NOAA Ship Pisces will conduct a survey of reef fish located on the U.S. continental shelf and shelf-edge of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) from April 19 through June 22, 2022 (we are doing the last leg of the survey). 536 sites have been selected to be sampled with Spherical/Satellite array, bandit reels, and CTD during daylight hours and mapping at night.
CTD casts will be conducted twice a day. CTD stands for conductivity (ability to pass an electrical current), temperature, and depth and it is an instrument that measures just that. The CTD is the key to understanding the physics, chemistry, and biology of the water column. The CTD will also collect water for eDNA (Environmental DNA) sampling. Organisms leave traces of their DNA in their environment (e.g. hair, skin, feces) and from that, scientists can run genetic tests to determine what species are present in a given area.
Camera operations will utilize three Spherical/Satellite camera arrays. The cameras are baited and sit on the seafloor for 30 minutes. During the soak, the cameras capture footage of the biodiversity. Scientists use the footage to complete a stock assessment analysis. That data combined with other research helps scientists estimate the abundance of fish populations.
Bandit reels (basically industrial fishing poles) are deployed after cameras are retrieved. The bandit reels are set up like longlines. The line sits vertically in the water column. When the weighed end of the line reaches the bottom, a surface float is attached to the line. Ten baited hooks are evenly spaced on the bottom 20-30 ft. of the line. All fish captured on the bandit reels are identified, measured, weighed, and have the sex and maturity determined. Select species will have otoliths (ear bones) and gonads collected for age and reproductive research.
Bathymetric mapping (basically 3D mapping of the seafloor) will be conducted in and around selected sites at night with the EM 2040 sonar. Sonar emits sound pulses and detects their return after being reflected. Science is cool. A CTD cast will be conducted to obtain speed-of-sound for proper processing of data.
I was dropped off at my hotel at around 8 PM on Tuesday and could see the ship from the road. It sinks in. (NOT THE SHIP! – This had me laughing out loud.) This is actually happening. Suddenly there’s no time for checking in; I headed straight to the wharf, luggage in tow. Completely awestruck, like a giddy school girl, I proceed to walk up and down the length of the boat numerous times taking an embarrassing number of photos. The crew is just staring at me, I’m sure getting a kick out of this crazy tourist. A lovely gentleman (also geeked about the boat) leaned in, “cool boat, huh?”… I’M GOING ON THAT BOAT THURSDAY. Good lord, Jordan, be cool. I basically screamed in his face. He was the sweetest, and a teacher himself. “I know the trip is going to be everything you wanted.” I melt. Gee thanks, Pat.
Our departure was delayed a few hours, which gave me some time settle in and awkwardly roam the ship. This thing is massive (compared to what I know). I believe it has seven levels. My attempts to open and close doors quickly became a comedy act for any spectators. I was introduced to my roommates at 6 AM. Ain’t nobody trying to chit-chat at 6 AM. I share a stateroom with Amanda Ravas, NOAA Fisheries Biologist, and Caroline Hornfeck, graduate student at the University of West Florida. Caroline is collecting water for eDNA sampling. They are around my age (or at least I’d like to think so), and have been so kind and helpful. It is their first time on Pisces as well, but each are experienced and very knowledgeable. They’ve made me feel right at home, and I feel are going to be a major part of my experience out at sea. Women in science – go team!
Operations Officer (NOAA Corps), LT Christopher Duffy, was so kind as to take me under his wing and invite me to the bridge (control room) to observe departure. This was so cool. Navigation is quite the operation. I guess now that I’ve seen it, duh, this boat is massive and the port was so busy with vessels of all sizes. Seven NOAA officers worked together to get us underway safely. Lots of standing on watch and communication involved. They were constantly shouting commands and numbers, and repeating. All confirmed communication was acknowledged with a “very well.” I found this amusing. One of my favorite lines heard while observing was, “There’s a pleasure boat on the port quarter.” “Very well.”
I will now start saying “very well” in my everyday life.
