NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
April 10 – 27, 2018
Mission: Spring Bottom Trawl Survey Geographic Area: Northeastern U.S. Coast Date: April 14, 2018
So…What to do when you are a NOAA Teacher at Sea, you are at the port and you are not yet out to sea? You leverage your NOAA connections within the scientific community to learn more about things related to various aspects of NOAA’s mission.
On Thursday, I was fortunate enough to be part of a NOAA group that toured UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology. This recently opened, cutting edge facility provided a wonderful insights into the study of marine life.
While on our special tour, members of the NOAA Fisheries team were able to exchange knowledge with the team that helped build and is currently getting this amazing research space up and running to full capacity.
We learned about some of the various aquatic species that are indigenous to the region (see below) and the current research surrounding these impressive life forms.
And I also learned about some of the technologies that are utilized by fisherman including those similar to what we will use by the Henry Bigelow on our upcoming research mission.
While spending time around the dock, I took time to explore and learn more about some of the equipment that is used to gather data at sea. Notice the NOAA environmental buoy to far left and the crane aboard the Henry Bigelow. While watching a Coast Guard Ship (with a similar crane) effortlessly load and unload these massive buoys, I couldn’t help but to start brainstorming an engineering design lesson that would help capture this really cool process. Hopefully, ideas similar to these will continue to be developed over the next couple of weeks and will result in all kinds of new curricula for my classroom.
Tomorrow, we are once again set to sail out. The past few days have allowed me to learn about the marine life that we will be gathering, the ways in which we will be doing it and has also allowed me to get to know the wonderful people I will be working with during my research mission. To say that I am excited would be an understatement.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. As always, please feel free to leave any comments below.
With our stations complete, we headed home a bit early on Saturday, and with the approaching nor’easter on Mother’s Day, it was probably a good decision. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and value the efforts, hard-work, professionalism and teamwork that make an undertaking of such enormity a valued and fun endeavor. The camaraderie of the team will be forever cherished.
We came back through the Cape Cod Canal late in the evening, on our return to Newport, RI. We spotted joggers with head lamps running along the path of the canal. Perhaps a local road race?
It was interesting feeling in my kitchen rocking and rolling all day Sunday …. dock rock or kitchen rock??? That was a fun sensation!!
It was nice to see my students this morning, Monday, all welcoming me home and curious about my trip. On Sunday, I had prepared a slide-show of many of my photos and projected my blog on the “Smartboard” to share with my classes. They had a wide range of questions from what did I eat, was I seasick, what fish did we catch, did you dissect any fish, did you see any whales, how old do you have to be to go out on the ship, to what will the scientists do with the samples that were saved. They were impressed with my pictures of the goosefish, (who wouldn’t be impressed with such a fish!) and laughed at how the scientist I worked closely with nicknamed me a “Fish Wrangler” as I had caught, in midair, some slippery, squirming, flip-flopping Red Fish as they had managed an attempted escape off the scale when a big wave hit. I’ll wear that tag with pride!
Thank you to NOAA and their staff that prepared me for the journey. Thank you to all the wonderful people I met on the ship. A “Teacher at Sea” is a monicker of which I will be always proud … as well as “Fish Wrangler!”
Underbelly of the Sea Raven
Wolffish on the scale
The skate has a very interesting expression.
A very small Skate
Setting the CTD
CTD being hauled back up.
Glen with a large crab.
Closeup of the crab
Eggs of a female lobster
Another lobster with a lot of eggs
Female with eggs and a notched fin indicating it had previously been caught and released.
Henry B Bigelow tied to dock in Newport
Working on the nets
Scientist weather gear
Ready to sort
At muster station
A lot of hard work in getting the net back onboard with the catch
Tony measuring Dogfish
Wet Room all clean
Nearly time to be home. Wet Room clean and conveyor dismantled
Cute logo on the wet weather gear
In the stateroom the life suit storage container is luminescent.
Emergency and Fire Drill
Beautiful clouds in the welcome blue skies
One lone squid
Grey sky and shimmering seas
Just in case!
