Justin Czarka, August 16, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Justin Czarka
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II (tracker)
August 10 – 19, 2009 

Mission: Hydrographic and Plankton Survey
Geographical area of cruise: North Pacific Ocean from San Francisco, CA to Seattle, WA
Date: August 16, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 

Sunrise: 6:29 a.m.
Sunset: 20:33 (8:33 p.m.)
Weather: no significant weather (wx)
Sky: partly to mostly cloudy
Wind direction and speed: north-northwest 20-25 knots; (kt) gusts to 30 kt
Visibility: unrestricted, reduced to 1-3 nautical miles (nm) in mist
Waves: north-northwest 6-9 feet
Air Temperature: high 18°C, low: 12°C
Water Temperature: 15°C

Science and Technology Log 

Wow! I stayed up past 2:30 a.m. this morning, but it was well worth it.  I witnessed one of the most spectacular displays of nature’s beauty.  There was a bioluminescent bloom, where patches of ocean glowed as if hundreds of Halloween glow sticks floated in the ocean.  While bioluminescence happens from time to time, this display of a glowing sea was unique.  Crew and scientists aboard the McArthur II, some who have been on ships for 30+ years, say that they have never seen a bloom like this.  As far as the eye could see (12 miles in every direction), for over four hours, there were huge patches of ocean glowing blue green. As you scanned toward the horizon, it became nearly solid green-yellow.   And to think that I almost missed it!

The turbulence in the McArthur II’s wake shines blue-green during a bioluminescent bloom 175 nautical miles off the Oregon coast.  The ship was lit up as if by lamps lit underwater.

The turbulence in the McArthur II’s wake shines blue-green during a bioluminescent bloom 175 nautical miles off the Oregon coast. The ship was lit up as if by lamps lit underwater.

Scientists ad crew were in the lounge watching a movie when the XO (Executive Officer) LT John A. Crofts rushed in saying, “You have to check this out! Come up to the bridge.” We thought it was some joke, but we hurried up the stairs three levels, entering the pitch-black darkness of the Bridge.  Looking out, you could see a panoramic view of hundreds upon hundreds of floating, glowing patches on wave crests. On top of this, it was a clear, dark night where you could see the entire Milky Way galaxy and star clusters never seen near any human settlement (due to light pollution). It was a fantastic, otherworldly experience, as if we had sailed into the sunset, entered dark, and found ourselves in a new universe.  Words are insufficient.

In scientific terms, what we were spectator to was a bioluminescent dinoflaggellate bloom. Dinoflagellates are a type of plankton. When the water is disturbed, it excites the dinoflagellates, causing them to emit the colors at night.  They are often seen close to shore, but not this far out in the Pacific. Or it could be that not many observers on a regular basis get out this far to see…

Personal Log 

Justin Czarka and Morgraine McKibben try on their survival suits during drills aboard the McArthur II.

Justin Czarka and Morgraine McKibben try on their survival suits during drills aboard the McArthur II.

I had a good talk with Linda Halderman, the wiper aboard the McArthur II. A wiper is a person who does many different tasks in the engine department.  She was talking to me about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  She mentioned that PPE has “become really big. I’ve just started learning about it while on the job, but it would be really good for students to learn from the start.”  It was a great conversation about safety equipment required for different jobs and the relevant cleanup. Safety has been of utmost important aboard the McArthur II. Alarms are tested daily.  Life jackets, safety harnesses, and hardhats are required during “ops” on the deck.  We even practice drills in the event that a fire would occur, someone fell overboard, or we would need to abandon ship. Everyone is delegated a role in the event of an emergency.

Vocabulary 

Dinoflagellate- a marine (ocean) plankton that propels itself with two flagella (bands around the organism) that provide propulsion and steering. Bioluminescence- “bio-“ meaning life; “-luminescence” meaning light.  An organism than emits light through an internal chemical reaction.

Did You Know?   

According to Bill Peterson, chief scientist, plankton (small plant and animal organisms in the ocean) are so prolific in quantity that the Long Island Sound is actually filtered completely every three days! In order to obtain nutrients from the ocean, these small organisms either pump water through their bodies or propel themselves through the water, and consequently the water through their bodies.  One doliolid filters about a liter of water every single day!  While small individually, these organisms truly play a significant role in the ocean ecosystem.  This is why the researchers are aboard the McArthur II.

