Peggy Deichstetter, September 10, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Peggy Deichstetter
Aboard Oregon II
August 29 – September 10, 2012

Mission: Longline Shark and Red Snapper Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date:  September 10, 2010

Well, the reason Aaron didn’t pick us up last night is that he took the Engineer to the hospital with an ear infection, apparently, it is serious. The ship will stay in port until a decision is made on whether or not we can run with only 2 engineers (12 hour shifts instead of 8). It is decided that the last day of this part of the cruise (Leg 2) is canceled. I spend the rest of the morning changing my travel plans and packing. Claudia is the first off the ship, she has friends and family here. I say good bye to everyone then start my journey home.

Peggy Deichstetter, September 9, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Peggy Deichstetter
Aboard Oregon II
August 29 – September 10, 2012

Mission: Longline Shark and Red Snapper Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date:  September 9, 2010

Sunrise
Sunrise

Fishing as been suspended until first light. The day dawns and the water is no longerintimidating. The sun is back and it looks like a good day for fishing. We are on our way to the next fishing station.

Mike, an observer for Alaska, and I are sitting on the back deck talking when a rogue wave hits the side of the ship knocking Mike off his chair into the Ballards. (Ballards are used to tie the ship to the dock.) Mike is definitely hurt. I run for help. The crew clears everyone off the deck so they can assess Mike’s condition. Jason, one of the officers, interviews me for the accident report. It appears that Mike crack his ribs in the fall. We are now headed into port to take Mike to the hospital.It takes five hours to get into port. I check on Mike. He says he hurts but he’s okay. Word comes down that we’ll spend the night into port since there is no way to get back to a shark station today. Since we know Mike is going to be okay, we are getting excited about going into town.We think the boat will be docked at the cruise terminal which would be very easy to walk into town. However, we disembark at a pier that is at least 2 miles from town and it is HOT! Aaron, one of the officers, is taking Mike to the hospital. I ask if he could drop me off in town. After clearing it with the lead scientist and gathering a few others, we share Mike’s van and get into town.Cassidy, Ashley, Claudia and I spend the afternoon walking the Strand. We stopped for a drink and then and some Ice Cream. Cassidy and I want to get back to the ship, since we are on the night shift. Aaron told us that he would run a shuttle for anyone who wants to come back at 5:00pm. Cassidy and I meet Tim and Larry a little before five at the appointed spot. No Aaron, no van. Tim finally calls the ship to find out the van is in use. So we walk.We missed dinner but the cook warmed it up for us. Off to bed.

Peggy Deichstetter, September 8, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Peggy Deichstetter
Aboard Oregon II
August 29 – September 10, 2012

Mission: Longline Shark and Red Snapper Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date:  September 5, 2010

 Remora
Remora

The day shift reported to me that they tried fishing. The seas were incredible rough. Besides that they had and incredible number of fish and different kinds of fish The deck was rocking and rolling and waves were crashing over the bow. Ashley was soaking wet because a wave hit her. Fishing was once again suspended.

Red Drum
Red Drum
Sting Ray
Sting Ray
Hammer Head
Hammer Head

Peggy Deichstetter, September 7, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Peggy Deichstetter
Aboard Oregon II
August 29 – September 10, 2012

Mission: Longline Shark and Red Snapper Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date:  September 7, 2010

First, I must make a correction in yesterday’s blog. Hermine never made it to hurricane status. It was only a tropical storm when it hit Texas last night. We are waiting for the storm to clear because working outside is too dangerous. Finding something to do is very challenging. The internet wasn’t working last night. I guess I could have done some work on the computer but I forgot the discs in my room. As you may recall I can’t return to because my room mate who is on the day shift, is sleeping. Not good form to try to find something in the dark when someone else is sleeping.

We are currently sailing back and forth near our next shark station so when the weather clears we’ll be ready to go. So there really isn’t much to report for day ten.

Peggy Deichstetter, September 6, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Peggy Deichstetter
Aboard Oregon II
August 29 – September 10, 2012

Mission: Longline Shark and Red Snapper Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date:  September 6, 2010

What an exciting beginning of my shift. First of all , the seas were rough, well rough for me anyway The line the other shift had set was ready to be brought in. You could feel the energy in the air. The day shift was still on deck with cameras ready. It took awhile for the ship to find the small blinking light in the rough seas. But they did eventually find it and the work began. First hook had a Sharp Nose, and it continued hit after hit. There was a total of 26 fish, most of them Sharp Nose but also a few Black Tip and Spinner sharks.
I must say I admire the scientists. Here we are in the middle of the night on rough seas and these guys are hanging over the side of the boat pulling in some large fish. The other scientists pulled the hooks out , measured, weighed, and tagged them, all on a rocking deck.
Removing the hook
Removing the hook

I’d like to thank the day shift for sticking around, they were invaluable in getting all of the fish processed in a timely manner.