Picked up a few passengers outside of Boston
These fish “buzzing ” feeling when placed on your hand.
Last night we passed through the Cape Cod Canal. It was exciting to go under the bridges I have traveled over many years for a summer vacation. It was a clear night with plenty of stars shining. We collected our first haul to survey just after arriving in the bay. I was surprised by the variety of fish that we sorted, weighed, measured and took samples. The scientists I am working with are a very dedicated, professional, hard working and friendly bunch. By the time we finished it was midnight and I was done with my day assignment.
I awoke to a view of Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod in the distance. About two dozen right whales were spotted in the area. Later, I was able to observe the nets being lowered into the sea. The instruments placed along the opening of the net will measure the depth and opening area of the net. The nets are in the water for 20 minutes. The catch also included skates, lots of red hake, a few cod, lobsters of all sizes, a few star fish, alewife, mackerel and others I hope to learn more about. Sorting is done along a conveyor, 6 of us each at our stations. In my wet weather gear and rubber gloves, I place the fish in an array of buckets and baskets. I never would have imagined me holding a handful of small octopi! There must’ve been 8-10 of them!
Once the full catch is sorted, I assist alongside scientist Christine by recording the data she is collecting into the computer. We work with one species at a time, then onto the next basket or bucket.
The specimen that is mostly retained for further study is the otolith, a small bone within the fish’s ear. It determines the fish’s age much like the ring on a tree. The bone acquires a growth ring everyday for at least the first six months of the fish’s life. (The haddock otoliths I observed were between 1 – 2 cm, depending on the size/age of the particular haddock) (Image Compana Lab: http://www.uni.hi.is/compana/ )
“Why Age Fish?
“Once the ages are known for a sample of fish, scientists can measure the rates of various processes affecting these fish. For instance, data on fish size can be combined with age information to provide growth rates. Also, the decrease in abundance from one year (age) to the next gives a measure of mortality rates (due to the combination of fishing and natural causes). Finally, age data can be used to determine how long it takes individuals of a species to mature. Any of these vital rates may change over time, so it is important to examine age samples regularly.
Knowledge of fish age also allows scientists to learn more from capturing and measuring fewer fish. It is impossible to catch all the fish in the ocean. However, if a small portion of the fish are captured and aged, the relative abundance of fish at each age can be determined. These age data, with data from other sources, can then be expanded to estimate the total number of fish in the wild. Population models, using such data, enable scientists to monitor trends in the size of fish populations and to predict potential effects of fishing on those populations. The most detailed models include age-specific estimates of weight, mortality, and growth; this requires that larger numbers of fish be aged.” (1)
How did I hear about the Teacher At Sea Program?
Last summer, I was fortunate to attend the Maury Project, a summer teacher development program of the American Meteotological Society held at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. A few other teachers in attendance had been Teachers at Sea and sang its praises. Teachers inspiring other teachers!
What a coincidence:
The Maury Project mentioned above is named for Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806- 1873) the Father of Oceanography and the NOAA ship I am aboard is the Henry B. Bigelow (1879-1987) named for the Modern Father of Oceanography.
Geographic Area of the Cruise: Sailing out of Newport, R. I. Northeast US Coast, George’s Bank – Gulf of Maine
Date: April 27, 2017
I am honored to have been selected to take part in the Teacher at Sea Program. I’ll be driving down to Newport from southern New Hampshire in a few days to begin what should prove to be an amazing adventure working along with the fishery scientists and crew on the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow (FSV 225).
Science and Technology Log
The purpose of the Spring Bottom Trawl Survey is to monitor the fish stocks and invertebrate found on the continental shelf. The scientists will study any changes in ocean conditions and the sea life to make informed decisions for conserving and managing the fishery resources and their habitat.