Justin Czarka, August 15, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Justin Czarka
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II (tracker)
August 10 – 19, 2009 

Mission: Hydrographic and Plankton Survey
Geographical area of cruise: North Pacific Ocean from San Francisco, CA to Seattle, WA
Date: August 15, 2009

Weather data from the Bridge

This picture shows what happens to an 8 fluid ounce Styrofoam cup after experience water pressure at 1000 meters down. The colorful cup was sent down attached to the CTD

This picture shows what happens to an 8 fluid ounce Styrofoam cup after experience water pressure at 1000 meters down. The colorful cup was sent down attached to the CTD

Sunrise: 6:29 a.m.
Sunset: 20:33 (8:33 p.m.)
Weather: patchy mist
Sky: partly to mostly cloudy
Wind direction and speed: north-northwest 15-20 knots (kt), gust to 25 kt
Visibility: unrestricted to 1-3 nautical miles in mist
Waves: northwest 6-9 feet
Air Temperature: 18°C high, 12°C low
Water Temperature: 17.5°C

Science and Technology Log 

Today we made it out to 200 miles off the Oregon Coast; the farthest out we will go. The depth of the ocean is 2867 meters (9,406 feet).  It is pretty interesting to imagine that we are on the summit of a nearly 10,000-foot mountain right now!  Last night the CTD was deployed 1,000 meters (3,281 feet).  Even at this depth, the pressure is immense (see photo, page one). When taking the CTD down to this depth, certain sensors are removed from the rosette (the white frame to which the CTD instruments are attached) to prevent them from being damaged.

Justin Czarka taking observational notes while aboard the McArthur II.  These notes preserve the knowledge gained from the NOAA officers and crew, as well as the researchers

Justin Czarka taking observational notes while aboard the McArthur II. These notes preserve the knowledge gained from the NOAA officers and crew, as well as the researchers

The crew aboard the McArthur II is such an informative group. Many possess a strong insight into NOAA’s research mission.  Today I spoke with Kevin Lackey, Deck Utility man.  He spoke to me about the cruises he has been on with NOAA, particularly about the effects of bioaccumulation that have been studied.  Bioaccumulation is when an organism intakes a substance, oftentimes from a food source, that deposits in the organism at increasing levels over time.  While sometimes an intentional response from an organism, with regards to toxins, this bioaccumulation can lead to detrimental effects.  For example, an organism (animal or plant) A on the food web experiences bioaccumulation of a toxin over time.  Imagine organism B targeting organism A as a food source. Organism B will accumulate concentrated levels of the toxin. Then, when organism B becomes a food source for organism C, the effects of the toxins are further magnified.  This has serious effects on the ocean ecosystem, and consequently on the human population, who rely on the ocean as a food source.

While aboard the McArthur II, Morgaine McKibben, a graduate student at Oregon State University (OSU), shared with me her research into harmful algal blooms (HABs), which potentially lead to bioaccumulation.  Certain algae (small plants) accumulate toxins that can be harmful, especially during a “bloom.” She is collecting water samples from the CTD, as well as deploying a HAB net, which skims the ocean surface while the ship is moving to collect algae samples.  She is utilizing the data in order to create a model to solve the problem of what underlying conditions cause the algae blooms to become toxic, since they are not always as such.

Personal Log 

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean from the flying bridge off the coast of Heceta Head, Oregon (N 43°59, W 124°35) a half hour later than two nights ago!

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean from the flying bridge off the coast of Heceta Head, Oregon (N 43°59, W 124°35) a half hour later than two nights ago!

The weather has cleared up allowing grand ocean vistas—a 360° panorama of various blues depending on depth, nutrients, clouds overhead, and so forth.  At first glance, it just looks blue.  But as you gaze out, you see variance. A little green here, some whitecaps over there. As the ship moves on, the colors change. Wildlife appears, whether it is a flock of birds, kelp floating by, or an escort of pacific white-sided dolphins. I wondered if the ocean would become monotonous over the course of the eleven days at sea.  Yet the opposite has happened. I have become more fascinated with this blue water.

