Mission: Acoustic Trawl Survey (Leg 3 of 3) Geographic Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean/ Gulf of Alaska Date: Friday, August 10, 2023
Weather Data Lat 59.47 N, Lon 149.36 W Sky condition: Cloudy and rain Wind Speed: 23.73 knots Wind Direction: 72.22° Air Temp: 14.47 °C
Comparing Set Netting to Trawling
There are many different ways to catch fish. I am comparing set netting, in a little boat, a 24 ft. skiff to trawling on NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson, a big boat which is 208 ft. This is a little bit like comparing apples to oranges; set netting and trawling are different gear types used to catch fish very differently. Set netting targets mostly salmon, while trawling in Alaska targets mostly pollock. Both of these methods of fishing can be used by scientists to collect samples and to catch fish commercially to sell in global markets.
I am a commercial set netter, which uses a gill net, specifically designed to catch salmon by the gills. Salmon will swim along the shoreline. Set netters place their nets perpendicular to the shore so salmon have to swim around the nets or try to swim through them. When they try to swim through the fish get caught by the gills. Watch the video below on how I pull the net in using a hydraulic roller and pick fish out.
[Transcript: Yup, here I am, picking a… Sockeye salmon! Yup, here it is, a beautiful, lovely, amazing Sockeye salmon that I picked. This is what I do in the summer! Yeah!]
When you watch the video you will see the net is a light color that matches the water. Again, salmon do not see the net and try to swim through it and then they are caught. At the end of the video I place the fish in a brailer bag filled with ice and sea water to keep the fish cool. The better the fish are cared for, the better the product that goes to market.
Unlike set netting, which is done on a small skiff with just a few people, trawling is done on a large boat with a big crew. The Oscar Dyson has the ability to use echo-sounders to find out where fish are, and then they can lower a trawl net into the water specifically sampling at that depth for fish. A trawl net is like a big bag with are large opening that funnels fish into it.
The Scientists on NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson use a much smaller net than a commercial trawler does to catch fish. They compare what they see on their echo-sounders to what is caught in their net. They use this information to get a general idea of what kind of fish are present in a specific part of the ocean they are sampling. This helps scientists provide accurate information to both the federal and state government to help manage fisheries and keep intact healthy populations of fish.
A commercial trawler will try to catch a specific kind of fish, their target species. If they catch fish other than their target species this is known as bycatch. Large commercial trawlers can have nets up to 50 meters in length, so they can catch a lot of fish. They can only keep and sell their target species. The fish that the Oscar Dyson catches cannot be sold or eaten, but the data the collection provides scientists a great deal about what kind of fish, approximately how many, and at what stages of reproductive development, are located in specific areas of the ocean.
How trawling can impact salmon fisheries like set netting:
Knowing what is happening in a different part of the ocean is very important to other fisheries. Salmon initially develop in fresh water lakes or rivers and then migrate to the ocean. They spend most of their adult life migrating large distances in the ocean, and they depend on food that is present out where the trawlers are fishing. They also may be caught by trawlers as bycatch.
Below is a short sped up video of crew members retrieving a trawl net.
In Alaska there is a bit of controversy over one gear type taking away fish from other gear types. Specifically there is concern about commercial trawling, picking up non-target species like salmon from local coastal fisheries and subsistence users. A lot of the answers may exist in the data that the science team is collecting.
At the beginning of the blog in the weather report you will notice that the wind speed is pretty high at 23.72 knots. A gale is heading towards our area in the Gulf of Alaska. We are finishing a transect line and then heading into a protected bay in the Kenai Peninsula to wait out the weather. While the ship is protected, the science team will work on recalibrating the echo-sounders below the ship. The science team has been experiencing a bit of unexplained noise in one of their lower frequencies. Hopefully, the opportunity to do this calibration will help.
Crew Member in the Spotlight
The Oscar Dyson has a science team and a crew that work together to collect the data for the acoustic trawl sampling and run the ship. Working for NOAA can provide exciting opportunities for young people to experience life on the ocean. When you are on board the ship, you have free lodging and food, which on this leg of the cruise is quite excellent, so you can save money while on board. So far everyone I met enjoys their job and is willing to let me ask them questions about how they got here.
Meet Elvricka “Dee” Daniels from Jacksonville, Florida. She has been on NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson for about 2 months. She was originally temping for an agency in Florida when a friend told her about a subcontractor for NOAA, Keystone. She is currently working as a deckhand for the contractor Keystone.
What does she enjoy aboard the ship?
“Fishing! What kind of different fish come in the trawl net. There is always something different every time we fish.”
She also really likes being on whale watch on the bridge. The science team cannot set out the net if there are whales in the area, so there is always a crew member looking for whales.
As a high school teacher, I like to ask people what their school experience was like. Everyone has a different experience in high school some good some, perhaps not so good, but many go on be successful adults. What was high school like for Dee?
“It was good at first and then it got bad. I made poor choices that impacted my life, I had to go to summer school to make up for missed school. Doing well in school is very important to my family.”
So now here she is out in the Gulf of Alaska helping science happen and impacting others by what she does.
Mission: Acoustic Trawl Survey (Leg 3 of 3) Geographic Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean/ Gulf of Alaska Date: Wednesday, August 9, 2023
Weather Data Lat 58.16 N, Lon 148.97 W Sky condition: Cloudy Wind Speed: 2.88 knots Wind Direction: 301.28° Air Temp: 12.44 °C
School will soon be starting in Anchorage at Bettye Davis East High School. I will not be in school for the first three days because I am having fun on a teacher’s field trip. Good things come to those who apply for it. I applied and got accepted on this cruise before the pandemic, but life and safety concerns made my journey about three years longer. Finally, I am living the dream and out in the Gulf of Alaska surrounded by pure ocean, whales, seabirds and catching lots of fish.
My name is Germaine Myerchin Thomas. I was born and raised in Ketchikan Alaska. I am the daughter of a fishermen and a teacher. I, myself, am a teacher, and I commercial fish in Prince William Sound. So far I have spent most of my summer fishing in the Eshamy district about 45 miles outside of Whittier. It has been a cold dark wet summer( the word “summer” is debatable). Recently, I jumped from Set Net fishing for Sockeye (Red) Salmon, in small open skiffs, to the fabulous NOAAS Oscar Dyson.
Just visualize the ice sculptures, swimming pool and yoga studio on the Lido Deck… nope! The NOAAS Oscar Dyson is a research vessel that you can find more about by clicking the link above. Currently there are 24 crew members and 8 scientists. The ship is outfitted to conduct an acoustic trawl survey, but there are other scientific projects going on during this leg of the cruise. It, also has great food and two gyms. The waves rolling under the hull of the boat make the feel of gravity extra strong while trying to do push ups.
Already I have discovered that working out in the ocean requires being very flexible and adaptable. Sometimes the weather or wildlife can delay setting out the trawl net. Last night the boat was surrounded by whales (Fin and Sei), marine birds (Fulmars, Shearwaters and Black footed Albatross) all enjoying the abundant fish that we wanted to catch in our trawl net. Naturally we just let the animals enjoy the abundance while the scientist patiently waited for their turn in another area.
When the cruise ends I will head back to Anchorage and teach high school, chemistry, oceanography, and marine biology. I am really looking forward to meeting my students for the first time. I hope that I might be able to Zoom into my classroom and share what I am doing while I am out here.
I teach third grade at Nokomis Elementary, The Greatest School In The Universe, in Ukiah, California. Ukiah is a thriving metropolis of about 17,000 people located about 2 hours north of San Francisco. The economy of our beautiful community is primarily agricultural and tourism based. We are known for pears, wine, and redwoods. The coast of Mendocino county is about an hour away, through the redwoods, and features beautiful cliffs, beaches and even the Lost Coast.
I grew up I n South Florida fishing in the mangroves and flats of the Everglades, Florida Bay, the Keys and Biscayne Bay so this is a bit of a return home for me. This will, however, be a very different endeavor. I look forward to being part of a science team collecting data. I want to learn about the sharks and other fish that we catch. I look forward to meeting and working with a variety of people from different professional backgrounds and regions.
I recently completed my 25th year of teaching as a classroom teacher and it has been quite a journey. I have taught grades K-6th and have enjoyed different aspects of each of them. Before becoming a classroom teacher, I taught English in Taiwan and traveled in China, Tibet, and Japan as well as working in schools in Philadelphia. Because I see how my own enthusiasm helps my students to connect with whatever I am teaching, I integrate my own interest in science, nature and the outdoors. The best that I can bring to my students is what I know and love. Through the Teacher At Sea program, I look forward to expanding my experiences and knowledge about applied science and careers at sea so that I can better bring the world of science to my students.
New Terms: Forward is a nautical directional term referring to the bow at the front of the ship while aft refers to the stern at the back of the ship.
Mission: Hydrographic Survey of the Pribilof Islands
Geographic Area of Cruise: Pribilof Islands, Alaska
Location (In Port): 57⁰43.8384’N, 152⁰30.8319’W
Date: July 12, 2023
Hi Everyone, my name is Elli and this week, I arrived in Kodiak, Alaska and right now I am aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather. This is my first time in Alaska as well as my first time being on a scientific research ship. I teach high school Mathematics, specifically Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and AP Calculus at Special Music School, a public school located in New York City. I also instruct two classes at the College and Graduate level as an adjunct lecturer at City College and Hunter College. My high school students are musically gifted and many go onto Music Conservatory Education. I am constantly in awe of their talent, grit and perseverance in pursuit of becoming better musicians. My students at the college and graduate levels are all learning how to be educators in the New York City school system. Their sense of purpose, commitment and openness to new ideas is inspiring.
Elli aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
I am a Math for America (MfA) Master Teacher and first heard of the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program (TAS) in 2019 through MfA – I researched the TAS program, and thought this is something I definitely want to do, and applied. I was accepted in the 2020 cohort, but because of COVID was rolled over to 2023 so here I am, three and a half years later embarking on a hydrographic survey of the Pribilof Islands.
I have been teaching math for 20 years and at various points have had experiences learning about the oceans and marine life. I started my career as a Peace Corps Volunteer and lived in Zanzibar, Tanzania for 2 years. In addition to teaching math, I was able to take students to study the coral reefs that surround the island through the Chumbe Environmental Education Program. They snorkeled, learned about coral and how to preserve and protect this environment. I also like to scuba dive and have completed over 90 dives at various places around the world– learning not only about shoreline habitat at each diving spot I visited, but how different facets of the ocean interact. In 2019, I was awarded a Fund for Teachers Grant where I traveled to Australia, scuba dived and learned first hand about the Great Barrier Reef. And now, I’m still on a journey to learn more about the world’s oceans and marine environments, this time with NOAA in the waters around Alaska.
Elli scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
So, what is a hydrographic survey you might ask? And where are the Pribilof Islands? The Pribilof Islands are four volcanic islands about 300 miles west of mainland Alaska in the south Bering Sea and about 250 miles north of the Aleutian Islands; the two largest islands are Saint Paul and Saint George. A Hydrographic survey uses sonar data to interpret the ocean floor and coastlines which then is used to produce Nautical charts. The Pribilof Islands Hydrographic Survey will map the ocean floor and surrounding coastline to provide updated accurate charts of this area. The Pribilof Islands have not been mapped since the 1950’s.
I will be onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather. The ship embarks in Kodiak, Alaska and disembarks in Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska. I am very much looking forward to spending time with the Science team on NOAA Ship Fairweather and learning about what everyone does on a NOAA ship. I plan on taking this information back with me to New York City and bringing this real-world research experience into my classroom.
NOAA Ship Fairweather
Did you know?
NOAA has three different types of Scientific research ships: Hydrographic surveys, Fisheries survey and Oceanographic research
Since 1990, the TAS program has sailed more than 850 teachers aboard their ships. Teachers have come from every state and 4 territories. (For any fellow teachers reading this, TAS has cohorts every year and applications are due in the Fall.)
Mission: Fisheries: Pacific Hake Survey (More info here)
Geographic Region: Pacific Ocean, off the coast of California
Date: July 3, 2023
Introduction and Background
Hello! My name is Lisa Carlson and I am an elementary school teacher in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I have taught third, fourth, and fifth grade general education with Special Education and English as a Second Language (ESL) inclusion. This coming fall I will be a second grade teacher, continuing with ESL inclusion! Although I was surprised to move down from fourth grade, I try to maintain the belief that everything happens for a reason, and the only constant in life is change.
For example, if I not missed out on previous opportunities to join NOAA as a Teacher at Sea due to the pandemic, a short career change, and other extenuating circumstances; I wouldn’t be writing this blog from a hotel room in San Francisco, California, anticipating boarding and seeing July 4th fireworks from the deck tomorrow.
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My introduction to NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program began in the fall of 2017. After student teaching in the fall/winter of 2016 in a third grade class, and permanent subbing in a fifth grade in the winter/spring of 2017, I accepted a position for my own third grade classroom.
My classroom came together with a nautical theme, shades of blues and calm colors, nautical paintings by my Mom, lots of cleaning and moving by my Dad, sailboat name tags on the door, and our own 3D sailboat in my class library. It soon got around that my room was one to go see!
Door decorations for my first third grade classroom!
Classroom decor: life ring painting, handmade pilings, fish and life ring pillows, sea creature lights, and 3D sailboat
Our Technology Integration Specialist, a NOAA Teacher at Sea Alumnus, visited my room and explained the program to me. The application was due on my birthday, less than a month from when I learned about the opportunity.
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So, I applied in November 2017, 2018, and 2019. One year I just wasn’t selected, one year administrative input was not turned in on time, and other hiccups along the way. Then, my 2019 application was accepted, and I was over the moon in January 2020 to learn that I was a finalist. Of course, we all know what happened that March; and the 2020 and subsequent 2021 sailing seasons were canceled. Slowly, a few teachers were able to sail in the summer of 2022, and I was able to read their blogs from afar with the belief of everything happening for a reason.
“For three decades, the Teacher at Sea program has helped teachers participate in annual NOAA research surveys conducted by our scientists. Teachers from around the country embark on a two to three week expedition at sea. They gain invaluable on-the-job experience and communicate their journey through a series of blogs and lesson plans.”
I am so excited for this opportunity and experience after five and a half years of anticipation. So follow along, wish us fair winds and following seas, and as many schools of Pacific Hake as possible to sample from and research!
– From my king sized bed hotel room, and last night ashore:
Temporarily reassigned teacher, and sailor at heart.
Mission: Hawaiian Islands Cetacean and Ecosystem Assessment Survey (HICEAS)
Geographic Area of Cruise: Hawaiian archipelago
Date: June 23, 2023
Introduction and Background
Hi Everyone! My name is Gail Tang and I am an Associate Professor of Mathematics at University of La Verne located in Southern California, about 35 miles east of East Los Angeles. I have been the Math program chair for 5 years. I teach mainly upper-level math classes for majors, but also really enjoy teaching the lower-level courses since it is in these classes where I can identify future math majors/minors. Shout out to those who added a math major/minor after one of these classes. You know who you are!
As I’ve been telling people about my summer plans, several questions have come up which I will answer below.
Where am I going?
In a few days, I am flying to Honolulu, Hawaii to start orientation for my Teacher at Sea (TAS) experience. TAS is a program of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for any educators at any level teaching any subject! This could be YOU! Check out more here: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/teacher-at-sea-program
What are the goals of Teacher at Sea with NOAA?
The TAS program has two main goals (TAS Online Training Documents, 2023):
To increase environmental literacy, outreach, and educational initiatives
To recruit and retain a highly adaptable technically competent and diverse workforce
Thus, during my time out at sea, I will be learning about NOAA research as related to ocean literacy principles, as well as education and training paths for NOAA-related careers. When I return home, I will work to create some math lessons using research methods, data collection, and data analysis learned aboard the ship. I will also create a lesson to highlight NOAA-related careers. I’m particularly excited about passing on career information to my students!
What kind of research do TAS participate in?
There are three types of cruises that TAS can get placed onto (TAS Online Training Documents, 2023):
Fisheries – conduct biological surveys and physical science studies “to protect, restore and manage use of living marine, coastal, and ocean resources through ecosystem-based management.”
Oceanographic – to increase the understanding of the world’s oceans and climate by measuring “ocean currents, ocean temperatures, atmospheric variables, surface salinity, carbon dioxide content, and sea-level atmospheric conditions.”
Hydrographic – chart the ocean floor using “multibeam sonar to collect depth measurements of the seafloor.”
Which type of cruise will I be joining?
I will partake in a fisheries cruise aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette for a marine mammal survey near the Hawaiian Archipelago. The ship was originally built for the U.S. Navy and was formerly known as U.S. Naval Ship Adventurous. It is 224 ft, can go up to a speed of 10 knots, and has a range of 17487 nautical miles. Visit the ship’s website for more information: https://www.omao.noaa.gov/mo/ships/oscar-elton-sette
What type of research is involved in HICEAS?
HICEAS (pronounced High Seas) “will survey the Hawaiian archipelago with a focus on studying whales, dolphins, seabirds, and their ecosystem (i.e., oceanography sampling).” (Email correspondence with Emily Susko, March 1, 2023). The last time the survey was conducted was in 2017 and the 2023 survey will be the fourth HICEAS survey.
Through reading the blog posts about the 2017 survey, I learned that there are two teams: the visual team and the acoustic team. The visual team is trained to use 25-powered binoculars (nicknamed “big eyes”) to spot marine mammals. I am hoping I’ll learn to spot the difference between a white cap and a splash from a dolphin! The acoustic team will also keep track of the cetaceans (order of marine mammals, whale, dolphin, porpoise) under the surface using hydrophones and sonobouys.
Each surveyor privately records their estimates of the number of cetaceans they observed as not to influence others. Later all the estimates are calibrated. This reminds me of the mathematical concept called the “wisdom of crowds”. Basically, it says that a crowd’s prediction (or in this case estimate) is more accurate that the predictions (estimates) of any one individual’s. Truly an example of a group-worthy task, as we say in mathematics education! Watch this ~4-minute video of Dr. Talithia Williams, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd, demonstrating the wisdom of crowds: https://ca.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/nvpn-sci-crowds/understanding-a-crowds-predictive-ability-prediction-by-the-numbers/
How did I find out about TAS?
Dr. Emily Cilli-Turner, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at University of San Diego, is a TAS alumna. In 2018, Dr. Cilli-Turner participated on a Pollock Acoustic-Trawl Survey aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson for three weeks off the coast of Alaska. She told me about her experience and helped me apply. I actually applied twice, having been rejected the first time. Moral of the story: be persistent and use your failures as learning opportunities! To read about Dr. Cilli-Turner’s time at sea, visit her blog: https://noaateacheratsea.blog/category/2018/emily-cilli-turner/
How long will I be on board NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette and what will it be like?
Each HICEAS survey has been about 180 days across two ships. The 2023 survey has 5 legs aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette (I am on the first leg for 4 weeks!) and 2 legs on NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker. TAS Staci DeSchryver joined the 2017 survey aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette and filled me in on some of the day-to-day life experiences. Staci shared some of the incredible learning experience and didn’t want to tell me everything in order to keep some things a surprise. Some interesting things I learned through Staci as well as the blogs/materials:
Unless we are going onto one of the Fast Rescue Boats aboard the ship, we do not disembark from the ship for the entire 4 weeks.
I will eat the best fish I’ve ever eaten.
Fresh fruit and veggies run out at about week 3.
There was one room on the ship that many of the staff would get seasick.
There’s a movie room and a gym. There have been stationary bikes on deck in the past.
I will be sharing a “stateroom” or “bunkroom” with others.
I will be among 14 scientists (Marine Mammal Observers, Birders, Acousticians, Oceanographers) and about 22 crewmembers.
I first applied to the TAS in 2018 and then applied again in 2019. I was accepted as a TAS for the 2020 field season and was anticipating sailing Summer 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the sail to 2021, and then to 2022. Now in 2023 (about 4.5 years later!), I am scheduled for the HICEAS survey. To say I’m excited is an understatement. However, there are a number of reasons a cruise does not set sail so I am holding onto the excitement until I am on the ship! One characteristic the program really stresses is flexibility because there are so many factors that impact these research expeditions.
I am most looking forward to the learning opportunities aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette. Though scary, uncertainty is thrilling, especially when it’s paired with prospects to view the world from a new and unimaginable perspective. As Michelle Obama says in her audiobook The Light We Carry:
“Go forth with a spoonful of fear, and return with a wagonful of competence.” (2:16:59)
Did You Know?
False killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) are a priority of the HICEAS survey. Despite their name, they are actually a member of the dolphin family (the delphinids). Their name comes from the similarity of skull shape to the killer whale rather than visual appearance. This population has been on the endangered species list since 2012. Their biggest threat are interactions with fisheries; fishermen see them as competitors and the species are prone to net entanglement. (International Whaling Commission, Marine Mammal Commission)
The inner marine biologist in me is EXCITED. I shouldn’t say inner, as I do have a master’s degree in marine biology! But I definitely feel like a phony as I studied birds… on land… and never once needed to snorkel or SCUBA dive. I am embarrassed to admit it given my educational background and the fact that I grew up in a coastal town, but I cannot even swim. So sure, sign me up to live on a boat for two weeks!
If I were to trace back the threads to how I ended up in NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program, it would likely have started in 2007, when I was a junior in high school. Like other juniors, we were all feverishly searching College Board on universities to attend, majors to study, and regions to live in. Growing up in a coastal town and like many girls my age, I was obsessed with dolphins. To be fair, we literally have statues of dolphins all over my hometown, so how can you not be intrigued by them?! In Virginia at the time, there was only one university that offered a degree in marine biology: Old Dominion University. Unfortunately, ODU was only 15 minutes from where I grew up and I was ready to spread my wings and fly a little further from the nest. A great school I found for marine biology was the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), where I applied and was accepted, but the out-of-state tuition was too great for me to financially handle. After conducting more searches on College Board, I applied to Radford University, which is in the mountains of Virginia. Here, I settled into a degree program in Biology, with a concentration of Environmental Biology.
One of the requirements of the Environmental Biology concentration is to take a GIS course. GIS stands for geographic information systems and is a growing technology that has unlimited applications. The intro class I took focused on how to use ArcGIS, the software that is used in the industry. I elected to take an intermediate class where I got to practice my skills more and learn about the applications of the tool. I was the only biology major (and woman!) taking the intermediate course, which is surprising given how much GIS is used in the field now.
As my years at Radford came to an end, I knew that I wanted to teach. I had earned countless opportunities in various teaching or tutoring roles at the college and enjoyed every minute. Well, not every minute. I would get incredibly nervous before each class period and that… processed itself… in different ways… Anyway, if I wanted to pursue a career as a professor, I needed to at least get my master’s degree. With the help of my college professors, they reviewed my materials and shared the expectations of grad school, how to apply, and how to find a research mentor. Since funding was less of an issue as a graduate student, I was not worried about staying within the confines of Virginia. With this boundary lifted, I also set my eyes back on marine biology.
With my environmental background, I was able to shift my mindset away from dolphins to focusing on how humans impact marine organisms. I sent emails to over 50 different professors across 20+ schools and maybe only heard back from about half. I interviewed at 5 different schools, got a verbal offer to study sharks, but was rescinded when their funding fell through. One of the last people I emailed was Dr. Steve Emslie, whose lab at UNCW focused on mercury toxicology in marine birds. I had no interest in birds, and I think they are cheating at being considered a marine animal, but I was starting to realize I needed to expand my scope more because marine biology is a competitive field. And opportunities to study marine organisms larger than an oyster are even more competitive. Steve brought me on to his lab where I shifted my previous dolphin obsession to birds.