The Henry B. Bigelow was named in honor of the founding director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the “Father of Modern Oceanography.” Henry Bryant Bigelow (1879-1967) was an expert on the Gulf of Maine and its sea life and a member of the Harvard faculty for 62 years. The ship is a state-of-the-art 208-foot research vessel commissioned in 2007. It boasts a “quiet hull” that allows the scientists to observe the sea life using sound waves with limited disturbance to their natural state.
Fish that we expect to observe include: Monkfish, Herring, Skates, Dogfish, Atlantic Salmon, Hake, Cod, Haddock, Pollack, Flounder, Mackerel and more! I’m looking forward to viewing these specimens up close!
NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
I have been teaching middle school mathematics for 26 years at Hampstead Academy, in Hampstead, NH.
How does a mathematics teacher find her way to intensifying her interest in the sea? In 2014 I was selected to attend a week at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama along with 200+ teachers from around the globe. While there I learned of the SeaPerch program. Soon after, I received a grant from the US Navy for several SeaPerch kits, journeyed down to Newport, RI Naval Base for a day of constructing the SeaPerch ROV, and then set up a SeaPerch program at Hampstead Academy along with a co-teacher and my husband. Cutting pipe, waterproofing the engines, soldering the microcontroller, and all the tasks to complete the build of the SeaPerches was such a proud achievement for the group! We are fortunate to be near enough to UNH in Dover, so with a group of my students, we toured the Jere E Chase Ocean Engineering Laboratory and tested our SeaPerch ROV’s in their wave and deep-water tanks. What a marvelous facility, welcoming student tours and hoping to spark an interest in the oceanography field.
I hope to inspire my students to consider a career in STEM professions, to open their eyes to the possibilities in the field of marine sciences where the work they do can impact the present and future generation.
Thanks you to the Hampstead Academy administration, fellow teachers that are taking over my classes for these two weeks, and for the support of the school community and my family and friends.
Thank you to the dog sitter for Clover!
Thank you to NOAA Teacher at Sea program for this enriching opportunity.
Did You Know?
The Henry B. Bigelow was the first NOAA ship to be named through a ship-naming contest by the winning team from Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, N.H.
Below is a picture of Clover at North Hampton Beach last week when we had some welcoming warm weather for a short spell.
NOAA Teacher at Sea Tom Savage On Board NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow June 10 – 19, 2015
Meet the Staff and Scientists
Mission: Cetacean and Turtle Research Geographic area of Cruise: North Atlantic Date: June 18, 2015
Weather Data from the Bridge
Air temperature: 15 C
Wind speed: 5 knots
Wind direction: coming from the North West
Relative humidity: 90%
Barometer: 1009 millibars
My journey has come to a conclusion, and we are one hour from docking at the naval base in Newport, RI. What a privilege it is to be a part of this scientific mission. The substantial photos, videos, data and experiences will greatly enhance my physical and earth science curriculum and further my goal of getting students interested in fields of science. This journey has reinforced my position that a nation cannot advance and improve the quality of life without scientific research.
I would like to thank the scientists on board during this cruise, Mr. Pete Duley and Dr. Danielle Cholewiak
Science and Technology Log
Every job aboard a research vessel is mission critical, and one is not more important than the other. During this excursion, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the crew and scientists that made this tour a success.
Pat began his career studying Physics at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and earned a master’s degree in oceanography while attending Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. When asked how he got involved in the NOAA Corps, he mentioned there were two well defined career paths as an oceanographer: NOAA or teaching. He advises students who are considering the NOAA Corps to build operational leadership skills and to demonstrate that you can work in a team and complete a job when assigned.
A few of his favorite places he has visited while employed with the NOAA Corps: Farallone Islands Ca, Alaska bays and inside passages when hiding from storms, and Dutch Harbor located among the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.
Julianne is a recent graduate of Oregon State University and received a BS in zoology, and she is currently working on her master’s degree. Her path with NOAA started as a recipient of the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program. This program provides students with scholarship money and paid internships with the goal of fostering multidisciplinary training opportunities within NOAA. After graduating from Oregon State University, Julianne worked in Alaska at a remote salmon hatchery, Snettisham Hatchery. She is currently an acoustician with NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center as a research analyst focusing on real-time acoustic tracking of baleen whales and the North Atlantic right whale migratory corridor project.
