Nichia Huxtable: Life on board, you won’t be bored!, May 6, 2016

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Nichia Huxtable

Aboard NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada

April 28-May 9, 2016

Mission: Mapping CINMS                                                                                                           Geographical area of cruise: Channel Islands, California                                                 Date: May 6, 2016

Weather Data from the Bridge: 2-3 ft swells; storm clouds over land, clear at sea

Science and Technology Log

Dismantling the REMUS 600 AUV for its trip home

Goodbye, AUV. Until we meet again.

The AUV is no longer my favorite thing on Shimada. As I write this, it is being dismantled and packed into shipping boxes for its return trip home to Maryland. To keep a long, sad story short, the AUV had a big electrical problem that was fixed, but when the scientists turned it on for a test run, a tiny $6 lithium battery broke open and oozed all over the motherboard. Game over for the AUV. So now my favorite thing on Shimada is the ice cream.

Personal Log

Enough about science and technology for now. I bet you’re really wondering what it’s like day in and day out on board Shimada. Well, my intrepid future NOAA crew members, this blog post is for you! We’ll start what’s most important: the food.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served at the same time everyday. The food is prepared in the galley and everyone eats in the mess. Beverages, cereal, yogurt, fruit, snacks, the salad bar, and ice cream are available 24 hours a day, so there is no need to ever be hungry. Not all ships are the same, however. In one of the many anecdotes told to me by master storyteller Fabio Campanella, an Italian research ship he once worked on served fresh bread and authentic pizza everyday…sign me up for that cruise!

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Unlike the AUV, the ice cream freezer never disappoints

Next, you’re probably wondering where everyone sleeps. Sleeping quarters are called staterooms and most commonly sleep two people, although larger staterooms might sleep four. Each stateroom has its own television and a bathroom, which is called a head. As you can see in the photo, the bunks have these neat curtains that keep out the light in case your roommate needs to get up at 1 a.m. for the night-shift.

"Working

Working in the Acoustics Lab on Shimada

The Shimada has lots and lots of work and storage rooms, each serving a different function. There is a wet lab, dry lab, chem lab, and acoustics lab for doing SCIENCE (woohoo!), as well as a tech room for the computer specialist (called an ET), storage lockers for paint, cleaning supplies, and linens, plus other rooms full of gear and machinery. There’s also a laundry room, so you can take care of your stinky socks before your roommate starts to complain!

Trash on board is separated into recyclable bottles and cans, food waste, and trash. The food waste is ground up into tiny pieces and dumped in the ocean outside of the sanctuary, while the trash is INCINERATED! That’s right, it’s set on fire…a really, really, hot fire. Ash from the incinerator is disposed of onshore.

"<em

Shimada‘s incinerator

Another important part of the ship is the bridge. Operations occur 24 hours a day, so the ship never sleeps. Officers on the bridge must know what is happening on the ship, what the weather and traffic is like around the ship, and they must make sure to properly pass down this information between watches. The bridge has radar to spot obstacles and other ships, a radio to communicate with other ships, and a radio to communicate with the crew and scientists.

"Looking

Looking for wildlife on the NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada

"Bride

Bridge on the Shimada

Last, but not least, is the lounge that comes complete with surround-sound, a big screen TV, super-comfy recliners, and about 700 movies, including the newest of the new releases.

"Lounge

Wish this was my living room!

Did you know? 

A female elephant seal was once recorded diving underwater for two continuous hours (they usually stay underwater for 1/2 hour); the deepest recorded dive was by a male and was 5,141ft.

Stay tuned for the next post: Multibeam? You Mean Multi-AWESOME!

Nichia Huxtable: AUV, Why Won’t You Work? May 2, 2016

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nichia Huxtable
Aboard NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada
April 28-May 9

Mission: CINMS Mapping
Geographical area of cruise: Channel Islands, California
Date: May 2, 2016

Weather Data from the Bridge: 17-20kt winds; clear skies; 0-1ft swells

Science and Technology Log:

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Preparing the AUV for deployment

There is a lot of amazing equipment on board Shimada, but my favorite, by far, is the REMUS 600 AUV. Really, it should be everyone’s favorite. What other piece of equipment can you release in the middle of the ocean, have it swim around for a few hours collecting data, then have it ready and waiting for you in the morning? I’m pretty sure my laptop wouldn’t be able to do that if I threw it overboard (although, on a few occasions, I’ve been tempted to try).