I definitely… terned…
While I could drone on and on about my research on Brown Pelicans and their mercury loads, we need to focus on the GIS, which is the thread that led me to NOAA. With my fundamental GIS background, I added a spatial variability component to my research to analyze how mercury concentration in Brown Pelican tissues in their breeding colonies varies over space. At UNCW, I took a higher level GIS course entitled Environmental GIS. In this course, I was able to learn about the ecological applications of GIS and about the exciting world of remote sensing. When you think of satellites, you likely think of sensors looking for alien life or GPS or Starlink. And while that is true, NASA has a series of satellites that point back at Earth that remotely sense various parameters, such as particulate matter in our atmosphere, the amount of chlorophyll a on a surface, water temperature, soil moisture, and so much more.
Near the end of the semester, a student in this course shared about an internship she completed and passed out flyers around the room. I took one, but it wasn’t related to teaching so I didn’t immediately jump on it. At this point, I was nearing graduation and was starting my search for a full-time faculty role. Looking back, it was quite ambitious to think I was just going to land a full-time faculty position directly out of my master’s degree. But I did try! I was able to get a couple interviews but was always outcompeted by someone with far more experience than me. Panicking that I need an income after I finished school, I applied for the internship.
In the summer of 2014, I started my internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the DEVELOP program. This program utilizes Earth remote sensing to answer ecological questions for organizations around the world. The project that I had worked on that summer was using satellite imagery to measure forest fragmentation. We then compared it to bird presence data, which we collected from the Breeding Bird Survey, a yearly bird count through the U.S. Geological Survey. There were 7 other interns working together in a windowless office that was probably 150 sq ft in size. I would not be surprised if this was originally a storage room, given the wires, pipes, and electrical boxes found in the room.
Let’s do a quick speed run through parts that do not matter too much to this story: I worked at NASA Goddard for about 1.5 years before transitioning to teaching. I had been teaching part-time at a local community college for some of that time and received another part-time role, leading me to leave NASA. I worked at two institutions for a year, before getting the opportunity to move to China to teach the sciences at an international high school. I was there for 6 months before moving back in January 2017 to the United States after landing a full-time professorship at Montgomery College, a community college in Maryland. I have been with MC since then teaching ecology, evolution, and environmental biology.
Flash forward to 2019, and I see a post by one of my friends on social media. This friend was one of the other interns at NASA, whom I literally shared a desk with (it was a very small office space), who went on to work with the U.S. National Weather Service. And, if you did not already know, they are a part of NOAA! Jamie had shared about the Teacher at Sea program on his social media and after I read through the stories of educators on board, I knew I needed to apply. Add in four years while the world sorted itself, and here I am!
I am incredibly excited for this opportunity. The groundfish survey measures population size structures of the species caught and characterizes the water column at the sampling locations. I look forward to creating data driven lessons for my students to use statistics to measure diversity between stations and to compare that diversity with water quality samples. Our world is changing, and if we are to do something about it, we need to understand it.
Mission: 2023 Summer Acoustic-Trawl Survey of Walleye Pollock in the Gulf of Alaska
Geographic Area of Cruise: Islands of Four Mountains area, Western Gulf of Alaska Location (in port): 57o 47.0200′ N, 152o 25.5543′ W
Date: May 31, 2023
Not every educator has the amazing opportunity to volunteer with scientists on a NOAA ship. But in 2014, that opportunity became a reality for me when I joined NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson for a hydrographic survey in the Atlantic Ocean. Now my journey at sea with NOAA continues in 2023 as I head out on NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson for an acoustic-trawl survey of walleye pollock populations in the Gulf of Alaska.
Ever since I was an undergraduate intern for two summers at NOAA Maine Operations Center – Atlantic in Norfolk, VA, I wanted to sail on a NOAA ship. The NOAA Teacher at Sea (TAS) program opened that door for me and has provided so much, from my own advancement of the science and technology used to map the ocean floor, to content and stories I share with students and at science outreach events for the public. Now as a TAS alumna, I can’t wait to see how much more I can learn, teach, and share from my latest ocean expedition with NOAA.
I’m a college professor, teaching introductory-level earth science courses primarily for non-STEM majors at Penn State Brandywine in Media, Pennsylvania. I am dedicated to not only helping my students build their science literacy but also seeing the relevance of why and how science matters in their present and future lives. My research has involved using technology tools to enhance student learning of geoscience content, with my current work focusing on having students produce audio narratives (or “podcasts”).
Heading back out to sea with NOAA in 2023 is special for so many reasons. Life for all of us was disrupted in March 2020 – the COVID pandemic has been long and hard. My teaching and research has had so many twists and turns, and I still don’t know how everything will be moving forward. Getting out to sea on my first-ever fisheries expedition is not just exciting for me, but it has been heartwarming to see how many of my students and colleagues are sending me messages and looking forward to frequent updates! In a way, I’m taking so many people out to sea with me, and I’m going to work so hard to make this an informative and thrilling adventure for us all!
Last year (2022) was a notable year for the field of oceanography. It was the 150-year celebration of when the H.M.S. Challenger set sail to collect meteorological and oceanographic data ranging from deep sea soundings and temperatures to biological samples. Although there were several ships that went out on scientific expeditions prior to 1872, the Challenger expedition (from 1872-1876) is the one credited as giving rise to the field of oceanography – and it’s interesting that before 1872, the term “oceanography” didn’t even exist in any dictionaries! I read the book Endless Novelties of Extraordinary Interest: The Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger and the Birth of Modern Oceanography by Doug Macdougall, and I couldn’t help but make connections between the methods of oceanographic research back at the time of Challenger versus today. Keep a look out for many comparisons between the work and logistics of Challenger to my experiences on Oscar Dyson in my upcoming blog posts – no doubt I will be sharing some current items of “extraordinary interest!”
I’m also looking forward to continuing to explore the intersections of science and art (STEAM) can be used to engage audiences and to communicate science data. I like to crochet temperature data and use these temperature records created in yarn for teaching and outreach (it is similar to the amazing work of The Tempestry Project!). While on board Oscar Dyson, I’ll not only be exploring under the sea but looking up towards the sky as my atmospheric observations will inform my Stitch the Sky project! Stay tuned for a future blog post to follow along and/or to create your own data visualization for your location.
*If you are interested in reading about my first TAS experience on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, here are direct links to those blog posts:
As I am writing this, I find it hard to believe that over three years have passed since I was first selected to start my journey as a Teacher at Sea (TAS) with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). I am so grateful to continue to be a part of this amazing opportunity. In just a few days I will be on my way to join world-renowned scientists and to meet the crew of the ship.
I will be participating, April 22-May 5, 2023, in a Reef Fish Survey on the Gulf of Mexico on NOAA Ship Pisces. Here is the link to learn more about the ship I will call home for 14 days. The goal of this survey is to deploy baited cameras to gain video that allows us to count/measure the fish we see, categorize habitats, and ultimately provide information on overall fish populations. The measurement of water quality will be checked for environmental DNA analysis, which can provide information on what fish have been in the area. Another goal is to do seafloor mapping so that we can find new habitats worth sampling and provide higher quality maps. I will embark at the port in Galveston, Texas and disembarkation will take place in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
I am excited-nervous and the anticipation is at its highest right now. A part of me still has some disbelief that this is FINALLY going to happen. I am beyond ready and can’t wait to share this experience with my family, friends, and students.
Welcome to my Teacher at Sea Blog. My name is Julie Hayes and I am from Macon, Missouri. Macon is a small rural farming community in Northeast Missouri. I currently teach life science, ecology, and STEM at Macon R-1 Middle School, but I have taught grades 6-12 covering many science subjects. I would consider myself a life-long learner and am excited to see first- hand the data collection on this mission and how the use of technology has helped the scientists learn more about the ocean and ecosystems themselves.
I have been married for 24 years and have two grown kids. My son graduated last year with a degree in nuclear medicine and married his high school sweetheart. My daughter will soon be finishing up her first year of college. I am excited to share my experiences with my students. I was influenced by my science teacher growing up who allowed us to do hands on learning and this really peaked my interest to persuade young students to love all facets of science, too. I am excited to be taking this journey along with my students.
Why did I apply to NOAA Teacher at Sea?
Wow! Do I ever get asked this a lot from this midwestern town? Several people I know that have never ventured out further than the neighboring states of Iowa and Illinois, ask me, “why in the world I would want to go out into the ocean with a bunch of strangers and do a bunch of high tech science stuff that none of us have ever heard of?” Even my own children think I am crazy! I tell them it is exactly what I have dreamed of doing my whole life.
Growing up on a farm in a super small town, surrounded by nothing but cornfields and cows, created a sense of wanting to go out and see the world. My family cultivated most of our own vegetables and raised or harvested our own meat. Because of this, I was taught the importance of sustainability. I have always been drawn to nature (probably because it was all around me), but really became fond of all things water. I grew up swimming and observing all of the animals in rivers, creeks, ponds, and lakes. I spent countless hours trying to catch tadpoles, fish, frogs, and turtles just to put them back again. I developed an instant fascination with the ocean at a young age when I came across the scientific expeditions of Jacques Cousteau, that just happen to be on one of the 3 television channels that we could actually get.
I spent many years thinking I was going to go into marine biology, but due to being 1400 miles away from my college of choice for that, my plans took another turn. In fact, if any of my students still to this day ask me if I could be anything other than a teacher what would it be, I have always said a marine biologist. Because of my love for the ocean and the desire to continue to grow and learn more to influence my students, I started researching teacher opportunities over ten years ago.
That is when I found the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Teacher at Sea Program. I knew that my plans of applying were several years away, because I wanted to wait until my kids were older. In 2019, I took the leap of faith and filled out the application and got the amazing news that I was chosen for the 2020 season. When the COVID pandemic hit, everything came to a stand still preventing me from going.
I currently teach over 100 middle school students. I want to encourage them and spark an interest to have a passion for science like I do. By having the opportunity to teach in this rural community, I would consider myself extremely lucky. I have many real-world examples students can relate to right at my fingertips. I put an emphasis on my students being able to relate to the environment around them. One way I do this is by using examples they come across in their everyday lives, especially discussing farming sustainability and ecological topics like symbiosis and food webs. Several educational specimens I bring into the classroom come from my own pond or land that I live on. I love encouraging them to just go outside and look around, including those students that tend to stay indoors more.
We are lucky to have a state park in our little town. When we discuss the importance of conservation, they can see first hand the effects of doing so and why it is so important. Since we are landlocked and far from the ocean, I try to bring the ocean to them. I use symbiotic relationships with ocean ecosystems as examples, and you can find many ocean organisms displayed throughout my classroom. Part of the application process to become a NOAA Teacher at Sea, was to include an original lesson plan. I wanted to create a lesson teaching the students that our practices here, whether it be in farming or the burning of fossil fuels, impact the oceans ecosystems. We discuss how our farming practices in the Midwest can filter through the watershed and end up in the Mighty Mississippi River that meets the Gulf of Mexico. Making them aware of the things we do in our own community, can still have an impact on the oceans ecosystems.
My hopes are that from this learning experience myself, I will become more educated on key topics from ocean careers, use of technology, and practices that will influence my students. Students in my class are often problem solving for solutions, collecting data, and then analyzing that data to come up with their answers. This opportunity involves all of these, in which I can’t wait to share with them.
Students and co-workers are excited to hear about my NOAA Teacher at Sea experience. Students wrote down questions they were curious to ask about the ship, mission, scientist, and crew. They also wrote me personal encouragement letters to take along with me while I am out to sea. I can’t wait to read them while I am away! My hopes are to maintain contact with the students while I am at sea, and plan to spend a few days a week checking in on them. I will miss all of them, but know that this experience will be well worth it.
Greetings from Atlanta, Georgia. Join me during my research on the NOAA Ship Oregon II in an expedition studying shark and red snapper. I am excited to board the ship in Cape Canaveral, Florida and head to the Gulf of Mexico for about 14 days. Be a part of my journey and interact through my blog.
I first learned about NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program while at the Georgia Aquarium for a workshop two years ago. I immediately looked up more information & started the application process. Although I was accepted & thrilled to participate, Covid-19 delayed my departure. Please understand how frustrated I was as the world’s plans changed before my eyes! Normally I delete spam emails, but I did several searches to make sure I didn’t miss out on the email contacting me back to the original plan. I was so excited to finally get the news I’ve been waiting for that I did a happy dance.
In 2017 I was fortunate to participate in the Georgia Aquarium “Rivers to Reefs” program where educators spent one week testing water in the Altamaha River Watershed. We started in Atlanta and worked our way to Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Savannah, Georgia. Our field experiences included a behind the scenes tour of the Georgia Aquarium, testing water in Shoals Creek on Glenwood Avenue, High Falls State Park in Jackson Georgia, canoe the Ocmulgee River where it meets the Oconee River, Sapelo Island Marine Institute, and Skidaway Island Marine Science Center. This experience opened my eyes to more opportunities for my students and enlightened me on how humans effect the environment. I immediately worked on developing student project presentations and fieldtrips the next school year. I love seeing the “Aha” moments and taking my students to Skidaway Island and other places around the world. I get just as excited as them when they figure out things work.
While studying Math & Computer Science at Savannah State University, I spent a lot of time in the Marine Biology building working on projects, catching small crabs at the school’s dock, walking to the docks at Thunderbolt, and Tybee Island collecting samples. This allowed me to relax, rejuvenate, learn about the environment and be creative. Now I challenge my students and people around me to do the same. Currently I teach Algebra, Geometry & Pre-Calculus and would like to incorporate more cross-curricular projects with my students.
Upcoming Surveys in the Gulf of Mexico
My work hours will be from 12pm – 12am leaving from Cape Canaveral & headed to the Gulf of Mexico aboard the NOAA Ship OregonII. I am excited to work with all types of sharks & red snapper along the way. Listen, if I pull a shark from the tail will it try to bite me? How close do I need to be? How long can the fish be out of water while I carefully examine it & put back in the ocean? What will I use all this information for? Are you trying to make me shark meat? Which statistic will I increase? What if a hurricane approaches, do I need to record that too or leave town? Soon I will find out. Let’s get started!
What did the faculty & students have to say before I depart?
Last week students & faculty members had something to say about this exciting journey I will participate in with NOAA. I am honored to carry the torch for the Teacher at Sea Program this year and proudly immerse myself in the entire experience. Check out what a few people had to say.
Student Da’Vaughn T. : “I would like field trips such as helping the marine life and be able to visit underwater animals.”
Math Instructional Coach Eboni Arnold: “Science research can help students at McNair High School by enhancing their critical thinking skills, mathematical competency as well as gain an in-depth knowledge of science based real life practical skills to enhance their learning. Environmental issues are related to STEAM because the more students and educators know about the environment, they are able to raise awareness of the importance of being environmentally safe and protecting our society through learned experiences. Everyone can benefit from this amazing experience through Ms. Hastie sharing her blogs, notes, her own experiences, and the connections she will make with her students, colleagues, and within McNair High School. Ms. Hastie is an excellent choice for this opportunity because she always connects real-life opportunities to her classroom instruction. She provides opportunities for students to experience life outside the classroom through field trips and project-based learning.”
Principal Dr. Loukisha Walker:
“Hello, my name is Dr. Loukisha Walker and I am a proud principal of Dr. Ronald E. McNair High School in Atlanta, Georgia. I would like to speak on why Ms. Hastie is the perfect choice for the Teacher at Sea Program.
“For Ms. Hastie, this opportunity is simply an extension of prior and current activities that she has used to expose students to opportunities and programs that would otherwise be out of reach for our students. This allows students to broaden their scope of possibilities for careers and even travel. Ms. Hastie, in addition to all of these things, is an avid blogger, project creator, and loves to communicate what she has learned to students to give them wisdom and insight, though they did not experience it first hand. For this reason and others, Ms. Hastie is simply the perfect choice for the Teacher at Sea Program. I know that Ms. Hastie, and her work ethic, and the way she pays attention to detail, she will take all of that information and bring it back to our students and make sure that she relays that information to them. She’s gonna talk about how exciting it is for them. She’s going to even speak on just her experience for being at sea for so many days. So with all of those things in mind, Ms. Hastie is going to not only do an amazing job while she’s at sea for 15 days, but she’s going to record, she’s going to continue to blog while she’s there, she’s gonna take a ton of photos and she’s going to come back and make sure our students experience it as if they were there with her.
“This is Ms. Hastie, this is her work ethic, and we’re so proud of her and we know she’s going to do an amazing job with the Teacher at Sea Program. Congratulations once again, Go Mustangs, and we are proud of you.“
Assistant Principal of Attendance & Testing, Dr. Barbara Long:
“Good afternoon, my name is Dr. Barbara Long. I serve as the assistant principal of attendance and testing at the fantastic Dr. Ronald E. McNair High School. We are so proud of Ms. Maronda Hastie and all that she is going to learn, do, and share when she returns from this amazing adventure. Science research can benefit our students at Dr. Ronald E. McNair High School in multiple ways. Number 1, it will surely help to develop our students’ problem solving, analytical, and critical thinking skills. Hopefully students will engage in actionable research projects following this pursuit and partner and collaborate with others to devise solutions to these real life problems and ultimately benefit the communities in which we live. So I’m looking forward to the engagement, activities, and application of the real science for our students. Proud to be a leader here.”
Art Teacher Debra Jeter:
“There’s something that’s universal about science research that could not only benefit the students at McNair, but benefit anyone to know what’s going on around us. How else can we, you know, contribute or help or even understand and live in this world if we don’t have some understanding of, you know, what’s going on around us. And the ocean is so important to us. And I think Ms. Hastie is a great choice for this, because not only has she been well traveled, but she has a great interest in science research and the environment.
“And not only that, but she does the most, you know? Like, she’ll be in there, following them and asking questions and writing it down and making sure she bring it back and share with McNair. And so many of these environmental issues are related to STEAM, too, which is a big concern for all the teachers at McNair, because environmental issues, as global warming continues, is gonna be vital for us all to understand how we can contribute to making our environment more peaceful. And not so hostile, and, you know, so many species are going extinct, if we just let this continue, we might be extinct too. And I’m sure that she’s gonna benefit… We’ll all benefit from her experience of being out there. I can’t wait to hear her stories and see her photos. I’ve been on journeys with her before she’s a marvelous… She know how to find places and go places and do things, she’s very capable. It’s gonna be fascinating just to hear her second-hand stories of what she found and how we can help make the world a better place.”
Business & Technology Teacher Wanda Charles-Henley
“Hello, my name is Wanda Charles-Henley and I’m a business teacher here at McNair High School. And I’d like to answer question number two: how and why is Ms. Hastie a good choice for this opportunity? I think Ms. Hastie is a perfect candidate for this opportunity because she’s always willing to go above and beyond for not only the students here at McNair, but also the staff members. She’s always willing to lend a helping hand. As a new teacher here, she was the first one to come and say she would teach me some of the new programs ’cause I’d been out of education for a while. She’s always one of the last teachers to leave the building. So she has a number of programs that she has coordinated for the students, exposing them to a lot of the opportunities outside of school. She also has the Chick-fil-A Leadership Program. She’ll coordinate activities for the students such as skating, coordinate activities such as environmentally cleaning up the Chattahoochee River. She’s always coming up with innovative ways to get the students involved. And I just think she will be an excellent candidate, and she is an outstanding teacher, and I can’t wait to see what she brings back to McNair High School and all the information she’s gonna share with us. Go Ms. Hastie!”
Culinary Arts Teacher Chef Leslie Gordon-Hudson:
“Okay, my question that I will be answering is how and why is Ms. Hastie a good choice for this opportunity… Ms. Hastie is a good choice for this opportunity, ’cause she is one teacher, I know, that will go out and get the resources and the information and bring it back not just to her math class, but in the entire school and engage the entire school, and whatever the idea is or the project or the learn resource or whatever the systems that she learned, that’s why I think she’s a great choice for this program.”
Student Dieynabou D.:
“I believe that everyone can benefit from this great experience because it will provide excellent exposure into many things, including careers into oceanography. As a student leader, and a member of the National Beta Club here at McNair High School, I’m looking forward to creating community service activities that are involved with the environment.”
And here’s what I have to say:
“Hi, my name is Maronda Hastie. I am a representative of McNair High School in DeKalb County, Georgia. I am so excited to have been selected to be a part of the Teacher at Sea Program. I first heard about it at the Georgia Aquarium, and it is a program from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. So I’m excited that I’m gonna be studying shark and red snapper (hope the shark doesn’t eat me!) but I’m excited about studying the shark, because once I do all of my research for a few weeks, I get to bring it all back and I will share it with my colleagues, I will share it with my students, and I will share it with the community. So I feel like my job is to just spread the information about oceanic opportunities, as well as opportunities for the students to know about more careers, more field trips, more hands-on activities in the classroom. So I’ll develop a few lessons, so although I teach math, we can do interdisciplinary projects, so I’ll be working with, say, the science teacher, I work with the art teacher, I work with any teacher who would like to create lessons with me, so that we can, you know, expose our children. So I’m excited.“
Área Geográfica de Expedición: Costa de Washington
Fecha: 4 de agosto de 2022
¡Saludos a todos desde Isabela, Puerto Rico! estoy muy contento de que te unas a esta travesía conmigo en alta mar. Mi nombre es Michael Gutiérrez Santiago y en una semana estaré a bordo de la embarcación NOAA Bell M. Shimada participando de una expedición junto a los científicos de la NOAA realizando un sondeo de merluza del pacífico. Viajaré a Washington, lo cual son 10 horas aproximadamente para comenzar esta travesía. Espero que te unas y seas parte de esta expedición conmigo.
Estoy muy contento y agradecido de formar parte de esta experiencia. Recuerdo la mañana del 2019 que conocí sobre el programa de Teacher at Sea, estaba asombrado que educadores podían tener la oportunidad de estar en una expedición en alta mar con científicos y tripulantes de la NOAA. Sin dudar solicité y fui aceptado en el 2020. Como todos saben, el COVID-19 puso una pausa en el mundo, pero luego de dos años aquí estamos, ¡listos para abordar!
El vivir en Puerto Rico me ha hecho enamorarme de las playas, los bosques, cuevas, ríos junto a su flora y fauna. Es por esto que decidí realizar un Bachillerato en Ciencias Ambientales, para poder conocer más sobre lo que nos rodea y como poder conservarlo. Esta pasión al medio ambiente me ha llevado a compartir mis conocimientos a personas que me rodean y me di cuenta de que no hay mejor manera de conservar nuestros recursos ambientales que a través de la educación. Así que decidí certificarme como maestro de ciencias a nivel secundario.
El Comienzo de Grandes Cosas
A comienzos del 2017 me uní al EcoExploratorio: Museos de Ciencias de Puerto Rico, donde logré llevar la educación científica y la conservación ambiental a todo la Isla. Fue aquí mi escuela, donde aprendí a como ser un educador, tuve la oportunidad de llevar charlas educativas a diversas partes de la Isla, realizar talleres, webinars y ser parte de otras exhibiciones. El EcoExploratorio recibe una visita anual de 300,000 personas, teniendo la oportunidad de conozcan sobre que nos rodea y como conservarlo. Por otra parte, el EcoExploratorio se enfoca en la preparación de eventos atmosféricos como huracanes y eventos naturales como terremotos.
Actualmente soy profesor de Ciencias Ambientales a 12mo grado en la Escuela Abelardo Martínez Otero en Arecibo Puerto Rico. Logramos este año realizar diversas actividades, laboratorios y experimentos gracias a la excelente calidad de estudiantes que tuve. A pesar de que las limitaciones por el COVID-19, esos estudiantes dieron el máximo, teniendo así una excelente clase de Ciencias Ambientales.
