Elise Olivieri, May 15, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elise Olivieri
Onboard Research Vessel Hugh R. Sharp 
May 9 – 20, 2009 

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Northwest Atlantic
Date: May 15, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 14.50 Degrees Celsius
Barometric Pressure: 1026 mb
Humidity: 94%

Science and Technology Log 

What a morning we had today.  It was sand dollar heaven aboard the Hugh R. Sharp. At least 3 of our tows were filled with hundreds of thousands of sand dollars. My work on this Sea Scallop Survey is pretty regular now that I have the hang of it. The dredge goes down and scallops, cancer crabs, starfish, hermit crabs, sea sponges, sand dollars, and sea slugs come up.  We manually sort through the catch and weigh and measure the fish, and sea scallops. Every third station we count all the cancer crabs and starfish. Depending on the strata, various stations require five sea scallops to be measured for age and growth and their shells are preserved for later lab work. This work is very important for maintaining a long term study.  With FSCS all the data can be organized and used to draw conclusions about the overall health of areas along the Mid-Atlantic.

A big pile of sand dollars!
A big pile of sand dollars!

Today I got a chance to talk with Kevin McIntosh. He is on the day watch so I do not get a chance to work closely with him, but he is a great scientist.  He is a Biological Science Technician and also plays several roles along different cruises.  He is often a Chief Scientist, FSCS Administrator, and he specializes in combing over data, and auditing data.  Sometimes he serves as Watch Chief. At the moment he is working on a Scallop Imaging Machine where scallops can be photographed which would reduce the manual work load of the scientists with even better data collection resources. There would be a record of every scallop collected which means sub-sampling would be obsolete. Kevin is also working on a team which is collaborating to create FSCS 2.0 capabilities.  Some highlights of FSCS 2.0 include a GPS location where data can be automatically retrieved and stations can be programmed to display directions and sampling requests.

This would also cut the sampling time in half.  You would be able to have all the stations’ information at your fingertips.  These new improvements would also make data cleaner and easier to audit and help double check your work. Kevin works very hard.  Every time I see him he is working on something new.

Personal Log 

A beautiful sunset on the Atlantic
A beautiful sunset on the Atlantic

I really enjoy sitting and talking with the crew here on the Hugh R. Sharp. Everyone has so many great projects going on and new goals for fisheries research.  I found out today many of the crew have served time in the military. I now have even more respect for them.  Fisheries research is hard work and there is so much that goes into this research that is often ignored.  Especially the long hours of manual labor and the time needed to plan out each stations sampling routine.  Today the seas were rough again. When the boat is rolling all over the place it is very hard to walk from one place to another.  I learned a new trick today.  Always keep your knees bent in rough seas; it makes walking a lot easier. Looking at the horizon also helps one from becoming sick, at least for a little while.

 

Elise Olivieri, May 14, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elise Olivieri
Onboard Research Vessel Hugh R. Sharp 
May 9 – 20, 2009 

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Northwest Atlantic
Date: May 14, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 13.39 Degrees Celsius
Barometric Pressure: 1028 mb
Humidity: 84%

Sorting the catch!
Sorting the catch!

Science and Technology Log 

Sampling the water column is a vital part of oceanographic work. Aboard the Hugh R. Sharp casts are conducted every third station using a special instrument called a CTD. CTD stands for conductivity, temperature and depth. Water samples are brought back aboard collected by a Niskin bottle two times a day.  These samples are used to calibrate the CTD. Scientific research should always be double and even triple checked to calibrate all the various instruments being used and guarantee they are functioning properly.

Today I got a chance to sit and talk with my Watch Chief, Geoff Shook.  He is extremely organized and very helpful. He ensures the data is correctly entered into the FSCS computer database and watches over the night crew. Geoff was always interested in oceanography but during his undergrad he had an opportunity to study fisheries instead.  Geoff is mainly interested in fish populations. He spends about 140 days out at sea every year.  About a week before this Sea Scallop cruise Geoff just returned from a 2 leg bottom trawl fish population survey.  Directly before that he was on a Monkfish Survey that concentrated on locations Monkfish are found along with the population index. Geoff spends his time on cruises auditing data, servicing all the gear and fixing the scallop dredges. He is the head of inspections and we can thank him for that.  Geoff organizes all the data so the ships have all the latest information. Geoff is very hardworking and patient. It takes a lot of hard work to do his job.  I commend him for his dedication to fisheries research. 

I also got a chance to sit and talk with Cristina Bascunan.  Cristina is a physical science technician. I really enjoy talking with her and look forward to working with her and Geoff every night. Cristina was a biology major in college and started volunteering on sea scallop cruises her sophomore year.  She got a job with NOAA and started working on oceanography cruises that follow Plankton. There were 40 set stations on Georges Bank where Plankton were collected and sampled.  Cristina also worked on SOOP cruises. SOOP stands for Ships of Opportunity Project. Once

a month this cruise would take a scientist along and travel to Bermuda and complete a CPR.  A CPR is a Continuous Plankton Recorder. The Plankton is sampled by a silk cloth tow that is dragged behind the boat. The silk cloth is treated with a preservative so further tests can be conducted later on. This helps create a time series where surface temperature could also be measured and mapped out.  This data collected aided in many other studies and is extremely important. Cristina works very hard and she definitely has my respect.

From left to right: Geoffrey Shook, Kevin McIntosh, and Shad Mahlum
From left to right: Geoffrey Shook, Kevin McIntosh, and Shad Mahlum

Personal Log 

Today was pretty exhausting. All these 12-hour work shifts with no days off are finally catching up to me.  I have a newfound respect for the crew of technicians and scientists that work these hours year round. Today the seas were really rough.  We had at least 6-foot waves and water crashing onto the deck. When the moon makes a circle in the sky you’re moving.  It’s very hard to work when the ground is moving below your feet.  I spent a bit of time today hanging over the ship’s railing. Can you guess what I was doing? I sure was seasick for a little while this morning, but it passes quickly which is good. Every night before I go to sleep I listen to the ship’s noises. I hear some bangs and clicks, but my favorite sound is the waves crashing into the side of the boat. I literally rock and roll until I fall asleep.  It’s about that time right now.  I can’t wait to climb up to my bunk and get some rest.