NOAA Teacher at Sea
Back home from the NOAA Ship R/V Fulmar
July 30, 2017
Mission: Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies: Bird, mammal, plankton, and water column survey
Geographic Area: North-central California
Date: July 30
Weather Data from the Bridge (my kitchen!):
Latitude: 37º 76.52’ N
Longitude: 122º 24.16’ W
Time: 0700 hours
Sky: partly cloudy
Wind Direction: N
Wind Speed: 0-5 knots
Barometric pressure: 1017 hPA
Air temperature: 56º F
Rainfall: 0 mm
The graduate students and interns on the Fulmar:
I really enjoyed getting to know all the students, interns and young scientists on board the Fulmar. It was inspiring to learn about what they are studying in their programs at San Francisco State University, University of California at Davis (Bodega Marine Lab), and Sonoma State University. Carina Fish studies geochemistry and paleooceanography as she pursues a PhD in Geology at UC Davis. She is involved in Carbon 14 dating of deep sea corals at the edge of the Cordell Bank. Hannah Palmer (Bodega Marine Lab) is a PhD student at UC Davis studying ocean change in the past, present and future. Kaytlin Ingman studies ecology and marine biology in her graduate program at San Francisco State. Kate Hewett (BML) got her BA and MA in mechanical engineering, and now is working on a PhD in marine science at UC Davis. Sarayu Ramnath and Liz Max conduct experiments on krill at Point Blue Conservation Science and demonstrate their craft at the Exploratorium once a month. Emily Sperou studies marine science at Sonoma State. All these people brought great energy to the mission on board the Fulmar. It’s clear that the senior scientists really enjoyed teaching and mentoring them.
The other day I posed some questions about whale and porpoise behavior:
Why do whales breach? Some hypotheses include that whales breach to shed parasites, slough skin, communicate within their species, exhibit reproductive behavior or just for fun. The consensus within the scientific community is that whales breach to communicate with other whales.
It’s pretty obvious that the CA sea lion we saw leaping and twisting as he swam behind the boat was enjoying himself surfing the stern wave, but what about porpoises swimming in front of the boat? The ship’s wake also pushes them forward so they can easily surf the water. They like to surf the bow wave – fun, fun, fun!
Surfing the bow – Video credit: J. Jahncke/NOAA/Point Blue/ACCESS
Other Creatures Seen on the Cruise:
Ocean sunfish (mola mola) This giant fish lives on a diet that consists mainly of jellyfish.
Did you know?
When exploring the coast, you should keep a 100 meter distance from marine mammals. If the animal appears stressed you are too close.
Well, it’s true. I’ve been home now for 3 days and it still feels like I’m bobbing on the ocean! Kirsten called this “dock rock” and I can see why.
As we arrived in port on the final day of the cruise, someone asked me, “What were some highlights of the week?” Well, here we go…
- I came into this hoping I would see whales, and I did! I was thrilled to see humpback and blue whales, whale flukes, and CA sea lions and Dall’s porpoises surfing the boat’s wake!
- I gained a much deeper understanding of the ecosystem monitoring being done and how it’s important for the management and preservation of species.
- I appreciate the professionalism and collegiality among the scientists. It inspires me to build coalitions among the school system, scientists and community partners to advance ocean literacy.
- I am so impressed by the impressive mentoring of the graduate students (and me!)
- And finally, I have great respect for the hard work involved in being on the ocean.
Thank you for teaching me how to assist in conducting the research, and including me in the group. It was fun getting to know you and I look forward to staying in touch as I bring this experience back to the classroom. I am doing a lot of thinking about bringing marine science careers back to the classroom.
I loved hearing from you. Thanks for posting your comments!