Ciencia en Alta Mar
Mi tiempo en el mar será en el océano pacífico, a bordo de la embarcación NOAA Bell M. Shimada en la segunda etapa del sondeo de merluza del pacífico, donde estaré trabajando y aprendiendo de Beth Phillips Chief Scientist y bióloga de NOAA Fisheries Service y el equipo de científicos. Algunos de mis objetivos en esta expedición es compartir lo aprendido en esta expedición con ustedes a través de los blogs, proporcionar datos vitales para ayudar a gestionar la población costera migratoria de merluza del Pacifico, llevar a cabo una calibración entre embarcaciones con el barco de la Guardia Costera canadiense Sir John Franklin en coordinación con los científicos del DFO para garantizar que los datos sean comparables para el 2023 y puedan combinarse para la evaluación de la población, recoger muestras de agua y plancton en la Línea Hidrográfica de Newport, muestreo de eufáusidos, la recopilación de datos oceanográficos y la recopilación de datos acústicos de banda ancha.
Para mí es un honor y un privilegio poder ser parte del programa Teacher at Sea. El poder ser parte de esta expedición es un sueño hecho realidad. Pondré todos mis esfuerzos para hacer orgulloso a Puerto Rico, a mi familia, maestros, estudiantes y al programa de Teacher at Sea. Me encantaría que fueran parte de esta expedición, mis blogs serán en inglés y español para poder llegar a todos ustedes. En confianza me encantaría que me hagan llegar sus preguntas o me dejen saber que ha sido lo más que le ha llamado la atención.
Greetings to all from Isabela, Puerto Rico! I am so glad you are joining me on this journey on the high seas. My name is Michael Gutiérrez Santiago and, in a week, I will be aboard the NOAA Bell M. Shimada in an expedition with NOAA scientists on the Pacific Hake Survey. I will travel to Washington, which is approximately 10 hours to begin this journey. I hope you will join and be a part of this expedition with me.
I am very happy and grateful to be part of this experience. I remember in 2019 that I learned about the Teacher at Sea program, I was amazed that educators could have the opportunity to be on an expedition on the high seas with NOAA scientists and crew members. Without hesitation I applied and was accepted in 2020. As you all know COVID-19 put the world on pause, but after two years here we are, ready to board!
Living in Puerto Rico made me fall in love with the beaches, forests, caves, rivers along with its flora and fauna. That is why I decided to do a Bachelor Degree on Environmental Sciences, to learn more about what surrounds us and how to conserve it. This passion for the environment has led me to share my knowledge with people around me and I realized that there is no better way to conserve our environmental resources than through education. Therefore, I decided to get certified as a high school science teacher.
My early beginnings
At the beginning of 2017 I joined the EcoExploratorio: Science Museums of Puerto Rico, where I was an informal educator teaching science and and environmental conservation to the entire Island. It was here that I learned how to be an educator, I had the opportunity host workshops, webinars and be part of other exhibitions. The EcoExploratorio receives an annual visit of 300,000 people, having the opportunity to educate about what surrounds us and how to conserve it. On the other hand, the EcoExploratorio focuses on preparing for atmospheric events such as hurricanes and natural events such as earthquakes.
I am currently a 12th grade Environmental Science teacher at the Abelardo Martínez Otero School in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. This year we managed to carry out various activities, laboratories, and experiments thanks to the excellent quality of students I had. Despite the limitations we had due to COVID-19, these students gave their best, thus having an excellent Environmental Science class.
Science on the high seas
My time at sea will be in the Pacific Ocean, aboard the NOAA Bell M. Shimada in the second leg of the Pacific Hake Survey where I will be working and learning from chief scientist Beth Phillips, biologist at NOAA Fisheries, and rest of the research team. Some of my goals on this expedition are to share what I am going to learn on this expedition with you via blogs, provide vital data to help manage the migratory coastal population of Pacific hake, conduct an Inter-Vessel Calibration with Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir John Franklin in coordination with DFO scientists to ensure data is comparable in 2023 and can be combined for population assessment, collect water and plankton samples at the Newport Hydrographic Line, euphausiid sampling , collecting oceanographic data, and collecting broadband acoustic data.
For me it is an honor and a privilege to be part of the Teacher at Sea program. Being able to be part of this expedition is a dream come true. I will put all my efforts to make Puerto Rico, my family, teachers, students, and the Teacher at Sea program proud. I would love for you to be part of this expedition; my blogs will be in English and Spanish to reach all of you. It would be great to send your questions or let me know what has caught your attention the most.
Latitude: 40ᵒ 47’57” N Longitude: 81ᵒ 41’49”” W Elevation: 1102 ft.
Weather in Dalton, Ohio – Finally Summer! Hot, humid, and a chance of afternoon thundershowers.
Did you know that every year on June 21 people across the world celebrate World Hydrography Day? So just what is hydrography and why am I excited about it?
Greetings from Dalton, Ohio! My name is Laura Grimm, and I am the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) teacher for all the wonderful, enthusiastic students in kindergarten through 8th grade at Dalton Local Elementary and Middle School. Dalton is a rural village in Wayne County in Northeast Ohio. Our school district is small (less than 900 students), yet mighty! We serve the Dalton and Kidron communities and are fiercely proud of our students. Bulldog Pride district wide!
I have always “yearned to learn”. So, in the fall 2019, I applied to be a Teacher at Sea (TAS) with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA has been sending teachers to sea for 30 years!
I was accepted to be a TAS and was assigned to a fisheries expedition in the Gulf of Maine in April 2020. Do we all remember what happened in the spring of 2020? Yes, COVID caused this plan to be postponed . . . twice. I was very disappointed, yet I remained optimistic for the future.
In late April this year, I got the news that I would be sailing on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson to help scientists do a hydrographic survey of Lake Erie!
Go to this link if you would like to learn more about NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.
I will be helping scientists (hydrographers) map the floor of Lake Erie in the vicinity of Cleveland, South Bass Island and Presque Isle, PA. The survey will identify hazards and changes to the lake floor and provide data for updating NOAA’s nautical charts to make it safe for maritime travel.
I grew up only 20 miles from the Port of Cleveland. As a child, my family spent a week each summer on Middle Bass Island where I learned to swim and fish for walleye and perch. My daughter and I vacationed on Kelleys Island for many summers. I even took an oceanography class on Gibraltar Island. These islands are in Lake Erie and are close to South Bass Island which will be included in this summer’s hydrographic survey. I am very excited to learn more about the Lake of my childhood.
While I am “at sea” – actually, on the lake – I will post 2 to 4 blogs per week. My blogs will include information about the science and technology I am learning and what it is like to live on a NOAA research vessel. I will pose questions, define new terms, and give you things to think about. I encourage you to communicate with me via email (email@example.com). I will be very busy on the ship and the internet may be spotty, so be patient with me; I will try my best to post answers to your questions on my next blog.
I couldn’t be more excited! I have so much to learn. It looks like I will be more of a student this summer than a teacher! Connecting children with nature, promoting STEAM education, and being a lifelong learner are three of my life goals. This research opportunity will check all three boxes. I am more than ready to board NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson! May the learning begin!
Anticipating Departure on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
June 20- July 1, 2022
Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie/Lake Michigan
Date: June 16, 2022
Greetings from Beavercreek, Ohio. My name is Oktay Ince, and I will be posting here over the next couple of weeks about my experiences from NOAA’s research vessel, Thomas Jefferson, as an educator conducting a hydrographic survey of Lake Erie/Lake Michigan! I’ll drive up to Cleveland on June 19, which will take about 3.5 hours from where I live now. My official work will start on June 20th, though. I can’t wait to have this once in a lifetime opportunity and share them all with you! Stay tuned …
Long Awaited Journey!
Back on January 27, 2020, I received a congratulations email from the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program. “ Dear Applicant, On behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Teacher at Sea Selection Committee, we are pleased to inform you that you were selected to be a finalist for the 2020 season”. At first, I was confused about what it means to be a finalist in this incredible program. Was I selected? Was I on the waiting list or did I have to meet certain criteria to be fully eligible to participate? The answer came later in the letter. I have to be medically cleared in order to sail. That includes a Tuberculosis (TB) test prior to sail.
After completing all the necessary documents, I received an email on February 20 stating that I was medically cleared to sail and able to participate in the 2020 NOAA Teacher at Sea Program! Yay!!! We then had our first informational meeting on March 3.
A week after that, on March 10, a disappointing email came in! Due to the nationwide spread of Covid-19, our sailing season was canceled! However, there was a positive note at the end, “ We are planning to keep each of you in finalist status for our 2021 season.” I thought, well at least we are sailing the following year in 2021, not thinking that the pandemic would stay with us for two LONG years.
By December 14, 2021, there was a hope to sail in the 2022 season. After confirming my interest in sailing and TB test (yes, again!), I received another congratulatory email on March 11, 2022 stating that I would be one of the teachers who will sail in the 2022 season! On April 28, I learned that I’ll be sailing NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson on June 20- July 1, 2022 on the Great Lakes conducting a hydrographic survey of Lake Erie!
And here was the most exciting part: I will be the FIRST NOAA Teacher at Sea on the Great Lakes!
“Destiny favors prepared minds”
– once said Louis Pastor, a famous 18th century French microbiologist who invented the process of pasteurization and pioneered many scientific discoveries that we use today.
Whether Pastor said or not, this quote well defines my philosophy in life. As a little boy from the hills of central Anatolia, I dreamed of going places I’d never been before and learning as much as I could to help to make the world a better place. I always seek to learn, meet new people, and have new experiences.
Here I am, about to explore the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth, Great Lakes, by total area and second-largest by total volume.
I am entering my 8th year in the field of education with my new position as an assistant principal of academics at the Horizon Science Academy High School in Columbus, Ohio. I taught various science subjects including biology, chemistry, and genetics; and health science pathway courses including health science and technology, medical terminology, patient care and pharmacy technician in the career technical education program in our school.
What am I going to do on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson?
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson is a hydrographic survey ship, meaning it collects bathymetric data (i.e. map the seafloor) to support nautical charting, modeling, and research, but also collect other environmental data to support a variety of ecosystem sciences. In this research assignment, Thomas Jefferson will collect data from the Cleveland, Ohio area as well as the vicinity of South Bass Island and Presque Isle. At the end of the project, the data will allow us to identify hazards and changes to the seafloor, provide critical data for updating NOAA’s nautical charting products, and improve maritime safety.
I am anticipating assisting with the acquisition of survey data on survey launches, scanning data to assist with the final processing of data, and riding on small support boats to help with the installation of shore positioning stations and tide gauges.
My Goals while in the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson ?
Through this program, I hope to accomplish the following objectives:
Learn how NOAA’s scientists map ocean/lake floor and how they communicate their data with related stakeholders. The process of collecting ocean/lake data, analyzing and communicating this vital information with the public is something I am interested in to bring back to my school.
Explore ocean related careers and interview with those who are interested in sharing their experiences within their career journey. Presenting those careers to our students through PBL projects, or career exploration days will increase ocean-related careers within our school building.
Increase my knowledge on the Great Lakes and its significance locally and globally. This is significant because Ohio’s streams flow into either the Ohio River or Lake Erie, and eventually both release their water into the Atlantic Ocean. I want to make sure our students know their local water systems well and how they connect globally.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a scientific and regulatory agency within the Department of Commerce. Its mission is “to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, ocean, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources”.
NOAA’s products and services support economic vitality and affect more than one-third of America’s gross domestic products. Source: NOAA’s Official Website
About NOAA’s Teacher At Sea Program
The NOAA’s Teacher at Sea (TAS) Program provides once-in-a-life time opportunity for educators by sending teachers to sea aboard NOAA research and survey ships to work under the world renowned NOAA’s scientists, officers and crew. Teachers will then share what they learn with their students, districts and communities. For more information, check out their official website.
About NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson is hydrographic survey vessel that maps the ocean to aid maritime commerce, improve coastal resilience, and understand the maritime environment. The ship officially entered the NOAA fleet in 2003 (formerly the U.S. Naval Ship Littlehales) and was renamed for President Thomas Jefferson. You may find more information about NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson here.
NOAA Teacher at Sea Jordan Findley Aboard NOAA Ship Pisces June 9-22, 2022
Mission: SEAMAP Reef Fish Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico Date: June 5, 2022
Series of Events
In October of 2019, I learned of the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program. Without hesitation – yep, sign me up, and applied in November. In January of 2020, I received the following message:
On behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Teacher at Sea Selection Committee, we are pleased to inform you that you were selected to be a finalist for the 2020 season! Now onto the next steps…
Stoked. Couldn’t be more thrilled. February 2020, medically cleared and ready for the more information call.
(Insert Record Scratch Sound Effect)
January 2020, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirms the first U.S. laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19, and by March of 2020 the United States declares a nationwide emergency. On March 9, 2020, I was notified of the cancellation of the 2020 NOAA Teacher at Sea season in response to the pandemic.
As for all of us, COVID put a screaming halt to my travel plans, but more importantly the world around us. As the pandemic progressed, the 2021 Teacher at Sea season was also canceled. No, this is not a blog about COVID, and I am in no way downplaying the impact of the pandemic, but it is a part of my story. I, much like all of us, have gained a great deal of perspective, patience, and gratitude (and maybe a few gray hairs) during the last two years, and the anticipation of this trip has made me that much more grateful and excited for the opportunity to participate this season.
Okay, back to the good stuff. March 2022, we are back in action and in April, I received the official cruise offer. NOW I can get excited. In just a few days, June 9-22, 2022, I will be participating in a Gulf SEAMAP Reef Fish Survey on NOAA Ship Pisces. The Pisces will conduct a survey of reef fish on the U.S. continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico using a custom built spherical stereo/video stationary camera systems and bandit reels. The ship’s EM 2040 multibeam system will be used to map predetermined targeted areas on a nightly basis to improve or increase the reef fish sample universe. A patch test of the EM 2040 multibeam echosounder….
You lost yet? Yea, me too. Looking forward to learning what this actually entails. I shall follow up in layman’s terms.
Oh, ahem. Let me introduce myself. Hi, I’m Jordan Findley.
My resume reads, “I am an environmental professional dedicated to demonstrating environmental advocacy and sustainability, while fostering a generation of future environmental stewards.” Professional is relative here. My professional background is in husbandry and environmental education. On a personal level, those who know me well might describe me as an educator, traveler, and outdoor enthusiast. My interests have always aligned with nature, wildlife, and the outdoors and I am continually astonished by our planet and passionate about protecting it.
I grew up in rural Indiana and spent all of my time outside. At an early age, I gained an appreciation for a simple life, a grand adventure, and the beauty of the natural world around me; and that is the essence of my being. I would simply describe myself as a bit of a wanderer with a thirst for life and motivation to inspire others. I’ve spent my entire existence chasing the next big opportunity, and because of that, life has afforded me some amazing opportunities. I often hear, “I live vicariously through you,” but that really isn’t my hope. My hope is that I inspire and empower others to have their own amazing experiences in life, do what they love, and be the best version of themselves.
To be honest, my background is all over the place and true to myself. I hold a B.A. in Zoology and M.A. in Biology from Miami University (that’s Ohio). My education provided fundamental knowledge of animal, environmental, and social sciences and science education. I traveled to Mexico, Australia, and Kenya during graduate school to study human impact on the environment and community-based approaches to conservation. These experiences abroad vastly broadened my view of the world and the environmental challenges it faces.
I worked seasonally until hired as an educator at Tampa Bay Watch (TBW) in 2016. I will spare you all the details of me bouncing from job to job, but I will say it was then that I had some of the most unique experiences and learned of my passion for education. As much as I thought otherwise, I am an educator at heart, but I knew the classroom was never for me. And though I have mad, mad respect for formal educators (you are all saints), I knew that any facilitation I would be doing had to take place outside. Experiential education became my niche and has been such a rewarding job. I get to teach about what I love, be immersed in nature, and be a part of creating meaningful experiences.
As the Education Program Coordinator at Tampa Bay Watch, I coordinate and facilitate field trips and camps for students K-12 known as Estuary EDventures. Our programs hosted at the Auer Marine Education Center in Tierra Verde, FL focus on estuary ecology and conservation. Students are exposed to the wonders of our natural world through hands-on, marine science labs and immersive field experiences. Our most popular programs are otter trawling and seining. Why wouldn’t they be? We have so much fun collecting animals of the bay, learning about their unique adaptations, and connecting to the marine environment.
Ready for Sea
I cannot even describe how excited I am to be out at sea working with scientists, and learning something new. Let’s be real, I am not sure I really know what to expect, but I’m here for it.
My time at sea will be spent in my home waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I have so much to learn from this trip and such a great platform to share that knowledge thereafter. I am inspired by the students I see every day, some of whom experience a sea star or puffer fish for the first time. The spark in their eyes I will carry with me on this trip. I have been teaching marine science informally for nearly six years and it never ceases to amaze me. I mean, it’s pretty amazing, right? Our oceans are essential for life and home to millions of species, and its conservation is one of the greatest challenges our scientists face.
I am so incredibly grateful to have been selected to participate in the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program. The allure to this program was the opportunity to be immersed in the research, the hands-on, real-world experience at sea. The goal is to provide my students first-hand exposure to the exciting NOAA research projects at sea. Making their learning relevant through my experience will hopefully ignite a curiosity and excitement for science and build a better understanding and appreciation for our planet.
Welcome to the inaugural post of my blog, describing my observations and reflections as a NOAA Teacher at Sea on my upcoming expedition in June 2022. My name is George Hademenos and I am excited to invite you along on this field trip of a lifetime to learn about marine science and the research that will be conducted during the research cruise. This is a particularly momentous occasion as this experience has been two years in the making (Dang that COVID!) – more on the application process, the NOAA Teacher at Sea program, and the instructional possibilities that this program presents will follow in upcoming posts.
Before I go any further, I want to take this opportunity to address the 800-lb sea lion in the room. The “sea lion” I am referring to is the title of the blog. “I am (George Hademenos, NOAA Teacher at Sea), I Said.” is a rather peculiar title for a blog entry and I did want to take this opportunity to explain the rationale for this title and set the stage for the blog entries to follow.
I have always loved music not only for the melodies but also for the lyrics that draw the listener into a story. Music has played an important part of my life not only as a hobby but also as a job. Beginning in high school and continuing through college, I was an announcer at radio stations in my hometown of San Angelo, Texas, the West Texas city that I grew up in. My love of music combined with my love of talking (which greatly prepared me for the classroom) made this an ideal job for me. Below is a picture of me at one of these radio stations that I worked at, KGKL.
In any event, returning to the blog title discussion, I decided to incorporate this time in my life into my current experience by titling this blog entry (as well as every other blog title that follows) with the exact title (or a modified title) of a recorded song. What better way to begin a blog than with Neil Diamond!
With that explanation out of the way, I would like to use this first blog entry to introduce myself, explain why a high school physics teacher in Texas is interested in marine science and, most importantly, provide details about my cruise assignment as well as ways you can learn more about my expedition and marine science, in general. I am currently in my 21st year of teaching physics at Richardson High School in Richardson, Texas, a suburb north of Dallas.
I know that physics often gets a bad reputation among high school students as being hard, involving math, and quite frankly a class that they are forced to take. And these students would be correct on all counts. However, I often tell my classes at the beginning of each school year, “the reason I love teaching physics is that each of you experience physics on a daily basis and I do not have to think long and hard to come up with examples and applications of every topic and concept covered in class that directly impact your life.” I know that if I am successful in this regard, then perhaps my students might actually grow to tolerate and some maybe to even enjoy physics.
How did I end up in the classroom?
When I graduated from high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to be but I knew what I didn’t want to be… a teacher. I did not want or even entertain the notion of a career as a teacher. What makes this even more astounding is that everyone in my family were teachers, except me. My dad was the Education Department chair at the university I attended but I still was not interested. I wanted to pursue a career in medical research. Following my pursuit of advanced degrees in physics, two postdoctoral fellowships (one in nuclear medicine and another in neuroradiology), and a career as a staff scientist for stroke at the American Heart Association, I lived my dream but realized it was impacting my reality. My wife, Kelly, and I have a daughter, Alexandra, who always loved school and invested her time in any and all extracurricular activities she could possibly handle. My time was invested in activities that required my direct attention such as meetings, conferences, grants and drafting manuscripts for publication and not activities that I wanted to focus on such as attending recitals, performances, parent-teacher conferences and help with homework.
I understand that there are priorities in life and for me, they finally came into focus. I decided to change careers – change into the one career I thought I would never pursue – teaching. Twenty years later, I still have not regretted the move. So, what am I like in the classroom? The video below gives you a snapshot of what it is like to have me as a teacher.
Why marine science?
One thing you will come to learn about me through my blog postings is that I am a teacher who not only loves to teach but also, first and foremost, loves to learn. I am always looking for novel, innovative, and creative approaches to instructional activities, experiences, and projects that I can engage my students with, as well as share these approaches with other teachers. When a program such as NOAA Teacher at Sea comes about with opportunities for teachers to learn about marine science and “walk a mile in the shoes” of researchers, teachers like me jump at the chance to apply and hopefully are selected for such an honor.
I will be a participant on NOAAS Oregon II for Leg 2 of the SEAMAP Summer Groundfish Survey where I will be working with and learning from Andre J. Debose, Chief Scientist with NOAA Fisheries Service and his research team based in Pascagoula, MS. I am beyond ready for my Teacher at Sea cruise where I plan to pursue the following two objectives: (1) to share my knowledge and experiences of this journey with you through a blog and a Google Site and (2) initiate and contribute to a dialogue about the importance of planning, collecting, and evaluating surveys of shrimp, groundfish, plankton, and reef fish, conducted in the Gulf of Mexico, that you in turn can share with your students and colleagues.
More information regarding the cruise will follow in subsequent blog posts prior to and during the cruise (if the internet is behaving). I hope that you will not only read the blog posts but ask questions ranging from the Teacher at Sea program to the cruise details to the ship NOAAS Oregon II to the research conducted aboard the vessel to ways you can learn more marine science (or if you are a teacher, to design instructional activities to engage your students in marine science). I may not know the answers to all of your questions but rest assured that, if I do not know how to respond to a particular question, I will let you know and take steps to find a prompt and factual response. I would like to make this journey a positive learning experience for everyone!
Latitude: 26° 17’ 45” Longitude: 81° 34’ 40” Temperature: 91° F Wind Speeds: NNE 7 mph
I leave on my “Twice in a Lifetime Experience” I thought I’d let you know a little
more about me.
In May of 2010, I participated in the NOAA TAS program. The hardest part was leaving my 1 ½ year old son Jonah while I was gone for three weeks. At the time I was teaching science at Key Biscayne K-8 School, which was located on an island off of Miami, Florida. I wanted to have my students experience something new so I chose to go to Alaska aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson. The ship left out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska where the Deadliest Catch is filmed. We spent the days and night doing neuston and bongo tows to study the walleye pollock (imitation crab meat). I couldn’t have asked for a better experience and crew! For more information you can look up my blog in the past season 2010. I applied for the NOAA TAS Alumni position and now I’m happy to say I will be having a “Twice in a Lifetime Experience” with NOAA! This time I will be on NOAA Ship Oregon II where we will be tagging and monitoring sharks and red snappers in the Gulf of Mexico.
grew up in Louisville, KY where I spent most of my summers boating and skiing on
the Ohio River. When I was 10 years old
my parents, sister and I got scuba certified.
I guess you could say this is when my love for the ocean began! Our first trip was to Grand Cayman and we experienced
things underwater that were even more beautiful than books and videos could
ever show. I have been back numerous
times, but when I went back this past June you can obviously see the changes
that are occurring in the ocean and the beaches. I currently volunteer with Rookery Bay
Estuarine Reserve and help with turtle patrol, shark tagging, and trawls. The amount of garbage we collect is getting
out of control. Teaching the importance
of this to my students is one of my top priorities.
