NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
May 2 – 13, 2017
Mission: Spring Bottom Trawl
Geographic Area: Northeastern Atlantic
Date: May 11, 2017
Latitude: 42.45.719 N
Longitude: 282.18.6 W
Science and Technology
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.