It was interesting today to notice how we went back in time.  Two nights ago the sun had set at 20:03 (8:03 p.m.)  But because we went so far out to sea, last night the sunset had changed to 20:33 (8:33 p.m.).  While this happens on land as well, it never occurred to me in such striking details until out to see.

Animals Seen from the Flying Bridge (highest deck on the ship) 

  • Rhinoceros Auklet – closely related to puffins
  • Whale (breaching)
  • Common Murres
  • Western Gull
  • Hybrid Gull – We are at a location off the coast of Oregon where different species interbreed
  • Leech’s Storm Petrel – Mike Force, the cruise’s bird and marine mammal observer, found the bird aboard the ship by in an overflow tank.  It will be rereleased.

Did You Know? 

NOAA has a web page with information especially for students?

Justin Czarka, August 14, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Justin Czarka
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II (tracker)
August 10 – 19, 2009 

Mission: Hydrographic and Plankton Survey
Geographical area of cruise: North Pacific Ocean from San Francisco, CA to Seattle, WA
Date: August 14, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 

Sunrise: 6:29 a.m.
Sunset: 2033 (8:33 p.m.)
Weather: patchy mist
Sky: partly to mostly cloudy
Wind direction and speed: Northwest 10-15 knots (kt)
Visibility: unrestricted, reduced to 1-3 nautical miles (nm) in mist
Waves: northwest 3-6 feet
Air Temperature: 17.50°C
Water Temperature: 17.63°C

Science and Technology Log 

Today I rotated to a new job assignment. I have been working with the CTD water samples, storing nutrient samples, and preparing chlorophyll samples.  Now I work with Jay Peterson, researcher from Oregon State University, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport, Oregon, deploying, retrieving, and preparing live samples from the vertical net and bongo net on a cable.

The vertical net gets rinsed off after the tow.

The vertical net gets rinsed off after the tow.

The nets collect all types of plankton, both plants and animals.  As with all the sample collections occurring aboard the McArthur II, communication is the backbone of the operations, or “ops.” For the vertical net and bongo net, two people manually place the nets over the ship’s starboard side, while a winch operator deploys and retrieves the nets from the ocean, and the bridge navigates the ship. For vertical nets, the goal is to take the net to 100 meters (m) depth and then hauled up vertically. The purpose is to catch organisms from the entire water column up to the surface.  It is the same depth for the bongo net, but the goal is to have the cable at a 45° angle with the ship moving at a steady 2 knots (kt). Both nets have flowmeters to determine the volume of water that goes through the net. Once back on the deck, the nets are rinsed from the top to the bottom so that everything in the net can be analyzed. The samples are placed in jars or buckets to observe under microscope.  We find euphausiids (krill), copepods, Tomopteris, Chaetognatha (arrow worms), fish larvae, Phronima, and even bird feathers!  You have to check out these animals online, as they all have fascinating features. More importantly, while small in size, they are an essential part of the food web. Without them, many species would struggle to find food.

Personal Log 

Today we a day of plenty in terms of sighting marine mammals and other species as well!  The day started out near shore at Newport, Oregon and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.  The McArthur II travels roughly in a zigzag approach near shore to off shore and back for this mission.  Getting ready for the day watch, I saw some whales off the port (left side facing forward on a ship). That was just the beginning. As we headed due west on the Newport transect line (44 39.1′ N latitude) we spotted brownish and reddish jelly fish, albatross following along the starboard side during bongo tows, sea lions skirting by the stern, and a shark fiddling with driftwood presumably looking for small fish that were utilizing the log as a habitat. Later in the day, we navigated near breaching humpback whales on the starboard side. Towards evening, a group of 5-6 pacific white-sided dolphins followed along for 10 minutes or so.

A Doliolid, which feeds on plankton, was caught in the vertical net before being released into the ocean.  Note the pinkish lines, the muscle bands, and blimp-like shape.

A Doliolid, which feeds on plankton, was caught in the vertical net before being released into the ocean. Note the pinkish lines, the muscle bands, and blimp-like shape.

