NOAA Teacher at Sea Steven King R/V Kilo Mauna June 30, 2010 – August 2, 2010
Mission: Ocean Atmosphere Dynamics Geograpical Area: Hawaii Date: August 2, 2010
Yesterday was the day for retrieving the old buoy and the attached instruments. Early in the morning the mooring was acoustically detached from the anchor, at which point we had to wait for the glass balls to float from the bottom of the ocean to the surface. That took about 45 minutes to happen. Once they were sighted, the ship went towards them and they were grappled and a line was attached to them. The balls were on a chain and the crane’s cable was attached to the chain and the balls were lifted onto the deck of the ship. The balls were detached and placed in metal containers, and then it was time to pull in all the nylon rope that was part of the mooring. It took about two hours to put all of the rope away, for there was about 2 1/2 miles of nylon line to put away. One of my jobs was to help bring in the line along with five or six other people.
After the rope came the cable with the scientific instruments attached to it. A few of the instruments were brought in, and then attention was given to the buoy. It had to be tagged and brought onto the deck. However, the seas were too rough for the Zodiac boat to go out, so the ship passed by the bouy and several men tried to tag it with line. Several attempts were made, but it proved to be very difficult. On one pass, the buoy was overrun by the ship and the buoy was flipped upside down. Due to the rough seas, the recovery was not going as planned.
At this juncture, it was decided that the Zodiac boat would be used so that the scientists could tag a line to the buoy and bring it in. Preparations were made and the boat, along with three men inside it, were lowered into the rough seas, however it proved to be too harrowing and that plan was nixed. It was decided that the ship would pass by the buoy once again and attempts would be made to tag it and grapple it with hooks. Luckily, this plan worked and the buoy was secured by lines, which were then used to help it right itself. After this, the buoy was brought onto the ship by use of the crane. One thing to note was that as the bouy was brought closer to the ship, there appeared schools of fish, including what looked like a yellowfin tuna. This is because the buoy and its mooring become an ecosystem unto itself. Barnacles and other creatures grow on the botton of the buoy and the rest of the mooring, which attract fish and other sea creatures.
When the float was secured to the deck of the ship, attention was given to the mooring cable with the instruments attached. The crane, along with the use of several winches, was used to bring up the instruments. Each instrument was detached, serial numbers were checked with last year’s log, and then taken for cleaning and retrieval of data. As the pictures show, the instruments really get covered in barnacles, algae and seaweed. Some of us took plastic brillo pads and scrapers to the instruments and began to remove the detritus covering them. This proved to be a smelly and dirty job, but it’s fun to get dirty sometimes.
After they were cleaned, another scientists detached the canisters which held the collected data, and with the use of computers, the data was downloaded for use by scientists at a later date. Pressure washers were used to further clean the equipment for storage and shipment. It’s important to remove as much of the organisms on the equipment, otherwise the stench of decay would prove to be overwhelming, and the detritus is not good for the instruments.
By this time, the sun was beginning to set, and everyone was tired. We even got to see a double rainbow at the end of the day. So, for all the drama and excitement, I am glad to report that the retrieval mission was accomplished successfully.
Today we wrap up the mission and clean up. It is important that we leave the ship in the way it started. We were lucky enough to get a tour of the compartments below that held the engines, and the electronic gear which helps with the operation of the ship.
I want to thank everyone on the mission. I want to thank the captian and his crew for being kind and patient with me and my inexperience. I especially enjoyed the tours that I received of the bridge, engine rooms and the engine control room I want to thank all the scientists and personnel from WHOI and the University of Hawaii, especially Bob Weller, for welcoming me, answering my questions, and making me feel part a part of the team. I also want to thank the graduate students from University of Hawaii for working with me and making me a part of their team as well. Finally, I want to expess my gratitude to the people from NOAA that made this experience possible including Jennifer Hammond, Elizabeth McMahon, and Elizabeth Bullock.