On Shimada’s mission, the AUV is used when scientists need detailed, high-resolution imaging of deep water areas or areas of special interest. The ship’s ME70 multibeam sonar can map the seafloor up to 350m deep, whereas the AUV can map as far down as 400m. Now remember, this is an AUTONOMOUS Underwater Vehicle; this means that you are literally dropping it off the side of the boat, leaving it to propel itself along a pre-programmed route, then, hours later, returning to a set location with the hope of seeing your million-dollar robot pop back up to the surface to be retrieved.

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The programmed route of the AUV, including satellite and GPS call points (circles) and return location (yellow square)

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The AUV has returned to the Shimada!

 

There is a lot that needs to go right in order for this to happen. In the REMUS 600, there are three separate systems that must all function correctly in order to successfully complete its mission. The navigational system includes an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) for pitch, roll, and heading compensation, a Doppler Velocity Log (DVL) for speed over land measurements, GPS for location, and processing software. The communication system includes a micromodem to receive status messages while AUV is up to 1500m away, an Iridium satellite communications system, and, of course, Wi-Fi. The sensors include multibeam sonar, obstacle avoidance sonar, a depth sensor, and a CT (conductivity, temperature) sensor to analyze sound speed for beam formation.

 

Troubleshooting the AUV

Troubleshooting the AUV

If these systems aren’t working correctly, there’s a good chance you’ll never see this AUV again (which would make a lot of people very unhappy). Basically, all these systems ensure that the AUV stays at a specific height above the seafloor (around 75m), runs a specific course that you programmed, and collects data for you to analyze when it returns. Every hour or so while it’s running its course, the AUV rises to the surface, makes a satellite phone call to check in with Shimada, then goes back down to continue its data collection. When it’s done with its course, it runs in circles (think underwater donuts) until the ship returns and the scientists call it back up to the surface where it can be retrieved.

 

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The inner workings of the REMUS 600

Remember how I said that all the systems must be working correctly in order for the AUV to successfully complete its mission? Well, this first launch and retrieval went off without a hitch, but it turns out something went wrong with the data collection (as in, there were no data collected after the first 45 minutes). The scientists are once again on the phone with customer support to try to figure out what went wrong.

 

On the bright side, there are far worse things that could have gone wrong: the AUV successfully ran its course, checked in with the ship, and came up to the surface at the time and place it was supposed to. That doesn’t always happen, which is why the AUV has an “If found, please call this number” sticker right on top of it. Just like what’s written on your retainer case…except your retainer didn’t cost one million dollars.

Personal Log:

Even though it seems like the hours are filled with troubleshooting and problem solving, there are still many things going our way. The ME70 and EK60 have been successfully running all day, the weather is fully cooperating with calm seas and beautiful skies, and, last but not least, dolphins decided to play right next to the ship. Bring on tomorrow!

Dolphins around San Miguel Island

Dolphins around San Miguel Island. Always a crowd pleaser!

Words of the DayAUVs and ROVs. Autonomous Underwater Vehicles are pre-programmed and complete their mission without supervision. Remotely Operated Vehicles are connected to the ship by a cable and are directly controlled by a human operator.

Heidi Wigman: Underwater Acoustics, June 4, 2015

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Heidi Wigman
Aboard NOAA Ship Pisces
May 27 – June 10, 2015


Mission: Reef Fish Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico (26°33.512’N 083°43.064’W)
Date: June 4, 2015

Weather: 82° @ surface, NE winds @ 5-10 knots, seas 0-2 ft, chance of showers and Tstorms, average depth 75m

Science and Technology Log:

The science behind underwater acoustics play a huge role in the operations of the Pisces.  Each of the five survey types (CTD, camera rig, sidescan, bandit reels and AUV) need accurate data about the depth and contours of the ocean floor.  Most people are familiar with the idea of how radar sends out a “ping” and waits for a return in order to determine a distance of an object.  This is not a new, or even a human invented design — bats, dolphins, and some whale classes use “echo location” to get information on food sources and predators.  As a pulse is emitted from the transmission source, it travels through the water at a certain speed, and as it encounters objects, returns as an echo.