Being out here witnessing the wildlife in their environment is fascinating.  You start to internalize the ocean planet as more than a vast emptiness.  There exists a tremendous amount of species diversity living above and below the surface. Yet sadly, since few of us spend regular time away from our land habitats, we tend to neglect the essential nature of the ocean.  The ocean truly sustains us, whether providing the majority of our freshwater (through evaporation and, consequently, rain), supporting our nutritional diets, and driving the weather we experience daily.  Teacher at Sea really reinforces this revelation since I get to spend an extended amount of time away from my terrestrial existence learning to appreciate the ocean’s influence on our lives.  May we gain enough understanding to ensure the sustainability of the ocean ecosystem.

Animals Seen 

Humpback whales
Shark
Jellyfish
Doliolid
Albatross
Albacore tuna
Sea lion
Pacific white-sided dolphin

Justin Czarka, August 12, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Justin Czarka
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II (tracker)
August 10 – 19, 2009 

Mission: Hydrographic and Plankton Survey
Geographical area of cruise: North Pacific Ocean from San Francisco, CA to Seattle, WA
Date: August 12, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 

Sunrise: 06:25 a.m.
Sunset: 20:03 (8:03 p.m.)
Weather: isolated showers/patchy coastal fog
Sky: partly cloudy
Wind direction and speed: North 10-15 knots (kt)
Visibility: unrestricted to less than 1 nautical mile (nm) in fog
Waves: northwest 4-6 feet
Air Temperature: 17.3 °C
Water Temperature: 16.6 °C

Science and Technology Log 

Justin Czarka collects water samples to use in nutrient and chlorophyll research.  While on the deck during “ops” (operation) all personnel must wear a life jacket and hardhat.

Justin Czarka collects water samples to use in nutrient and chlorophyll research. While on the deck during “ops” (operation) all personnel must wear a life jacket and hardhat.

This log discusses the purpose behind the scientific cruise aboard the McArthur II. The cruise is titled, “Hydrographic and Plankton Survey.” The cruise is part of a larger study by many scientists to, in the words of chief scientist, Bill Peterson, “understand the effects of climate variability and climate change on biological, chemical and physical parameters that affect plankton, krill, fish, bird and mammal populations in Pacific Northwest waters.”  This specific cruise focuses on hydrology, harmful algal blooms, zooplankton, krill, fish eggs, fish larvae, and bird and mammal observations.

I will provide an overview of these aspects of the cruise. The McArthur II is set up with sensors for salinity, temperature, and fluorescence that provide a continuous monitoring of the ocean (hydrology) throughout the cruise.  In addition at various points along the transect lines (see the dots on the diagram of the cruise route on page 2), the CTD is deployed into the water column at specific depths to determine salinity (via measuring conductivity), water temperature, and depth (via pressure), and collect water samples (which we use to measure chlorophyll and nutrient levels at specific depths). The transects (predetermined latitudes that forms a line of sampling stations) have been selected because they have been consistently monitored over time, some since the late 1980s.  This provides a historical record to monitor changes in the ocean environment over time.

The dots represent planned sampling station. Due to sea conditions, these have been slightly modified.

The dots represent planned sampling station. Due to sea conditions, these have been slightly modified.

One scientist, Morgaine McKibben from Oregon State University, is researching harmful algal blooms (HAB). HABs occur when certain algae (the small plants in the ocean that are the basis of the food web) produce toxins that concentrate in animals feeding on them.  As these toxins move up the food web through different species, they cause harmful effects in those species, including humans.  Bill Peterson (NOAA/ Northwest Fisheries Science Center) and Jay Peterson (OSU/Hatfield Marine Science Center) are studying copepod reproduction. They are collecting data on how many eggs are laid in a 24 hour period, as well as how the copepod eggs survive in hypoxic (low oxygen) conditions.  Mike Force, the bird and marine mammal observer is keeping a log of all species spotted along the cruise route, which is utilized by scientists studying the species.

Personal Log 

Tiny squid collected in a vertical net and viewed under microscope on Crescent City transect line at 41 deg 54 min North.

Tiny squid collected in a vertical net and viewed under microscope on Crescent City transect line at 41 deg 54 min North.

