Geographic Area of Cruise: North Pacific: Greater Farallones Nation Marine Sanctuary, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Weather Data from the Bridge.
July 3 2018
37° 49.5’ N
122° 48.1’ W
Present Weather/ Sky
Wind Direction (tree)
Wind Speed (kts)
Atmospheric Pressure (mb)
Sea Wave Height (ft)
Swell Waves Direction (true)
Swell Waves Height (ft)
Temperature Sea Water (C)
Temp Dry bulb (C)
Temp Wet Bulb (C )
Science and Technology Log
After leaving San Francisco Bay, yesterday we headed west and spent the day getting our “sea legs” and collecting observations of marine mammals and birds in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary waters. We began collecting data around 1300 hrs from 37° 47′ 52.4“ N 122° 53’ 31.2” W and headed west towards the continental shelf break approximately 30 miles off shore.
Throughout the day we followed a series of predetermined tracks (referred to as transects) and collected counts of the abundant life thriving in the sanctuary. We saw numerous Blue Whales, Fin Whales, Humpbacks and dolphins. We also had a sighting of a strange prehistoric looking fish called a Mola mola (common name: Ocean Sunfish). Mola Mola are the largest bony fish in the world and are playfully described small dinner plates and can grow to as large as a smart car. They tend to live in deep water so seeing one at the surface is a real treat. Their distinctive dorsal and ventral fins are quite long and their pectoral fins (the ones on the sides) are quite short and stubby. They dine on jelly fish and need to eat a lot in order to develop and sustain their substantial bulk. Members of the ACCESS survey team have observed Mola slurping up Velella velella ( common name: Sea Raft) a type of free-floating hydrozoan that lives on the ocean surface.
My free time has been getting accustomed to being at sea again and getting to know my new colleagues. The internet onboard is very limited and we have 40 users sharing it so getting blogs out is proving to be more challenging than I’d anticipated
Did You Know?
The terms “port” and “starboard” are used as to indicate the left and right sides of a ship. “Starboard” comes from the Old English “steorbord”, meaning the side on which the ship is steered. Before rudders (which are located in the centerline), early ships had a steering oar and because most people are right handed it was located on the right hand side of the ship. Because the steering oar needed to be out of the way when docking the opposite side of the boat traditionally was the side that was closest to the pier. Hence “port” refers to the left side of a ship if you are looking towards the front of the ship. The front of a ship is called a “bow”.
Mission: Water conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) readings; marine bird and mammal counts
Geographical Area: Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries; Sonoma County Coast, Pacific Ocean
Dates: July 17, 2014
Weather Data from the bridge: Wind speed variable, less than 10 knots; wind waves less than 2 feet; visibility about 3 km, temperature range from 57-66 F
Science and Technology Log: During our week long cruise we take CTD readings with the CTD device and record marine bird and mammal sightings from the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank Marine Sanctuaries, marine protected areas (MPA) off the northern coast of California. CTD readings tell us the levels of salinity of the water and the temperature of the water, and the depth at which these two conditions exists, along with the number of marine birds and mammals in the area, can tell scientists a lot about the health of the ocean. The scientist aboard the R/V Fulmar are looking for correlations between the number of birds and mammals along the transects and the CTD readings. Are conditions changing, staying the same? Has any kind of natural or manmade disaster affected the numbers?
Today’s mission was extra special because these two MPAs are currently undergoing a proposed expansion, and for the first time the science team took samples from this proposed expansion area. The transect lines covered today were 14, 13, and N13.
An expansion of these two MPAs would increase the area allotted to the protection and preservation of our coastal waters and, by extension, marine life within those waters. The reason behind the expansion of the MPAs is due to the upwelling that starts north of the current MPA, at a spot along the coast called Point Arena. The large amount of upwelling that begins at Point Arena eventually moves down the coast with the California Current, creating the spectacular assortment of rich life that exists in the Gulf of the Farrallones and the Cordell Bank Sanctuaries. By protecting the starting point of the massive upwelling, we are ensuring the protection of the explosion of life that continues along California Current.
Personal Log: Todays begins with my alarm clock going off at 5:30 am. Why so early? Because we leave port no later than 7am, and with 11 people on board one ship, I don’t want to be the last one in line for the bathroom. Plus I like to have coffee in the morning. And I’m a little nervous because it’s my first day at sea. Any one of these excuses work.
Once everybody’s is up and ready to go, my first task is go over emergency procedures with Dave Benet, the mate of the ship. We go through the safety protocols and when done I don the immersion suit, which looks like a giant red gumby suit and leaves you with as much dexterity as do ski mittens. I’m told it will keep you warm in the water if you manage to zip it up before you hit the water; I do not want to test out this theory, so I take Dave’s word.