Genevieve was also a NOAA Hollings scholar and worked on North Atlantic Right Whale calling behavior across seasons. Genevieve joined NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries acoustics team as a research analyst focusing on baleen whale acoustics and as an elementary school educational outreach program at the center. She is working on her doctorate in Environmental Biology with a focus on baleen distributions and migrations.
Hilary became interested in whales at the age of five. “My mom was always super interested in the ocean and we went whale watching often.” She studied marine biology with a focus on seal acoustics. Getting on a boat to see and study marine animals is what she enjoys most about her job.
When asked about advice for students who want to study marine biology. “Get experience whenever you can, especially if you have the opportunity to work in a lab. Having experience is crucial. Volunteering with a professor who is studying seals led me to an avenue in whale biology.”
Prior to joining NOAA, Dennis had a career with the Navy for 20 years. Dennis has one of the most important jobs on the ship, keeping everyone fed. He is absolutely amazing! While I was on duty on the Fly Bridge, around four in the afternoon, aromas from the galley drifted to the Fly Bridge. It was a nightly contest to guess what would be served in the galley. His cooking is so unique that all of our guesses were incorrect; we went 0/5 that week. One night, steak was served for dinner and it was the best steak I have ever had. Thanks Dennis!
Marjorie works for NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Her job focuses on collecting data from commercial fishing operations. This data provides valuable information on determining if certain fish populations can maintain a healthy marine mammal population.
She earned an undergraduate degree in Natural resources from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is currently working on a doctorate in Marine Biology from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
NOAA Teacher at Sea Dieuwertje Kast (Almost) Onboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow May 19 – June 3, 2015
Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring Survey Geographical area of cruise: Northeast Atlantic Ocean Date: May 7, 2015
Greetings from Southern California! My name is Dieuwertje or “DJ” Kast and I am currently the STEM Program Manager (K-12) for the University of Southern California (USC) Joint Educational Project (JEP) and Director of Young Scientists Program (YSP) and the USC Wonderkids Program. I am also assisting with the USC JEP Boeing project which does Teacher Professional development in Water and Sustainability. All of which are located at the JEP House on the USC Campus in Los Angeles California (seen here about 47 miles one way commute from my husband Roee and my home in Chino, CA).
I received my masters in Education and my biology teaching credential at the Rossier School of Education. A native of the Netherlands, I received my undergraduate and graduate education at USC through the progressive masters programs obtaining my BS in Biology and MS in Marine Environmental Biology. I have a passion for Science Education, have written curriculum and held leadership roles for both Wonderkids, The Young Scientist Program, the USC QuikSCience program, the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Science on Catalina Island, USC Seagrant and the USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI) program (rigorous, seven-year pre-college enrichment program designed to prepare low-income neighborhood students for admission to a college or university). In my spare time I enjoy writing science books, photography, helping students with science fairs, SCUBA diving and working with marine science labs across California.
I wanted to tell other TAS Teachers about the programs that I manage or have been a part of in hopes that they may also be inspired to learn more about what I do and how their students can be involved, and the potential for teacher professional development and partnerships in the future. I am looking forward to going on my voyage and using what I learn to write curriculum and communicating it to the thousands of students in my programs.
The Young Scientists Program works in partnership with 5 USC community schools, from the greater ‘USC 10 Family of Schools’ to engage more than 1400 elementary school students, 45 LAUSD teachers, and 5 principals through a broad repertoire of science curriculum. YSP TAs are placed at each school presenting hands-on science labs to fourth and fifth grade classrooms. YSP brings scientific laboratory experiences directly to students and their teachers with the goal of supplementing current science instruction, complimenting LAUSD and state grade level science learning standards, strengthening science literacy and promoting interest in scientific careers. One of YSP’s primary objectives is to increase science activities for a larger number of our neighborhood children as a means to encourage them to consider careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and to apply what they are learning in the classroom to the real world. Additional outcomes are that our USC undergraduate students learn how to become successful mentors, gain valuable teaching experience, and learn how to directly respond to the needs of the schools, communities and families.