Our next station is a plankton tow. Its two hours away. I started my blog and then started to proof read my published one because the internet was working. Sleepiness and/ or sickness came over me. The dry lab, where the computers are, is small and in the rear of the ship, which is really a great place to get seasick.
I went out and sat on deck and immediately fell asleep. I woke up as the rest of my team gathered on deck for the plankton tow. The seas are so rough that the decision was made only to do the bongos. Once again I have to admire these guys hanging over the edge to put in and take out the netting. Our next shark station is two hours away.
This free time gave me the opportunity to see that a hurricane, Hermine, is forming in the lower Gulf and predicted to move towards……………..us. Everyone needs a little excitement in their life. I think I will take out my panic attack and dust it off just in case I need it later.
The weather has gotten really bad. The rest of the stations for today were called off. The team leaders brought in or tied down everything on deck. I now understand the meaning of the phrase batten down the hatches.

Peggy Deichstetter, September 5, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Peggy Deichstetter
Aboard Oregon II
August 29 – September 10, 2012

Mission: Longline Shark and Red Snapper Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date:  September 5, 2010

Well, I think this coffee has done away with my caffeine habit. I’m down to a half cup diluted with water and that is only because I needed to wake up. I’ve noticed that most of the people on this ship are tea drinkers. Now, I know why.
our shark

Our watch began with sailing to the next plankton station. A squall began, so it was time to get my raingear on. During the squall birds seemed to be attracted to the ship. Toward the end of the storm a little warbler landed on deck. He kept trying to find a place to land away from people. Finally, he was so tired, he landed at my feet. After a few seconds he flew to the edge of the stern. He contently waited out the storm there.

I asked Laurie, one of the marine biologists if she had any ideas on why the birds were following us. Apparently, there was a birder on the last trip that explained because we are close to shore (one of my favorite spots, Corpus Christi) the insect were attracted to our lights and the birds are attracted to the insects.
Again we had problems with the plankton tow. After they got the equipment fixed another squall started and the deployment of the equipment was delayed, once again, until the end of the storm.
Taking Samples
Taking Samples

We finally got to the Shark Station. Not too exciting tonight. We only caught two dogfish sharks. I didn’t even take pictures because it paled to what we have all ready done.

We are at the last Shark Station for our watch. I guess we saved the best for last. Hook number 82 gave an 16 foot Sand Shark,. Too big to be brought on deck, she was measured and weighed in her basket. Tissue samples were taken and she was tagged before we let her go. Exciting!!!!
Shark in basket
Shark in basket

Peggy Deichstetter, September 4, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Peggy Deichstetter
Aboard Oregon II
August 29 – September 10, 2012

Mission: Longline Shark and Red Snapper Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date:  September 4, 2010

As we started our watch we were on our way to the next Shark Station. The other shift had already baited the hooks, so all we could do was wait. Before lone we were deploying our hooks, but the real excitement began when we started pulling in fish. Our first two fish were Gaff Top Tailed Catfish. These very ugly fish are one of the only saltwater catfish species.
Rainbow
Rainbow

We started to pull in Black Tip Reef sharks, followed by a Stingray. The end was the most exciting. The crew pulled in the top half of a Black Tip shark following right behind was a very large Bull Shark. He was so large that he bent the hook and was able to free himself.
We are just off South Padre Island Texas because we can see the lights from the town. Hey, Spring Breakers that come here…this is where we pulled out Black Tip Reef Sharks, a Bull Shark and half of a Black Tip. Enjoy!

Sunrise
Sunrise

During wait time this evening I have been trying to edit my blog. The internet is very sporadic, it will go down in the middle of loading pictures, On some days I can only get text and on other just pictures. I think I have it fixed but I’ll check it again later.

God has really been putting on a show. First, the fireworks, the sky was just lit up with beautiful flashes of lightening. Just after a fabulous sunrise, He placed a rainbow over our stern.

Half of a Black Tip
Gaff Top Tailed Catfish

Our last run was fantastic, catching 25 sharks. Two of them were large Hammerheads as well as, numerous Black Nose and Black Tip. At times there were three sharks waiting on deck to be measured and weighed. The last thing we do before our shift ends is bait and drop the hooks for the next shift.