Who said you never find the end of the rainbow? All you have to do is go out to sea (or become a leprechaun!). We have been going through patches of fog today, putting the foghorn into action.  When it clears out above, yet is foggy to the horizon, you get these white rainbows which arc down right to the ship. We have become the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Who knew it was the McArthur II! If you follow the entire rainbow, you will notice that it makes a complete 360° circle, half on top the ocean and half in the atmosphere near the horizon.

I enjoyed using the dissecting microscope today.

The water collected from the vertical net is stored in a cooler on the deck to be used in experiments.  I was able to collect a sample of the water, which contained a diverse group of organisms, from tiny squids to copepods to euphausiids.  These tiny organisms from the size of a pinhead to a centimeter long are critical to the diets of large fish populations, such as salmon.  Under magnification, one can see so much spectacular detail.  I have learned how essential it is to have an identification guide in order to identify the names of each copepod and euphausiid.  On the other hand the scientists tend to specialize and become very adept at identifying the different species.

Animals Seen Today 

Arrow worms (long clear, with bristles)
Shrimp Copepods
Tiny rockfish (indigo colored eyes)
Fish larvae

Justin Czarka, August 11, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Justin Czarka
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II (tracker)
August 10 – 19, 2009 

Mission: Hydrographic and Plankton Survey
Geographical area of cruise: North Pacific Ocean from San Francisco, CA to Seattle, WA
Date: August 11, 2009

Weather data from the Bridge

Sunrise: 6:25 a.m.
Sunset: 20:03 (8:03 p.m.)
Weather: partly cloudy
Sky: patchy fog
Wind direction and speed: Northwest 5-10 knots
Visibility: unrestricted to less than 1 nautical mile (nm) due to fog
Waves: 5-7 feet
Air Temperature: 15° Celsius
Water Temperature: 12.92 °Celsius

Science and Technology Log 

The McArthur II took about six hours from leaving port in San Francisco to reach our first station at Bodega Bay. We arrived at Bodega Bay around midnight.  Bodega Bay, along with the next three stations, Point Arenas, Vizcaino Canyon, and Trinidad Head, California, will be sampled at only one station location each as we move up the coast to reach our first transect line of nine stations off Crescent City, California (Latitude: 41 deg 54 min). Due to leaving port later than expected, the science team has dropped some of the sampling sites at the southern end of the cruise. Still we are sampling as we head north in order to get an enhanced survey picture along a north-south line. At the stations, we are dropping the CTD into the water column, using the vertical net, and the bongo net.

Jennifer Menkel and Lacey O’Neal observe the CTD deployment.  The left screen display depth sounds on three different frequencies, the middle screen creates graphs based on the CTD sensors, and the right screen shows live video feed of the CTD deployment on the fantail (back deck) of the McArthur II.

Jennifer Menkel and Lacey O’Neal observe the CTD deployment. The left screen display depth sounds on three different frequencies, the middle screen creates graphs based on the CTD sensors, and the right screen shows live video feed of the CTD deployment on the fantail (back deck) of the McArthur II.

While I did not participate in the first sampling at Bodega Bay, my shift (read more about shifts below) began sampling at Point Arenas and then Vizcaino Canyon. Upon entering the dry lab, Jay Peterson and Jennifer Menkel, both of Oregon State University, Hatfield Marine Science Center (OSU/HMSC) in Newport, Oregon, were observing the data stream for the CTD on the computer monitors with McArthur II senior survey technician Lacey O’Neal.  Communication is essential.  The scientists are looking at the TV monitors for the CTD deployment outside, altimeter (measures the CTD’s height above the seafloor), depth below the surface, and communicating with both the ship’s officers on the bridge, who are navigating the boat, and crew who are working the winches. Everyone has to work together to ensure that the CTD is deployed and retrieved safely. Otherwise, it could potentially hit the ship, causing damage to the ship, crew, and/or CTD sensors.  I am appreciating the emphasis on collaboration that occurs for the benefit and safety of the scientific research occurring on the ship.