Last mention for now – I haven’t been seasick (so far)! Those that know me well know that is a major accomplishment for me. (As if I had say in the matter).
I am so happy to be here and to have the opportunity to learn from all of the crew (in every department). I am already so impressed by each of them.
Did You Know?
Well most of us do know that water and electricity make a dangerous pair; but, did you know that it’s not water itself that conducts the electricity? It’s the minerals and such dissolved in it. The saltier the water, the more electricity it conducts. Pure water is actually an excellent insulator and does not conduct electricity, but you will never find pure water in nature. Whoa. I went down a rabbit hole with conductivity.
Also random, but kind of fun, the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program started in 1990, the year I was born. NOAA Ship Pisces was commissioned in 2009, the year I graduated high school.
I departed Chattanooga, TN, for San Francisco, CA, on May 28th to participate as a NOAA Teacher at Sea on Leg 2 of NOAA’s Juvenile Rockfish Recruitment and Ecosystem Assessment Survey. My job as a Teacher at Sea will be to share my experience and knowledge acquired over the next 10 days working alongside NOAA scientists with MY AUDIENCE. Who is my audience? You! I hope that you all can be my students! You, my McCallie students and colleagues, my friends, my swimming community and my family members. My intention here is to explain in layman’s terms what I learned, and especially, what I thought was cool.
After tapas in North Beach with my San Francisco friends Cathy Delneo and Evan Morrison, they dropped me off at Pier 15 to sleep in my stateroom on the NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker. I felt rocking even while docked in the San Francisco Bay, but I slept great and am happy to report that my CVS brand “less drowsy” Dramamine tablets seem to be working as I am prone to motion sickness. This morning Evan and I got to explore the ship and take a bunch of photos of The City from the top deck of the ship, called the Flying Bridge. I imagine I will be spending many hours up here over the next 10 days!
Meeting the Science Team
The first science team member I met was Kelly Goodwin, Ph.D., an environmental molecular biologist from NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) La Jolla, and NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. Kelly is here along with Associate Researcher Lauren Valentino to collect environmental DNA (eDNA) from water collected at three depths (5 meters, the chlorophyll maximum, and 100 meters) during deployment of the Conductivity, Temperature and Depth (CTD) Rosette. There will be more about these marine scientists and the cool biotechnology they will be employing to come in a future post!
Next, I met my stateroom bunkmate Flora Cordoleani, Ph.D., of NOAA NMFS, SWFSC,Fisheries Ecology Division (FED). Her research lab at the University of California Davis focuses on the management of the endangered king salmon in the Central California Valley. I will definitely interview her for a future blog!
Meet the rest of the team: Doctoral student Ilysa (Ily) Iglesias, NMFS SWFSC FED/ University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), works in John Field’s Lab. Ily will be analyzing the myctophids (one of the most abundant mesopelagic fish groups) collected on this survey and elucidating their role in the trophic cascade. She was on the cruise last year as well and I can already tell is psyched about this opportunity and wants to teach everyone.
John Field, Ph.D., was on the previous leg of the cruise and is the Principal Investigator for this project while Keith Sakuma, of NMFS SWFSC FED, is the Chief Scientist and has been working on this survey for 30 years as of this cruise!
Kristin Saksa of NMFS SWFSC FED/ Moss Landing Marine Lab (MLML) and Kaila Pearson, NMFS SWFSC FED, of Scripps, who are both working on master’s degrees in marine science.
Jarrod Santora, Ph.D., an ecologist from NMFS SWFSC FED/UCSC, will be on the day shift. Brian Hoover, Ph.D., an ornithologist who works for the Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research (FIAER), will be observing birds and marine mammals on the day shift.
Keith Hanson is a NOAA Corps Officer representing NMFS SWFSC FED and is also a valuable member of the science team.
After a welcome aboard orientation and safety briefing given by NOAA Corps Officer David Wang, we enjoyed a delicious reuben sandwich in the galley (cafeteria) of the Reuben Lasker. Meals are served at 7 AM, 11 AM and 5 PM. Since I will be on night shift I can request to have meals put aside for me to eat whenever I want. Below is a typical menu. The food is superb! See a menu from one of our last days below.