I currently teach AICE Marine and Marine Regular at Palmetto Ridge High School in Naples, Florida. For the past 5 years I have grown the program into a class that is not just “inside” the classroom. What better way to learn about marine species and water quality than taking care of your own aquarium? Throughout the school there are 24 aquariums. The tanks include saltwater, fresh water, and brackish water. My students are taught how to properly maintain a tank, checking the water quality and salinity, as well as feeding and caring for their organisms. In addition to the aquariums they have a quarterly enrichment grade that has them getting outside in our environment and learning about the canals, lakes, and ocean that are just miles from us. We work with Keeping Collier Beautiful to do canal cleanups twice a year and they also visit Rookery Bay and the Conservancy for educational lessons. Thanks to the science department at Collier County Public Schools we are also given the opportunity to go out into the estuaries. Rookery Bay and FGCU Vester lab work with us to get the students out on the water to experience the ecology around them. Even though we are only miles from the Gulf of Mexico some students have never been out on a boat. This day trip gives them a hands on learning experience where we complete a trawl and water sampling.
I leave this weekend I know my students will be in good hands and will be following
my blog throughout my journey. The value
of what I am going to be sharing with them far outweighs my short time
away. My goal is to show them you are
never too old to try something new and hopefully my experience will get more
students into a career in marine sciences.
Shout outs: First one goes to my son Jonah (11), my parents Bud and Diane for taking care of him while I’m off having the time of my life, my boyfriend Michael who is currently deployed with the Air Force SFS, and his two kids Andrew (17) and Mackenna (10). Thanks for your support. Love and miss you all! <(((><
Geographic Area of Cruise: Northern Gulf of Alaska (Port: Seward)
Date: September 5, 2019
Weather Data from Bartlett High School Student Meteorologist Jack Pellerin
Time: 0730 Latitude: 61.2320° N Longitude: 149.7334° W Wind: Northwest, 2 mph Air Temperature: 11oC (52oF) Air pressure: 30.14 in Partly cloudy, no precipitation
On September 10th, I enter my 46th year on this amazing planet, and on the 11th, I depart on a trip that will be a birthday gift to remember. I will be departing Seward on U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s R/V Tiglax to assist in the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-Term Ecological Research study. To understand why I am so excited about this trip, I have to rewind about 30 years.
On March 24th, 1989, I watched in shock, along with the world, as the oil from Exxon Valdez swept across Prince William Sound. I was a 15-year old budding scientist learning about the importance of baseline data for ecosystems. I didn’t know how, but I envisioned myself someday assisting in science research for this beautiful ecosystem. I dreamt of the day I would end up in Alaska and experience the Pacific Ocean.
In 2006, I was fortunate to be offered a teaching position in Cordova, Alaska on Prince William Sound where I became an oceanography and marine biology teacher. I was in awe of the ocean and what it had to teach myself and my students. Having the ocean at our front door made hands on learning in the field possible each and every week. We were also fortunate enough to partner with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Sycamore for a marine science field trip each year along with scientists from the Prince William Sound Science Center and U.S. Forest Service.
Since 2017, I have been teaching at Bartlett High School (BHS) in Anchorage School District. I again have the opportunity to teach oceanography and marine biology and I am thrilled. Although we live only a few miles away, many of my students have not yet seen the ocean. It is so important for me to make learning relevant to their lives and their locality. As much as we can incorporate Alaska and their cultures into the lessons the better.
Here are just a few snapshots from our classroom:
In a few days, I will begin my two-week mission to assist in important science research in Northern Gulf of Alaska (NGA) and I feel like my 30-year old dream has come true. I will be participating in the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) study, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
This cruise will be the third survey for the 2019 season for this area and the 23rd consecutive season for sampling along the Seward Line. The goal of the NGA-LTER program is to evaluate the ecosystem in terms of its productivity and its resiliency in the face of extreme seasonal variations and long term climate change. The mission entails doing a variety of water and plankton sampling at different stations along four transect lines in the NGA, as well as a circuit within Prince William Sound.
I will be sailing aboard R/V Tiglax (pictured below) which is the Aleut word for eagle and is pronounced TEKL-lah. My primary mission is to assist on the night shift with the collection of zooplankton at each station. In addition to this, I look forward to learning as much as I can about the other work being done, including water chemistry, nutrient sampling, phytoplankton collection and analysis, and seabird and mammal surveys. As a NOAA Teacher at Sea, I am tasked with creating lesson plans that connect this science research to my classroom. My goal is to develop lessons that will help my students understand the importance of whole systems monitoring, as well as the important connections between ocean water properties, microfauna and megafauna.
When I am not in my classroom, I like to be outside as much as possible. I enjoy hiking, backpacking and spending time with my family on our remote property in Bristol Bay.
My husband and I also like to travel outside of Alaska whenever possible during the winter months and see the world. One of our favorite trips was completing a full transit of the Panama Canal. This winter break we will be headed to the barrier reef in Belize to experience the beautiful tropical ocean.
I tell my students we have researched and explored more of space than we have of our own ocean.
I am so excited to be working to help change that statistic!
Did You Know?
This summer has broken many records in Alaska for warm dry weather and Southcentral has been in an official drought. How will this impact ocean temperatures out in the NGA and will we see evidence in the plankton or other organisms we examine?
Stay tuned to my blog and I will let you
know the answer to this as well as so much more!
Hi everyone! I am currently on flight number two of four over the next two days to get me all the way from Key West, Florida to Kodiak, Alaska! Sure beats the 5,516 mile drive it would take me by car! My new home for the next two plus weeks will be aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson. It is an ultra-quiet fisheries survey vessel built to collect data on fish populations, conduct marine mammal and seabird surveys, and study marine ecosystems. The ship operates primarily in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.
So what exactly will I be doing these next few weeks at sea? I
will be working side by side with world-renowned NOAA scientists during twelve
hour shifts (noon to midnight). Our research will focus on collecting data on the
Walleye Pollock (also known as Alaskan Pollock) population and other forage
fishes in the western Gulf of Alaska. Most of our samples will be collected by
midwater trawling (or net fishing). I will be spending many hours in the
onboard fish lab working hands-on with scientists to help sort, weigh, measure,
sex, and dissect these samples. We will also collect zooplankton and measure
environmental variables that potentially affect the ecology of these fishes. We
will conduct CTD casts (an instrument used to measure the conductivity,
temperature, and pressure of seawater) and take water samples along transects
to examine the physical, chemical, and biological oceanography associated with
A Little About Me
How did a little girl who grew up playing in the Georgia woods wind up being a marine science teacher in Key West and now on a plane to Kodiak, Alaska to work as a scientist at sea? I applied for every internship, program, and job I ever dreamed of often times with little to no experience or chance of getting it. I was a wildlife/zoology major at the University of Georgia. However during high school, my parents bought a second home in Key West where I would live during my summers off. I applied and got a job on a snorkel boat at 18 with zero boating experience. After college, I once again applied for a job with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission that I was not qualified for in the least. I did not get the job, but at least I went for it regardless of the outcome. So I continued to do odds and ends (often non-paying) internships at MOTE, the Turtle Hospital, and Reef Relief while working to get my 100 ton captain’s license at age 21.
About 6 months after the first FWC interview, the local FWC director called me one day out of the blue and said I now have a job that you are qualified for.
Over the next year at the FWC as a marine biologist, I found that my favorite part of my week was the student outreach program at local schools. I came across a job vacancy for a local elementary science position and thought why not. I had zero teaching experience, a love for science, and the mindset that I can learn to teach as I teach them learn. Eleven years later, I am very proud to be the head of our marine science program at Sugarloaf School. I get the pleasure of teaching my two passions: science and the ocean. I hope to instill a sense of wonder, discovery, and adventure to all my students from kindergarten all the way up through eighth grade.
Last December, I felt the same
sense of adventure well up inside of me when I came across the NOAA Teacher at
Sea Program. I’m a teacher, a mother of young twins, a part time server, a wife
of a firefighter with crazy work hours, and someone who enjoys the comfort of
their own bed. All rational thoughts lead to the assumption that this program
was out of my league, but it didn’t nor will it ever stop me from continuing to
dare, dream and discover. I hope my trip will inspire my students to do the
same- to never stop exploring, learning, or continuing to grow in life.
Did You Know?
Walleye pollock is one of the type five fish species consumed in the United States. If you have ever eaten frozen fish sticks or had a fish sandwich at fast food restaurant then you have probably eaten pollock.
I will be embarking August 12 and sailing through August 23 on a Hydrographic Survey mission from Newport, Oregon. Hydrographic Survey missions focus on mapping the seafloor in detail. I will be sharing more about that soon! To all my students (past and present), colleagues, fellow STEM enthusiasts, and friends, I hope you will follow along via these blog posts as I share this teacher adventure at sea and learn with me about the important work of NOAA. NOAA stands for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The mission of NOAA is “to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.”
Most of my time teaching is spent within the walls of the classroom, trying to prepare students for STEM careers that they (or I) have never seen. Now, as a Teacher at Sea, the dynamic will be flipped! I will learn with actual scientists about STEM careers that support NOAA’s mission and bring those experiences back to the classroom myself! I am so grateful for this opportunity to expand my own knowledge and for my students who will get a front row seat to STEM careers in action.
My “classroom” for the next two weeks:
I was born in New Hampshire and moved around quite a bit growing up. My “hometown” was Chattanooga, Tennessee, but I grew up in many places including South Africa. I currently live on a “pocket farm” in Powder Springs, Georgia with my husband, 3 children, 3 dogs, and 2 cats. My family and I love to travel as well as camp in state and national parks.
I have always enjoyed a bit of adventure, learning rock climbing, downhill mountain biking, bungee jumping, and skydiving. My favorite adventure came at the age of 13 when I learned how to scuba dive. A new underwater world was revealed to me and I developed a deep love and respect for the ocean. I have tried to teach my children and my students the joys of outdoor adventure and the importance of stewardship. Powder Springs is about 20 miles away from the Georgia’s capitol of Atlanta. We love going to NFL Falcons’ games and MLB Braves’ games when we are not out camping!
My greatest adventure now is being a STEM teacher. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. I have been a STEM teacher for my entire teaching career and love it! I see STEM everywhere and believe our students are going to do great things for the world with a strong background in STEM education. I particularly enjoy teaching Coding and 3D printing to students as well as how to use technology to create solutions to problems instead of being passive users of technology
My undergraduate work was focused in Early Childhood education, and my graduate degree in Integration of Technology into Instruction. I now teach at Sope Creek Elementary and love my 1,000+ students in our evolving STEM school. We follow the steps of the EDP or Engineering Design Process every day to solve real world problems. We especially like to integrate problem solving with technology. This practice is what drew me to the hydrographic survey projects conducted by NOAA. I am excited to learn how technology is utilized to create detailed maps of the ocean floor, and learn about the science of Bathymetry, which is the study of the “beds” of “floors” of water bodies including oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams.
Finally, it was the mission of the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program is what drew me to apply for this program: The mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Teacher at Sea Program is to provide teachers hands-on, real-world research experience working at sea with world-renowned NOAA scientists, thereby giving them unique insight into oceanic and atmospheric research crucial to the nation. The program provides a unique opportunity for kindergarten through college-level teachers to sail aboard NOAA research ships to work under the tutelage of scientists and crew. As a life-long learner it is difficult to access professional development. In this program, I will gain real world experience as a scientist as sea while also having an adventure at sea! I can’t wait to share this experience with all of you! Now I’m off to get my dose of vitamin sea! More soon.
Questions and Resources:
Teachers: Please reach out with questions from teachers or students and keep an eye out for resources I will be sharing in the comments section of this blog. Check out these K-12 resources available through NOAA!
Students: Have a teacher or please post your questions. Here are the answers from questions so far:
Question 1: Do you think you will end up like the Titanic?
Answer: No way! The NOAA Ship Fairweather has been conducting missions since 1967 (the ship is older than ME!). This is a 231 foot working vessel with a strengthened ice welded hull. I don’t plan on seeing any icebergs off the coast of Oregon in Pacific Ocean, so don’t worry! NOAA Ship Fairweather’s crew have some of the best professionals in the world to run their fleet, so I will be safe!
Question 2: Are you coming back? And will you have to sleep outside like a pirate?
Answer: Yes, I will be coming back! I will be away for 2 weeks and will be back in the STEM-Kurtz lab on August 26th-so you can come see me when I get back. As for your 2nd question, I will get to sleep inside in a “berth” and will have a bed and everything else I need. I do not have to sleep outside, but you know when I’m home I like to sleep outside in my hammock!
Student focus of the week: Hey 5th Grade students! You are going to be learning about constructive and destructive processes of the earth over time. Check out this document about the Subduction Zone Marine Geohazards Project Plans. My mission will link directly to what you are learning in class!
Geographic Area of Cruise: Northeast Atlantic Ocean
Date: August 1, 2019
Weather Data from the Bridge
I’ll update this when I get on board.
Greetings from land-locked Arkansas!
I am thrilled at the chance to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. In the latter half of August, I will be aboard NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter assisting scientists on a Summer Ecosystem Monitoring Survey of the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf Ecosystem. I am particularly excited about surveying for marine mammals and sea turtles, although a lot of our work will involve monitoring spatial distribution of plankton. I cannot wait to learn novel techniques and measurements that I can later incorporate into my classes at the University of Arkansas—Fort Smith.
While aboard NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter I will blog about my experiences. My students will follow my blogs and hopefully learn a lot from them. I hope to make my blog postings fun and informative at the same time. I will cater to a broad audience, from biology majors and non-majors (college students), to even some school children who are keen on following me and exploring potential science careers. So don’t be offended if I define basic terms or explain concepts you may have learned decades ago!
Science and Technology log
I will be embarking on an Ecosystem Monitoring mission. As my ecology students should know, the term ecosystem refers to a community of organisms along with their physical (or abiotic) environment. And a community is a group of organisms living and interacting in an area. To monitor the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf ecosystem, we will take extensive data on various components, both biotic (biological) and abiotic (physical). Such measurements are important because they alert us of possible changes in our environment and what that could mean to our well being and that of other life forms. In effect, we keep a finger on the pulse of our planet.
What is continentalshelf? It’s the relatively shallow (generally up to
about 100m or 330 feet depth) area of seabed around land. Much of this was exposed during glacial
periods when water was locked up as ice. This zone teems with life because of
its shallow nature, which allows light to penetrate and photosynthesis to
occur. It is therefore vital for the
fisheries industry in which many coastal human communities depend on for
The Project Instructions document we were all sent (by the
Chief Scientist, Dr. Harvey Walsh) indicates that the principal objective of
the survey is to assess the “hydrographic, planktonic, and pelagic components”
of the ecosystem. Hydrography (Ancient Greek–hydor, “water” and graphō,
“to write”) is a branch of the applied sciences that deals with
measurements and descriptions of the physical features of water, like ocean
currents and temperature. Plankton (Greek—errant or wanderer) are organisms,
both plants and animals, in the water that drift in the currents (most of them
are microscopic). Pelagic (Greek—of the sea) means oceanic, or belonging to the open
I will be part of an elite multi-disciplinary team, meaning,
we will have experts from various disciplines of science. We will be measuring
the distribution of water currents and water properties, plankton, sea turtles,
sea birds, and marine mammals. Much of
my career I have focused on ecology and behavior of vertebrates, especially
birds. The chance to learn hands-on and
in-depth on aspects like water chemistry and plankton biology challenges and
excites me. It gets me out of my comfort
zone and has the potential to make me a better-rounded biologist. After all, I regularly teach the impacts of global
warming and ocean acidification on coral reef organisms. Can there be a better way to hone my teaching
skills than actually do these studies hands-on, in the company of world’s
leading experts, in a state-of-the-art research ship?
Since much of the survey focuses on measuring plankton
distribution and abundance, it begs the question:
Why are plankton important?
Well, consider this.
Phytoplankton, the plant-like photosynthetic drifters, produce half of all oxygen on earth. That’s about the same as ALL oxygen produced
by land plants! So that alone should
convince you why they are vital.
But there is more. Their productivity (meaning, photosynthetic activity that converts sun’s energy into fuel) forms the energetic foundation of the food pyramid, and most of life in sea depends on it.
So, you take away plankton, and much of oceanic life will
collapse. No fish, no whales, no sea
turtles, no sea birds. Ultimately it
will affect all life on earth, including humans.
The disturbing news is, plankton are in trouble. Phytoplankton have declined 40% since the
1950s. Since the beginning of the
industrial age, they have dwindled about 1% a year. There seems a connection between warming waters
and this decline. In the North Atlantic,
the melting of Greenland ice has changed the physics and chemistry of ocean
waters. This has resulted in a decline
in ocean circulation and its upwelling of nutrients that the phytoplankton
So as you read this and take breaths of air, contemplate this: that oxygen you just took in probably came from phytoplankton. That’s why we need to start with measuring them to monitor our planet’s health. Our future depends on their well-being!
So I will be blogging quite a bit on these minuscule
creatures—what kinds there are out there, how they appear, how to measure their
abundance, and so on. Stay tuned.
For nearly 40 years, I have been mainly a terrestrial ecologist. I love taking people outdoors and making them into naturalists and field biologists. My forays into the oceanic realm have been limited. I once went on a sea birding cruise, which I described in this article.
Earlier, in my college days, I did a number of “turtle walks” – 10 km walks along the beach in my hometown of Chennai, India, to collect Olive Ridley Seaturtle eggs and relocating them to a protected hatchery. Since 2009, I have taught a tropical biology course in Trinidad, West Indies, where I take the class to a remote beach to observe massive Leatherback Seaturtles nest. A letter of mine on this appeared in the September 2009 issue of National Geographic (below).
So, my exposure to the other 70% of the earth’s surface, the
ocean, has been rather limited. I hope that
this NOAA program helps in my quest to fill that void.
My home for two weeks – NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter
This is an ultramodern oceanographic research vessel whose main mission is to study marine mammals and other living resources. “Bigeye” 25 x 150 binoculars are used by scientists to scan for marine mammals. This includes a scale to enable distance measurement. A hydrophone array is towed to hear and record marine mammal sounds 24 hours a day.
She was once USNS Relentless, designed to assist the US Navy in collecting underwater acoustical data in support of Cold War anti-submarine warfare operations. After the end of the Cold War, she was transferred to NOAA. In 2010, NOAA used this ship to define the subsurface plume near the BP Deepwater Horizon site.
I am honored to be assigned to this vessel. I hope you will join me and enjoy and learn from my adventure out in the seas in this amazing ship.
Mission: Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies (ACCESS)
Area of Cruise: Pacific
Ocean, Northern and Central California Coast
Date: July 17, 2019
year my summer is coming to an end with a bang!
Tomorrow I will drive over to Sausalito, California to join a team of
scientists on a research cruise as a NOAA Teacher at Sea. Over the course of the next week I will be on
the deck of R/V Fulmar, a NOAA research vessel, off the coast of
California in the Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones National Marine
Sanctuaries. From what I have learned so
far, this high nutrient area of the ocean attracts a lot of different forms of
life. Whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and
a wide variety of sea birds all migrate to this region to feed on the many forms
of prey that thrive here.
Scientific data collected on this trip will contribute to the Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies (ACCESS), a long-term research project which started back in 2004. This unique project is studying the offshore ecosystem in two National Marine Sanctuaries, Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones. Three times each year scientists systematically collect data, and the resulting dataset shows how the ocean environment is changing over time, and how various populations of organisms are responding. The data also helps scientists understand how to better protect the National Marine Sanctuary ecosystems (learn more at www.accessoceans.org).
Over the course of our 8-day cruise, scientists on the ship will collect data along 11 transects (according to the plans, we will not be collecting data on transects 8-10 on this map). As the ship moves along each transect, various types of data will be recorded, including counts of what can be seen above water (birds, marine mammals, ships, and marine debris like trash, fishing gear, etc…) and what is underneath the surface (plankton, krill, fish, and nutrients). In addition, we will collect data on ocean salinity, temperature, and acidity. I can’t wait to share information about what I see and learn on this adventure.
My interest in joining this research trip is both personal and professional. I grew up with family members that are keen observers of nature. My dad is an avid bird watcher who diligently kept a life list and my mom finds great pleasure in observing and identifying flowers and plants. While I can appreciate these interests, the environment under the ocean waves is what has always captivated my attention. Although I grew up in the desert of Tucson, AZ, I had the opportunity to learn how to SCUBA dive from a high school teacher and I have been hooked on learning about the animals in the ocean ever since. My personal favorites are Giant Manta Rays and Harlequin Shrimp. The opportunity to briefly step into the shoes of a marine scientist is something I am really looking forward to.
I work at Roosevelt Middle School in Oakland, CA, a public school that serves a uniquely diverse population (in any given year we have more than 20 different home languages spoken by our students and their families). As an educator in this amazing place I aim to support our students in growing their personal skills so that they can become the creative leaders our community will need in the future. While the marine sanctuaries I will be visiting on this trip are practically in our backyard, they can also seem a world away from daily life in Oakland. Yet, our daily lives have a huge impact on the ocean environment. By participating as a NOAA Teacher at Sea on the ACCESS cruise, I am excited to gain first-hand research experience in my “backyard” and be inspired with new ways to help make this information come to life in our classrooms.
the next week I will happily share what we are up to on the boat. I would also love to bring questions to the
research team, so please send any you have my way!
Did You Know?
Balloons are the most common type of trash spotted from the research boat! Helium-filled balloons easily wriggle out of the hands or knots meant to hold them down and float high into the sky. I’ve watched many a balloon do just that and wondered, what happens to those balloons once they are out of sight? Convection currents in the air eventually deposit those same balloons into the ocean, where they become dangerous hazards. Marine animals can eat the balloons by mistake and die. Hopefully we’ll see way more whales than balloons on this trip!?! Stay tuned…
Mission: Leg III of SEAMAP Summer Groundfish Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: July 2, 2019
“There are many good
fishermen and some great ones. But there is only one you.”
–Ernest Hemingway (Old Man and the Sea)
As I sit at my home computer, my mind is racing with thoughts of what I need to do before leaving for Mississippi. My family doesn’t quite know what I am doing aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II, not that I am sure either! They vacillate between images of cramped, hot quarters portrayed in old World War II movies like Das Boot (1981), which is about a German submarine crew. In contrast to the sailors traversing icy, choppy waters as in the reality TV show Deadliest Catch, which is about King Crab fishermen in Alaska’s Bering Sea. I am not sure my time aboard Oregon II will be either, but perhaps they will think me braver if I leave that picture in their minds ahead of my trip [wink, wink].
However, before I talk about my trip, I should take a step back and talk about where I came. I am from Oklahoma, one of the most landlocked areas of North America. I grew up in Oklahoma (both Tulsa and Oklahoma City), but have had many other experiences since then. I have been teaching at the collegiate level for 15 years. I mostly instruct high school students taking concurrent enrollment classes and community college students working on undergraduate general education requirements. I teach regional geography, folklife and traditional culture, and introduction to the humanities at Oklahoma State University—Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC) and Oklahoma City Community College. I am lead faculty in geography at OSU-OKC.