As we head out to sea and towards out first transect, everybody is excited that the water and weather are calm; very little to no wind, glass-like water, no waves. This is a treat for all on board because during the last cruise the waves were so bad that the boat had to return to shore because it was too dangerous to be out at sea.
The first task of the day is on the top deck, where scientists monitor the marine birds and mammals within the transect line. As birds and mammals are spotted along the transect, data is collected about each organism. Among this data is type of organism, the direction of travel, the sex (if known), age (if known), the behavior, and location of the organism. There is one spotter for birds and two spotters for mammals, and as each organism is spotted, a series of numbers and names is called out to the recorder, the scientist who inputs the data into a log on a laptop. Today is mild, weather-wise, so the crew calls out the information and logs it in as the boat gently sways back and forth along the transect; last month I would’ve seen the same crew holding on for dear life, trying to keep in their meals, while still recording the data.
Because I’m not trained on how to spot birds and mammals, my task while on board is to assist with CTD and plankton net deployment. Along predetermined spots along the transect the boat stops and we drop the CTD to about 5 meters above the seafloor. Our first CTD reading had us at 200 meters to the bottom, so we sent the CTD down to 195 meters below. Once it hits 195 meters we immediately bring it back up and secure the device back to the boat. After that we then launch the hoop net, which is a big plankton net that is dragged behind the boat till a depth of 50 meters. Once it’s down to 50 meters, we then bring the net back up to the boat, empty the contents into a jar, and add preserving agent to bring the samples back to the lab. Once at the lab the plankton samples are counted and recorded, giving us a picture of the biological activity in that particular area of the transect.
The handling of the hoop net and CTD take practice to properly deploy, and the parameters of the deployment have to be very exact or else we risk losing the very costly tools. If the measurements for depth are not accurate, the CTD could hit the bottom of the ocean, causing damage to the CTD. We could also risk snagging and losing the hoop net if it is dragged along the bottom, so these measurements are doubled- and triple-checked by the captain and the scientists to avoid costly mistakes.
Did you know? Just as there are hotspots of magma flow on land, there are hot spots of life at sea. The transect lines monitored aboard the R/V Fulmar help to pinpoint these hotspots of sea-life activity.
Question of the Day? What does the acronym MPA stand for? Provide 2 examples of MPAs.
New Term/Phrase/Word: CTD; hoop net.
Something to Think About: The more you eat while on a cruise, the less seasick you will become, which is counterintuitive.
Challenge Yourself: How might wind waves affect the efficiency of a cruise?
NOAA Teacher at Sea Kate Trimlett Aboard:R/V Fulmar July 23–29, 2013
Mission: ACCESS (Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies) to monitor ecosystem health in the national marine sanctuaries off the coast of California Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of the Farallones & Cordell BankNational Marine Sanctuaries Date: July 23, 2013
Hi! Welcome to my Teacher at Sea Blog. Before I begin the adventure I thought I would tell you a little bit about myself. I am a science teacher in the Green Academy at Berkeley High School in Berkeley, CA. I have taught Advanced Biology, Chemistry, Introduction to Environmental Science, and AP Environmental Science with an environmental focus for the last 8 years. Next year I will continue teaching AP Environmental Science and I’m very excited to share my Teacher at Sea experiences with my AP Environmental Science students.
When I received my acceptance for Teacher at Sea I was thrilled! Living in the Bay Area I spend a lot of the time admiring and teaching about the importance of the Pacific Ocean; however, with Teacher at Sea I will be able to go out an participate in collecting data about the biodiversity along the California Coast in the Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries. Specifically, my time will be spend helping collecting plankton samples on transect lines within the two sanctuaries. Here is a map of the transect lines from http://www.accessoceans.org/
Plankton can be large or small, but most of my samples will probably be on the microscopic scale. Plankton are an essential food sources for many marine organisms, so a measurement of their density is important. The ACCESS data will be used by conservationists, policy makers, and my students.
While it is not a guarantee, it is highly likely that we will be able to see some whales during our cruise. I will make sure I have my camera close so I can capture them on film.
The RV Fulmar is smaller research vessel, so different people have volunteered to prepare dinner for each night of our cruise. I love to cook, so I volunteered to prepare one of those dinners. I’m cooking chile rellenos right now and then I will freeze them tonight so they can be easily reheated for dinner this Saturday.
If you have any comments or questions please feel free to post them I will get back to you shortly.