After a noon departure the engineers spent a couple of hours testing the dynamic positioning system just north of the Bay Bridge. This system takes inputs from ocean conditions such as the tide, wind, waves and swell and uses the propulsion and thrusting instruments on board to maintain a fixed position on the global positioning system (GPS). Most of the night shift science crew used this opportunity to nap since we had to stay up all night!
Kaila Pearson woke me up just in time as we exited San Francisco Bay to take in the spectacular view of passing under the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a gorgeous sunny day in San Francisco and I felt super grateful to be a part of this research team, excited to get to know the team of amazing (mostly) female scientists I had just met, and ready to start fishing! It was fun to get to serve as a impromptu San Francisco tour guide as we departed the Bay, since I am quite familiar with this landscape. This body of water was my first open water swimming playground when I used to live in San Francisco during my postdoc at UCSF and was a member of the South End Rowing Club.
Night 1 of Cobb Trawl and Fish Sorting
We arrived at our first trawl line, Monterey Bay, around 11:00 P.M. My job as part of the night crew is to participate in marine mammal watches before and during fishing, and then to sort, count and measure the different species of animals collected, as well as bag and freeze specimens for various research organizations. The fishing method used on this survey is a modified Cobb midwater trawl. The net is deployed to fish at 30 meters depth and has a 9.5 mm codend liner (mesh at the end of the net where the fish gather). Trawl operations commence just after dusk and conclude just before dawn, with the goal of conducting up to 5 trawls per night. The duration of fishing at target depth before “haul back” of the net can be either 5 minutes or 15 minutes. Five minute trawls are used in areas of high abundance of gelatinous organisms such as jellyfish in order to reduce the size of the catch (e.g., fishing the additional 10 minutes would result in catches large enough to damage the net).
There are two marine mammal watches per trawl: the inside watch and the outside watch. The inside watch goes to starboard side of the bridge 30 minutes prior to reaching the planned trawl station. If any marine mammals such as sea lions, seals, dolphins or whales are spotted within one nautical mile of the planned trawl station, then the ship must move. This protocol is employed for mitigating interaction with protected marine species.
If the inside watch does not see any marine mammals, then trawl operations can begin. This is when the outside mammal watch takes over and looks for marine mammals during net deployment, trawling, and haul in. The outside watch is conducted one floor above the fishing deck, and the person must wear foul weather gear, a life vest, and a helmet. This is summer, but it is the Pacific, and it is COLD out there. If a marine mammal is spotted by the outside watch then the trawl net must immediately be reeled in.
I spotted a school of dolphins in Monterey Bay during haul back and reported the sighting via radio to the bridge officers and recorded my observations in the lab on the provided data sheet in the lab.
The duration of the entire fishing operation from net deployment, dropping the two “doors” (large metal plates weighing 900 pounds each) used to spread the net mouth open, fishing, haul in, properly wrapping the net on the winch, and finally, dispensing the harvested fish into the collection buckets, takes between 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on conditions.
Our first catch consisted primarily of Northern anchovies (Engraulis mordax) and California market squid, Doryteuthis (Loligo) opalescens. Ily was excited by the presence of a few plainfin midshipman, Porichthys notatus, and showed us their beautiful pattern of large photophores located on their ventral surface. These fish are quite hardy and survive the trawling procedure, so as soon as we saw one in the bucket, we placed it in a bowl of sea water for release after obtaining its length. Photophores are glandular organs that appear on deep sea or mesopelagic fish and are used for attracting prey or for confusing and distracting predators.
Mesopelagic depths start around 200 meters, a depth at where 99% of the sunlight can no longer penetrate, and extend down to 1000 meters below the ocean surface. Above the mesopelagic zone is the epipelagic zone where sunlight reaches from the ocean surface down to 200 meters and, in California, corresponds to the ocean above the continental shelf.
