Kathleen Harrison: …and Ending the Adventure, July 22, 2011

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kathleen Harrison
Aboard NOAA Ship  Oscar Dyson
  July 4 — 22, 2011

Location:  Gulf of Alaska
Mission:  Walleye Pollock Survey
Date:  July 22, 2011

Weather Data from the Bridge
True Wind Speed:  15.33 knots, True Wind Direction:  214.98°
Sea Temperature:  8.3° C, Air Temperature:  8.8° C
Air Pressure:  1014.59 mb
Overcast, 5 foot seas
Latitude:  55.54° N, Longitude:  155.57° W
Ship heading:  119°, Ship speed:  10.5 knots

Personal Log:  The time has come for me to pack my bright orange suitcase (thanks, Mom) and leave the NOAA ship Oscar Dyson.

my orange suitcase

Ok, so it is orange, at least I can find it in the luggage carousel at the airport.

The past 3 weeks have been an incredible adventure, and I am now making the journey home to Virginia Beach.  Almost everything I have seen and experienced has been new for me — especially identifying the animal species here in the Gulf of Alaska.  I am extremely grateful to the Teacher at Sea Program for allowing me to participate — I now have a better understanding of how real science is conducted, and am very excited to share this experience with my students, colleagues, family, and friends.

The title of this log entry might be Ending the Adventure, but I hope it is not the end of my relationship with NOAA.  I would like to be active in the Teacher at Sea Alumni group, and participate in other teacher activities that NOAA sponsors, such as Teacher in the Field, and Teacher in the Lab.  And, every time that I tell someone about this adventure, I will be reliving it all over again.

sunrise in Shelikof Strait

Sunrise in Shelikof Strait, 5:30 am.

In reflecting over the time that I have spent on board the ship, I have come to some conclusions about science, and life at sea:  1) Science is not easy, glamorous, or neat most of the time.  2) Science is messy, time-consuming, and frustrating most of the time.  3) Scientists must talk to each other, discussing ideas and problem solving.  4) Scientists on a team must at least get along with each other, and it is helpful if they actually like each other. 5) Scientists set very high goals, and then spend their time trying to make equipment work, manage millions of data points, and praying for good weather.  6)  The work that marine scientists do is vital to our understanding of the seas.  7)  Every science teacher should participate in real world research.  8) Alaska is a beautiful place.  9)  One can get used to the smell of fish.  10) I wonder what it will be like to walk on a non-moving surface again?

rain gear, the height of fashion

Rain gear pants, used to keep the fish slime off.

Mountains of the Alaskan peninsula

Snow covered peaks of the Alaskan Peninsula.

Thank you for reading this log, I hope that you have been informed and found it interesting.  The next time that you eat seafood, or see fish in an aquarium, think of the countless scientists, ship’s crew, and whales who have contributed their knowledge and skills to the conservation and use of the world’s oceans.

And thank you to my husband and daughters for letting me be away for 3 weeks.