Suzanne Acord: Underway off the Kona Coast of the Big Island, March 18, 2014

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Suzanne Acord
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
March 17 – 28, 2014

Mission: Kona Area Integrated Ecosystems Assessment Project
Geographical area of cruise: Hawaiian Islands
Date: March 18, 2014

Weather Data from the Bridge at 08:00
Wind: 20 knots
Visibility: 12 nautical miles
Weather: Clear
Depth in fathoms: 2,521
Depth in feet: 15,126
Temperature: 23.5˚ Celsius

Science and Technology Log

Kona cruise map
2014 Kona IEA Cruise Map

HARP (High-frequency Acoustic Recording Package) deployment: 06:00

Ali Bayless leads this early morning deployment of the HARP, or High-frequency Acoustic Recording Package. This is an instrument that monitors marine mammals and studies ambient ocean noise over long periods of time. Peruse the cruise course map above to find the red circle with H1. This is where the HARP was deployed. We will pick up another HARP in the location marked H2 later during the cruise. The H1 HARP will be at the bottom of the ocean for a whole year recording all acoustics in the vicinity. We are listening for various species of cetaceans in order to determine their presence near this unique oceanographic feature, the Jaggar Seamount. This is a first because a HARP has never been dropped in the area. Sixteen discs of data will ultimately provide a snap shot of what has been happening acoustically in the area. Unfortunately, we can’t take a sneak peak at the data prior to the HARP’s retrieval.

Marine Mammal Observation (MMO) training by Ali: 08:00

Ali is also our Marine Mammals Operations lead. While on the flying bridge, Ali encourages our team to keep an eye out for sperm and pilot whales. Each MMO participant will serve 45 minutes on portside and 45 minutes on starboard side in rotating shifts. We must be sure to complete the sighting form to ensure we keep track of our mammal friends. Ali provides illustrations for our team and points out a few key features of marine mammals so that we can more effectively identify them.

MMO watch
Suzanne and Beth on MMO watch in the flying bridge 

MMO begins: 09:30

Scientists rotate through the flying bridge throughout the day with handy binoculars. When we see a mammal, we radio acoustics to let them know the location. This is more fun than it sounds. Ocean + binoculars + flying bridge = awesome!

Science Party Interview with Aimee Hoover

Official title: JIMAR Research Data Specialist

Aimee Hoover
Aimee Hoover at the acoustics monitoring station

Aimee has spent the past two and a half years with JIMAR (Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research). She is technically a State of Hawaii employee who often has the opportunity to work with NOAA.

Her job is flexible. She can analyze data on a variety of projects. In addition to our IEA, Aimee has worked with swordfish and tuna long line fisheries, species composition, and the size and structure of animals. She frequently examines large oceanographic features such as transition zone chlorophyll front (TZCF). She analyzes the movements and the locations of the TZCF, which travel from the north to the south. She mentions that turtles often feed off of this mysterious matter.

Aimee’s favorite job task: Cruises.

On this cruise, Aimee is hoping to find: Squid in the acoustics.

Coolest thing Amy has ever seen at sea:  In Maui, Aimee witnessed a female humpback riding next to and under their ship to avoid potentially mating males. This lasted for two hours!

Personal Log

My first days on board have been a whirlwind. Our push off time was delayed by six hours. Despite this, the NOAA crew was sure to use every moment of our delay wisely. We practiced our abandon ship drill and fire drill in addition to receiving a ship safety and etiquette briefing by OPS Officer, Ryan Wattam. It looks like my muster point during emergencies is on the Texas deck, port side. There is so much to learn and so much to do aboard the Sette. I have eaten great food, visited the bridge, assisted with a CTD deployment, and have met countless amazing crew members and scientists. It is only day two!

Pre boarding
Prior to boarding at Ford Island
Abandon ship
Note to self: Get suit and lifejacket and head to the Texas deck when I hear seven blows of the horn

Did You Know?

What is the difference between a rope and a line? “A line is a rope with a purpose,” according to Mills Dunlap, NOAA crew member.

A Tasty Surprise

Lines were immediately cast once underway. During an intense moment, Mills Dunlap ran toward a starboard line off the stern of the ship. Excitingly, an Ono would serve as our first catch. An omen? I think so. The food aboard the Sette is delicious!

Mills catches an Ono
NOAA crew member, Mills Dunlap, with a recently caught Ono

Linda Tatreau, MARCH 12, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea: Linda Tatreau
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette

Mission: Fisheries Surveys
Geographical Area of Cruise: Equatorial Pacific
Date: March 12, 2010

Shark! and HARP

Tiger Shark
Tiger Shark
We are into the last day of work before returning to Guam. The first set of BRUVs is being recovered as I write. We will have time for one more set (8) and then we’ll secure the equipment and head for home (home for me anyway―everyone else will still be far from home). Steve is getting great data on the fish populations on the west side of Saipan. As much as we like watching the fish, we got more excited to see a turtle checking the bait, a moray eel chewing on the bait bag, and yesterday, a large tiger shark cruising back and forth nudging the bait bag. Unfortunately, the video ended while the shark was still at the BRUV. When we brought it up, the bait bag was gone.
E paraancora
E paraancora

John and Viv deploy the TOAD each night and make 3 or 4 passes over the reef to assess coral coverage and other bottom features. They were particularly happy to have found several areas of reef with the coral Euphyllia paraancora. This coral is found in the tropical Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, but it is not common. It is heavily harvested for the aquarium trade and more susceptible to bleaching than more robust coral species. It is listed as vulnerable and is further threatened by the predicted threats of climate change and ocean acidification. It was put on the IUCN Red List and is protected via CITES, both as of October, 2009.

Above: HARP Diagram
Above: HARP Diagram

One night we deployed a HARP, a High-Frequency Acoustic Recording Package used to study cetaceans (whales and dolphins). The scientist in charge of this equipment was not onboard but had arranged with the Chief Scientist to put out this equipment near Saipan. This HARP will sit on the seafloor for 2 years collecting sounds. HARPs record ambient ocean noise including low-frequency baleen whale calls, high-frequency dolphin clicks, sounds in between and man-made sounds from ships, sonar, and seismic exploration. When the HARP is retrieved, the sounds can be analyzed and we will learn more about the cetacean populations of the Mariana Islands.

Engine Room
Engine Room

A few days ago, Glen gave me a great tour of the engine room. It is beyond the scope of this blog to describe it here, but I can’t resist including a few pictures. I am always amazed by what it takes to keep a ship like this running. They call it an “unmanned engine room” because an alarm will ring if something needs attention like overheating or low oil pressure. It may be called “unmanned” but it takes a lot of man-hours to keep it that way. The engine room and machine shop are really clean and well organized―I didn’t see a drip of oil or a smudge of grease.

Right: One of 4 diesel engines that provided the electricity for the ship and run the electric motors that drive the propellers.

Engine Room
Engine Room
Engine Room
Engine Room

Right: Glen, first assistant engineer and my tour guide.

Glen, First Assistant Engineer
Glen, First Assistant Engineer