ping transmit and return

“ping” transmit and return provided by C. Thompson

 As data is received, it can be read as a function of voltage output to time in seconds, but this type of information generally is not useful for operational purposes.  This two-way travel data needs to be converted to provide a graphical representation of the contour of the ocean floor, and the location of objects in the water. An algorithm turns all of this into usable data, that gives the viewer a depiction of what is under the vessel, and at what depth.

sonar imagery provided by Charles Thompson

sonar imagery provided by C. Thompson

echosounder depth measurement, provided by C. Thompson

echosounder depth measurement, provided by C. Thompson

In order to get depth (Z), you need to know about how fast sound travels (c) – and this can vary with environmental factors such as temperature, salinity, depth, turbidity, etc. The third variable is the time (t) in seconds that it takes from ping to return. The formula that is used to calculate the depth is Z = c*t/2.

speed of sound graphDuring our cruise, the sound speed value we are using (1540 m/sec) is the mean value of the measured sound speed vs. depth profile, with slight margin of error on the minimum values.  Therefore, any miscalculations based on the constant will provide a reading more shallow, rather than more depth.

The EK60 echosounder emits a frequency of 18kHz, with most of the power in an 11° conic sector directed downward(see diagram).  In order to find the area covered by the pulse, we first need to find the diameter (d) and the vertical depth (Z) or the max beam range (R).

sonar effective area; provided by C. Thompson

sonar effective area; provided by C. Thompson

Math question of the day: What is the area covered by one sonar ping from the Pisces? If you know that your vertical depth is 75m, and the bisect on the beamwidth (11°) angle, use some trigonometry to help find your radius. [Tan 5.5 = r/75].  Once you have the value of r, use the formula for area [A=3.14(r*r)]

Previous Answers:

Trigonometry of Navigation post: 18 m/s @ 34°SE

Bandit Reels post: about 14.6 nautical miles

The STEM of Mapping post: layback = 218m, layback w/ catenary = 207m

Coming soon . . . A trip underwater – A closer look at NOAA dive tables

Heidi Wigman: The STEM of Mapping Operations, June 2, 2015

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Heidi Wigman
Aboard NOAA Ship Pisces
May 27 – June 10, 2015


Mission: Reef Fish Survey
Geographical area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico (28°58.91’N 085°29.87’W)
Date: June 2, 3015

Weather: 82° @ surface, SE winds @ 5-18 knots, seas 1ft, chance of showers, average depth 72m

Science and Technology Log:

So far, I’ve talked about the daytime ops aboard the Pisces, and the different ways in which sample sites are surveyed, but once the sun goes down, something else happens.  After the daytime series of drops of the CTD, camera rig, and bandit reels; a different deployment commences.  During the evening, mapping operations are underway utilizing the technology of the sidescan sonar towfish.  This little guy does exactly what it says – it gets towed and uses its sonar to scan laterally and map the ocean floor.  The acoustic imaging can be used for mapping of geologic features, hazard surveys (for pipeline and cables), archaeological sites, sunken ships and downed aircraft. It can be deployed from the surface (via Pisces) or incorporated on a remote AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle).  By mapping a predetermined feature, or area, in a linear transect array, the sidescan relays data from 20% above the depth of the ocean floor.  So, if we are at 87m, the sidescan would be at an altitude of about 70m (210ft).

Science and deck team getting ready to test the AUV

Science and deck team getting ready to test the AUV

AUV being lowered into the blue

AUV being lowered into the blue

the AUV on it's maiden voyage

The AUV on its maiden voyage

the side scan towfish

The side scan towfish

Math at Sea: One of the tasks of the scientists is to determine the amount of “layback” or distance between the tow point and the lateral distance of the towfish from the vessel – making sure that this is in the range of the shipboard GPS transmission.  Typically line is laid out at 3 times the depth at which the towfish will be cruising.  By looking the diagram below, you can see that all three points create the vertices of a right triangle . . . get ready for some real-life applications of the Pythagorean Theorem. Sidescan Math Question of the Day: If the Pisces is cruising at 5 knots @ 96m above the ocean floor, what is the measure of layback? An extension to this problem has to do with “catenary” (red parabolic line) or the amount of bend in the tow cable due to the speed of the vessel, cable length and the drag of the towfish/cable. Usually this is determined by subtracting 5% of the layback value.  Based on the problem above, what is the total amount of layback in ft, to account for the catenary in the tow cable? Previous Answers: Trigonometry of Navigation post: 18 m/s @ 34°SE Bandit Reels post: about 14.6 nautical miles Coming soon . . . Now Hear This! Underwater Acoustics

