Cathrine Fox: Issue Seven: Eight arms, three hearts, three brains

JULY 24 – AUGUST 14, 2011

Mission: Walleye Pollock Survey
Location: Kodiak, Alaska
Date: July 31, 2011

Weather Data from the Bridge
True Wind Speed: na
Air Temperature: 17.9° C dry/13.8° C wet
Air Pressure: na
Partly Cloudy
Latitude: 57.44° N, Longitude: 152.31° W
Ship heading: n/a
(Limited data, as ship is in port)

Lupine, Pasagshak Beach
Lupine, Pasagshak Beach

Personal Log:

Sometimes, science research is messy. Now might be one of those times. We are in Kodiak awaiting repairs to the rescue boat and the arrival of a deck hand before we can get underway. Everyone is doing everything they can to get us moving, but if you haven’t noticed yet, Kodiak is remote. The up side of this delay? Kodiak is a beautiful, interesting place to explore, and I have taken full advantage of this opportunity.

The head of our scientific team, Dr. Chris Wilson, introduced Staci (the other Teacher at Sea) and me to the director of the Kodiak Fisheries Research Center, Dr. Robert Foy. Bob took us on an amazing backroom tour of the Center, complete with two story aquariums, open tanks (Staci calls them underwater petting zoos), huge lab spaces and experiments in progress. One of the coolest organisms was a Giant Pacific Octopus. We got to play with it. Read that last sentence again, will you? We got to play with it. Amazing, eh?

Adventures in a Blue World, Issue 7
Adventures in a Blue World, Issue 7
Staci DeSchryver, Teacher at Sea
Staci DeSchryver, Teacher at Sea
In honor of Enteroctopus dofleini, I present to you Issue 7: Eight arms, three hearts, three brains. (Cartoon citations 1, 2 and 3) Check out Issue 7 and some excellent video and let me know if your impressions of this invertebrate have changed at all.

Fossil Beach. Kodiak, AK
Fossil Beach. Kodiak, AK

The wildlife viewing both underwater and on land has been spectacular. We drove down to a remote place called Fossil Beach around the bluff from Pasagshak Bay on the southeast side of the island and encountered wild horses on the way there, (spotted?) seals cruising the beach and three Kodiak brown bears on the way home (!). Two of the bears were smaller juveniles fishing at river crossings; the third was a huge adult that ran out in front of the car. The hump on its back was the level of the roof. Seriously? This bear was the size of a small pony. Other wildlife abound: otters, pigeon guillemots and jellyfish swim around our ship, black oystercatchers and fox parade on shore and bald eagles sail overhead. So, while we are all anxious to “get fishin,” we are still learning a ton and having an excellent time.

I’ll leave you with a photo of one of the bears: a “tiny” juvenile fishing in the Olds River in Kalsin Bay. Oh, and if you have any ideas for interesting ocean organisms for Adventures in a Blue World, drop me a line. I’m working on two really cool ones that I’ll deliver in the next several days, but then will be looking for new inspiration.

Until our next adventure,
Teacher on Land, Cat Fox

p.s. To clear up a common misconception: Grizzly and Brown Bears are the same species, Ursus arctos. Inland bears are usually called Grizzlies, coastal are browns.
p.p.s. A few folks have sent me some great new links on octopuses. Here is a video showing octopus camouflage and an interesting article on an octopus from Germany that picked the winners in the World Cup last summer.

Kodiak Brown Bear.  Kodiak, AK
Kodiak Brown Bear. Kodiak, AK

Jason Moeller: June 10, 2011

JUNE 11 – JUNE 30, 2011

NOAA Teacher at Sea: Jason Moeller
Ship: Oscar Dyson
Mission: Walleye Pollock Survey
Geographic Location: Gulf of Alaska
Date: June 10, 2011

Personal Log

Welcome aboard, explorers!

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Jason Moeller, and I am the on-site coordinator of education at Knoxville Zoological Gardens. I teach the school groups, scouts, homeschool students, and student researchers who come to the Zoo to learn about the natural world.

Oscar Dyson

The Oscar Dyson sits in Kodiak Harbor

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has invited me on board the Oscar Dyson, a research vessel that will be spending the next three weeks researching a fish known as the walleye pollock in Alaska’s Bering Sea. According to NOAA’s website, the pollock made up 56.3% of Alaska’s groundfish catch, easily making it the most caught fish in Alaska’s waters. Pollock is commonly found in imitation crabmeat as well as a variety of fast food fish sandwiches.

The crew of the Oscar Dyson will be studying the population of pollock over the course of the next three weeks. I will be working with Tammy Orilio (another teacher at sea) in processing the catch. Orientation will be on June 11th, and we will set sail on June 12th.

Clouds from an airplane

Clouds above Canada

Today (June 10th), however, was mainly a travel day. After waking up at four in the morning, I caught a two-hour flight from Knoxville to Chicago, which was then followed by a six-hour flight to Anchorage. Finally, I had a forty-one minute flight from Anchorage to Kodiak. Cloud cover marred what would have been spectacular scenery, but there were some beautiful views from the aircraft otherwise.

After a quick look at the Oscar Dyson and dinner at the hotel, I went to explore the river running by our hotel. According to several fishermen, Sockeye Salmon are beginning their yearly run upriver. Grizzly Bears, though uncommon this time of year, are also occasionally spotted.

Possible Bear track

Unknown Large Track

Unfortunately, I did not see bears or salmon, but I did see this track. While faded, it did look suspiciously like the mold of a track back at the zoo.

While I did not see any bears or salmon, I did get lucky in other regards. I saw a beautiful red fox, which moved too quickly to catch on film, and rabbits were in abundance. The scenery was also beautiful.

Sideways trees

Wind on a hill shaped these trees

river in Kodiak

A river in Kodiak

Science and Technology Log

The Science and Technology segment of this blog will begin after the Walleye Pollock Survey aboard the Oscar Dyson begins.

Species Seen

Red Fox


Reader Question(s) of the Day!

The reader question(s) of the day will also begin after the start of the Walleye Pollock Survey aboard the Oscar Dyson. Readers are encouraged to send questions to I will attempt to answer one or more questions in future posts.