In this survey, we will conduct trawls at 30 meters, which is technically the epipelagic zone, so why do we catch deep sea creatures? Many deep sea creatures participate in a daily vertical migration where they swim up into the upper layer of the ocean at night as that area is relatively rich in phytoplanktonic organisms. Phytoplankton are the sun-powered primary producers of the food chain, single-celled photosynthetic organisms, which also provide the majority of the oxygen we breath.
After the first night of work I feel confident that I can identify around 10 species of mesopelagic fish and forage organisms, the California Headlight Fish (more to come on these amazing myctophids from my interview with Ily), a juvenile East Pacific red octopus, Octopus rubescens, (alive), and ctenophores! Thanks to the Tennessee Aquarium’s Sharyl Crossly and Thom Demas, I get to culture ctenophores in my classroom.
Scientist Spotlight: Ornithologist Brian Hoover
Brian Hoover, Ph.D., an ornithologist who works for the Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research (FIAER) in Petaluma, CA, observes birds and marine mammals on the day shift of this NOAA research cruise.
Brian is from Colorado and earned his doctorate
at UC Davis in 2018. On this cruise we will be traversing through
biological hotspots that occur near islands, underwater canyons, and where
there is strong upwelling of the cold and nutrient rich deeper waters of the
California Current. Small fish feed on these nutrient rich waters, and
birds feed on these fish. Hotspots on this cruise included the Gulf of the
Farallons (just south of the Point Reyes upwelling plume) , the Channel Islands,
and Monterey Bay with its submarine canyon. Brian’s hours on the ship are from
7am to 7pm.
Brian can be found perched on the flying bridge during the day shirt with a pair of binoculars in his hand and his laptop off to his right on a table. Every time a bird or marine mammal is spotted within 300 yards of the ship to the right of the mid centerline of the bow, Brian records the species and numbers of animals observed in his database on his laptop. The objective of Brian’s work aboard the ship is to study how what is present underwater correlates with birds observed above the water. In other words, he aims to find correlations between the distribution and abundance of seabirds and marine mammals to the species and abundance of prey we collect during our night trawls and data collected from the ship’s acoustic krill surveys which collect data during the day. Brian explains that such information teaches us about what is going on with the bird’s prey base and how well the ecosystem is functioning as a whole. His observations allow him to observe shifts in the system over time and how this affects tertiary and apex predators. To find trends in these datasets, he used R software, Python, and ArcGIS mapping software to run spatial statistics and linear models.
Since 2010 Brian has been on 12 to 13 cruises and this is his third on the Reuben Lasker. Brian is excited to perhaps spot the Cooks Petrel, Pterodroma cookii, or the Short-tailed albatross, Phoebastria albatrus, which only lives in a volcano in japan. His favorite birds are the storm petrels because these birds are small and live in open ocean, only coming onshore to breed once a year. His dissertation focus was on the reproduction and behavior of the leeches storm petrol. He explains that seabirds have an incredible sense of smell which they utilize to find a mate and food. Brian was able to collect blood samples from burrowing birds for genotyping. He found that the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules located on antigen-presenting cells may play a role in odor detection and mate selection in these birds. He found that males chose and avoided particular genotypes combinations and that healthier birds had more diverse MHCII complexes.
Brian is a sensory ecologist and studies how
seabirds interact with their environment through observations of their
behavior and physiology. When Ily asked Brian how do the seabirds know where
the fish are in the open ocean, he explained that birds have a sense of smell
that is as good or better than any commercial sensor that detects sulfur.
Why have some seabirds evolved to be so good at sniffing out traces of sulfur
in the ocean breeze up to 10 miles away from its source? Brian explained that
sulfur is an important part of the photosynthetic pathway for phytoplankton
(algal cells) and that when krill eat the algae, the algae releases the
chemical dimethyl sulfide (DMS). Marine plastic debris floating on the
sea surface also release DMS and provides an explanation as to why seabirds eat
Today we depart Key West. The days in port have been spent readying equipment, training mission crew, and exploring the beauty that is Key West. We say our final goodbyes to terra firma and head out to sea.
