stomach. It’s proper name is “volumetric gauge”.
The contents of the stomach of the fish is aligned next to one of the “wind chimes” in the thickness that matches the diameter of the “wind chime.” The units are measured in cubic centimeters. The number on the gauge will be entered into the computer for further study of that particular fish.
Once the stomach content, the prey, is measured, it is examined and separated into species and the percent of the total is recorded as well as to the extent it has been digested: fresh, partial, well.
While sorting the fish, I have been able to put aside some starfish for a nice photo before they are released back into the sea.
NOAA Teacher At Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B Bigelow
May 2 -13, 2017
Mission: Spring Bottom Trawl Survey, Leg IV
Geographic Area of Cruise: Northeast Atlantic
Longitude: 43degrees 33.310 N
Latitude: 067degrees 07.103W
Science and Technology:
One of the most interesting looking fish we have brought on board in the nets is the Goosefish (Lophius americanus), also known as the Monkfish. Its striking feature is its large mouth that can be as wide as the fish is long, lined with several rows of needle sharp teeth. The Goosefish has a mobile illicium, an angling apparatus with a fleshy appendage at its tip, the esca, that acts as a lure to attract its prey towards its huge mouth. When the Goosefish opens its mouth suddenly, a vacuum is created and its prey is sucked into its cavernous mouth. Its eyes are on the top of its head and there are small fleshy flaps encircling then lower jaw, almost a beard-like appearance. Its back is lined with spikes. The female lays an egg veil that can stretch 6-12 meters.
Diagram: “Fishes of The Gulf of Maine”, Bigelow and Schroeder, 3rd edition.The Goosefish is marketed as Monkfish for consumption.
Did you know the Goosefish is also known as the “poor man’s lobster” because of its light taste similar to lobster.
Last night we passed through the Cape Cod Canal. It was exciting to go under the bridges I have traveled over many years for a summer vacation. It was a clear night with plenty of stars shining. We collected our first haul to survey just after arriving in the bay. I was surprised by the variety of fish that we sorted, weighed, measured and took samples. The scientists I am working with are a very dedicated, professional, hard working and friendly bunch. By the time we finished it was midnight and I was done with my day assignment.
I awoke to a view of Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod in the distance. About two dozen right whales were spotted in the area. Later, I was able to observe the nets being lowered into the sea. The instruments placed along the opening of the net will measure the depth and opening area of the net. The nets are in the water for 20 minutes. The catch also included skates, lots of red hake, a few cod, lobsters of all sizes, a few star fish, alewife, mackerel and others I hope to learn more about. Sorting is done along a conveyor, 6 of us each at our stations. In my wet weather gear and rubber gloves, I place the fish in an array of buckets and baskets. I never would have imagined me holding a handful of small octopi! There must’ve been 8-10 of them!
Once the full catch is sorted, I assist alongside scientist Christine by recording the data she is collecting into the computer. We work with one species at a time, then onto the next basket or bucket.
The specimen that is mostly retained for further study is the otolith, a small bone within the fish’s ear. It determines the fish’s age much like the ring on a tree. The bone acquires a growth ring everyday for at least the first six months of the fish’s life. (The haddock otoliths I observed were between 1 – 2 cm, depending on the size/age of the particular haddock) (Image Compana Lab: http://www.uni.hi.is/compana/ )
“Why Age Fish?
“Once the ages are known for a sample of fish, scientists can measure the rates of various processes affecting these fish. For instance, data on fish size can be combined with age information to provide growth rates. Also, the decrease in abundance from one year (age) to the next gives a measure of mortality rates (due to the combination of fishing and natural causes). Finally, age data can be used to determine how long it takes individuals of a species to mature. Any of these vital rates may change over time, so it is important to examine age samples regularly.
Knowledge of fish age also allows scientists to learn more from capturing and measuring fewer fish. It is impossible to catch all the fish in the ocean. However, if a small portion of the fish are captured and aged, the relative abundance of fish at each age can be determined. These age data, with data from other sources, can then be expanded to estimate the total number of fish in the wild. Population models, using such data, enable scientists to monitor trends in the size of fish populations and to predict potential effects of fishing on those populations. The most detailed models include age-specific estimates of weight, mortality, and growth; this requires that larger numbers of fish be aged.” (1)
How did I hear about the Teacher At Sea Program?
Last summer, I was fortunate to attend the Maury Project, a summer teacher development program of the American Meteotological Society held at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. A few other teachers in attendance had been Teachers at Sea and sang its praises. Teachers inspiring other teachers!
What a coincidence:
The Maury Project mentioned above is named for Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806- 1873) the Father of Oceanography and the NOAA ship I am aboard is the Henry B. Bigelow (1879-1987) named for the Modern Father of Oceanography.
Geographic Area of the Cruise: Sailing out of Newport, R. I. Northeast US Coast, George’s Bank – Gulf of Maine
Date: April 27, 2017
I am honored to have been selected to take part in the Teacher at Sea Program. I’ll be driving down to Newport from southern New Hampshire in a few days to begin what should prove to be an amazing adventure working along with the fishery scientists and crew on the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow (FSV 225).
Science and Technology Log
The purpose of the Spring Bottom Trawl Survey is to monitor the fish stocks and invertebrate found on the continental shelf. The scientists will study any changes in ocean conditions and the sea life to make informed decisions for conserving and managing the fishery resources and their habitat.
The Henry B. Bigelow was named in honor of the founding director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the “Father of Modern Oceanography.” Henry Bryant Bigelow (1879-1967) was an expert on the Gulf of Maine and its sea life and a member of the Harvard faculty for 62 years. The ship is a state-of-the-art 208-foot research vessel commissioned in 2007. It boasts a “quiet hull” that allows the scientists to observe the sea life using sound waves with limited disturbance to their natural state.
Fish that we expect to observe include: Monkfish, Herring, Skates, Dogfish, Atlantic Salmon, Hake, Cod, Haddock, Pollack, Flounder, Mackerel and more! I’m looking forward to viewing these specimens up close!
NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
I have been teaching middle school mathematics for 26 years at Hampstead Academy, in Hampstead, NH.
How does a mathematics teacher find her way to intensifying her interest in the sea? In 2014 I was selected to attend a week at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama along with 200+ teachers from around the globe. While there I learned of the SeaPerch program. Soon after, I received a grant from the US Navy for several SeaPerch kits, journeyed down to Newport, RI Naval Base for a day of constructing the SeaPerch ROV, and then set up a SeaPerch program at Hampstead Academy along with a co-teacher and my husband. Cutting pipe, waterproofing the engines, soldering the microcontroller, and all the tasks to complete the build of the SeaPerches was such a proud achievement for the group! We are fortunate to be near enough to UNH in Dover, so with a group of my students, we toured the Jere E Chase Ocean Engineering Laboratory and tested our SeaPerch ROV’s in their wave and deep-water tanks. What a marvelous facility, welcoming student tours and hoping to spark an interest in the oceanography field.
I hope to inspire my students to consider a career in STEM professions, to open their eyes to the possibilities in the field of marine sciences where the work they do can impact the present and future generation.
Thanks you to the Hampstead Academy administration, fellow teachers that are taking over my classes for these two weeks, and for the support of the school community and my family and friends.
Thank you to the dog sitter for Clover!
Thank you to NOAA Teacher at Sea program for this enriching opportunity.
Did You Know?
The Henry B. Bigelow was the first NOAA ship to be named through a ship-naming contest by the winning team from Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, N.H.
Below is a picture of Clover at North Hampton Beach last week when we had some welcoming warm weather for a short spell.