Ugly Fish
Gaff Top Tailed Catfish

Peggy Deichstetter, September 3, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Peggy Deichstetter
Aboard Oregon II
August 29 – September 10, 2012

Mission: Longline Shark and Red Snapper Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date:  September 3, 2010

Groupers
Groupers

My biorhythm clock has been reset; I didn’t wake up until my alarm rang at 11:00pmWhat an exciting start to the shift. The day shift caught nothing all day. Within a few minutes of our arrival the fish just kept coming. There were so many that the day shift stayed on to help us measure, weigh, and tag the sharks before we returned them to the sea.. Besides the sharks we also caught a large red snapper.

measuring a shark
measuring a shark

Next Cassidy and I helped out with the bongos. These are twin plankton tows that stay at a certain angle based on controlling the angle of the line. The depth is determined by the amount of line that is let out. The first time we got the baskets a little too deep in the water. So we brought up two containers of mud. We rinsed out all the mud and tried again. This time we were successful. Cassidy and I rinsed the baskets into sieves and washed down the plankton before putting it in specimen jarsWe then proceeded to bait one hundred more hooks and once again began out quest for sharks. After dropping the line and waiting an hour we were ready to pull in more sharks. I .worked the computer for this catch The computer logs in the exact location of each fish caught We caught NO sharks this time. We did catch three huge Groupers.I intended to watch the sun rise but it was behind a cloud bank. We had an hour before our next station, so we had breakfast. I’d like to give a big thanks to our cooks. You can have pretty much what you want for breakfast made to order

We arrive at the next station at 8:00am. It is another plankton tow, but this time we caught a moon jelly. It takes up about an hour then on to our next station, sharks! Unfortunately, its going to take us two hours to get there. I don’t think our shift will have the opportunity to land the sharks.

Peggy Deichstetter, September 2, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Peggy Deichstetter
Aboard Oregon II
August 29 – September 10, 2012

Mission: Longline Shark and Red Snapper Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date:  September 2, 2010

 

Me, tagging the shark
Me, tagging the shark
Finally, my first taste of shark.! My shift started at midnight. We baited 100 large hooks with mackerel. Then at a precise location the hooks were released one by one on a long line. The hooks were left in the water for one hour. Then the hooks were pulled out in the same order they were put in the water.

My first shark
My first shark

We cleaned up everything because it is really good to wash fish slime off before it smells too bad. After our shark adventure, we did another plankton tow. This time we collected pounds of sea grass. A piece of discarded plastic about the size of a Frisbee blocked the plankton shoot so that grass accumulated.
We arrived at our next site and once again baited 100 hooks, released them and waited an hour. Our luck was a little better this time. We got two large sharks, one of which I got to tag, a couple small ones and a remora.

Peggy Deichstetter, September 1, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Peggy Deichstetter
Aboard Oregon II
August 29 – September 10, 2012

Mission: Longline Shark and Red Snapper Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: September 1, 2010

 

Teacher at Sea Peggy Deichstetter in her hard hat
Teacher at Sea Peggy Deichstetter in her hard hat
On the bridge
On the bridge

Day 4 Sept . 1

We are about an hour away from out first data collection area. This morning just before dawn I got a tour of the bridge. The CO showed my all the computers that keep track of where we are. I learned a lot, not only about the bridge but also about careers in NOAA.(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).. NOAA is made up of several parts, the CO and I talked about the oceanic parts; the officers and crew who run the ship and the scientists. The officers follow the same rules as the military. If you are in the Navy you can transfer directly into this division.

The scientists do the actual research designed by NOAA to answer questions about the ocean. In this cruise we are counting, tagging and releasing shark. This will tell us about how many sharks are in this area at this time of year. NOAA has collected data for twenty year so they will be able to tell the health of the shark population.

To help collect information of the effect of the oil spill we are also doing water analysis and plankton tows.

After lunch we were taught how to do a plankton tow. I have done numerous plankton tows in my life but never on this scale. I used all the skills that I learned when I did research in the Arctic except on a much larger scale.

Peggy Deichstetter: Day 4 September 1

NOAA Teacher at Sea: Peggy Deichstetter
NOAA Ship Name: Oregon II
Mission: Bottom Longline Survey 2010
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico

Me on the deck
Me on the deck

Day 4 Sept . 1

We are about an hour away from out first data collection area. This morning just before dawn I got a tour of the bridge. The CO showed my all the computers that keep track of where we are. I learned a lot, not only about the bridge but also about careers in NOAA.(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) . NOAA is made up of several parts, the CO and I talked about the oceanic parts; the officers and crew who run the ship and the scientists. The officers follow the same rules as the military. If you are in the Navy you can transfer directly into this division.