If you visit OER’s website, you will see in their mission that they are the “only federal organization dedicated to ocean exploration. By using unique capabilities in terms of personnel, technology, infrastructure, and exploration missions, OER is reducing unknowns in deep-ocean areas and providing high-value environmental intelligence needed by NOAA and the nation to address both current and emerging science and management needs.” The purpose of OER is to explore the ocean, collect data, and make this data publicly available for research, education, ocean management, resource management, and decision-making purposes.
One of OER’s priorities is to map the US Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) at depths of 200 meters or greater. This is some deep stuff. The EEZ distance from shore is dependent on a variety of factors such as proximity to territorial waters of other countries and the continental shelf. If you want to learn more about how EEZs are established visit the United Nations Oceans and the Law of the Sea Website https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/oceans-and-law-sea/. Within the EEZ a country has exclusive rights to various activities such as fishing, drilling, ocean exploration, conservation, and resource management.
We are currently en route to our mapping area so we can map previously unmapped areas. The mapping that will occur on this mission will be used to help inform dive locations for the ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) mission that will take place after our mission. Mapping allows us to understand sea floor characteristics and learn more about deep sea ecosystems that can be later explored with an ROV. An ecosystem of interest for this mapping mission is deep sea coral habitat. The area where we will be mapping is thought to be the largest deep sea coral habitat in US waters and it is largely unmapped. As data is collected, it is cleaned (more on this at a later time) of noise (unwanted data points). Products such as multi-beam geospatial layers are made available to end users on land roughly 24 hours after data is collected. End users could include other researchers, educators, ocean policy and management decision-makers, and more specifically those who will be joining the ROV mission happening in two weeks.
We have just left port. The dolphins are jumping, the sea is the most perfect turquoise blue, and the wind blows on our sun-kissed faces. I have left port many times on my various trips, but today was magical. I think what makes this departure from port so magical is the journey that lies ahead. I am nervous and excited all at the same time. It is slowly settling in that I am able to participate in this once in a lifetime experience. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be aboard an ocean exploration vessel. Wow! Just Wow!
So far everything is good. Dabbled pretty hard in the seasickness world today. I tried to get on my computer too early and it went down swell from there. However, some wind on my face, ginger soup, and bubbly water made everything better. Many people have told me it is important to embark on a task to get my mind off feeling unwell. I have taken this to heart and have been meeting all the wonderful people on the ship, learning more about them and their role on the ship. In the coming two weeks, I plan on learning about every facet that it takes to operate an exploration mission. From what makes the ship move forward to the detailed intricacies of mapping the sea floor to those who make it all possible.
I hope I will be able to share my experience with you so it feels like you are with me on the ship. Using words and pictures I will try to make you feel as if you are aboard with all of us. I will do my best to show you the blue hues we encountered today and explain what it is like to be out to sea with land many miles away. But I still encourage you all to try it for yourself. Words and images will only give you half the story. You need to feel the rest firsthand.
Sunset is upon the horizon so I leave you for now. Stay tuned for more about our grand adventure.
Did You Know?
You can use sonar to learn more about the organisms living in the water column. For example, sonar has the ability to show you the migration of zooplankton and their predators to the surface at night and back down when the sun rises. This phenomenon is called vertical diurnal migration.
Different terms are used to describe items, locations, or parts of the ship. As I learn new words I would like to share my new vocabulary with all of you. If there is a ship term you want to know more about let me know and I will find out!
Mission: Hydrographic Survey- Approaches to Houston
Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: June 26, 2018
Weather Data from the Bridge
Latitude: 28° 59.9′ N
Longitude: 093° 50.4′ W
Visibility: 10+ nm
Sky Condition: 2/8 (2 out of 8 parts have cloud cover)
Wind: 170°, 8 knots (kts)
Temperature: Sea water: 29.8 ° C, Air: 28.8 ° C
Science and Technology Log
Upon early evening arrival to Corpus Christi, TX, I was greeted by ENS Taylor Krabiel with a friendly sign at the airport arrival gate. We made a short drive to the port in Corpus Christi and boarded NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.