Jennifer Petro: Diving into the Deep, July 10, 2013

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jennifer Petro
Aboard NOAA Ship Pisces
July 1 — 14, 2013 

Mission: Marine Protected Area Surveys
Geographic area of cruise: Southern Atlantic
Date: July 10, 2013

Weather Data
Air temperature: 28.4°C (81.5°F)
Barometer: 1010.20 mb
Humidity: 76%
Wind direction: 103°
Wind speed: 1.5 knots
Water temp: 27.5° C (81.5°F)
Latitude: 32 81.67 N
Longitude: 78 12.95 W

Science and Technology Log

The most integral piece of equipment on board is the ROV.  A Super Phantom S2 to be precise.  The ROV is operated by the team of Lance Horn and Glenn Taylor from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington (UNCW).  Dubbed by me as the “ROV Guys”, Lance and Glenn have almost 50 years of combined experience working on and operating ROVs. The Super Phantom S2 is part of UNCW’s Undersea Vehicle Program which currently consists of 2 ROVs and 1 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle or (AUV).  In the fall they will be adding a third ROV to their fleet.  The ROV set-up is quite impressive and centers around one key component….communication.  The ROV is tethered to the ship by an umbilical.  During each and every dive the ROV operator is in constant contact with the ROV deck.  The umbilical is either payed out over the side or brought back in according to the dive depth and that needs to also be communicated to the wench operator.  The ROV deck is constantly watching the direction and tautness of the umbilical so that it does not get overstretched or goes into the boat’s prop.  All the time the ROV driver is in contact with the bridge.  So, there is a lot of communication and it is integral in every aspect of ROV operations.

Not only are all of the people involved in ROV ops communicating but the ROV and boat are communicating

as well.  The ROV uses an integrated navigation system to provide real-time tracking of the ROV and ship to the ROV operator and the Pisces bridge for navigation.  Ship and ROV positions with ROV depth, heading and altimeter reading are logged for each dive and provided to the scientist in an Excel file. Geo-referenced .tif files can be used as background files to aid in ROV and support vessel navigation.

The vessel has a machine shop which allowed the ROV guys to fox the transducer early in the cruise.

The vessel has a machine shop which allowed the ROV guys to fix the transducer early in the cruise.

The front of the ROV showing spot lights and camera arrays.

The front of the ROV showing spotlights and camera arrays.

The ROV can go to a depth of approximately 305 meters (1000 ft).  Our deepest dive on this cruise is 200 meters (650 ft) which is 20 atm of pressure! What does that mean? At sea level, the weight of all the air above you creates one “atmosphere” (atm) of pressure equivalent to 14.7 pounds pressing on each square inch.  In the ocean, the pressure increases very rapidly with depth because water is much denser than air. For every 33 feet  (10 meters) of depth, the pressure increases by 1 atmosphere.  So at 20 atmospheres there is a lot of pressure pushing down on all sides. It is the increase in pressure that makes it difficult to do manned deep water dives and one of the reasons why the use of ROVs is so important.

As an experiment we sent styrofoam cups that we had decorated in a bag along with the ROV down to a depth of 170 meters 550 ft.  The cups shrink due to the increased pressure of the water.  The deeper you go the more they will shrink.

Styrofoams cups.  Before and after being sent down with the ROV.

Styrofoams cups. Before and after being sent down with the ROV.

Data collection:  Data is collected during each dive by the means of video recording and still camera photos.  Each camera is in a special pressure rated, water proof housing.  There is special attention given to the 7 target species (5 of which we have recorded this cruise) as well as any new or interesting species that we have seen.  This data is analyzed back in the lab.  So far we have approximately 64 hours of video and 2400 still photos.  Needless to say reviewing the data is time-consuming but a very important aspect in confirming what we see during the actual cruise.