I will discuss the sample collection technique for the chlorophyll.  The main purpose for measuring the chlorophyll is to determine the chlorophyll composition and suitability for single celled algae to develop. These single celled organisms are the basis of the food chain.  By determining the amount of chlorophyll, you can look at the probability of organisms to develop at that location, such as plankton. Plankton succeed where there is enough light to allow photosynthesis to occur. Deni Malouf, a marine science technician from the U.S. Coast Guard, and I put on waders, boots, life jackets, gloves and hardhats. We headed out to the CTD to collect water samples from specific depths. After filling up brown bottles (which prevent exposure to sunlight) with water, we transferred the bottles to the wet lab to pour 100 mL through a filter that collects chlorophyll on top while allowing the water to flow through by utilizing a vacuum.  This procedure is done while ensuring that the equipment, filters, and water samples avoid contact with your hands, thus contaminating the sample.  After the water has been filtered the filter is placed in a centrifuge tube (vial) with tweezers, covered to avoid exposure to light, and stored in the freezer for lab analysis at a later date.  The sample is covered to prevent exposure to sunlight.  If not, sunlight could cause more chlorophyll to develop, which would be an inaccurate reading for how much chlorophyll was actually collected at specific depths in the water column at a sampling station.

I am measuring a 100 mL water sample to collect chlorophyll on a filter inside the black cups in the wet lab.  These containers have a filter that at the bottom.  A vacuum draws the water through white tube, leaving the chlorophyll behind on the filter.

I am measuring a 100 mL water sample to collect chlorophyll on a filter inside the black cups in the wet lab. These containers have a filter that at the bottom. A vacuum draws the water through white tube, leaving the chlorophyll behind on the filter.

Personal Log 

The work conducted aboard the McArthur II, as well as other ships in the NOAA fleet, revolves around a schedule of watches (a watch is a shift).  Crewmembers work on the McArthur II in four or eight hour watches. The time of day and length vary for different crewmembers.  As for the science team, Bill Peterson, our chief scientist (cruise leader) from NOAA/ Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWSC), Newport, Oregon, arranged us into 12-hour watches.  There is a day watch and night watch. I am part of the day watch, which commences at 7:00 a.m. and ends at 7:00 p.m.   You muster (show up) about a half hour before your watch begins so that the previous watch knows you are ready to begin work, and to assist as needed with the end of the previous watch. My watch is comprised of Jay Peterson, Jennifer Mendel, and myself.  There is a lot of teamwork and cooperation within the watches.  Even this morning, Deni Malouf, who had been working the night watch, stayed on for a portion of the day watch to assist me with the protocol for filling up the water samples from the CTD, for preparing chlorophyll samples, and for setting up the Niskin bottles on the CTD to be deployed at the next station.

Vocabulary 

Dry lab- in the back of the O-1 deck (one of the floors on the ship above the waterline) where the computer equipment is situated.   Used to monitor CDT deployment.

Dry lab- in the back of the O-1 deck (one of the floors on the ship above the waterline) where the computer equipment is situated. Used to monitor CDT deployment.

Wet lab-an indoor lab in the back of the O-1 deck connected where water samples are tested.  Contains sinks, freezers, refrigerators, and science equipment.

Wet lab-an indoor lab in the back of the O-1 deck connected where water samples are tested. Contains sinks, freezers, refrigerators, and science equipment.

Vertical net- a net deployed vertically through the water column at one specific location.  Has a weight on the bottom of it to maintain its shape on the way through the water column.

Vertical net- a net deployed vertically through the water column at one specific location. Has a weight on the bottom of it to maintain its shape on the way through the water column.

Bongo net- a net for collecting organisms, that appears to look like a set of bongo drums. Attached to a cable and the J frame, deployed off the side of the boat, and collects samples as the boat trawls at a specific speed to maximize the collection.

Bongo net- a net for collecting organisms, that appears to look like a set of bongo drums. Attached to a cable and the J frame, deployed off the side of the boat, and collects samples as the boat trawls at a specific speed to maximize the collection.

