NOAA TEACHER AT SEA
ONBOARD NOAA SHIP OSCAR DYSON
JUNE 11 – JUNE 30, 2011
NOAA Teacher at Sea: Jason Moeller
Ship: Oscar Dyson
Mission: Walleye Pollock Survey
Geographic Location: Gulf of Alaska
Dates: June 14-16, 2011
Welcome back, explorers!
I think I posted my last log too soon, because as soon as I hit the send button interesting things began to happen. First, I was called up to see some Mountain Goats feeding in the wild! I was able to take a picture of them as well! (Well, kind of…)
While this was going on, the professional members of the science team were still calibrating the sonar that we are going to use to catch the fish! I have explained the process in the captions of the following photographs.
The process took several hours, but once we finished, we headed back out to sea to start the two-day journey towards our first fishing spot!
The most common sight off of the boat for the past two days has been this one.
We are currently in Unimak Pass, which will lead us to the Bering Sea! Unimak Pass is the fastest sea route from the United States into Asia, and as a result is a common merchant route between Seattle and Japan. It is also the best way to avoid rough seas and bad weather when travelling between the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, as it receives some cover from the landmass.
The Bering Sea likely needs no introduction, as it is arguably the best crab fishing waters on the planet and is well-known from the television show The Deadliest Catch. Aside from crab, the Bering Sea is teeming with life such as pollock, flounder, salmon, and halibut. As a result of this diverse and tasty biomass, the Bering Sea is an incredibly important area to the world’s fisheries.
Steaming towards our destination has kept us away from any land, but there are still things to do and to see! We did a second dry cast of the net, but this time two different pieces of equipment were tested.
Even though this was a test run and we did not catch any fish, the birds saw the net moving and came to investigate. The remaining photographs for the personal log are of the several species of birds that flew by the boat.
Science and Technology Log
This section of the blog will be written after we start fishing for Pollock in the next day or so!
Reader Question(s) of the Day!
First, I owe a belated shout out to Dr. John, Knoxville Zoo’s IT technician. He lent me the computer that I am currently using to post these logs, and I forgot to mention him in the last post. Thanks Dr. John!
The two questions of the day also come from Kaci, a future Teacher at Sea with NOAA.
1. What is it like sleeping on the boat?
A. Honestly, I am being jostled around quite a bit. Part of this is due to the way the beds are set up. The beds go from port to starboard (or right to left for the landlubbers out there) instead of fore to aft (front to back). This means that when the boat rolls, my feet will often be higher than my head, which causes all of blood to rush to my head. I still haven’t gotten used to the feeling yet.
Part of the jostling, though, is my fault. I had heard that most individuals took the bottom bunks given the option, and since I was one of the first individuals on board, I decided to be polite and give my roommate, who outranked me by some 10-15 years at sea, the bottom bunk. It turns out that the reason people pick the bottom bunk is that the top bunk moves around more since it is higher off the floor. I’ve heard stories about people being thrown from the top bunk in heavy seas as well.
The most comfortable place to sleep has turned out to be the beanbag chair in the common room. It is considered rude to go into your room if your shift ends early, as your roommate may still be sleeping. My shift ended two hours early the other night, so I sat down on the beanbag chair to catch some zs. The ship’s rocking was greatly reduced by the bean bag chair, and I slept very well for the next couple of hours.
2. Is it stressful so far?
A. The only stressful part of the trip so far has been the seasickness, which I have not yet been able to shake. The rest of it has been a lot of fun!