Still photos taken with the ROVs Nikon CoolPics camera.

Photos taken by the still camera of the UNCW Super Phatom ROV.

Photos taken by the still camera of the UNCW Super Phantom ROV.

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Hogfish

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Driving the ROV is much like playing a video game, only you have many more screens you have to monitor.  I did get an opportunity to drive it over sand!  According to Lance it takes about 20 hours of training to learn to drive effectively drive the ROV.  There are no simulations, all of the drive time is hands-on and in the water.

Lance Horn giving me pointers on how to keep the ROV level and on course.

Lance Horn giving me pointers on how to keep the ROV level and on course.

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Personal Log

While I was in the Acoustics Lab speaking with the folks that do the multibeam mapping, I looked down at the probes that they use and a single word jumped out at me: “Sippican”.  I know this word from my childhood.  We used to visit my Aunt Carol and Uncle Al in Marion, Massachusetts which sits on Sippican Harbor off of Buzzards Bay.  Sure enough the probes are made by Lockheed Martin Sippican, Inc. located in Marion, MA.  This struck me as so apropos.  My Uncle Al was a marine biologist and started a research lab in Falmouth, MA.  I would go to the lab with him and count flounder larvae for hours on end.  He was very instrumental in developing my love for marine science and I was overjoyed to have a connection, albeit small, to a man whose work I admired very much.

Rita Salisbury: Winding Down, April 29, 2013

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Rita Salisbury
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
April 14–29, 2013

Mission: Hawaii Bottomfish Survey
Geographical Area of Cruise: Hawaiian Islands
Date: April 29, 2013

Weather Data from the Bridge:
Temperature: 79°F / 26°C
Dewpoint: 68°F / 20°C
Humidity: 70%
Pressure: 29.98 in (1015 mb)
Winds: S 10.4 mph (S 17 kph)

Science and Technology Log:
This has been an amazing voyage for me; I have learned about science process and technology in a real world application that I can take back to my classroom and incorporate throughout my curriculum. Real science on this cruise involved using multiple survey methods to determine the population and of Bottomfish species in a prescribed area. Acoustics, video recording by BotCam, AUV, and ROV, fishing by professional fishermen, and fishing from the side of the research vessel were all techniques employed in this study. These different methods will be compared and, eventually, a process will be formulated that will probably combine several of the methods in order to compile data to help regulate the bottom fisheries.

Some of the methodologies, such as the BotCams, have been compiling data for five or more years, so there is a sizable amount of information upon which to base decisions. Adding to the general knowledge base is an important part of scientific research; without data it is impossible to make informed decisions.
After the last deployments of the AUV and ROV yesterday, we all pitched in to help pack equipment to get ready for today’s end of the cruise.  We cleaned floor mats, vacuumed, mopped, wiped down counters, and also cleaned our staterooms, heads, and common rooms. Even though this is a scientific research cruise, the scientists are considered guests on the ship and it only makes sense to help clean up. You never know when you’ll be back on the ship for more research and you sure want to be welcomed back!

Personal Log:
My mind is racing like a runaway train, thinking of ways to integrate what I’ve seen and learned on this cruise into my curriculum when I get back to Delaware. I cannot wait to sit down with my co-teachers, Dara Laws and Kenny Cummings, and brainstorm ways to make the science standards I am required to cover more meaningful and engaging to our students. We teach in a project-based, technology-rich environment and the possibilities to “amp up” the lessons and make them more rigorous, as well as captivating, are enormous. In addition to a fresh insight into science process, environments, populations, communities, and the overarching ecosystem, I now have real people I can contact to act as experts and representatives of their fields of study. I cannot thank NOAA, the Teacher at Sea program, Dr. Donald Kobayashi, Chief Scientist, or the Officers and Crew of the Oscar Elton Sette enough. Their openness and willingness to host another Teacher at Sea will make a difference to countless students in the years to come.