I earned my BA
from Sarah Lawrence College in New York (1994). I studied visual arts,
primarily painting and filmmaking, and cultural studies. I earned my MA in Folk
Studies from Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green (1998), and I earned my
PhD in Geography from the University of Oklahoma, Norman (2015). Through my
education and early adult life, I lived coast to coast in seven different
states. This education prepared me to work in the field of public history,
historic interpretation, community development, and arts administration in
addition to teaching at the collegiate level. Before teaching, I worked in
Washington, DC for Ralph Nader (yes, the clean water, clean air, clean
everything guy…oh, and he ran for president). I worked for several historic sites
and cultural agencies, including Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky Museum,
Historic Carnton, and the Tennessee Arts Commission. I have also worked in
education administration. I served as the director the Oklahoma Center for Arts
Education for the University of Central Oklahoma, as executive director of the
Oklahoma Folklife Council for the Oklahoma Historical Society, and recently, as
Director of Community Resources for Western Heights Public Schools. At Western
Heights, I have been fortunate to work close to a younger group of students. I
have been a part of the expanding arts and science curriculum at the high
school. The school district is in the process of renovating the high school
science wing and building a new arts and science high school building for an
emerging STEAM program. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering,
arts, and math instruction. Working with community partners, I am also involved
in promoting college and career readiness at the secondary level.
interests include the cultural geography of Oklahoma, family stories and
cultural expressions, and community building. However, through
my research in folk studies (similar to anthropology) and cultural geography, I
have studied human interconnectivity associated with occupations, which is what
initially drew my interest to the NOAA Teacher at Sea (TAS) program. In the
past, I have studied occupations associated with rural culture and how
environment and increased urbanization have effected work settings and their
relationship to identity. My research
interest aside, I am excited to learn more about the science of fishery surveys.
I think learning about the maritime career opportunities associated with NOAA
programs will be important to convey to the students I teach. Especially
because so many of my students come from economically challenged, urban
settings, and the thought of pursuing a career based on scientific research is
foreign. As a geographer, I am also excited to share with students ways they
can connect to geography as an influence on their career plans.
will be part of the third leg of the Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment
Program (SEAMAP) sailing out of the NOAA Pascagoula, MS facility. SEAMAP is a
State/Federal/university program for collecting, managing, and disseminating
fishery-independent data in the southeastern US. The Gulf of Mexico survey work
began in 1981. I have read blogs and videos from NOAA TAS alum that have been
part of the similar research cruises, and I have reviewed the NOAA website
under the SEAMAP pages and NOAA Oregon II
pages. TAS alumni Angela Hung from the 2018 SEAMAP survey crew posted a great
blog on roughly what Oregon II crew
will be doing while I am sailing (see https://noaateacheratsea.blog/2018/07/03/angela-hung-dont-give-it-a-knife-june-30-2018/). However, I am still
working to understand exactly what I will be doing. Coastal culture and
scientific research of this nature is new to me. The closest experience I have
goes back to my childhood when in the 1980s my mom built a catfish hatchery and
commercial pond operation on 10 acres of farmland in southeastern Oklahoma. The
“catfish farm” as we called was only in our family for a few years. The next
closest experience I have to coastal fisheries is chartering boats for near
shore and deep sea fishing adventures on vacation. Clearly, I am in for a
lesson on the broader science of understanding and maintaining the ecology of
our domestic waterways in the US. This will be an interesting trip, for sure!
Mission: Cape Newenham Hydrographic Survey Geographic Area of Cruise: Bering Sea, Alaska Date: June 25, 2019
I am so excited about my upcoming experience as a NOAA Teacher at Sea. I will be on the NOAA Ship Fairweather from July 8 to 19 and will be participating on a hydrographic research cruise, one that is mapping the sea-floor in detail; more about that soon. We will embark from and return to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, which is part of the Aleutian Islands. If you are my current or former student, or you are a friend or colleague of mine, or you are an admirer of the Teacher at Sea program, I hope you will follow along on this ocean adventure as I post about my experiences while at sea.
A little about me
I am originally from California. I went to the beach often to body surf and splash around, maybe sunbathe (I don’t do THAT anymore). It was in California where I got interested in geology. I was pretty young when I experienced the 1971 San Fernando 6.5M earthquake and after that, earthquakes were a regular occurrence for me. When I moved to Hayward, California, in early 1989 to complete my bachelor’s degree in geology at California State University East Bay, I was living off-campus and had the “pleasure” of rocking and rolling through one of the longest earthquakes I every felt when the 6.9M Loma Prieta earthquake hit. I moved on from there to the desert of Las Vegas, Nevada, to earn my Master’s in Structural Geology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I didn’t feel any earthquakes in Nevada, but I did do my research on an active fault in southwestern Utah. I like to think of myself as a “boots-on-the-ground” kind of scientist-educator.
My work and life experiences are such that for five years after grad school, I was a staff geologist at a large environmental consulting company. I loved that job and it took me all around the U.S. One of the assignments I had was to manage a mapping project involving data from New York and New Jersey harbor area. From that experience I became interested in digital mapping (known as Geographic Information Systems or GIS) and switched careers. I went to work at a small liberal arts college as the GIS support person within the instructional technology group. In addition to helping teach professors and college students how to work with the GIS software, I helped teach about use of social media in teaching, use a mobile devices for data collection, integrating alternative assessments like using of audio and video, and I maintained two computer labs. While I was involved in those two different careers, I gained some adjunct teaching experiences at several different colleges and grad schools, teaching geology, environmental science and GIS.
Another professional experience that I’ve had that I am most proud of is I was a Fulbright Scholar in 2009-2010 to Barbados. My family and I lived in Barbados for a year while I was worked with the University of the West Indies, Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) I taught GIS to graduate students, I worked with some of the students on research projects, I traveled to Belize as a field assistant on a field studies trip with faculty members and CERMES students, and I had the privilege of working on a marine-based, community-driven mapping research project with a then PhD student (who has since earned her degree). My part of the project was to take the spatial data, organize it and create a user-friendly Google Earth KML file. She and I got to travel around St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, teaching community members about the work, the available data, and how to access the Google Earth project file.
In 2015, I re-tooled yet again and was accepted into a challenging yet rewarding education program at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. In 15 months, I learned how to teach with artifacts, took graduate courses in all manner or earth and space subjects, of course, had classes in pedagogical approaches, had two in-residence teaching experiences at area schools, all the while in the amazing AMNH, home of Night at the Museum.
Now as a public high school educator, teaching Earth Science to 9-12 graders in the Bronx, I have a strong foundation in the solid earth topics like plate tectonics, rocks and minerals, and geologic time. But Regents Earth Science class in New York also involves oceanography, meteorology, climate science and astronomy.
What compelled me to apply for the NOAA Teacher at Sea program is what motivates me throughout my other life decisions: I wanted to push against my boundaries and my limitations. I have always had a healthy respect for the sea, which was mixed in with a little fear. I saw the movie Jaws when I was young and impressionable, so I never really wanted to venture too far into the water beyond the waves. I didn’t even want to swim in lakes for fear of what might be traversing through the murky unknown. As I’ve aged, I’ve certainly grown less fearful of the water. I’ve traveled on sailboats and catamarans, I’ve snorkeled in the Caribbean, I’ve jumped into waters with nurse sharks and stingrays! But as a teacher who feels like she’s missing some key knowledge of her curriculum – oceanography – I want to challenge myself to learn-while-doing as I have the privilege of being selected to be a Teacher at Sea. I cannot wait!
I’m actually afraid of the sea. The unspeakable power, the dark depths, the mysterious uncharted territory – the sea has always held curious minds captive. I want to be someone who faces the things that scare me. And for 19 days, on a relatively tiny ship, I will be doing just that.
NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker is “one of the most technologically advanced fisheries vessels in the world” according to the Office of Marine & Aviation Operations. In addition to studying fish and marine life populations, it is also equipped for acoustic data sampling and the gathering of oceanographic data. It can stay out to sea for up to 40 days at a time without needing to return for food or fuel replenishment.
And yet, as I’m writing this, I can’t help but think about SS Edmund Fitzgerald and RMS Titanic. They were the most advanced ships of their time too. Of course, I’m just letting my imagination get carried away. People fear the things they don’t understand. And I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can on this cruise in order to understand not just how this incredible vessel operates, but also how the ocean and atmosphere impact my life on a daily basis.
I was lucky last year to stumble across a professional development opportunity funded through the American Meteorological Society. I took two graduate level courses since then – DataStreme Atmosphere and DataStreme Ocean. Upon finishing this program I’ll earn a graduate certificate from the California University of Pennsylvania and be able to apply my new understanding of earth science directly to my classroom instruction. Already I’ve been able to incorporate fascinating information about coral reefs, the Bermuda Triangle, map reading, and weather into lessons and activities this year.
Why does a Reading Specialist need all this professional development, you might ask? In science of all things? Because nobody reads about things they’re not interested in (unless they have to). Students need to have something to connect with, to care about, in order to learn. When was the last time I, as an adult, read something I didn’t care about? Probably years.
Humans are curious by nature, and by incorporating new topics into our reading lessons over the past year, I’ve noticed that students really like learning about earth science. It’s like the mother who hides cauliflower in the lasagna – students are more motivated to read when they’re reading about something exciting and directly relevant to their lives. Thankfully, the more they read, the better they get at comprehending the nuances of the text. And then the less they need me.
One of the most valuable aspects of this trip for me is that I’ll return with a new appreciation for earth science, current events as they relate to our food supply and environment, and marine life. I can use this experience to build exciting lessons for high school students who may use their connection to these lessons as a lifeline. The last ditch effort to find something exciting to learn before graduating with a lackluster memory of the doldrums of the high school classroom.
Teenagers are tough eggs to crack! But I like them. And I’m very grateful to the NOAA Teacher at Sea program for giving me, and other teachers, opportunities like this to show our students that there are literally thousands of directions to take after high school in regard to career and quality of life. And that high school is one of the few places where they can build the foundational knowledge necessary to get them there – for free. I want my students to pursue their passions. To get excited about learning! And the first step to doing that successfully is to expose them to as many post-secondary options and lessons about their world as we can in the short time that we spend with them. Thanks NOAA! I’m excited to start my journey.
Mission: Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-Term Ecological Research (NGA-LTER)
Area of Cruise: Northern Gulf of Alaska
Date: 18 June
Speed and Direction: NE 15 G 23
Swell Height and Direction: NE 3-5 ft
Swell Height and Direction: SSW 2-4 ft
Pressure: 1016.1 mb
Index: 93 F (34 C)
clear and sunny
Speed and Direction: S 9
Height: 2 ft
Pressure: 1016.0 mb
Index: 56 F (13 C)
Aloha kākou! Greetings everyone! In about a week, I will be exchanging currently very warm and sunny Honolulu for the vastly different climate and ecological zone in Seward and the Northern Gulf of Alaska. I will be embarking on R/V Sikuliaq there to participate in one part of a long-term study of the variability and resiliency of species in the area, but I will get to that in a bit.
In August, I will begin my seventeenth year as a sixth grade social studies teacher at ‘Iolani School, an independent K-12 school that is academically competitive at a national level. In sixth grade social studies, our students focus on the development of the modern world from ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome. I enjoy challenging my students to broaden their worldviews, especially about the impacts ancient civilizations have had on today’s world. We cover those for three quarters, and in the fourth quarter we examine the choices these civilizations have made and whether or not they contribute to a sustainable society. I want my students to understand that sustainability is more than just picking up trash and conserving water, but it is also about choices in government, society, culture, behavior and environment. The content of our fourth quarter is predicated on the reality that we live in Hawai’i, an island group that is roughly 2000 miles from any other major point of land.
Living in Hawai’i can be just as idyllic as advertisements make it seem, with daily rainbows, colorful sunsets and blue ocean waves. However, it also comes with challenges that we all have to face. Our cost of living is among the highest in the nation, and we face constant struggles between maintaining culture and environment in a place with limited room for population growth. We have a high homeless population, yet many of us joke that the (construction) crane is our state bird. We are also braced to be at the forefront of climate change. With a rise in sea level of 3 feet, most of Waikiki and much of downtown Honolulu is at risk of inundation. In addition, changes in sea surface temperature affect our coral reefs and fish populations as well as minimizing or eliminating our trade winds through changes in weather patterns. For these reasons, I hope to plant the awareness in my students that their generation is poised to make some major decisions about the state of the world.
My passion for sustainability and ocean health stems from the amount of time I spend in and on the water. I have been a competitive outrigger canoe paddler for the last 30 or so years, and in the summers, I paddle five to six days a week. I go to six-man team practices as well as taking my one-man canoe out with friends. I also have coached high school paddling at ‘Iolani School for the last sixteen years. Being on the ocean so much makes me much more aware of the wildlife our waters shelter: monk seals, dolphins, sea turtles and humpback whales. It also makes me aware of the trash, especially plastics that are more and more present in the ocean. I’ve picked up slippers, coolers, bottles, bags and even pieces of cargo net out of the water on various excursions. Being on the water so often also fuels my interest in meteorology; you need to know what weather and ocean conditions to expect when you go to sea. One major impact that being on the water has is that it allows you to see your island from offshore and realize that it is an ISLAND, and not a very big one at that!
Some of the biggest lessons about the ocean that I’ve learned have come from my experiences with the Polynesian Voyaging Society, a non-profit organization founded in 1973 to recreate the original settlement of Hawai’i by ocean voyaging canoes, as well as revive the ancient art of non-instrument navigation. PVS is most well known for the voyaging canoe Hõkūlea, which sailed to Tahiti (and back again) in 1976 to prove the validity of these cultural arts. I began working with the organization in 1994, helping to build a second voyaging canoe, Hawai’iloa, and have been there ever since. As a part of this organization, I have sailed throughout the Pacific, to locations such as Tahiti, Tonga, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Mangareva, and the Marquesas. With Te Mana O Te Moana, another voyaging canoe initiative, I sailed to the Cook Islands, Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. I’ve seen many faces of the Pacific Ocean on my travels and I look forward to seeing another.
Between 2012 and 2017, PVS sent Hõkūle’a on a journey around the world. The name of the voyage was Mālama Honua (To Protect the Earth) and the goal was to visit with indigenous communities to learn what challenges they face and how they work to preserve their lands and cultures. One of the founding principles for this voyage is a Hawaiian saying, “he wa’a he moku, he moku he wa’a”, which means “the canoe is an island and the island is a canoe”. The saying refers to the idea that the choices we make about positive behavior, bringing what we need as opposed to what we want, and what we do with our resources and trash while living in the limited space of a voyaging canoe are a reflection of the choices we need to make living on the islands of Hawai’i as well as living on island Earth. I strive every day to make my students aware of the consequences of their choices.
Science and Technology Log
I’m pretty excited to go to Alaska, first of all, because I’ve never been there! Secondly, we have species in Hawai’i (birds and whales) that migrate between our shores and Alaska on an annual basis. Although the two locations are distant from each other, there are connections to be made, as Hawai’i and Alaska share the same ocean.
The Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). R/V Sikuliaq is an NSF ship working with the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. LTER encompasses 28 sites nationwide, of which the Northern Gulf of Alaska (NGA) is one. In this area, three surveys a year are made to monitor the dynamics of the ecosystem and measure its resilience to environmental factors such as variability in light, temperature, freshwater, wind and nutrients. The origins of the NGA portion of this project have been in place since 1970 and have grown to include the Seward Line system (s series of points running southeast from Seward).
On our trip, we will be looking at microzooplankton and mesozooplankton as well as phytoplankton, the size and concentration of particles in the water, and the availability of nutrients, among other things. Information gathered from our study will be added to cumulative data sets that paint a picture of the variability and resiliency of the marine ecosystem. I will be a part of the Particle Flux team for this expedition. I have a general idea of what that entails and the kind of data we’ll be gathering, but I certainly need to learn more! If you’re curious, more detailed information about ongoing research can be found at https://nga.lternet.edu/about-us/.
I always ask my students, after they complete preliminary research on any project, what they want to learn. I want to know more about particle flux (as previously mentioned). I would like to learn more about seasonal weather patterns and how they influence the NGA ecosystem. I would like to find out if/how this ecosystem connects to the Hawaiian ecosystem, and I REALLY want to see the kinds of life that inhabit the northern ocean! For my own personal information, I am really curious to see how stars move at 60 degrees north and whether or not they can still be used for navigation.
I’m spending my last week sorting through my collection of fleece and sailing gear to prepare for three weeks of distinctly cooler temperatures. I’m going to be doing a lot of layering for sure! My two cats, Fiona and Pippin are beginning to suspect something, but for now are content to sniff through the growing pile on the couch. While packing, I’m keeping in mind that this is just another type of voyage and to pack only what I need, including chocolate. As departure gets closer, I’d like to thank Russ Hopcroft, Seth Danielson, and Steffi O’Daly for their information and help in getting to and from Seward. I’m looking forward to meeting you all soon and learning a lot from each of you! Thanks also to Lisa Seff for her on board life hacks and detailed information…much appreciated!
Geographic Area of Cruise: South Bering Sea, Alaska
Date: June 14, 2019
Hello! My name is Erica Marlaine, and in one week I will be flying to Alaska for the first time ever to spend three weeks aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson as a NOAA Teacher at Sea. I am a Special Education Preschool Teacher at Nevada Avenue Elementary School in West Hills, California.
My students are 3-5 year olds who have a variety of special needs, such as autism, Down syndrome, and speech delays. They are fascinated by science experiments and nature, love to explore their surroundings with binoculars and magnifying glasses, and often notice the details in life that the rest of us walk right by.
Like most 3-5 years olds, they are obsessed with whales, octopi, and of course, sharks. (If you don’t yet know the baby shark song, ask any preschooler you know to teach it to you.)
When I tell people (with much excitement) that I have been selected to be a NOAA Teacher at Sea, they ask “who will you be teaching?” thinking that there will be students onboard the ship. I explain that in many ways, I will actually be both a Student at Sea and a Teacher at Sea. I will be learning from the scientists onboard the ship how to use acoustics as well as more traditional, hands-on methods to count Alaskan pollock in the Bering Sea, and exploring the issues oceanographers are most concerned or excited about. Then, through blogging while onboard, and upon my return to the classroom, I will use this first-hand knowledge to create STEM projects involving oceanography that will help students see their connection to the ocean world, and instill in them a sense of stewardship and responsibility for the world around them. I am hopeful that these experiences will inspire more students at my school to choose a career in science, perhaps even with NOAA.
When I am not teaching, or taking classes for my administrative credential through the University of Southern California, or being involved with education policy through a fellowship with Teach Plus, I enjoy spending time with my husband and daughter, and apparently EATING Alaskan pollock. It turns out that the imitation crabmeat in the California rolls and crab salad that I eat quite often is actually Alaskan pollock. We will see if catching them, looking them in the eye, and studying them, will make me more or less interested in eating them.
Mission: Microbial Stowaways: Exploring Shipwreck Microbiomes in the deep Gulf of Mexico
Geographic Area: Gulf of Mexico
Date: June 13, 2019
In just two weeks I will be shipping out of Gulfport, Mississippi on the University of Southern Mississippi Research Vessel Point Sur. As a NOAA Teacher at Sea, I will actually be a student again, learning all I can about ocean archaeology and deep-sea microbial biomes. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity to learn what it is like to live and work at sea! In particular, I am looking forward to seeing how archaeologists work at sea. My undergraduate degree was in archaeology and I worked in the desert of New Mexico and southern Colorado where we mapped with pencil and paper, and took samples with a shovel. Ocean archaeology will require more sophisticated technology and a different approach!
Let me give you a little background about myself. My husband and I live in a tiny town called Husum on the White Salmon River in Washington State. My family enjoys outdoor activities including rafting and kayaking. This year my daughter is working as a raft guide on the White Salmon. I know when the commercial raft trips are passing by because I can hear the tourists scream as their boats go over Husum Falls! My son is studying Engineering in college and is spending this summer in Spain learning Spanish and surfing. Unfortunately for my husband, summer is the busy time for construction. As a general contractor, he will be working hard.
During the regular school year, I teach fourth grade math and science at the local intermediate school. One of our biggest science units each year is to raise salmon in the classroom and learn about the salmon life cycle, adaptations and the importance of protecting salmon habitat. In addition, this year we tackled a big project around plastic pollution in the oceans and how we can make a difference in our own community through education and action. My students are rightfully indignant about the condition of our oceans, and I have also become an ocean advocate since initiating this project.
Scientists on the Point Sur have several goals. First of all, they will map two shipwrecks that have never been explored. Both are wooden-hulled historic shipwrecks that were identified during geophysical surveys related to oil and gas exploration. Archaeologists hope to determine how old the ships are, what their purpose was, and their nationality, to determine if they are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). A third shipwreck we will visit is a steel-hulled, former luxury steam yacht that sank in 1944. It was previously mapped and some experiments were left there in 2014 which we will recover.
In addition to mapping, we will take samples of the sediments around the ships to see how shipwrecks shape the microbial environment. The Gulf of Mexico is a perfect place for this work because it is rich in shipwrecks. Shipwrecks create unique reef habitats that are attractive to organisms both large and small. I wonder what kinds of sea life we will discover living around the shipwrecks we visit?
The first question my students asked me was if I was going to scuba dive. While that would be exciting, it’s not allowed for Teachers at Sea! To gather information about the shipwrecks, we will deploy a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) called Odysseus (Pelagic Research Services, Inc.) . Odysseus will have a camera, a manipulator arm to gather samples, a tray to carry all the sampling gear and SONAR and lights. I think I will be content to watch its progress on the ship’s video screens.
School is almost out, and my fourth graders are chomping at the bit to get out if the classroom and begin their own summer adventures, but I hope they will follow my blog and keep me company while I am on board ship! Am I feeling a little intimidated? Absolutely! But also very excited to have the opportunity to participate in what is sure to be a great adventure.
Hi! My name is Karah Nazor and I am a science teacher at McCallie High School, an all-boys college preparatory school in Chattanooga, TN, which is also my hometown. It is one week until I board the Reuben Lasker in San Francisco, and I am already dreaming about fish. I teach marine biology, molecular biology and environmental science and “coach” students in our after-school science research program. We typically have around 20 tanks running at a time in my classroom including three species of jellyfish, a reef tank, zebrafish tanks, and a freshwater shrimp tank. Ongoing marine research projects in my lab include primary culture of nerve nets of the jellyfish Aurelia aurita, moon jellyfish,(students Jude Raia and Danny Rifai), the effects of ocean acidification on the jellyfish Cassiopea xamachana, upside down jellyfish,(students Ian Brunetz and Shrayen Daniel) and spawning of the lobate ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi (Thatcher Walldorf). Seniors Keith Kim and Eric Suh just presented their findings on the effects of river acidification on freshwater snails at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, AZ, and sophomore Kevin Ward just wrapped up his research on the effects of a high sugar diet on tumor formation in tp53 zebrafish.
I am a lifelong competitive swimmer who loves the sea, marine mammals, and birds, and like many of my students today, as a high schooler I dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. I earned a bachelors of science in biology with a minor in gerontology from James Madison University, where I was also on the swim team. I was interested in learning more about the neurodegenerative diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and attended the Ph.D. Program in Gerontology at the University of Kentucky and worked in the Telling Lab. There I studied the molecular foundation of prion diseases, caused by protein misfolding which forms aggregates in the brain, a pathology similar to AD. I continued this research as a postdoc at the University of San Francisco (Prusiner Lab).
How did I come to raise jellyfish in my classroom?
Chattanooga is home to the world’s largest freshwater aquarium, the Tennessee Aquarium, located on the Tennessee River waterfront. This non-profit public aquarium has two buildings, River Journey, which opened in 1992, and Ocean Journey, which opened in 2005. The Ocean Journey exhibit “Boneless Beauties and Jellies: Living Art” (2005-2019) featured exotic invertebrates including around 10 species of jellyfish, ctenophores, cuttlefish, giant Pacific octopuses, and spider crabs. On my first visit to Ocean Journey in 2005, I became transfixed with the “comb jelly” (the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi) tank, specifically its rapidly beating ctene rows, which refract light creating a rainbow effect, and function as the animal’s swimming organ. Many people mistake the light refraction of the beating ctenes for electrical signals traveling along the ctenophore’s body. This first visit to the comb jellies tank left a lasting impression on me, and I was truly inspired by their beauty and curious to learn more about this gelatinous creature..