Justin Czarka, August 9-10, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Justin Czarka
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II 
August 10 – 19, 2009 

Mission: Hydrographic and Plankton Survey
Geographical area of cruise: North Pacific Ocean from San Francisco, CA to Seattle, WA
Dates: August 9-10, 2009

Weather data from the Bridge

Sunrise: 6:26 a.m.
Sunset: 20:03 (8:03 p.m)
Weather: fog Sky: partly to mostly cloudy
Wind speed: 15 knots
Wind direction: North
Visibility: less than 1 nautical mile (nm)
Waves: 9 feet

Science and Technology Log 

August 9 was a day for getting all the science gear aboard.  In order to conduct a research cruise at sea, you have to plan and pack all the materials you envision needing beforehand.  Once out at sea, there is nowhere to stop and pick up additional supplies.  Bill Peterson, the chief scientist from NOAA/ Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC), and another member of the science team,

The McArthur II at port in San Francisco prior to the cruise. She is 224 feet long with a breadth (width) of 43 feet.
The McArthur II at port in San Francisco prior to the cruise. She is 224 feet long with a breadth (width) of 43 feet.

Toby Auth out of Oregon State University, Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC), up all the science equipment onto the deck of the McArthur. Some of the equipment we hauled onto the ship included bongo frames and bongo nets (used to collect specimen samples in the ocean), Niskin bottles (to collect water samples in the water column at various depths), dissecting microscopes, a fluorometer (to measure the amount of phytoplankton in the water), and crate after crate of sample jars.

In order to transfer all of the science equipment onto the McArthur II we laid out a cargo net flat on the pier that the crane dropped to us.  Then we hauled the equipment from the truck and placed it on the cargo net.  Next the cargo net holds were attached to the crane, which lifted the materials onto the deck of the ship. We unpacked the cargo net, conducted additional cargo lifts, and then stored all the equipment in the labs.  Using the crane sure beat hauling up all the equipment by hand!  The scientists have to get all the equipment placed in the labs, which is a lot of work.  I helped one of the scientists, Tracy Shaw, who studies zooplankton, set up the dissection microscope by securing it to the table.  On dry land, tables will not move around, but we had to tie it down to prepare for any possible rough seas.

This is me working to prepare the CTD for a practice launch in San Francisco Bay. We made sure that the Niskin bottle seals were in working condition.

This is me working to prepare the CTD for a practice launch in San Francisco Bay. We made sure that the Niskin bottle seals were in working condition.

August 10 we were to set sail in the morning. That has been changed until this afternoon, which gives the science team time to prepare some of the equipment before heading out to sea, along with conducting emergency drills and briefings. This morning the science team and NOAA crew worked together to prepare the Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth (CTD) probe. This involved cleaning the Niskin bottles and replacing cracked O-rings to ensure a secure seal around the bottle openings. If the bottles are not sealed properly, water and air (upon reaching the surface) can enter the bottle from the water column at an undesired location.  We also ensured that the lids close tightly, providing a vacuum seal.

Personal Log 

Living and working on a boat will be a new experience for me.  There are many unknowns in the process, but it is exciting to be learning something new nearly every minute.  I took a walk around the ship’s interior this afternoon, amazed by how much space is contained inside the McArthur II. The staterooms (where one sleeps) are large, containing a desk and a lounge chair.  They also have a sink, with a bathroom that is shared by the adjoining stateroom. The McArthur also has a fitness room for staying fit at sea, along with a lounge to for relaxing with movies, books, and even espresso!  The McArthur II surely will be home for the next nine or ten days.

I have been most impressed with the welcome I have received from both the NOAA crew and the scientists from NOAA, Oregon State University, the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) and the U.S. Coast Guard.  Everyone is friendly, helpful, and full of cooperation. It is encouraging to observe the teamwork between people.  I appreciate having the opportunity to learn alongside the scientists and crew.  Being a teacher, I am used to being the one with the knowledge to impart or the activity to do.  It is exciting being aboard because now I am the student, eager to take notes, ask questions, and learn from those alongside me.  I have to say, each person has been an effective teacher!  So we are off to Bodega Bay for our first sampling and there’s a rumor going around that a Wii Fit competition might be getting under way!

Today’s Vocabulary 

Transect line- when conducting research at a predetermined latitude or longitude and continue to collect data samples along that line Niskin bottles- these containers have openings on both the top and bottom.  As it drops through the water column it fills with water.  At a predetermined depth both ends close, capturing water from that specific depth inside the bottle that can be brought back to the surface and analyzed. Water Column- a vertical section of water where sampling occurs