NOAA Teacher at Sea Steven King R/V Kilo Mauna June 30, 2010 – August 2, 2010
Mission: Ocean Atmosphere Dynamics Geograpical Area: Hawaii Date: July 30, 2010
On the Night Shift
For the past two nights I have been on watch from 9 pm to 5 am. I helped out with the implementation of the CTD Rosette which measures conductivity, temperature, oxygen anddepth of the ocean. The Rosette is also used to take water samples at different depths in the ocean. The Rosette descended to 500 meters below the surface of the ocean to take measurements and collect water samples. That is about 1,640 yards, or the same as lining up about 16 football fields end to end. This is a picture of me taking a water sample from the Rosette. One reason why the water samples are taken is that the water can be analyzed on land with tools to give precise measurements. These measurements are then compared to the measurements taken by the electronic equipment that is submerged in the water. Consequently, the two sets of measurements are compared to make sure the electronic equipment is accurately measuring the different elements of the water. Scientists also use the water samples to test for phosphorus as well as examining the samples for organisms living in the water.It is really quite phenomenal how the entire process occurs. On the side of the Rosette is a series of bottles which we set opened to a trigger system. The entire Rosette is attached to a cable on the crane. If you look at the bottom of my blog, you will see the crane and its operator. The netting, which you see behind me, is taken down and set aside. The crane picks up the Rosette, and two people tag it, or help it into the water using guide lines. The purpose of the tagging is to prevent the Rosette from spinning or careening into the side of the boat.
Yesterday, when the Rosette came back up, it was covered in a clear, viscous material. The gel appeared to have small black spheres suspended in it which makes me theorize that it could have been some sort of egg spawn that the Rosette collected when it was in the water. One scientist believed it could be also have been some sort of bacteria.
Last night I also went to one of the upper decks to see what it was like, and was it ever dark out. Dr. Weller explained to me that there are no lights on at that time so that the captain and his crew can see at night. Man-made lights make it hard for the pilot of the ship to navigate at night. This would be similar to keeping the dome light in your car off during nighttime driving so that your night vision is not affected.
So here I am in the picture taking the water sample. We had just brought the Rosette back in from the ocean. This was all done in the darkest of nights. Sounds kind of scary, doesn’t it? Actually, it was kind of exhilarating seeing the waves crashing against the stern of the boat while the Rosette descended into the surf. Of course, there were plenty of people supervising me and making sure I was safe and sound. I was also wearing a life jacketwhich also has a light attached to it in case I should fall overboard. It is important in science and in life to always take the necessary precautions from danger.
The Kilo Moana left port on July 27, 2010. It is based out of the University of Hawaii. We will be mooring a 4,000 pound buoy which will measure water temperatures, conductivity, and current flow as well as taking other important oceanic measurements. It will take about five hours to moor it properly. Mooring means to anchor it to a particular place or location. We are heading north of Oahu about 110 kilometers, which is about 68 miles. So far, the ship has sailed smoothy. It is a catamaran-style of ship, which keeps it stable in all types of surf conditions.
From speaking to the scientists on the mission, I have learned that is takes months, if not years, to build and implement these enormous buoys. Needless to say, it is much different from setting a “No Swimming” buoy.
This buoy will take measurements which will be used to calibrate models generated by other scientists. Likewise, we will be recovering an old mooring, cleaning it, and returning it to port. The entire mission will last eight days.
Today, Wednesday, we actually deployed the buoy and the instruments that are suspended below it. To help you understand how it is working, imagine that you have a beach ball with a rope attached to it. A series a knots have been tied into the rope. The beach ball is then released into a pool of water and the rope dangles below the part of the beach ball that is floating on the surface of the water. Each knot represents a different scientific instrument; each instrument collects real-time data.
How I helped was that I held the line which helped guide the chains and instruments into the water. I was reponsible for keeping the chains and instruments away from one of the ship’s propellars. It was a bit strenuous and unsettling, for if the instruments and chain drift into the propellar, then the mission is destroyed. I am happy to report that this did not happen.
After the instruments were guided into the water, a series of lines were attached and lowered as well. This process took several hours to complete, and we had to help feed the line out into the ocean. After the line was lowered, a series of glass balls were attached and slowly released following the lines. Once these balls were released, they stayed afloat. However, a 9,300 pound anchor was then attached and released into the ocean, causing the balls and line to descend into the ocean. Finally, the anchor descended about 4,700 meters (1,651 feet) and the buoy was finally moored to the seafloor.