Six years ago, I visited the comb jelly exhibit again and decided to try to bring jellyfish into my classroom. I missed swimming in the frigid waters of the San Francisco Bay, so I sought to bring the cold ocean and at least one of it’s critters into my classroom. I chose to raise the Pacific Ocean variety moon jellyfish, which I so often encountered swimming in the San Francisco Bay and at Tomales Point! A gifted student built a special jellyfish tank, called a Kriesel, and next I contacted the TN Aquarium’s invertebrate specialist Sharyl Crossley to inquire about how to raise jellyfish. I was beyond thrilled when she invited me to train under her for a summer! That Fall, I began culturing moon and upside down jellies in my classroom and my students began research projects right away. Raising jellyfish is not easy, as they require perfect current, and water the salinity and temperature that matches their native habitat. Jellyfish require daily live feed of two day old enriched brine shrimp nauplii and rotifers. We actually have to feed the jellyfish’s food. The next year, I was ready to introduce the more difficult to raise comb jellies into the lab and have cultured them ever since. In 2017, I got to spend a week with Dr. William Brown at the University of Miami to learn how to spawn ctenophores, study hatchlings, and dissect out stem cell rich niches from the animals for in vitro work in the cell culture lab. You can often find me in the lab late at night at the dissecting scope still mesmerized and awed by the simplistic nature and immense beauty and of ctenophores in their spawning bowl.
Back to the Bay Area for a cruise on NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker!
The years that I lived in San Francisco for my postdoc were some of the best of my life because of the science plus athletic opportunities afforded by living next to the ocean including open water swimming, surfing, and abalone diving. I made lifelong friends partaking in these cold and rough water ocean sports. I lived in the Sunset neighborhood and I often went to Ocean Beach for the sunset and swam in the Bay several times per week at the South End Rowing Club (SERC). In 2008 I swam the English Channel. While swimming in the Bay, we often saw NOAA ships and I never thought I would get to join a cruise one day as part of the science team! While living in San Francisco, I did have the opportunity to go on a couple of whale watching tours and swim all over the San Francisco, Richardson, and San Pablo bays for my training swims, but I have never got to spend much time on a boat and I have never spent the night at sea! I am a bit nervous about becoming seasick and adjusting to being on the night shift next week.
Even though I was raised visiting the Atlantic ocean for summer vacations and am fond of the Caribbean Islands and the coral reefs, I am partial to the West Coast, where the mountains meet the sea. I prefer the cold green rough seas, the winter swell, kelp forests, abalone at Fort Bragg, great white sharks at the Farallones, Pier 39 sea lions, harbor seals, salps, humpbacks, orcas and sea otters in Monterey Bay, Garibaldi of La Jolla Cove, sting rays of La Jolla Shores, and elephant seals of Ano Nuevo. I enjoy kayak fishing for rockfish and yellowtail in San Diego with my brother, Kit.
The rockfish recruitment survey is a longitudinal research project in its 30th year led by the NOAA chief scientist Keith Sakuma. I have always been inspired by ichthyologists, specifically Dr. David Etnier, of the University of Tennessee, who worked with my step-dad, Hank Hill, on the snail darter case (Hill v. TVA) in the court’s first interpretation of the Endangered Species Act in 1978. I am excited to learn from NOAA chief Scientist Keith Sakuma and the other members of the Reuben Lasker‘s science team about the rockfish and groundfish species we will be targeting in the recruitment survey. I look forward to learning how to identify up to 100 additional species of epipelagic fish, most of which I have never seen (or even heard of) before, as well as micronekton including several types of krill, tunicates, and hopefully jellyfish!
The animals we will be surveying are known as forage species and are mostly primary and secondary consumers in the food web. These young of year rockfish and groundfish, epipelagic crabs, and small fish such as anchovies, sardines, and lanternfish are important prey for tertiary consumers including marine mammals, large fish, and seabirds. Long-term research studies allow for scientists to study the relationships between hydrographic data such as sea surface temperature, salinity, and density and the abundance and geographic distribution of forage species over decades, and in the case of this survey, three decades. An ecological rearrangement of forage species can affect not only the tertiary consumers and apex predators such as orcas and great white sharks, but will also impact the fishing industry. It is important to understand the impact of warming oceans and weakened California upwelling events have had and will have on the diversity and health of the ecosystem of the Pacific Coast.
Finishing off the school year has never been so exciting as it is now, with an Alaskan adventure awaiting me! My students are nearly as giddy as I am, and it is a pleasure to be able to share the experience with them through this blog.
In two weeks, I will leave my home in the Appalachian foothills of Georgia and fly to Anchorage, Alaska. From there I will take a train to the port city of Seward, where I will board NOAA Ship Rainier. For 11 days we will travel around Kodiak Island conducting a hydrographic survey, mapping the shape of the seafloor and coastline. The Alaska Hydrographic Survey Project is critical to those who live and work there, since it greatly improves the accuracy of maritime navigational charts, ensuring safer travel by sea.
In the past, I have traveled and worked in many different settings, including South Carolina, Cape Cod, Costa Rica, rural Washington, and even more rural Mozambique. I have acted in diverse roles as volunteer, resident scientist, amateur archaeologist, environmental educator, mentor, naturalist, and teacher of Language Arts, English Language, Math, and Science.
I now found myself back in my home state of Georgia, married to my wonderful husband, Nathan, and teaching at a local public school. Having rediscovered the beauty of this place and its people, I feel fortunate to continue life’s journey with a solid home base.
Currently I teach Earth Science at East Hall Middle School in Gainesville, Georgia. For the last five years, I have chosen to work in the wonderfully wacky world of sixth graders. Our school boasts a diverse population of students, many of whom have little to no experience beyond their hometown. It is my hope that the Teacher at Sea program will enrich my instruction, giving students a glimpse of what it is like to live and work on a ship dedicated to scientific research. I am also looking forward to getting to know the people behind that research, learning what motivates them in the work that they do and what aspects of their jobs they find the most challenging.
Did you know?
Kodiak Island is the largest island in Alaska and the second largest in the United States. It is located near the eastern end of the Aleutian Trench, where the Pacific Plate is gradually being subducted underneath the North American Plate.
Area of Cruise: U.S. Southeastern Continental Margin, Blake
Date: May 21,
(from Cleveland, OH):
Latitude: 41.53° N
Longitude: 81.67° W
Lake Wave Height: 1ft
Wind Speed: 8.6 knots
Wind Direction: 0 degrees
Air Temperature: 11°C
Barometric Pressure: 1021.7 mb
In one week I will be landing in Key West, Florida ready to begin my journey as a Teacher at Sea aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. As a native to the northern shores of Ohio along the coast of Lake Erie, the ocean is a distant place only visited on family vacations, through books, or in my dreams. Throughout my childhood we visited the ocean several times and I fell in love with all things ocean. My curiosity and love for the ocean deepened as I let Jules Verne and Captain Nemo take me “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” where I saw a colossal squid, massive schools of fish, and learned about animals that glow in the dark. As I watched shows, read magazines, and saw pictures, I began to learn more about what lies below and was fascinated by how little we actually know about the ocean. Did you know we know more about space than we do about the ocean? My curiosity intensified as I began to realize a career in marine biology was possible for a young woman from Cleveland, Ohio. But my curiosity only ever stayed near the shore. I was always interested in the ships that went out to sea for weeks on end to discover new sea life, conduct fish population assessments, or map the ocean floor. However, they were out to sea and my close-toed shoes and I were still on land…well, more accurately, in the tide pools. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be on one of these ships. Well I am! My close-toed shoes and I are heading to sea!
Before I get too wrapped up in the weeks to come I would like to tell you a little bit about myself. I grew up east of Cleveland, Ohio on the southern shores of Lake Erie. I spend most of my free time out on the water on my paddleboard or taking my dog, Luna, on grand land adventures. We tried the whole paddling thing with her. It failed epically. My love for water led me to the most amazing job. I work as an Extension Educator for Ohio Sea Grant. There are 34 Sea Grant programs across the country that work with coastal communities to sustainably manage and use their coastal resources. Much of my work is centered on educating youth on the human-caused issues of Lake Erie such as invasive species, harmful algal blooms, and marine debris (trash in waterways). I also conduct research on the use of disposable plastics to better understand why humans use so many of them and what behaviors can we change to encourage them to use less. My career is very rewarding because every day I teach others about Lake Erie and together we learn how to improve her health. My time as a Teacher at Sea will allow me to learn more about the ocean so I can bring all her wonders home to the people of Ohio. Many people where I leave have never even been to Lake Erie so the chances of them visiting the ocean is slim. I will be able to bring the ocean to them making this experience so important to those I teach.
The journey will be epic, the
days long, and the sunsets magnificent. Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity
and I am so excited and honored to be able to share my time at sea with all of
you. Together, we will explore the ocean deep, map areas of poorly understood
ocean floor, and dabble in some seasickness. Don’t worry! I will only give you
the play by play for the first two. To begin our trip we depart from Key West
and cruise for 16 days until we make landfall in Port Canaveral. Our mission is
to map poorly understood areas of the ocean floor off the southern and eastern
tips of Florida known as the Southern Atlantic Bight and Blake Plateau.
Operations will take place 24/7 (don’t worry I got you covered when you need to
get your zzzs) and will rely on the use of sonar to map these poorly understood
areas. I promise to learn all about the equipment on board and share it with
all of you. We will be tech wizards by the time we are done.
The mapping operation is actually part of a multi-year, multi-national collaboration campaign called the Atlantic Seafloor Partnership for Integrated Research and Exploration (ASPIRE). The purpose of the campaign is to further our knowledge of the Atlantic Ocean which is a goal of the Galway Statement of Atlantic Ocean Cooperation. The US, Canada, and the European Union developed the Galway Statement of Atlantic Ocean Cooperation to further our understanding on the Atlantic Ocean in support of increased knowledge and ocean stewardship. I will learn more about ASPIRE and the Galway Statement of Atlantic Ocean Cooperation while on board and share a more detailed account so we can all better understand why mapping operations and increased knowledge of the Atlantic Ocean are important for current and future generations.
Not only will I provide you with
detailed accounts of all the science happening on board, I will learn about
those who call the sea their home. I will share their stories and journeys in
case an ocean career is of interest to you. I will share the crests (ups) and
troughs (challenges) of life at sea. Such as what we do for fun. I have heard
through the grapevine cribbage is a popular pastime. I am not familiar with
this game so any tips you want to share with me will be greatly appreciated.
Help give me an edge on the competition.
I hope my first blog has given
you a glimpse of what is to come over the next three weeks. My time at sea
quickly approaches and my last days at home will be spent playing with Luna,
packing as lightly as possible (very challenging), breathing in the non-salty
Lake Erie air, and mentally preparing to be completely out of my comfort zone.
As I have said already, I am happy to take this journey to sea with all of you,
thank you for your support, and I look forward to our three weeks together. See
you in Key West!
Geographic Area of Cruise: Northern Gulf of Alaska (Port: Seward)
Date: April 22, 2019
Later this week, R/V Tiglax will depart the Homer Harbor in Homer, Alaska and begin the trip ‘around the corner.’ From the Homer Harbor, she will enter Kachemak Bay, flow into the larger Cook Inlet, and enter the Northern Gulf of Alaska and the North Pacific Ocean. Veering to the east, and then north, she will arrive in Seward, Alaska. That trip will take about 3 days, with stops along the way for some research near the Barren Islands. Meanwhile, I’ll be working in Homer for a few extra days before I begin my own trip to Seward. I will travel on the road system, first heading north and then jaunting southeast to Seward. It will take me 3.5 hours to drive there.
However you get there, Seward and the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-Term Ecological Research project area are just around the corner from Homer. Homer is the place where I was born and raised, the place where I became inspired by science, the place where I now have the incredible privilege of working as an environmental educator for students participating in field trips and intensive field study programs from Homer, around Alaska, and beyond. At the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies (CACS), one of the highlights of my job is guiding youth and adults into the intertidal zone to explore the amazing biodiversity that exists there.
In my lifetime as a Homer resident, and over the past 12 years as an educator in Kachemak Bay, I have witnessed seemingly unfathomable changes in the Bay’s ecosystems. These changes have been concerning to all of us who live here and are sustained by Kachemak Bay. Most recently, we watched as many species of sea stars succumbed to sea star wasting syndrome, their bodies deteriorating and falling apart in the intertidal zone. By fall of 2016, only leather stars (Dermasterias imbricata) seemed to remain. But over the past year, we’ve watched as true stars (Evasterias troschelii), blood stars (Henricia spp.), little six-rayed stars (Leptasterias spp.), and others have begun to reappear in the tidepools.
This past week, I was lucky enough to be the naturalist educator for students from West Homer Elementary as they spent 3 days in a remote part of Kachemak Bay. This was particularly poignant for me, as many of my most treasured memories from my own elementary school experience come from a similar field trip with CACS in 4th grade. That trip helped to inspire me towards a life of curiosity and wonder, passion for science and teaching, and commitment to stewardship of ecosystem and community.
So it was even more special that on this trip we observed a wonderfully diverse array of sea star species, including over a dozen sunflower stars (Pycnopodia helianthoides). I’ve only seen a couple of these magnificent sea stars since they all-but disappeared from Kachemak Bay in August 2016, leaving behind only eery piles of white goo. Their absence hurt my heart, and the potential impacts of losing this important predator reverberated in my brain. Though the future of these stars remains unknown, it was such a joy and relief to see a good number of apparently healthy sunflower stars in the intertidal this week!
The Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site was created, in part, to develop an understanding of the response and resiliency of the Northern Gulf of Alaska to climate variability. In a time when people, young and old, across Alaska and beyond are increasingly concerned about impacts of climate change, it can be challenging for educators to get youth involved in ways that aren’t overwhelming, saddening, or frustrating. Part of my work at CACS has been thinking and working with teachers, community educators, and researchers about how we can engage youth in ways that are realistic but hopeful and proactive. The idea that I’ll be learning about not just climate impacts but the potential resiliency of the Northern Gulf of Alaska is so cool! I’m excited to find out more about the unique species, life cycles, and natural histories that make the Gulf of Alaska such a good place to study ecosystem resiliency, and I’m inspired to learn more about other ecosystems close to Kachemak Bay and their own potential resilience.
I am really looking forward to my time on R/V Tiglax in the Gulf of Alaska!
Temperature: 33º Partly Cloudy
Winds Speed: S 4.34 knots
20% chance of rain
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
My love for all things related to the ocean started at a very early age and grew into a passion by the time I graduated high school. As a young Floridian, exploring the beaches, boating through the intercoastal waterways, and visiting the Miami SeaQuarium were my way of life. When I was in elementary school, my family moved to Virginia and even though we spent the next ten years trading seahorses for Tennessee Walking horses, I still watched every rerun of Flipper and waited with anticipation for each Jacques Cousteau TV special. Then, when I was in high school, my grandparents moved from New Jersey to the Florida Keys and I was reunited once again with the beautiful underwater world that brought me such fascination. We spent our summers snorkeling, sailing, and fishing. In the evenings, we drove around searching for the elusive Key Deer. When we visited the Dolphin Research Center and the Turtle Hospital, I was shocked to learn that my beloved ocean was facing some serious threats.
As I entered college, my interest transformed from a hobby to a lifestyle. I earned my first SCUBA certification, participated in my first coastal clean-up, and volunteered for restoration projects and turtle walks. I signed up for every life science course I could find. In my senior year at Stetson University, I registered for a class before I even knew what the title meant. Ornithology, with Dr. Stock. I found myself canoeing through alligator-infested waterways to investigate snowy egret rookeries, hiking through the forest at 5am to identify birds by only their calls, and conducting a post-mortem investigation on one of his road-kill specimens to determine its cause of death. Dr. Stock’s class was so different than anything I had experienced. I was in my element. I found myself constantly wanting to learn more. Not just about the organisms around me, but about how to fix the negative impacts we have on their environment. As I learned, I became motivated to teach others about what they could do to make a difference. My passion for teaching was born.
It is hard to believe that I have been teaching science in Hillsborough County for almost twenty years and that approximately 3,000 students have filled the chairs of my classroom. Years ago, I realized that even though we are located in west-central Florida, many of my students have little involvement with the ocean or our local beaches. I decided to change that fact by extending my classroom outside of my four walls. In true Dr. Stock fashion, I attempt to bring the ocean to life for my students through field trips, restoration projects, and guest speakers. With the help of some amazing organizations like the Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay Watch, and Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, we have participated in many activities to help us learn about the ocean and about how to remedy our impacts.
We also love to get out in nature and explore the splendor that awaits us. In the pictures below, students from Plant High enjoy a day at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center where we participated in fishing and kayaking clinics and learned about protecting our local estuarine species.
As I head out for two weeks on NOAA Ship Oregon II, I am leaving my classroom and students behind but I know that the value of what I will bring back to them far outweighs the short time I will be away. I hope through my experience my students will see that you are never too old to learn something new and that even the teacher can improve her knowledge.
I am eager to develop first-hand experience with the technology and research methods currently being used to study the ocean. I look forward to meeting the scientists and the crew of my ship and learning about all of the career opportunities that are available to my students through NOAA. I am ready to turn my NOAA education into lessons that will benefit my students and infuse my curriculum with new life.
I cannot wait to see the beautiful sunsets over the gulf and maybe I’ll even catch a few sunrises. I am hoping for the occasional visit from a whale, a dolphin, or a sea turtle. Who knows? Maybe I will even get a chance to see a few of my favorite ornithological species!
Counting down … 12 days to go.
Today’s Shout Out: To Mr. Johnny Bush (Plant High School Principal), Mr. Larry Plank (SDHC Director of STEM), and Mr. Dan McFarland (SDHC Science Supervisor) for all of their support in making this trip possible for me.
Greetings to those following my adventure from afar. My name is Kristin Hennessy-McDonald, but my students and fellow faculty call me Dr. Hen-Mc. I am so excited to have been selected to be a member of the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program aboard the Oregon II. I am the science lead at T-STEM Academy at East High School, where I teach Honors Biology. My path to the classroom was far from straight. I attended the University of Notre Dame, where I earned a B.S. in Biology. I then continued my academic path at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, where I earned my PhD in Cell Physiology. After spending a little less than 3 years at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, I had an epiphany. I found that I enjoyed sharing my passion about science more than doing research at the bench. I made the decision to transition to the classroom and have not looked back. 8 years later, I have found my home at T-STEM, and my family in Team East.
The journey to boarding the Oregon II has been a long one, but well worth it. When my boss brought the opportunity to me, I applied with hope. When I got the acceptance letter, I gasped and started jumping up and down in my classroom. My students were confused, but then excited when they found out that I had gotten this opportunity. I teach many of the same students who were in that class, and they have all been sharing in my excitement over the past months as I have prepared for this adventure.
My first view of the Oregon II
Boarding the NOAA Ship Oregon II
I have always been fascinated by water. From the time I was a small child, my parents would have to watch carefully when we went to the pool or the beach, because I was liable to jump right in. As I grew up, that love of water has remained, and I spend time each summer on the Gulf. I am thrilled to have a chance to study ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico, and see things that I only read about in National Geographic magazine.
I have passed my love of water on to my daughter. Beth is the same way I was when I was young. She wants to run into the water, to play in the waves. She sees the beauty of the sea, watching dolphins alongside the boat when we take trips to Ship Island out of Gulfport, MS. I look forward to sharing my adventures at sea with her. I am sad to leave her and my husband for two weeks, but grateful that they waved me off on my adventures with a smile.
I began my career as a teacher because I wanted to share my love of science with young people. I dreamed of someday being a child’s gateway to the wonders and knowledge of science. While none of my students have stood on a desk reciting Whitman, some of my students have allowed my love of science to guide them along science career paths. When I joined Team East at T-STEM Academy at East High School, I knew that I was in a place that would foster the idea of learning by doing. I wanted to exemplify that going on this trip. I cannot wait to bring all of the knowledge and experiences of this trip back to my classroom. Instead of just sharing case studies of Gulf Coast ecosystems, I will be able to share what I learned as a NOAA Teacher at Sea.
Personal Quote of the day
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
Did You Know?
Red Snappers are considered to be one of the top predators in the Gulf of Mexico?
Question of the day
Given that red snapper hatch at 0.0625 inches long, and can reach sizes of 16 inches within two years, do you think their cells have a long or short G1 phase?
Geographic Area of Cruise: Seattle, Washington to Newport, Oregon
Date: September 1, 2018
About My School and I:
My name is Justin Garritt and I teach mathematics in Baltimore City at KIPP Ujima Academy. KIPP stands for Knowledge is Power Program and is a nationwide charter school network. Most of the 224 KIPP schools serve in communities that have been historically left behind. My awesome middle school serves the best 750 5th through 8th graders in the world. Sadly, due to recent budget cuts throughout our city, science programs have been cut. Three years ago, our school reduced our students’
access to science in half. Students now only receive science for half the year. Many of our world’s most important problems require amazing and informed scientists and our kids have to be a part of those solutions. As a mathematics teacher who has the privilege of having my students for double the time of our science team, it is crucial that I make cross-curricular connections to science in my classroom. As a lifelong learner, I can’t wait to get on board a National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) ship so I can investigate new and creative ways to infuse all the research I will be doing into my curriculum. I can’t wait for students at my school to see me working among the most talented scientists in the world. I can’t wait for my students at my school to picture themselves someday working as scientists with NOAA and solving our world’s most important problems that involve our precious environment. I can’t wait for my future students to get excited when learning statistics, scaling, and ratios with actual data I collected while sailing in the Pacific.
NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada arrival in to Seattle port
The beautiful Seattle skyline near port
To My Baltimore and New York Supporters:
For those of you reading from Baltimore or my hometown, let me tell you a bit about what I am doing.
Last Fall I was sent information about a program called the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association Teacher at Sea Program (NOAA TAS) from a friend and mentor of mine, Amy Wilson. She knew how much I loved ships, water, and exciting adventures and thought I would be interested in this unique experience that could benefit my students and school. NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program gives K-12 teachers across the country insight into our ocean planet & increases understanding of earth system science through real research projects. Teachers are paired with wonderful scientists across a variety of ecosystems across the planet in order to learn from them so they can take back their knowledge gained to their school communities. Fast forward six months and here I am sailing aboard a NOAA ship named Bell A. Shimada. It sails from Seattle, Washington to Newport, Oregon and conducts scientific experiments throughout its journey. I will be writing about these over the next few weeks. Throughout the trip we will be using scientific equipment and techniques that I never knew existed. I will be studying and learning about things I never heard of. I will be working side by side with scientists to learn their exact roles. I will be interviewing people throughout the ship about what a career is like on board a NOAA ship. The whole time I will be posting updates and pictures on this blog. I hope you will join me on this journey.
When I return to KIPP Baltimore, I hope that I will be better equipped to create epic math lessons that are grade level and common core aligned but infuse the data I collected on board Bell A. Shimada. I hope my ratios and proportions unit and my statistics unit come alive for my future scholars. I hope that I can teach my students about the incredible careers involving science with the NOAA so that a few consider it for their life path. Personally, I hope I can be more educated on some of the most pressing environmental issues the future of our world faces.
Although I am nervous about my lack of scientific knowledge, I am so excited to participate in this once in a life time opportunity for myself and my future students back in Baltimore.