USC JEP Wonderkids is first-third grade after-school science program in the USC Family of Schools. It is currently in 6 schools: Foshay, Weemes, Vermont, Norwood, Mack, Norwood, and 32nd street. The program focuses on different areas of science through hands-on lesson plans and books. The program also has professional scientists from different science fields as rotating speakers come into the classroom to encourage students to pursue careers in STEM. Science fields pursued so far: neuroscience, environmental science, paleontology, deep sea, marine biology, botany, robotics, space, chemistry, DNA, animal behavior, microbiology, physics, computer science, biomedical engineering and medicine.
I will be doing Ecosystem Monitoring Survey (Fisheries) on NOAA Ship Henry B. BigelowShip from May 19 – June 3, 2015. I am so excited! I will be embarking on my research cruise in Newport, Rhode Island and disembarking there as well.
I will be working with the Narragansett Laboratory and the objectives of the investigation are:
to monitor the fishery-relevant components of the Northeast Shelf ecosystem, to characterize the baseline conditions and their variability, and to index the seasonal, annual, and decadal changes in the conditions of the ecosystem, and
to determine the effects of biological and physical processes on the recruitment of Northeast shelf fishes, especially gadoids.
The Investigation utilizes three survey approaches to gather data on planktonic organisms and environmental parameters:
shelf-wide Research Vessel Surveys;
Ship of Opportunity (SOOP) Transect Surveys;
sampling using a variety of environmental satellites and buoys (termed Remote Sensing Surveys).
NOAA Teacher at Sea Sue Zupko (soon to be) Aboard NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow
September 7-19, 2014
Mission: Autumn Bottom Trawl Survey Leg I Geographical area of cruise: Cape May, NJ to Cape Hatteras, NC Date: September 4, 2014
I am a teacher of the Gifted and Talented at Weatherly Heights Elementary School in Huntsville, AL. I am so very humbled by the opportunity I have been given to conduct research aboard the Henry B. Bigelow with NOAA scientists. This is my second NOAA cruise. I studied deep-water corals aboard the Pisces in 2011 and thought it was my only chance to do something like that. They told me if I did all my homework, and did all my projects well, that good things would come my way. I say that to my students and this is an example of why one should do one’s homework and try hard. You’d better believe that I did my best. I love to learn so a NOAA research cruise and projects with my students are a perfect fit.
In preparing for my first entry I asked my students for advice on what to include. They insisted that I include a “shout out” to them and tell how fabulous our school is.
Here are a few highlights. Weatherly has been recycling aluminum cans to help pay for our outdoor classroom since 1998 when I helped write a grant to get a trailer to collect cans and take them to the recycling center. We have made thousands of dollars through the years and have an Alabama Certified Outdoor Classroom now. Students, parents, faculty, and community volunteers help with it and enjoy learning there. We have raised Monarch butterfly larvae, viewed Ladybug larvae under a microscope from the Tulip Poplar tree, grown melons, touched plants in the sensory garden, and myriad other activities.
We piloted a recycling program for our district. Every classroom has a bin to collect clean paper and plastic. It is collected weekly and tons of items have been recycled as a result.
We participate in a plastic bottle cap recycling program. This is an annual contest city-wide and Weatherly counts and recycles thousands of caps to be made into paint buckets rather than taking up room in the landfill. For many years we recycled phone books and were one of the top three recyclers.
In addition to helping the environment, we are a No Place for Hate school. We also study about the ocean. A lot. I am the faculty advisor for our morning announcements. Our quotes of the week this year are about the ocean and we highlight an ocean literacy principle every day. We now know that marine biologist Sylvia Earle pointed out that “With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live. Most of the oxygen in the atmosphere is generated by the sea.”