ENS Krabiel provided a quick and thorough tour of the Thomas Jefferson including the well-stocked mess (including a fresh salad and fruit bar, ice cream freezer and espresso machine), gym, complementary laundry facilities, all offices and staterooms, the plot (survey) room, and multiple outdoor decks. He was also patient as I repeatedly lost direction of the stairwell, multiple decks (floors) and doors. It is evident that ENS Krabiel has experience as a teacher because his enthusiasm about the ship, projects, personnel, and patience with newcomers seems to come naturally.
One fact he shared about the ship is that the Thomas Jefferson makes its own water through reverse osmosis. This means that all hands (everyone aboard the ship) generally do not need to worry about water rationing. I hope to take a tour and find out more about this process during the next couple of weeks.
He also mentioned that the U.S. via NOAA is one of the only countries that provide nautical chart data at no cost to the public. Private parties may use these accessible charts and make their own modifications.
The CO, Commanding Officer, of the ship and I discussed various careers aboard the Thomas Jefferson. CO explained that ship personnel in blue uniforms are hired through NOAA Corps and follow military rankings while professional mariners include the survey team, engineers, stewards, and deck department. There are also electronics technicians who are hired as civil servants. I found it astonishing that some crew members have been with the Thomas Jefferson since NOAA acquired the ship in 2003. I was able to have my first breakfast aboard the ship with Puddin’ Gilliam, Junior Engineer, who has been with the ship since then.
It was interesting observing the plans for departure from Corpus Christi come together. I sat in on a safety brief discussing the strict plan of navigation. It takes roughly two hours to navigate through a narrow, 21-mile long channel out of the port. Coming too close to the sides of the channel could cause the ship to run aground, while coming too close to oncoming ships could cause additional damage. There are also several points of crossways where ships could be coming from a different direction. All of these variables require critical communication and a concise plan. Junior Officer, ENS Jacquelyn Putnam, lead the brief and displayed digital Mercator projections of the navigation plan. She claims that navigation is her favorite part of her job. In addition, it was decided that the assistance of a pilot (someone who boards the ship while docked and departs at the jetty) would provide ideal support in navigating the ship.
During a project brief lead by FOO (Field Operations Officer) Lt. Anthony Klemm, I learned that the primary mission is to accurately complete the survey of a section of the Gulf of Mexico. The area was last surveyed in the 1930s. Already, the survey team has submitted updates including the removal of two wrecks or obstructions previously documented in the narrow fairway leading to Galveston. This inaccurate documentation of obstructions that were no longer present could have been causing ships to deviate from the fairway or move unnecessarily into the oncoming lane of traffic. In addition, the surveys done by NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson allow for validation of surveys completed by other organizations such as BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management).
ENS Taylor Krabiel launches a towfish sonar device.
Basics of the survey process include launching two types of sonar which work together to provide in-depth views of the ocean floor. Sonar sends a sound wave at a speed around 1500 meters per second in salt water. Using this information and the time it takes for the sonar wave to return to the device, the distance can be calculated using Distance = Speed x Time. The sonar images generated are then processed, saved, and analyzed by the survey team. ENS Putnam mentioned that it is important to validate the data by using multiple scans, “buttoning-up” or finalizing, and re-surveying areas that generated poor data. At times, areas of interest (like a wreck) or areas of safety concern are further investigated by completing another scan on the main ship or by sending a launch (smaller boat).
While Tom Loftin, Chief Electronics Technician, was getting my computer set-up on the ship’s wifi, we heard a call for “All Hands on deck.” I looked at him and asked if that meant us. He replied, “Yep, let’s go!” We joined everyone on the ship to form an assembly line to assist with unpacking crates and passing food down into the mess. The crew would get excited about certain items like the ice cream and blueberries while questioning other generic items with nondescript labels.
