Sherie Gee: Eco-Friendly Ships, June 26, 2013

NOAA Teacher At Sea
Sherie Gee
Aboard R/V Hugh R. Sharp
June 26 — July 7 

Mission:  Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area of Cruise:  Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:  June 26, 2013 

Science and Technology Log:

I was very pleased to learn that the R/V Hugh R. Sharp is environmentally friendly.  I was lucky enough to run into some of the crew members that were getting the ship ready to leave the dock.  One of the crew members named Tim, showed me around the ship and pointed out various features that keep the ship running.  I noticed many piles of crystal salt bags and asked what they were for.  That conversation led to the discovery of how this ship and many other research vessels recycle their water while out at sea.  Water is categorized into three types:  clean water, gray water, and black water.  Clean water is used for drinking, showering and washing clothes and dishes.  Gray water is the water that has been used after washing the dishes, clothes and other uses.  This water is not potable but can be reused in other areas that do not need purified water.  Then there is the black water that is basically “toilet water.”  The toilet water is run through a reverse osmosis process which is where the salt crystals are used.  Once the water has been through the process, then it can be discharged back into the environment; in this case, the ocean.  It is now clean and safe enough for all organisms in the ocean.  Of course they try to get some volunteers to test this water before discharging it into the ocean but haven’t gotten any so far.

Bags of salt crystals used in reverse osmosis

Bags of salt crystals used in reverse osmosis

Along with the recycling of the water, the ship also recycles plastic bottles and aluminum cans.  All trash such as paper, table scraps and other is bagged up and disposed of once they return to port.  So nothing is thrown overboard.

He also explained that there are very stiff penalties for ocean pollution and not being in compliance.  One accidental spill of any sort of substance that goes into the ocean is equal to a $10,000 fine right off the bat.  This applies to all commercial fishermen.

Tim also discussed the portable laboratory vans which in this case is used as the wet lab.  These vans can be relocated and used on any of the ships that need them.

Portable Science Laboratory

Portable Science Laboratory

Personal Log:

I have learned so much just in the first hour on board.  I felt like a sponge absorbing all the new knowledge that I was receiving. There are so many people who make up the crew.  Thanks to them for making the ship run smoothly.  Then there are the research scientists that come on board.  I would say about fifteen scientists.  Many come from the University of Delaware, NOAA and Woods Hole.  We were put into two teams:  the day shift from 12:00 P.M. to 12:00 midnight and the midnight shift from 12:00 midnight to 12:00 P.M. in the afternoon.  We had to pack our backpacks with everything that we thought we would need for that day because we were not allowed to go back to the stateroom because the other shift was sleeping.  I was on the day shift and actually slept a good eleven hours between shifts.

I have the bottom bunk

I have the bottom bunk