On my upcoming voyage with NOAA, I will launch two drifters. In order to be selected for this drifter project, a teacher must have an international partner to share lessons with to learn about the ocean. After an extensive search I found the perfect match. Sarah Hills at the TED Istanbul College teaches English. Her students will be studying map reading starting in September when they return to school. We have already decided that our students will plot the course of the drifters and hypothesize where they will be at specific times based on the ocean currents and winds which will carry them.
These drifters measure ocean salinity, surface water temperature, velocities (speeds) of the current, and air pressure and are important for understanding more about our weather and the ocean. I can’t wait to get our students communicating. Weatherly’s school theme is “A Village of Learners and Leaders.” Outside my classroom on the bulletin board are some wonderful items from Turkey provided by Mrs. Hills and it says, “A Global Village of Learners and Leaders.” In preparation for tracking our drifters, we are currently tracking former hurricanes and researching how the ocean changes our planet. On their exit ticket today, my 5th graders commented that they liked tracking the hurricanes since they will use the same technique to track my journey and the drifters.
I am so excited. I have spoken with the Chief Scientist, John Galbraith, and understand that I will be working side-by-side with scientists on this fisheries cruise. We will drop a trawl net behind our 209 foot long ship and catch marine creatures. Our job will be to sort the fish (and other marine animals) and learn more about them using measurements and other means such as dissection. Computers play a role in our study and my first assignment will be to collect data in the computer. Wonder what program I will use, and is it similar to Excel which we use a lot?
I asked my fourth graders if they thought I might see a whale. They all responded yes in that group. What do you think?
Teachers at Sea need to be flexible, have fortitude, and follow orders. Let me explain. Right now I am waiting to see if my ship will even sail. The engineers have found a problem and are working to make the ship seaworthy for our voyage. Already our cruise date has changed twice. I must be flexible and be ready to leave on a moment’s notice. There are always some changes, it seems, when dealing with the ocean. On my last cruise a tropical depression (storm) formed over us and we couldn’t begin our research for an extra day.
Sailing is not for the faint of heart. I must be able to work long hours in uncomfortable conditions (they say this is having fortitude). They do supply my “foul weather” gear. Wonder if I will smell like fish at the end of my shift.
One handy piece of equipment I will take is ear plugs. The engines are loud and that helps when it is time to sleep. My shift will be either from midnight to noon or noon to midnight. That’s a long time to work. If we have a good catch, we will be working a lot. That is good for weight loss, as long as I don’t overdo with the fabulous food prepared by the stewards (cooks) in the galley (kitchen).
I was in the U.S. Army years ago and learned to follow orders, the third of the 3Fs. There are NOAA officers whose orders I must follow for my safety and the safety of the other scientists. I also must follow the orders of the NOAA Teacher at Sea directors and my chief scientist. Add to that my principal and superintendent in my district. That’s a lot of bosses giving orders.
Lastly, my students requested that I tell everyone our school motto. “We are Weatherly Heights and we…GO THE EXTRA MILE.” Well, pretty soon I can say, “We are the crew and scientists aboard the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow and we…GO THE EXTRA NAUTICAL MILE.” Can’t wait to see what treasures we will uncover in the ocean.
NOAA Teacher at Sea John Clark Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow September 23 – October 4, 2013
Mission: Autumn Bottom Trawl Survey Geographical Area of Cruise: North Atlantic Date: September 18, 2013
Thank you for reading about my adventures at sea. My name is John Clark and I’m entering my 7th year teaching science at Deltona High School in Deltona, Florida. Our community is just off I-4 between Orlando and Daytona Beach. Teaching is my second career, after working in the telecommunications field, and I love getting students excited about science. I’ve even earned a few awards for being successful at it. I’m married to the love of my life, Jill, who is also a teacher. In our lives are three grown children and seven grandchildren. With great blessings, I share that they are all healthy, happy, and live close enough for us to see them regularly. At home we have replaced the kids with two cats and a dog.
