Erica Marlaine: No Peanut Butter and Jelly but PLENTY OF JELLYFISH, July 1, 2019

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Erica Marlaine

Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson

June 22 – July 15, 2019


Mission: Pollock Acoustic-Trawl Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Alaska

Date: July 1, 2018

Weather Data from the Bridge:

Latitude: 56º 50.94N
Longitude: 155º 44.49 W
Wind Speed: 11.3 knots
Wind Direction: 240º
Air Temperature:  12.98º Celsius
Barometric Pressure: 1027.5 mb

Crew Member Spotlight

At present, there are 31 people onboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson, and each plays a vital role in making sure that everything runs as it should.  One person whose job touches each and every one of us is Judy Capper, the Chief Steward.  One might think that being onboard a ship for three weeks would mean limited food choices, or lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but so far every meal onboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson has been abundant and delicious. From shrimp kabobs to stuffed pork loin to homemade soups to delicious baked goods, Judy keeps everyone onboard fed and happy.

I got a chance to talk to Judy about her job and her journey to becoming a NOAA Chief Steward.  Judy’s first career was in the corporate world (including Hewlitt-Packard) but being the oldest of 5 siblings, she has been cooking since the age of 12.  An interest in cooking led her to study culinary arts at UCLA and other locations.  She then took seamanship training at Orange Coast College.  At the time, she owned a sailboat, and enjoyed cooking and entertaining on the boat.  The captain loved her cooking and asked if she would be interested in cooking on some sailboat charters.  That led to working on yachts and supply ships, and lucky for us, in 2015, Judy was hired by NOAA.  Judy loves her job as a NOAA Steward.  She says it is never boring and allows her to be creative.  Her advice for anyone interested in following in her footsteps is to eat in good restaurants so that you develop your taste buds, get good training, and watch cooking shows.

Judy Capper
Judy Capper, Chief Steward Extraordinaire


Science and Technology Log

Last night we used a different kind of net, known as a Methot net, in order to collect macroscopic zooplankton. Named after its designer, Richard D. Methot, it is a single net with a large square opening or mouth attached to a rigid steel frame. The net is deployed from the stern and towed behind the vessel.

Methot Net
Deploying the Methot Net

The Methot uses fine mesh (e.g. 2×3 mm) but has openings that are slightly larger.  This design allows the net to be towed at high speeds. A flowmeter suspended in the mouth of the Methot net measures the flow of water moving through the net.  Scientists use the flowmeter data to calculate the volume of water sampled.

The flowmeter
The flowmeter

Watching the crew preparing to launch the Methot net was a lesson in teamwork. Everyone knew their job, and they reviewed what each would do when.  They even discussed what hand signals they would use (“If I make this movement, that means XYZ”).

The Methot net did catch a lot more krill than I had seen before, as well as many jellyfish.

Erica and jellyfish
One of the many Chrysaora melanaster we came across.


Fun Jellyfish Facts:

Jellyfish are invertebrates, and have no brain, heart, eyes, or bones.  Instead they have a bag-like body that feels like slippery jello and tentacles covered with small, stinging cells.  They sting and paralyze their prey before eating it.  A jellyfish sting can be painful, but it is not usually harmful for humans.  However, some people may be allergic to the venom, and will have a reaction.

Jennifer Fry: March 23, 2012 Oscar Elton Sette

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jennifer Fry
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
March 12 – March 26, 2012

Mission: Fisheries Study
Geographical area of cruise: American Samoa
Date: March 23, 2012

Pictured here is a copepod (right) and a jelly (left) found in the plankton net.

Copepod comprise approximately 85 % of the plankton population
Copepod comprise approximately 85 % of the plankton population.

These copepods images taken with a high-powered microscope with an internal camera.

 Plankton Net Operation

11:00 p.m.

Learning how to work with the plankton net was so interesting.  It required careful, meticulous, and orderly work.  Emily Norton, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Biological Oceanography, is conducting daytime and nighttime tows targeting plankton.  She’s particularly interested in collecting and studying copepods, a type of small crustacean which comprise ~80-90% of the plankton. Plankton is a name for a variety of plants and animals that live in the water column and are found throughout the world’s oceans.  Plankton are important because they are an integral part of the food chain, and they can help scientists better understand currents and transport in the oceans.  Helping with the plankton tow is Megan Duncan, oceanography participant, Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research at the University of Hawaii.  Together we deployed the net starting around 11:00 p.m.  Due to migration patterns known as diel vertical migration, plankton can be collected more easily at night.

  1. The net consists of a 1 meter metal ring with a fine mesh (200 um) net attached to collect the plankton.
  2.   At the end of the long, conical net is a collection filter tube or “codend.”  This is the final collection point for all of the specimens funneled into the mouth of the net.
  3.   The flowmeter is then connected across the diameter of the metal ring, which measures the amount of water flowing past it.
  4. With a crane operator’s help the net is lowered into the sea with 230 feet wire out which calculates to approximately 200 feet deep.  This is called an “oblique tow” method.
  5. The net remains in the water for 30 minutes.
  6. Once brought to the surface, the net is rinsed with sea water multiple times to ensure all of the plankton are completely  flushed down  into the cod end.
  7. The next step is filtering the plankton-rich seawater through a very fine sieve.
  8. The plankton are either observed under a microscope or immediately preserved using an ethanol solution, 95% ethanol 5% water.
  9. Labels are then placed inside the jar written in pencil on waterproof paper, and outside the jar using indelible marker.
  10. The plankton will be processed at a later date in the lab for quantitative analysis.
  11. In the lab, scientists study the plankton further, making observations and studying the DNA, Deoxyribonucleic Acid using PCR, Polymerase Chain Reaction, and sequencing.  Similarities and differences (i.e. mutations) in the DNA sequences are used by scientists to determine how closely related populations of copepods are.  This helps scientists infer how currents affect connectivity in the ocean.

Animals seen:

Copepods

Pteropods

Baby giant squid

juvenile fish, various species

Euphausiid

 Q:What fish have you had the most interest in and why?

A: The most common fish caught in the net is the lanternfish or myctohid.  They represent nearly 85%  of the ocean’s biomass.  One interesting feature is their photophores which produce light that emit from their bodies.

The myctophid pictured on the top is seen with its scales, compared to the bottom that shows them rubbed off due to being in the Cobb trawl net.

This tray of myctophids or lantern fish make up nearly 85% of the ocean’s biomass. They were the most common fish in our night Cobb Trawl nets.

Q: Have you gone scuba diving?

A:  No, I didn’t do any S.C.U.B.A. (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) diving on this trip.  There are NOAA ships that focus on research that require diving as their method of collecting data.  We visited the NOAA ship Hi’ialakai that researches the coral reef biome in the American Samoa waters.

The NOAA ship Hi’ialakai conducts S.C.U.B.A. operations researching the coral reefs of American Samoa.