Not only did I make new contacts, I made new friends. I’m looking forward to making Clementine’s Chicken Curry for my family and friends and staying in touch with my new friends. I only wish every teacher I know could take advantage of such an amazing opportunity.

Rita Salisbury: Popika, April 27, 2013

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Rita Salisbury
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
April 14–29, 2013

Mission: Hawaii Bottomfish Survey
Geographical Area of Cruise: Hawaiian Islands
Date: April 26, 2013

Weather Data from the Bridge:
Wind: NE 3KT
Pressure: 1017.1 mb
Air Temperature: 74 F (23C)
Water Temperature: 78 F (25 C)

Science and Technology Log

Jamie Barlow and Bo Alexander getting ready to deploy the BotCams

Jamie Barlow and Bo Alexander getting ready to deploy the BotCams

I was extremely fortunate to be invited to ride along on a day-long BotCam deployment aboard the Huki Pono along with IT Scott Wong. Dr. Kobayashi got approval for it and before I knew it I was descending down a rope ladder and on my way in a small boat to rendezvous with the Huki Pono to work with scientists Jamie Barton, Chris Demarke, and Bo Alexander.

The BotCams are designed to descend to the sea floor, attract fish with bait, and video record the fish that are in range of the camera. The BotCam is then retrieved, the video uploaded, and then the BotCam is deployed again until the mission is completed. The videos are saved and someone then reviews them and classifies the fish by species and counts how many there are of them. The results are added to a multi-year study of the fisheries in the area.

The BotCams are heavy and deploying and retrieving them takes a lot of skill, so I stayed out of the way while that was going on. However, there were things I was able to do, and the three scientists walked me through them.

Throwing the grappling hook to catch the buoy line

Throwing the grappling hook to catch the buoy line

The first thing I got to do was to throw the grappling hook to retrieve the buoys for a BotCam. Captain Al of the Huki Pono skillfully brought the boat up next to the buoys at a good angle and I was able to snag the buoy line with my first throw every time. Then I got out of the way so the hundreds of meters of line that attached the buoys to the BotCam was pulled on board. Once the BotCam was pulled to the surface, a cable from the winch on the back of the ship was attached to it and the BotCam was pulled to the back work area and pulled on board. The video was retrieved, the bait renewed, and the BotCam was ready for deployment again. On this day, the crew was working with two BotCams, but they had a third one on board that they also use, depending on the requirements of the day. (The Bluejay is my school mascot and came along for the ride.)

Setting the buoys to mark the location of the BotCam. Uli Uli Manu is along for the ride.

Setting the buoys to mark the location of the BotCam. Uli Uli Manu is along for the ride.

Slinging line as the BotCam drops to the sea floor

Slinging line as the BotCam drops to the sea floor

Once re-baited, and with new video plugs, the BotCam was ready to be dropped at a pre-determined spot. The dropsites have already been entered into a GPS unit so the captain navigates from one site to the next using a handheld GPS. The depth of the new location determined how much line would be attached. When the captain said it was time, the scientists triple-checked everything, including each other’s work, and swung the BotCam off the deck and into the water. The line that attaches the BotCam to the buoy is quickly fed out after the weighted BotCam and then the buoys are tossed out last, which are the other two jobs I was able to do. Then it’s time to go the next location and either retrieve or deploy another BotCam. This went on all day long, without any breaks. Lunch was eaten while traveling from one BotCam location to another.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Don Kobayashi

Photo courtesy of Dr. Don Kobayashi

While I was onboard the Huki Pono, the Sette deployed the AUV for a lengthy mission. I was able to see some of the video footage when I returned to the Sette and the clarity was amazing! The AUV’s path was blocked by a large outcropping for a while and it was really interesting to watch the video while the AUV worked its way free of the rock.

An AUV capture of almaco jack, a type of kahala. Photo courtesy of Dr. Don Kobayashi

An AUV capture of almaco jack, a type of kahala. Photo courtesy of Dr. Don Kobayashi

The AUV was deployed again yesterday, and it is just as exciting to watch now as it was for the first mission. I know that it has a few failsafe procedures built into it, such as dropping the weights that help keep it down and aborting the mission, but it is still thrilling to watch the last line removed that tethers it to the ship and see it descend on its own power. The bright yellow skin makes it visible for many meters under the surface, but eventually it goes so deep that it cannot be seen any longer. The scientists monitoring the acoustics can “see” where the AUV is in relation to the position of the ship. They have named the AUV “Popoki” which is Hawaiian for cat.