In a few days, anticipation will be replaced by action as I board a plane headed for my NOAA Teacher at Sea experience I’ve waited for all summer to begin. I’ll be sailing aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow, a ship specially built for NOAA to carry out the type of fisheries research I’ll be taking part in. I’ll be working side by side with experienced scientists who not only are knowledgeable in how to do the research conducted on board but also have the skill to share their knowledge with volunteers like me who have limited background in the science behind the work. It is the experience of a lifetime that I hope will energize my students about studying science as we carry out lesson plans developed from the experience and I share with them the stories of my time at sea. I’m sure a giant boat-eating squid will be in there somewhere.
Officially, I’m taking part in 2013 Autumn Bottom Trawl Survey conducted by the Ecosystems Survey Branch of the NOAA Fisheries Service. That’s a long fancy way of saying that the ship is going to drag a net for a short period of time near the bottom of the ocean and then collect data on the types of fish we catch as well as the environment they live in. Affectionately called a “critter cruise”, I now join a long line of Teacher at Sea alumni who have taken part in the biannual surveys of North Atlantic marine life. And there are a lot of critters to learn to identify as I’m finding out from watching the CD I was sent to be better prepared to support the research team. There are two types of Dogfish which look suspiciously like little sharks, flounders that are left eyed or right eyed depending on which side they decided to leave up, and squid distinguished by the length of a pair of fins down the side of the body. All you do is hold them upright, tentacles hanging toward the ground, and take a look. And don’t forget the large lump fish which is described as have the texture of a dog’s chew toy. Whatever the species, the role of the research volunteer is to sort them out and then collect data for the scientists to study.
What can be overlooked in the preparation is the part about how to handle fish. I do not like to touch fish so I will be facing my fears even while wearing gloves. And I really don’t like it when they flop around. I envision I’ll be the one with the hand in the wrong place when the shark twists around to see who is holding its tail or, at a minimum, squeeze too hard on the species that will poke you with a poison spine if you upset them. Other good advice I’ve learned from the CD is that there is a 100% recovery from seasickness and if the seas get rough, wedge yourself into your bunk with your life vest so you don’t roll around and fall out. My two year old granddaughter, Ireland, was watching the video with me while I studied and all she could say was “Oh my.”
NOAA Teacher at Sea Beverly Owens Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow June 10 – 24, 2013
Mission: Deep-Sea Corals and Benthic Habitat: Ground-Truthing and Exploration in Deepwater Canyons off the Northeastern Coast of the U.S. Geographical Area: Western North Atlantic Date: June 18, 2013
Weather Data from the Bridge:
Air temperature: 13.50 oC (56.3 oF)
Wind Speed: 20.05 knots (23.07mph)
Science and Technology Log
On a research vessel such as NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow, does the ship support the science? Or are the ship’s activities separate from those of the Science Crew? I didn’t realize how much the Ship’s Crew and the Science Crew worked hand-in-hand until I toured the Bridge.
First off, the ship is what’s known as an FSV. What does FSV stand for? FSV stands for Fisheries Survey Vessel. The primary responsibility of the Henry B. Bigelow is to study and monitor the marine fisheries stocks throughout New England (the Northeastern section of the United States). There are many scientific instruments aboard the Henry B. Bigelow that allow crew members and visiting science teams to do this and other work.
The ship has multiple labs that can be used for many purposes. The acoustics lab has many computers and can be used for modeling data collected from multibeam sonar equipment. The chemistry lab is equipped with plentiful workspace, an eyewash, emergency shower, and fume hood. Our TowCam operations are being run from the dry lab. This space has nine computers displaying multiple data sets. We have occupied the counter space with an additional eight personal laptops; all used for different purposes such as examining TowCam images or inputting habitat data. The wet lab is where the collection sorting, and filtering take place. It is used during fisheries expeditions to process and examine groundfish. During our research expedition, the wet lab is used mostly for staging TowCam operations. We also process sediment and water samples that were collected from the seafloor. Sediment is collected using a vacuum-like apparatus called a slurp pump; water is collected in a Niskin bottle. The sediment is sieved and any animals are saved for later examination. Water samples are also filtered there, to remove particulate matter that will be used to determine the amount of food in the water column.