Navigational Computers
Navigational Computers

The scientists do the actual research designed by NOAA to answer questions about the ocean. In this cruise we are counting, tagging and releasing shark. This will tell us about how many sharks are in this area at this time of year. NOAA has collected data for twenty year so they will be able to tell the health of the shark population.

To help collect information of the effect of the oil spill we are also doing water analysis and plankton tows.

After lunch we were taught how to do a plankton tow. I have done numerous plankton tows in my life but never on this scale. I used all the skills that I learned when I did research in the Arctic except on a much larger scale.

Peggy Deichstetter, August 31, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Peggy Deichstetter
Aboard Oregon II
August 29 – September 10, 2012

Mission: Longline Shark and Red Snapper Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Day 1 August 30


Peggy Deichstetter in her Safety Suit
Peggy Deichstetter in her Safety Suit
Peggy Deichstetter in her safety suit
Peggy Deichstetter in her safety suit
Peggy Deichstetter in her safety suit
Peggy Deichstetter in her safety suit

I woke up at 2:30am. Why didn’t my alarm go off? Now, I have to get dressed with all the stuff I will need for the rest of the day without waking my roommate. I make my way to the galley for some coffee. I pour a cup and take a gulp. This is soooooo bad. This is ever stronger than Mr. D’Agostino’s coffee. I make a new pot and sit down to work on my blog.

We have not had internet access since we departed yesterday and it looks like we won’t have it until noon tomorrow. Oh, life at sea. I also found out that we have another day at sea before we get to our fishing spot.

With a controlled experiment you need to have everything the same. So the spots we will be fishing in will be the same spots that they have done for the last 20 years. Our assignment is the coast of Mexico to Galveston Texas.

In my quest to stay awake for shift I went to bed at noon. At 12:30 the abandon ship drill was sounded, a difficult challenge, wake up, get down from the upper bunk, grab my survival suit and get to muster station. Once checked for roll call I got opportunity to don my survival suit. I have included some great pictures so everyone can have a good laugh.

Peggy Deichstetter, August 30, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Peggy Deichstetter
Aboard Oregon II
August 29 – September 10, 2012

Mission: Longline Shark and Red Snapper Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Day 1 August 30

Stateroom
Stateroom

I met my roommate, Claudia, this morning. She was on this cruise last year. Basically we catch, tag and release sharks and any other fish we may catch. I walked into town to pick up things I forgot. Ashley, Guy and I run into town for our last meal on land, a Subway. During the excitement of casting off, I’m informed that I have the night shift. Me, the goddess of the morning. they must be kidding. As we reach open water the sea is really rough.

At dinner I’m advised to go to bed right after dinner and get up at 2:00am to acclimate my body to the night shift. So right after (6:30pm) dinner I head off to bed. My roommate is already there, she is green. She tells me she doesn’t feel well and needs to lie down. There is no way I can fall asleep. I lie there, waiting to fall asleep. Finally, I’ve been lying there so long, it most be time to get up. I look at my watch… its only 9:00. I finally fall asleep.

Stateroom
Stateroom

Peggy Deichstetter, August 29, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea: Peggy Deichstetter

Day 1 August 29

I awoke a little after five am. My subconscious had its flashers on. The realization that I had only 30 minutes to make my connection in Houston brought on a panic attack To get from one terminal to another at the Houston airport you need to take a shuttle. Visions of missing the ship danced through my head. Immediately I went to the Continental Airlines website and checked for later flight out of Houston. The last flight was at four pm. I should have no problem catching that one. My panic attack retreated until the next time I would need it.

Well, I’m on my way. I got the “opportunity “to use one of those new x-ray scanners at the airport. I would give it one star out of five. I thought the whole reason for the new machine was that it would be quicker. It’s not, in fact, its slower …a lot slower. Just when the airports got security running smoothly….

I’m on a new plane, which has TVs in the back of every seat. If I don’t give the seatback $6.00, I get to watch commercials for the whole flight. Someone was really thinking outside the box on this one.


My plane got in 20 minutes early so I had no problem catching my plane to Gulfport, Mississippi Next, an hour taxi ride to the ship.

I made it.. I think I’m the first one here. Looking for my cabin I run into Guy. He is a member of the science team, a biologist for NOAA. He helps me find my cabin. Before long two more members of the science team find their way on board, Ashley and Cassidy. The four of us head off to town to find dinner. We arrived back at the ship just in time to see the sunset over the bow of the ship