Starting at the very beginning before we even left port, there has been no end to teamwork, positive morale, and camaraderie presented on the ship. I have discussed this with multiple crew members and all have said that teamwork and constant communication is critical. Several examples include: the departure from Corpus Christi, observing the survey and bridge communication while sonar is in the water, and the timely “Plan of the Day” email sent out by Lt. Charles Wisotzkey. ENS Putnam mentioned that nothing can be accomplished without a well-functioning team. She further stated that clearly defined roles and the importance of everyone’s job makes the team function well.
It has been a lot of fun to be around this crew. Everyone is kind and highly accommodating thus far. Outside the XO’s (executive officer) office is a sign that says, “Work hard and be nice to others.” I am excited to be here and to witness such a well-functioning team.
Peaks and Valleys
+ I enjoyed observing the departure process and launching the sonar devices.
+ I’ve seen over 30 dolphins scattered around the Gulf.
+I enjoy catching up with people during meal times. The food isn’t bad!
– I experienced my first bought of sea sickness immediately upon leaving the jetty. Seas were a bit rough (an estimated 8 feet) and I retired to my stateroom (bedroom) early without eating dinner.
– I accidentally locked myself out of the shared head (bathroom).
NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown September 5 – October 6, 2001
Mission: Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes Geographical Area: Eastern Pacific Date: September 5, 2001
Latitude: 32.7°N Longitude: 117.2° W Temperature: 75° F
Seas: Since we are still at port in a protected harbor, there is no swell. The water is extremely calm.
Science Log: Research has not yet started. The scientific crew was notified in a ship briefing that they are not allowed to gather and record data until the ship leaves Mexican waters.
Travel Log: This morning, my husband Rob and John Kermond from NOAA came to watch the ship depart. Rob brought me an extra pair of shoes since mine were still stuck in the drawer. Then I realized the drawer had a special latch that had to be pushed in, and my shoes weren’t locked in after all! Dork mistake #1.
There was a lot of activity around the ship as the crew and scientists rushed to tie everything down- from computers to bottles and flasks, to heavy equipment and cranes on deck. Everything on the ship must be securely locked or tied down or bolted to something prior to departure, since the movement of the ship could cause things to start flying.
Finally, the big departure at 10am. We sailed for an hour up to the fueling dock at Point Loma, where we docked for another 5 hours. It was evening before we were out at sea.
As soon as the ship left the protected harbor, I was very aware of the swaying, and knew I would need something to prevent me from getting seasick. Some people wore special wristbands that use acupuncture to suppress seasickness. Other people wore a patch behind their ear that releases medication into their bodies. I chose an over-the-counter medication called Meclizine. It works well, but puts me to sleep.
I started reading the “Voyage of the Beagle” which is Charles Darwin’s journal of his 5-year voyage in the 1830s to the Galapagos Islands and all over the world. You may recall that Darwin developed the theories of evolution, natural selection, and survival of the fittest that we still believe today. Did you know that Darwin was seasick during the entire voyage??!! How miserable that must have been. During the 5-year journey, he was only on the ship for 18 months, and never more than 45 days at a time (I’ll be on this ship for 31 days). He was 20 years old when he left Britain on the HMS Beagle, and 25 years old when he returned home, only a few years younger than me, and not too much older than my high school students. It’s pretty inspiring to think of someone so young contributing so much to the scientific community. I’ll fill you in on more Darwin stuff as I keep reading his journals.
Question of the day: One of today’s photos shows a “marine layer” (see photo descriptions below). What causes the marine layer to sit over coastal land in San Diego?
Photo Descriptions: Today’s photos focus on the beautiful scenery of San Diego harbor. You’ll see pictures of a variety of ocean vessels, the picturesque Coronado bridge, and the “marine layer” off the coast. The marine layer is an area of the San Diego coast that is fogged in, even when the sky above the water and the sky further inland is perfectly clear and sunny.