Walking around the ship, I noticed a psychrometer set, which is used to monitor relative humidity, or moisture content in the air. There is also a fluorometer, which measures light emitted from chlorophyll in photosynthetic organisms like algae or phytoplankton. The CTD system measures physical properties of the ocean water including conductivity/salinity, temperature, and depth. Additionally, the ship has a thermosalinograph (therm = heat, salin = salt, graph = write). Saltwater is taken into the ship and directed toward this instrument, which records the sea surface salinity and sea surface temperature.
The crew of the Henry B. Bigelow not only supports the research efforts of the science team but is also actively involved in conducting scientific research. Their instrumentation, knowledge, and team work enable them to protect and monitor the western North Atlantic waters and its living marine resources.
Dewey the Dragon, all the way from Crest Middle School, enjoyed getting a tour of the Bridge. Dewey the Dragon learned how to steer the ship, read charts, and monitor activity using devices such as the alidade. Thanks to Ensigns Katie Doster and Aras Zygas for showing us around.
Did You Know?
The alidade is a device that allows people on the ship to sight far away objects, such as land. The person on the ship spots three separate points on land uses these sighting to determine the location of the ship. Alidades can also be used as a tool when making and verifying maritime charts.
Weather Data: Air Temperature: 13.8 (approx.57°F)
Wind Speed: 10.01 kts
Wind Direction: North
Surface Water Temperature: 19.51 °C (approx. 67°F)
Weather conditions: overcast
Science and Technology Log:
I thought I would end my trip on the Henry B. Bigelow with some fun facts!
Did you know?
The Fisheries Scientific Computer System (FSCS) is able to prompt the data recorders with all actions needing to be performed for a particular species. It is coded with unique barcodes for every sample taken. Back in the laboratory all scientists receiving samples can receive all the information taken about the given organism by scanning this unique barcode!
Did you know? Science crew operating on the back deck are required to wear an Overboard Recovery Communications Apparatus (ORCA). This system if it is activated sends a signal by way of radio frequency to a receiver on the ship’s bridge. This system responds immediately to the ship receiver and has a direction finder to help locate the man overboard.
It would take me hours to go through all of the amazing creatures we caught and surveyed on this trip, so I thought I would write some fast facts about some of my favorites! Enjoy!
Did you know?
The male spoon arm octopus has a modified arm that passes spermatophores into the oviducts of the female. Pretty neat stuff!
Did you know? Stargazers, like this one, have an electric organ and are one of few marine bony fish species that are able to produce electricity. This is known as Bioelectrogenesis. They also hide beneath the sand with just their eyes sticking out and ambush their prey!
Did you know? This fish, the Atlantic midshipman, has bioluminescent bacteria that inhabit these jewel–like photophores that emit light! It also interestingly enough uses this function in fairly shallow waters!
Did you know? Sea spiders like this one have no respiratory organs. Since they are so small gasses diffuse in and out of their bodies, how cool is that!
Did you know? The flaming box crab, Calappa flammea, uses its scissor-like claws that act as a can opener. It has a special modified appendage to open hermit crabs like a can opener!
Did you know? A female Atlantic angel shark like this one can have up to 13 pups!
Did you know? Seahorses suck up their food through their long snout, and like the flounders I talked about at the beginning of the cruise, their eyes also move independently of each other!!
Did you know? Horseshoe crabs, like this one, have blue blood. Unlike the blood of mammals, they don’t have hemoglobin to carry oxygen, instead they have henocyanin. Because the henocyanin has copper in it, their blood is blue!
Last but NOT least, Did you know? According to the Guiness Book of World Records the American Lobster has been known to reach lengths over 3 ft (0.91 m) and weigh as much as 44 lb (20 kg) or more. This makes it the heaviest marine crustacean in the world! This one was pretty large!!
A big farewell to everyone on the Henry B.Bigelow! Thanks so much, i had a great time and learned a lot! Thanks for reading!