Second Assistant Engineer (2AE) Megan keeping an eye on the control readout

Second Assistant Engineer (2AE) Megan keeping an eye on the control readout

The Chief Scientist, Dr. Don Kobayashi, arranged a tour of the engineering department of the ship. Chief Engineer Harry Crane met us in the forward mess and explained what we would be seeing. After handing out earplugs to protect our hearing from the 115 decibel environment, we were off. We were able to see the 600 amp 600 volt motor for the bow thruster used to maneuver in tight quarters or to make minor adjustments of the ship’s position. Then we were shown the sewage system next to the laundry room. The waste is collected and then cleaned by running electrical current through it before it is discharged. It holds about 6,000 gallons of waste, which is roughly what a tractor-trailer tanker holds. The giant Caterpillar diesel engines spin generators to provide electric power to run the propulsion motors, making the Sette a hybrid of diesel electric power. The water that is used to cool the engines is the same water that is used, as waste energy, to help run the evaporators that create the ‘fresh’ water needed for the ship. We also saw the halon and CO2 fire suppressant system, the main control room, and the shafts the turn the propellers (or screws), and the hydraulic system used to turn the rudder. One of the things that struck me the most about the whole tour was how very clean all of the areas were. Anyone who works around machinery knows it can be a messy environment with leaks and spills, but the Oscar Elton Sette was clean as a whistle.

Chief Engineer Harry Crane, Chief Scientist Don Kobayashi, Jessica Chen, and me touring the engineering department of the ship

Chief Engineer Harry Crane, Chief Scientist Don Kobayashi, Jessica Chen, and me touring the engineering department of the ship

Uli Uli Manu keeping an eye on things

Uli Uli Manu keeping an eye on things

Personal Log

This ship is like a large, extended family in many ways. The mess and the kitchen are central to the community with 3 wonderful meals served every day. But just like home, the kitchen is always open for anyone to make a snack. The other evening, one of the stewards, Allen Smith, stayed late to help me find the ingredients I needed to make a cake as a thank you to everyone on board. It was served as desert the next evening and the medical officer, “Doc” Tran, who really enjoys cooking, asked for my recipe and said that anytime they serve it from now on, they will call it the Rita Cake. Like I said before, everyone on this ship is very nice and they go out of their way to make me comfortable.

Did You Know?

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. A GPS device is an electronic unit that determines a location within a few feet, displaying coordinates in latitude and longitude. The handheld GPS receives signals from geosynchronous satellites. It only needs signals from 3 satellites to calculate a location, but a signal from a fourth satellite can fix the altitude of the location and the exact time. The more signals that are received from satellites, the more accurate the reading.

One of my duties has been to find out information about everyone on board for blog entry. The Chief Sci and I talked about it and decided to borrow an ice-breaker that we use at my school from time to time called “Two Truths and a Lie.” It has been interesting, to say the least, to start to gather the statements from different people on board. I cannot wait until I have enough data to publish it, but the best thing has been getting to know people even better.

Additional Section

I finally saw a humpback whale breaching while I was on the Huki Pono! It was about a quarter of a mile away, so I didn’t get any good pictures, but it was still exciting.

I also was able to see some kawakawa (False Albacore) off the bow of the ship. They are quite lovely fish, with a brilliant blue hue and a streamlined appearance. There were about a dozen of them and they would race in one direction and then change course, often breaking through the surface of the water to appear as if they were flying. I was disappointed when they finally wandered off.

One thing I have wondered about is the lack of seagulls around here. I just assumed that anywhere there was salt water, there would be seagulls. Jamie Barlow said they simply are not part of the ecosystem here. There might be an occasional one that shows up on its way somewhere else, but they don’t stick around. That surprises me, especially when you consider the Taape, or Bluelined Snapper. They are an introduced species that was introduced in the mid-1950s because Hawaii did not have a shallow water snapper. The species has flourished in these Hawaiian waters so why doesn’t the seagull show up and start competing in a niche?