The next time you will hear from me, I will be off the coast of Seattle surrounded by water, scientists, and fish.
Seattle sightseeing before departure at the Space Needle
An orca whale visits while riding the ferry near port
The famous Pike’s Place Fish Market massive lobster tails
Weather: The weather in Crown Point, IN is 80 degrees and sunny!
According to Greek mythology, coral first originated in the Red Sea. The story has been told that after Perseus, a Greek hero, beheaded Medusa, he set her head down on a clump of seaweed to wash his hands. The blood from Medusa’s head soaked into the seaweed forming what we know today as coral. Ironically, coral polyps contain tentacles reminiscent of the snakes consuming Medusa’s head. I am lucky enough to have my own piece of Coral. Three and half years ago my husband and I had our first child and named her Coral. The only aspect of Coral’s life that is even a slight resemblance of Medusa is her crazy curly hair! As we know, coral in the ocean is a beautiful animal that houses thousands of marine organisms. Similarly, my daughter has an enormous heart for living creatures, and her curiosity for the natural world inspires me every day.
We also have a son named Kai. In Hawaiian, Kai means ‘the sea’, and in Japanese one of its meanings is ‘ocean.’ I love watching Kai grow daily, and learn new ways to survive having Coral as his big sister. Although I will have to say a heartbreaking temporary goodbye to Coral and Kai, I will be embarking on a journey of a lifetime. My expedition starts in Pascagoula, Mississippi on August 31st aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II, where I will participate in a shark/red snapper longline survey in the Gulf of Mexico.
I have always been fascinated by the water. Growing up near Lake Michigan, family trips consisted of going to the beach and searching for “seashells” along the shore. My passion for the ocean also began during my childhood, which was sparked by my interest in turtles. I was a captivated 15 year old when I saw a sea turtle for the first time as I snorkeled on a patch reef near Key Largo. The speed at which the juvenile loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) glided through the water was astonishing. I was fortunate to capture a few pictures of the critically threatened animal as it sped by, which was then painted onto a beautiful canvas by a dear friend of mine.
That moment inspired and motivated me to study the ocean, and I went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in marine biology from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL. During my time at Eckerd College, I had the opportunity to intern for the University of Florida’s Cape San Blas sea turtle surveying program. It was during this internship that I had my first indirect encounter with a shark. Well, not really an actual shark, but Yolanda, a nesting loggerhead sea turtle. I first met Yolanda in the summer of 2004. She was a healthy adult sea turtle and a regular nester on Cape San Blas, as her tag had been recorded since the 90’s on the exact same beach that I first saw her. What I have failed to mention is that she had an enormous shark bite through her carapace and plastron just above her right rear flipper. Remarkably, the shark missed all major organs and the bite had healed completely into a perfect mandible mold. Besides Yolanda’s shark bite, and small reef sharks that I’ve seen diving, I never thought I would experience an up close meeting with a shark. For two weeks straight I will be assisting NOAA scientists with catching and tagging a variety of different species of sharks.
I am most excited for the impact that the Teacher at Sea adventure will have on me personally, and as an educator at Crown Point High School. I hope to take what I learn while aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II and aide my students in better hypothesis-generation, experimental testing, and presentation skills to cultivate major changes in their approach to scientific research. Ultimately, I can’t wait to share my experience with the Crown Point community, and continue to create an atmosphere where kids are excited about learning science!
Ocean Adventure campers at Crown Point High School.
A classroom full of young explorers learning about the ocean.
Geographic Area of Cruise: Northeast Atlantic Ocean
Date: August 18, 2018
Hello from the Florida Keys! I am so excited to be embarking on my Teacher at Sea excursion in just 4 days. I will be joining the crew aboard NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter to participate in a Summer Ecosystem Monitoring Survey in the Northeast Atlantic, departing from Rhode Island and returning to port in Virginia. I am looking forward to working side by side with NOAA scientists, sharing knowledge with my students, and having the experience of a lifetime!
My students at Ocean Studies Charter School are prepared to follow me along on my journey via this blog and our online classroom. They have even practiced their own Summer Ecosystem Monitoring Survey of the Hardwood Hammock forest surrounding our school!
I hope you’ll join us in this adventure and check back here for more blog posts in a few days!
Weather Data from the NOAA weather station at Molasses Reef in the Florida Keys
Latitude: 25.130 N
Longitude: 80.406 W
Water Temperature: 85.6◦F
Wind Speed: 11 knots
Wind Direction: ESE
Air Temperature: 84.4◦F
Atmospheric Pressure: 30.13 in
Sky: Partly Cloudy
Science and Technology Log
I am very much looking forward to participating in the Summer Ecosystem Monitoring Survey aboard NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter. At Ocean Studies Charter School, we do projects to monitor the seagrass, mangrove, and coral reef ecosystems each year while out in the field. It will be interesting to see how NOAA scientists conduct these surveys; what tools and equipment they use, what animals and plants they will find, and what aspects of water quality they will measure.
The ecosystem we will be monitoring on the mission is called the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem (NES LME). You can just call it the “Northeast Shelf.” This ecosystem spans the coast and out to sea from North Carolina up to Maine. Scientists want to know a lot about this part of the ocean because it is very important for something we love to do here in the Keys: FISHING. Fishing is fun, but it’s also the way that many people in our country get their food and make money to live. Fishing is a major industry along the east coast, so the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem is considered a very important natural resource that we need to protect.
How can scientists understand and protect this resource? It starts with Ecosystem Monitoring.
An ecosystem is a place where living things and non-living things work together like a big machine. Each part of the machine, both living and non-living, is important for the whole system to work. For example, in an ocean ecosystem, every type fish is needed for the food web to function. Clean water and plenty of sunlight is needed for the ocean plants and phytoplankton to be healthy. The ocean plants are needed for the invertebrates that the fish eat… and the cycle continues! In order for scientists to understand the fish that are important to us, they need to understand EVERY piece of the ecosystem since it is all connected. That’s why we will be measuring lots of different things on our mission!
Monitoring means “observing and checking something over a period of time”. NOAA scientists observe, measure, and check on this ecosystem 6-7 times per year. Monitoring an ecosystem lets people know WHAT is going on within the ecosystem. Scientists can use this information to research WHY things are happening the way they are. Then, they can use modeling to find out WHAT might happen in the future. This helps the government make decisions about our precious resources and make plans for the future to keep our oceans healthy and our fish populations strong.
On our mission, scientists will collect plankton, invertebrates, and fish with special nets to count and measure them. They will look and listen for marine mammals and sea birds. They will take measurements of the water such as temperature, salinity (amount of salt), nutrient levels, and ocean acidification. These measurements will help them understand the quality of water and changes of the climate in this area. What other aspects of the ecosystem do you think are important to measure?
I can’t wait to see how we will take all of these measurements and what we will see out there!
I am proud to call myself the Marine Science Teacher at Ocean Studies Charter School in Tavernier, Florida Keys. We are a small public charter elementary school, focused on the surrounding marine environment and place-based learning. I teach science to all grades (K-5) and lead our weekly field labs. I even drive the school bus! We use the term “field labs” instead of “field trips” to highlight that we are not simply visiting a place. We are using the outdoors as our learning laboratory, working on projects, collecting data, and partnering with local organizations on our excursions. We study the local habitats of the shallow seagrass beds, mangrove forests, and coral reefs that we are so lucky to have in our backyard.
Upon my return from my Teacher at Sea mission, we will be hosting the grand opening of our new Marine Discovery Laboratory in the center of our school! After teaching marine science in an outdoor classroom for the past 7 years, I am excited for the opportunities that our state-of-the-art indoor lab will bring (no more visits from the local iguanas)!
My students impress and amaze me every day with their ideas and discoveries. I have watched them create and present model ecosystems, examine hurricane protection ideas by studying animal survival, and help scientists tag sharks to learn more about their populations. At the start of this new school year, I cannot wait to see what ideas they will come up with next!
It will be hard to be away from my family, especially my two awesome sons, ages 6 and 9. I hope they enjoy following along with Mom’s blog and that they are inspired by my experience!
I originally hail from New Hampshire but have lived in Florida for all my adult life. Prior to teaching, I worked on boats as an environmental educator and earned my captain’s license along the way. I have been a SCUBA instructor, marine aquarist, and guide for summer travel adventure camps. As a teacher, I have been lucky enough to also participate in “Teacher Under the Sea” through Florida International University. In this program, I assisted scientists under the ocean at the Aquarius Undersea Laboratory right here in the Florida Keys. Throughout my life, I have loved the ocean. One day, I hope to sail out to sea and travel the world on my own boat.
But for now, I’m not sure exactly what to expect in terms of living aboard NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter. I look forward to sharing adventures and stories of life at sea! Stay tuned to this blog and check for my updates in a few days. Sea you soon!
Did You Know?
NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter was named after an American marine biologist and fisheries scientist who was considered a pioneer in the field of fisheries ecology.
The ship was originally built in 1989 as the U.S. Naval Ship Relentless and was transferred to NOAA in 1993.
Word of the Day
Ichthyoplankton – The planktonic (drifting) eggs and larvae of fish.
When scientists tow for plankton, studying the icthyoplankton helps them understand fish populations.
Latitude: 61.3293° N Longitude: 149.5680° W Air Temperature: 56° F Sky: Rain (typical weather for August in AK)
My name is Mark Van Arsdale. I am a high school teacher in Eagle River, Alaska. Eagle River is a bedroom community just outside of Anchorage. At ERHS, I teach AP Biology, Forensic Science, Oceanography, and Marine Biology. I will be aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson as a participant in the 2018 NOAA Teacher at Sea program.
It’s raining right now, and I am sitting in my kitchen contemplating the start of the new school year next week and the start of a new adventure next month. In three weeks I will fly from Anchorage to Dutch Harbor, Alaska to join the scientists and crew of the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson. Even though I will never leave the state, I will fly 796 miles, the same distance as flying from New York to Chicago. Alaska is an incredibly large state, almost 600,000 square miles of land and 34,000 miles of coastline. My adventure will take me into the Bering Sea. Although I have never been there, I have a connection to the Bering Sea. Like many other Alaskans’, much of the salmon and other seafood my family eats spends all or part of its lifecycle traveling through the rich waters of the Bering Sea.
Alaska and Alaskans are highly dependent on the oceans. Commercial fishing in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea produces more groundfish (pollock, cod, rockfish, sablefish, and flatfish) than any other place in the country, close to 2 million metric tons per year. In 2013 that was valued at over $2 billion. Fishing is consistently Alaska’s top non-government employer and after oil, seafood represents our largest export. Thousands of residents participate every year in subsistence fishing, and hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Alaska each year, many with the hopes of catching a wild salmon or halibut (facts from the Alaska Sea Grant).
My classroom is less than five miles from the ocean (Cook Inlet Estuary), yet many of the students I teach have never seen the ocean. They may not know the importance of the ocean to our state. When I teach Oceanography and Marine Biology, I work very hard to connect my students to both the science and industry of the oceans. Not just so that my students can understand what kind of work that scientist and fishermen do, but also so that they will understand the value of the work do.
I have been in the classroom for twenty years, and in the last few years I have seen more and more students entering my classroom who see no value in science. Science matters! The oceans and our relationship to the oceans matter! I am hopeful that working on board the Oscar Dyson with a team of scientists is going to help me make those connections better.
Have I mentioned yet that I love fish? I love to study fish, teach about fish, catch fish, cook fish, eat fish, watch fish. So I am pretty excited about spending two weeks on a research cruise dedicated to fish research, and working with some of the Scientists from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center.
Geographic Area of Cruise: Western North Atlantic Ocean/Gulf of Mexico
Date: August 4, 2018
Introductory Personal Log
I’m thrilled to be joining NOAA Ship Oregon II for the second leg of the Shark/Red Snapper Longline Survey. The adventure of a lifetime begins in Canaveral, Florida and concludes in Pascagoula, Mississippi. For two weeks, we’ll be studying sharks, red snapper, and other marine life in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Scientists will collect data on fish populations to find out more about their distribution, age, weight, length, reproduction, and other important information. Along the way, we’ll also sample water quality and collect other environmental data. Learning more about these creatures and their surroundings can help to keep their habitats safe and thriving.
This exciting opportunity is the next chapter in my lifelong appreciation for sharks and the sea. During a formative visit to the ocean at age three, I quickly acquired a taste for salt water, seafaring, and sharks. I saw my first shark, a hammerhead, in the New England Aquarium, and I was transfixed. I wanted to know everything about the water and what lived beneath the surface.
Enthralled by the ocean at age three. This trip launched a lifelong love of New England.
Revisiting the same beach as an adult…still enthralled.
The Giant Ocean Tank at the New England Aquarium
I had the same reaction when I found out I was selected for Teacher at Sea!
After discovering nonfiction in fourth grade, I could access the depths through reading. I was riveted to books about deep-sea creatures and pioneering undersea explorers. The more I learned, the more curious I became. As a younger student, I never indulged my aquatic interests in any formal academic sense beyond prerequisites because of my epic, giant-squid-versus-whale-like struggle with math. Because I was much stronger in humanities and social sciences, I pursued a predictable path into writing, literature, and education.
As a Literacy Specialist, I support developing readers and writers in grades K-5 by providing supplemental Language Arts instruction (Response to Intervention). To motivate and inspire my students, I share my zeal for the ocean, incorporating developmentally appropriate topics to teach requisite Language Arts skills and strategies.
In 2011, I initiated an ocean literacy collaboration with undersea explorer Michael Lombardi and Ocean Opportunity Inc. so that I could better answer my students’ questions about marine science careers and marine life. Our first meeting involved swimming with blue sharks offshore, and I knew I needed more experiences like that in my life. From chumming to helping with the equipment to observing pelagic sharks without a cage, I loved every aspect. This life-changing experience (both the collaboration and the shark encounter) transformed my instruction, reigniting my curiosity and ambition. Our educator-explorer partnership has inspired and motivated my students for the past seven years. After supporting and following my colleague’s field work with my students, I wanted a field experience of my own so that I can experience living, researching, and working at sea firsthand.
The only time I was in the shark cage.
The Snappa, Galilee/Point Judith, Rhode Island
Although my fascination with all things maritime began at an early age, working closely with someone in the field transformed my life. Instead of tumbling, I feel like Alice plunging into a watery wonderland, chasing after a neoprene-clad rabbit to learn more. Finding someone who was willing to share their field experience and make it accessible gave me the confidence to revisit my childhood interests through any available, affordable means: online courses, documentaries, piles of nonfiction books, social media, workshops, symposiums, aquaria, snorkeling, and the occasional, cherished seaside visit.
From Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland: A Big Golden Book; picture by the Walt Disney Studio, adapted by Al Dempster (Golden Press, 1978); from the motion picture based on the story by Lewis Carroll
We co-authored and published a case study about our collaboration in Current: The Journal of Marine Education, the peer-reviewed journal of the National Marine Educators Association (Fall/Winter 2016). We wrote about bringing the discovery of a new species of mesophotic clingfish to fourth and fifth grade struggling readers. Since a student-friendly text about the fish did not exist, I wrote one for my students at their instructional reading level, incorporating supportive nonfiction text features.
It’s reinvigorating to switch roles from teacher to student. Ultimately, this unconventional path has made me a more effective, empathetic educator. My students witness how I employ many of the same literacy skills and strategies that I teach. By challenging myself with material outside my area of expertise, I am better able to anticipate and accommodate my students’ challenges and misconceptions in Language Arts. When comprehension of a scientific research paper does not come to me easily on the first, second, or even third attempt, I can better understand my students’ occasional reluctance and frustration in Language Arts. At times, learning a different field reminds me of learning a second language. Because I’m such a word nerd, I savor learning the discourse and technical terminology for scientific phenomena. Acquiring new content area vocabulary is rewarding and delicious. It requires word roots and context clues (and sometimes, trial and error), and I model this process for my students.
Alexandria Bay, Thousand Islands
Being selected for Teacher at Sea is an incredible opportunity that required determination, grit, and perseverance. Although my curiosity and excitement come very naturally, the command over marine science content has not. I’ve had to be an active reader and work hard in order to acquire and understand new concepts. Sometimes, the scientific content challenges me to retrain my language arts brain while simultaneously altering my perception of myself as a learner. Ultimately, that is what I want for my students: to see themselves as ever-curious, ever-improving readers, writers, critical thinkers, and hopefully, lifelong learners.
I am so grateful for the opportunities to learn and grow. I deeply appreciate the support, interest, and encouragement I’ve received from friends, family, and colleagues along the way. I will chronicle my experiences on NOAA Ship Oregon II while also capturing how the scientific research may translate to the elementary school classroom. Please share your questions and comments in the comments section below, and I will do my best to reply from sea. My students sent me off with many thoughtful questions to address, and I’ll share the answers in subsequent posts.
Did You Know?
Pelagic fish have bodies designed for long-distance swimming. With their long pectoral fins, the blue shark (Prionace glauca) is highly migratory, traveling great distances across oceans.
For a simplified introduction to how scientists study sharks, I recommend the picture book How to Spy on a Shark written by Lori Haskins Houran and illustrated by Francisca Marquez. This read-aloud science book portrays the process of catching, tagging, and releasing mako sharks. The book includes shark facts as well as an introduction to tagging and tracking technology. For more information on how scientists use underwater robots such as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to study sharks: https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/18whitesharkcafe/welcome.html
Tomorrow is the big day! I am getting ready to board the plane from Florence, SC to Charlotte, NC to Providence, RI. I have never been to Rhode Island, so this is going to be a bucket list activity to keep adding states to my history. Rhode Island will make state number 24…almost half way!
I teach in a very rural high school in Lamar, South Carolina which is approximately 90 miles from Myrtle Beach. Lamar High School has about 280 students. This year we had a graduating class of 52 students. I teach Calculus, Statistics, and Algebra 2 Honors.
Teaching statistics is the main reason I applied to the Teacher at Sea program. I wanted to give my students some real world experience with statistics. I try to create my own data for students, but I end up using the same data from the Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Major League Baseball, etc. I had one student a couple of years ago in Algebra 2 Honors who is a weather lover. His favorite website is NOAA, and he would give me the daily weather or hurricane updates. Any time we had a baseball game, he would be able to tell me if we were going to be able to play the game. Being able to provide him and his classmates projects using data from something he loves will help me to reach that one student. Hopefully, I might even spark interest in other students.
Helping my students to become statisticians is the main reason I applied; however, I also applied to challenge myself. Throughout my life, I have not been the kind of person who deals well with creepy crawly things. Being on a ship on the ocean will definitely force me to deal with that. I want to do my very best to get involved in all kinds of neat activities. I hope “Cool Beans!” will be my daily saying.
I am really looking forward to working with the scientists on the Gordon Gunter. Having read as much as I can about the Passive Acoustic Research Group has helped me to understand a little of what we will be doing on our 15-day journey. I hope that I can help them to further their research to learn the patterns that cetaceans use to communicate with each other!
In a few short days, I’ll be flying to the Gulf Coast and going aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II, a 170-foot fisheries research vessel which first launched in 1967. I turned seven that year, and in my Southern California boyhood loved nothing better than exploring the cliffsides and mudflats of the Newport Back Bay, collecting seashells and chasing lizards and Monarch butterflies. Fifty years later, I’m just as smitten with nature and the marine environment, maybe more so. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area now, and these days my passion for the ocean takes the form of getting out on the water whenever I can (and longing to do so whenever I can’t): kayak-fishing along the coast from Marin to Mendocino, tide-pooling at Half Moon Bay, and whale-watching with my family in Monterey.
Though my childhood reading consisted almost entirely of field guides for shells and insects—and those by Roger Tory Peterson (no relation) were my most-prized books—I didn’t become a biologist. No, I became a professor of English instead, one who was drawn, not too mysteriously, to writers who shared my fascination with the sea and its creatures, novelists like John Steinbeck and Herman Melville, poets like Walt Whitman and George Oppen. As a non-scientist with an incurable case of “sea fever,” I simply couldn’t be happier to sail this summer as a NOAA Teacher at Sea, and I look forward to experiencing first-hand the rigors of life and work aboard a NOAA research vessel.
I have the great good fortune of teaching at a wonderful independent high school that has helped me to cultivate these interests within and beyond the classroom: Oakland’s College Preparatory School. I teach a year-long Freshman English course there as well as a handful of upper-level semester-long seminars, each focused on a special topic or theme. One of my favorite seminars is called “Deadliest Catches” (yes, a shameless allusion to those intrepid Bering Sea crabbers on Animal Planet), a course that offers a deep-dive into the encyclopedic wonders of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Every fall members of this course visit the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park to go aboard historic vessels and sing chanteys with a locally famous park ranger. We also team up with members of College Prep’s Oceanography class, taught by my colleague Bernie Shellem, for an afternoon of marine science aboard the R/V Brownlee, examining bottom-dwelling marine life, identifying fish and crustaceans, and studying water chemistry and plankton in the San Francisco Bay.
Another of my sea-related courses, and one that might stand to benefit even more directly from my TAS experience, is “Fish & Ships”: a week-long intensive class on sustainable seafood and Bay Area maritime history. Though the course is brief, it encourages students to reflect on big questions: how do their everyday choices affect the marine environment that surrounds them, and what does it mean to be an ethical consumer of seafood? We meet and eat with industry experts, and we take a road trip to Monterey, visiting its amazing Aquarium, kayaking on Elkhorn Slough (where its rescued sea otters are released), and feasting mindfully at restaurants that feature sustainable seafood.
In connection with this course and on a personal note, I’m especially interested in the shrimp species I’ll become well acquainted with on the upcoming cruise. I’m a big fan of shrimp tacos, and my favorite taqueria in Berkeley makes theirs from “wild-caught shrimp from the waters of Southeastern Louisiana.” An ad on the wall proclaims they’re a sustainable resource, informing customers that independent fisherman harvest the “Gulf Shrimp” using a method called “skim netting,” reducing by-catch (i.e., the unwanted capture of non-target species) and thereby doing less damage to the ecosystem. I’m fascinated by the ways supply-chain connections like these—between particular fishermen and the fish they fish for in a particular place and in a particular way—swirl out into so many different but interconnected orbits of human endeavor, binding them in one direction to the fisheries biologists who help determine whether their stocks are sustainable, and, in another, to fish taco aficionados and English teachers in far flung states who delight in their flavorful catches.
What am I bringing along to read, you may wonder. Well, for starters, it’s only fitting that my well-worn copy of Moby-Dick accompany me, and another old favorite belongs in my bags: Steinbeck’s Log of the Sea of Cortez. More powerfully than any of his fiction, that work—which records the marine-specimen collecting trip Steinbeck made to Baja California with his longtime friend, marine biologist Ed Ricketts—spoke to me as a young man and certainly helped inspire the voyage I’m about to take as a Teacher at Sea.
Did You Know?
Samuel Clemens’s pen name, Mark Twain, had a maritime source. In the parlance of riverboat pilots, the two words mean “two fathoms” (or 12 feet) of depth, “marked” (or measured) by the leadsman. The expression meant safe water for a steamboat, in other words.
Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation
Geographic Area of Cruise: Norfolk, Virginia to Bermuda
Date: July 5, 2018
Weather Data from Home (Clarks Summit, PA)
Air Temperature: 28.0° C
Wind Speed: 1.7 Knots
Wind Direction: Southwest
Conditions: Partly Cloudy, 69% Humidity
Hi everyone! My name is Meredith Salmon (yes, just like the fish) and I cannot believe that it is almost time to begin my adventure aboard NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer. This June, I finished my fourth year teaching Honors and Regular Biology at the Peddie School located in Hightstown, New Jersey. Peddie is an independent, coeducational boarding and day school that serves 551 students in grades 9-12. We welcome a diverse student body from all across the United States and the world. Our students represent a total of 23 states as well as 34 countries and 64% of students are boarding while the remaining 36% commute. Therefore, I am committed to creating a global classroom where students are engaged in a problem-based curriculum that emphasizes scientific investigation and critical thinking. In addition to teaching, I serve as the Assistant Girls’ Varsity Soccer Coach and will be the Assistant JV Girls’ Basketball Coach this winter. I have also coached winter track the past two years. I live and work as a Dorm Supervisor in a sophomore level female dormitory as well. Working as a teacher, coach, and dorm parent in the Peddie Community has granted me the unique opportunity to shape the lives of many students in and outside the classroom environment.
Being immersed in current research while engaging with other scientists and crew members onboard the Okeanos Explorer is going to be an incredible experience. I am really excited to take what I learn in these next couple weeks and use it to design a Marine Science/Biology elective for next spring semester. I think it is so important for students to use science, engineering practices, and technology to become well versed in ocean literacy and discovery as well as NOAA’s endeavors in ocean exploration. I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned with you soon!
More about the Mission:
The Okeanos Explorer will map an area southeast of Bermuda designated by the Atlantic Seabed Mapping International Working Group (ASMIWG) at the 4th Annual Galway Trilateral Meeting in April 2017. As part of the Galway initiative, the ASMIWG utilized a suitability model to identify priority regions in the Atlantic Ocean factoring in areas of public interest, sensitive marine areas, and areas with marine resource potential. This will be the first U.S.-led mapping effort in support of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance/ASMIWG initiative.
Did You Know?
From the end of May until early July, NOAA and partners conducted an extensive ocean exploration expedition aboard the Okeanos Explorer. The goal was to collect important baseline information about unknown and poorly understood deepwater regions of the Southeastern United States. For more information and cool videos, check out their website!
Lat: 33.4146° N Long: 82.3126° W
Air Temperature: 23.3° C
Wind Speed: 6.1 Knots
Wind Direction: West
Conditions: Mostly Cloudy, 69% humidity
Welcome to my blog! My name is Taylor Planz, and I am so honored to be a Teacher at Sea this season! My passions in life besides education are my family, my cats, the mountains, and, of course, the ocean! In college I studied Oceanography and conducted undergraduate research in Chemical Oceanography where I explored phosphate dynamics in estuarine sediments. I went on multiple afternoon research cruises as part of my undergraduate degree, but I have never been on a ship overnight before now. I married my husband Derrick in 2014 on the beach, a childhood dream of mine. We got married on the Gulf of Mexico in Destin, Florida.
In the fall I will be teaching Physical Science and Forensic Science to juniors and seniors at Harlem High School in rural Harlem, GA. In the past, I taught middle school science and this year will be my first year in a high school classroom. I am excited to teach a new age group this fall as there are many big decisions students must make during these critical high school years. I hope that my experience with NOAA Teacher at Sea will inspire at least one student to pursue science, and maybe even ocean science, as a career! There is so much out there to be explored in the ocean, atmosphere, landscape, and even space!
Alaska is about to be the 34th state I have visited in my life! I never really understood how far away it was until my flights for this trip were booked. After departing Atlanta, Georgia, I will land briefly in Portland, Oregon and then Anchorage, Alaska before arriving in Nome, Alaska. From there, I will board NOAA Ship Fairweather for Point Hope. The flights and layovers alone will take 16 hours! It is quite amazing how far the United States stretches!
NOAA Ship Fairweather will be my home for 12 days next month where I will help conduct a hydrographic survey of the Point Hope region in northwestern Alaska. We will be so far north that we may cross the Arctic Circle! Only 30% of this region’s ocean floor has ever been surveyed, and those surveys need updating because they took place in the 1960s. Updated and new surveys will be vital for the continued safe navigation of the ever-increasing maritime traffic, especially because the size of the vessels navigating the local waters continues to grow.
Science and Technology Log
Most of the blog posts I write onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather will tie back to physical science, so today I would like to discuss some earth science! Point Hope, AK is located at 68.3478° N latitude and 166.8081° W longitude. As you may know, Earth is divided into 90° of latitude per hemisphere, so 68° is pretty far north! In comparison, Harlem, GA is located at 33.4146° N latitude and 82.3126° W longitude.
What is significant about a region’s latitude? Latitude affects many things including sunlight distribution, seasons, and climate. For most of us in the United States, we know that summer days are long and winter days are short (in reference to hours of sunlight per 24 hour day). In Alaska the effect is much more dramatic! Parts of Alaska experience 24 hours of daylight around the summer solstice in June and 24 hours of darkness around the winter solstice in December. Not only are the daylight hours much different than what most of us experience, the concentration of sunlight that reaches Alaska is different too.
No matter which hemisphere you live in, as your latitude increases away from the equator (0° latitude) the amount of sunlight that reaches you decreases. The sun has to travel a longer distance through more of Earth’s atmosphere to reach you. As the light travels, it becomes more diffuse and less of it reaches its final destination: the Earth’s surface. The less direct sunlight makes those places feel cooler throughout the year than places like Ecuador, which is close to the equator and gets direct sunlight year round. Regions closer to the equator also do not get the long summer days and long winter nights because their daylight hours average around 12 hours per day year round.
It’s a common misconception to think that Earth is closer to the Sun in the summer and farther in the winter. If this were true, summer would start in June all over the world! Instead, the Earth’s tilt (at 23.5°) determines which hemisphere is pointing towards the Sun and that hemisphere experiences summer while the other experiences winter. As latitude increases, the seasonal effect becomes more dramatic. In other words, the difference between summer and winter is more and more noticeable. That is why warm, tropical places near the equator stay warm and tropical year round.
With all of this important science to consider, my 12 days in Alaska will definitely be an adjustment! I purchased an eye mask to help me to get restful sleep while the sun shines around me close to 24 hours per day. In addition, I will be packing plenty of layers to stay warm during the cool days and cold nights. In Georgia, most summer days reach temperatures in the mid-90s with high humidity. In contrast, Alaskan days on the water will reach 50s-60s on average.
Did You Know?
NOAA Ship Fairweather was built in Jacksonville, Florida in the mid-1960s, and its home port today is on the opposite side of the country in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Question of the Day
How many hours of daylight did you experience in your home state during the summer solstice on June 21? Nome, Alaska had 21 hours and 21 minutes of daylight!
Weather Data from my patio in Mission Viejo, California
Sea wave height: 0 m
Wind speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: East
Visibility: 8.6 nm
Air temperature: 24 C
Barometric pressure: 1014 mb
Personal Log and Introduction
What a summer I am having! I just got back from an eight-day adventure to Belize with sixteen of this year’s AP Biology students. During our trip we hiked in the rainforest both during the day and at night, snorkeled the meso-American reef at South Water Caye, went tubing in a limestone cave, visited the Mayan site of Xunantunich, hiked into the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave system to see Mayan artifacts and remains, and zip-lined above the rainforest in the Mayflower Bocawina National Park. Now I begin preparations for my Teacher at Sea adventure aboard NOAA Ship Pisces. What a life I lead… I sometimes feel as though I am living in a mashup episode of “Dora the Explorer”, “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego”, and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”.
I have been teaching at University High School in Irvine, California since 1990. UNI was my first and will be my only teaching position—I’ve found a great place and intend to teach there my entire career. The teachers in my department are not only my colleagues, they are my friends. I have so much respect for the staff at UNI because we all work hard to teach and serve the students and share a passion for investing in the lives of kids. The students at the school are motivated to learn, are respectful and encouraging of one another, and are supported by parents that value education. I frequently tell people, “when I got hired at UNI 28 years ago, I won the lottery!”
Throughout my career I have taught all levels of life science, from remedial biology to AP Biology and everything in between. My current teaching schedule includes Marine Science and AP Biology. I began teaching Marine Science four years ago and love the class. In Marine Science we get to study Oceanography and Marine Biology throughout the year so I get a chance to practice some of my physical science skills along with my love of biology. Teaching this class has reinvigorated me and has given me a chance to teach a diverse range of students. I know that my experience as a Teacher at Sea will benefit both Marine Science and AP Biology, but I also hope it will benefit my colleagues at UHS and in the Irvine Unified School District.
As previously mentioned, I just got back from a trip to Belize with my AP Biology students. For the past fifteen years I have been taking groups of AP Biology students outside the United States to see and experience the natural world first-hand. On our trips we have learned about tropical rainforest and coral reef systems, plants and animal diversity, and geology as well as many different cultures and customs in countries like Belize, Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Iceland. My former students tell me that these trips have played an integral part of their high school experience and have given them opportunities to challenge themselves physically and mentally as well as a great appreciation for the world in which we live.
As a Teacher at Sea I will be working with Dr. Nate Bacheler of the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center aboard NOAA Ship Pisces. The NOAA Ship Pisces is a 208 ft. ship that was designed specifically for fisheries studies. The ship is designed to sail quietly through the water in order to better collect samples using a variety of collection methods including hook and line, traps, and video systems. During my cruise on NOAA Ship Pisces I will be helping scientists survey snapper and grouper to better understand their distribution and abundance for better management of these economically important species. Additionally, we will be collecting bathymetric and water quality data at various sample sites.
Hello, my name is Vickie Obenchain and I am the K-5 science specialist and 6-8 middle school science teacher at the Saklan School in Moraga, California. I was an outdoor environmental educator before becoming a classroom teacher and found water ways fascinating, as they can show you the health of an area, see human impact and also connect so many areas of the world and environments. Now in the classroom, as my school is very close to the San Francisco Bay, water and ocean topics are always a discussion in my science classes.
Tomorrow, I leave for northwest Alaska to take apart in oceanic research on board NOAA Ship Fairweather. I will be working with NOAA scientists to help map the ocean floor around Alaska to help boats maneuver along those water ways, as most commerce comes either by boat or plane. Accurate up to date data is necessary to help also with storm surges and wave modeling.
NOAA Ship Fairweather (Courtesy of NOAA)
I am very excited to take part in this research. Being chosen to be a Teacher At Sea and learn along other scientists, take part in important research and travel to an area I have never seen before excites me to think of what all learning opportunities I will be able to bring back to my classroom. Most of all, I am excited to share with my students what a scientist’s life may look like; as they may get inspired themselves.
The weather in Alaska looks like it is in the 50’s and 60’s during the day and down into the 40’s at night, so I am packing a bit warmer clothes then I have been wearing the last week. Along with my awesome new NOAA Teacher At Sea swag I received to make me feel like one of the gang.
Mission: Hydrographic Survey of navigable waters to develop and update navigational charts. At sea June 25 – July 9, 2018. Geographic Area of Cruise: Lisianski Strait, along the SE coast of Alaska followed by transit of the Inside Passage to home port in Newport, OR. Date: June 21, 2018, the Summer Solstice!
Weather Data from the Bridge [okay, the front porch at home!]:
44.1589° N, 94.0177° W Current Weather: Light Rain, 70°F (21°C)
Wind Speed: E 15 mph
Barometer: 29.81 in
Dewpoint: 63°F (17°C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi
Welcome! It’s nearly time to embark on this adventure! I’ve always appreciated chances in life to explore and learn about different parts of the world. Recently I’ve enjoyed the book “One Earth, Two Worlds” by the Minnesota SCUBA diver Bill Mathies. I’m fascinated by the realm of underwater exploration. A large percentage of our planet has never even been seen by humans! NOAA’s hydrographic research vessels are in place around the world to map the ocean floor and promote safe navigation.
Science and Technology Log I am Eric Koser and I live in southern Minnesota where I have worked with students learning about physics for 24 years. I teach at Mankato West High School, one of two mid-sized high schools in our river community of about 100,000 people. Mankato and North Mankato are the regional hub of south-central Minnesota. Our school district is home to about 9000 students K-12. Our community has particular strengths in manufacturing, education, and healthcare. Read more here at greatermankato.com! I teach a variety of physics courses at West including AP Physics and Physics First at grade 9. I love to engage kids in learning physics by helping them to discover patterns and systems in nature. I really enjoy developing experiments and demonstrations to illustrate ideas. I also coach our YES! Team as a part of our Science Club here at West. Youth Eco Solutions is a program to support students to make positive energy and environmental based changes in their communities. These kids have tackled some big tasks – replacing styrofoam lunch trays with permanent trays, updating our building lighting’s efficiency, and systematically monitoring campus electrical usage.
Personal Log My wife Erica and I have four kids that we love to support. They are currently ages 20, 18, 15, and 10 and always on the move. Our oldest, Josh, is an engineering and technical theater student at the U of MN. Our next, Zach, just graduated from high school and is rebuilding a small hobby farm and an 1800’s house to become his rural home. Ben is an avid photographer now working at a local photo studio shooting professionally for events. Meron is headed to fifth grade– she is our most social kid who loves being with her friends and our many pets here at home.
Our summers often involve many days at ‘the lake’, a place we enjoy in northern Minnesota with extended family. We love to fish, swim, kayak and explore the water there. As a SCUBA diver, I’ve begun to explore below the surface of the water as well.
This summer has also involved lots of construction on Zach’s farm as we bring a once gutted two-story house into a finished home.
In a few short days, I look forward to joining the NOAA Ship Rainier on a hydrographic survey of Lisianski Inlet on the SE coast of Alaska. I’ll meet up with the Ship in port at Sitka, Alaska.
The Rainier is a 231 foot long ship equipped with a variety of tools to digitally map the bottom of the ocean with the goal of updating and improving navigational charts. I look forward to meeting and working alongside the experts on Rainier while I learn everything I can about the important work that they do. I look forward to bringing questions and ideas to my students and community during and after this experience!
The Rainier design specifications list a “draft” of 14.3 feet. What does this mean?
This ship displaces 1800 tons of water. What does this mean?
How could you determine the ‘footprint’ of the ship in the sea based on these two pieces of data? What is the average area of the footprint of this ship?
I must begin by trying to convey how honored and excited I am to be a part of NOAA’s Teacher At Sea program. I will be sailing aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson with another teacher, Lee Teevan. What an adventure! More importantly, it’s an opportunity to gain knowledge about the management of the Bering Sea Fishery, the commercial fishing industry and how these forces impact both the ocean ecosystem and our lives. It is an opportunity to educate my students and community about these factors and the career opportunities that support them. It also demonstrates the fact that, life long learning opportunities come in many forms.
For the last five years I have been teaching at Lanphier High School in Springfield, Illinois. I look forward to bringing lessons into the classroom that can spark an interest in an unfamiliar aspect of scientific research and its real-life implications. Through these lessons, I also hope to expand student awareness of the related realm of job opportunities associated with this work.
I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a concentration in Fishery Science. I earned my Teacher Certification in Biology and the Sciences. Following graduation, I chose a career in teaching. Through my education at the University of Wisconsin – Superior, I became interested in the Foreign Fishery Observer Program. I was a Foreign Fishery Observer on Japanese fishing ships that fished primarily for Arrowtooth Flounder in the Bering Sea. This involved sampling the catches, and determining how much of each species of fish were caught to guard against exceeding their assigned quota. I spent a month and a half aboard 3 different ships. The opportunity to work on NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson will allow me to learn about the Fisheries Management aspect of the Bering Sea.
I returned to school to earn my Special Education Teaching Certification and earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration. As a teacher, I continued going to school and learning about many topics that supported my work. In order to increase my knowledge about Fishery Science, I took a class in which I created a teacher’s manual (An Aquatic Organisms Educational Module for the Therkildsen Field Station at the Emiquon Wetland Area on the Illinois River). This manual allows teachers to bring students to the field station, collect plankton samples and use the labs to study the results of their sampling. Students learn about the many aspects of the wetland ecosystem and even calculate estimates of the planktonic biomass of the wetland. How fun is that!
I hope with my introduction, I peak your interest in this aspect of our world. I invite you to be a part of my experience in order to continue your life long learning journey as I continue mine.
The high tide is beginning its re-entry into the Chesapeake Bay at this moment, signaling a cascade of events among the organisms that call it home. The periwinkle snails have started their perilous climbs to the tips of the cordgrass while the fiddler crabs scurry along the tideline. Even the humans at the boathouse take note and launch their boat of 8 rowers and a coxswain to row in an inlet lined with trees sheltering night herons, crown herons and the conspicuous egrets.
This is but a snapshot of the incomparable Chesapeake Bay, which has played an instrumental role in my circuitous path to becoming a science teacher.
When I first moved to Norfolk, VA in 1995, I was an English as a Second Language teacher at the local university. In and around the Chesapeake Bay, I became aware of the unfamiliar and fascinating: the live oaks that tolerate brackish spray and are bent like arthritic elders and the “come-back-to-life” fossils called “horseshoe crabs”. Although my job at that time was teaching language, I become aware of another language, the language of this unique ecosystem, that I wanted to speak. I then began taking graduate courses in biology and soon got my teaching license. Since 2006, I have been teaching Earth Science and Biology for Norfolk Public Schools. Being a teacher has allowed me opportunities to be a student of my environment. I was fortunate to attend a NOAA Phytoplankton Monitoring Network workshop in 2008 and my students and I logged in the species and abundances of Chesapeake Bay phytoplankton from 2008 to 2017.
Last year, as a PolarTREC teacher, I was able to be part of the “Jellyfish in the Bering Sea” expedition during which imaging devices were used to estimate ages, abundances and locations of jellyfish. I’ll return to this location in a few weeks to be a NOAA Teacher at Sea on the Oscar Dyson to be part of the Pollock Acoustic Survey.
Science and Technology Log
I will be on NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson along with another TAS, Joan Shea-Rogers. Our mission is to assess walleye pollock locations and abundances using trawls and acoustic surveys. Stay tuned to this blog to see photos of this in action!
Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments for me.
Did You Know?
Alaska Pollock is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
Greetings from Western North Carolina. My name is Tom Savage, and I am a high school Science teacher at the Henderson County Early College on the campus of Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock, NC. I currently teach Chemistry, Earth Science, Physical Science and coach our Science Olympiad Team.This is my fourteenth year teaching and ninth year teaching at the early college.
Exactly three years ago, I was preparing for my first NOAA Teacher at Sea voyage aboard NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow. During that mission, we conducted a cetacean (whale) inventory off the coast of New England in a region called Georges Bank. It was a trip of a lifetime and it had a profound impact on my teaching and my students. As a result, students in my physical science classes are now identifying whales species based on their sound acoustics. In addition, I began a new elementary outreach program, “Young Scientist.” Through activities, elementary children are exposed to the many sounds marine mammals produce for communication. Embedded within these lessons is the the marine mammals that reside in our oceans and NOAA’s mission in safe guarding these fragile ecosystems. Collaboration continues today with acoustician scientist Genevieve Davis, from NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, located in the small scientific community of Woods Hole on Cape Cod.
I was very excited and honored to be chosen for another “once in a lifetime adventure,” two in one lifetime! This year I will be assisting with a hydrographic survey in and around the inside passages of southeast Alaska on NOAA Ship Fairweather! The goal of the survey is to map the ocean floor through the use of SONAR for the purpose of updating nautical charts. Using sound waves for mapping will compliment my marine mammal lesson plans. On this mission, we will be deploying a drifter buoy in which students will be tracking during the year as it will be transmitting realtime locations.
I have always had a fascination with the oceans. During the summer of 2013, I spent a week with eighteen other science teachers from across the county, scuba diving within the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. This week long program was sponsored by the Gulf of Mexico Foundation and NOAA. This exceptional professional development provided an opportunity to explore, photograph and develop lesson plans with a focus on coral reefs. I also learned about how important the Gulf of Mexico is to the oil industry. I had the opportunity to dive under an abandoned oil platform and discovered the rich, abundant animal life and how these structures improve the fish population.
Prior to becoming a teacher, I worked for six years in the GIS (Geographic Information System) field collecting, developing and designing maps for many purposes; ocean floor mapping is not on the list. I also worked for five years as a park ranger at many national parks including the Grand Canyon, Glacier and Acadia. Working at these national treasures was wonderful and very beneficial to my teaching.
Providing young adults with as many experiences and career possibilities is the hallmark of my teaching. During the year, I arrange a “Discover SCUBA” at the local YMCA. Students who have participated in this have gone on to become certified. In the fall I have offered “Discover Flying” at a local airport, sponsored by the “Young Eagles” program. Here students fly around our school and community witnessing their home from the air. A few students have gone on to study various aviation careers.
The most difficult part of being at sea for such a long time is missing my family. They all enjoy the ocean! I have been diving with my son since he was 12 and this summer my daughter will earn her junior certification.
I look forward to sharing this adventure with you! Please send any questions that you may have and I will respond in a timely manner.
Hello! My name is Lacee Sherman and I am pleased to have you join me on my Alaskan Research Adventure by following along on my blog. I am currently the 7th Grade Science teacher at Firebaugh Middle School in Firebaugh, CA. As I write this, I am just completing my fourth year of teaching middle school science. I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Science with a Biology Emphasis from California State University, Fresno. I also got my single subject teaching credential in Science from Fresno State.
Ever since I can remember, science has always captivated me in a way that no other subject was able to. I love the scientific process and finding creative solutions to problems and even still, always wanting to learn more. There is something so special about being able to investigate something new in order to learn more about it. There is so much in this world to be curious about.
My first taste of an authentic research experience came to me during my last year of Undergraduate education at Fresno State when a professor whom I admire, Dr. David Andrews, encouraged me to participate in the STAR (STEM Teachers as Researchers) program. The STAR program allows individuals that are going to pursue STEM teaching the opportunity to participate in summer research at different Universities or National Labs for up to three summers. Through this program I met people in the STEM field that have encouraged me and become lifelong Mentors.
My first summer, I spent working in the research lab of Dr. Brian Tsukimura at Fresno State helping to establish a protocol for quantifying vitellin concentrations in the California Ridgeback Shrimp.
My second and third summers in STAR were spent working with Ben R. Miller at NOAA in Boulder, Colorado as a part of the Global Monitoring Division (GMD). I would look at data collected at different sites in the United States and help to create visuals to represent the quantities of different types of ozone depleting substances.
As a member of the STAR Program I was introduced to the 100Kin10 initiative which is working towards adding and retaining 100,000 excellent STEM teachers into the profession within a 10 year time span. I am proud to be one of the 100Kin10 educators and I am also a member of the Teacher Forum that helps to provide valuable input from a teacher perspective to the partners working to improve the future of STEM Education.
In less than a week’s time I will be boarding NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson to participate in research on the Eastern Bering Sea off of the coast of Alaska. I am so excited to meet all of the scientists and crew aboard the research ship and experience what it is life to live on board and work on research at the same time. I love getting to jump back into the scientific community and remind my students that I am not just a teacher; I’m a scientist, too. This research experience will help me to plan more hands on, research-based, and innovative lessons for my students.
I have never been to Alaska and I cannot wait to see the natural beauty and I want to see all of the wildlife that I can. I am looking forward to being able to share my knowledge and experiences with family, friends, and my students through this blog.
Did You Know?
Imitation Crab meat isn’t made from shellfish at all. It’s actually made from Alaskan Pollock!
Geographic Area of Cruise: Northeastern Coast U.S.
Date: May 7, 2018
If I was to describe myself in one word it would be a thalassophile- a lover of the sea. So when I got accepted to the NOAA Teacher at Sea program, I was totally overwhelmed with excitement. What a great adventure! From my younger days boating on Long Island Sound in NY to the present day boating on the waterways around Hilton Head, SC, I have always been drawn to the sea.
In college, I studied biology and education and first taught middle school science. Then slowly over the years, my passion for the ocean evolved into teaching Environmental Studies and then to teaching Marine Science. Not being a native southerner, I took many professional development classes to learn about the unique lowcountry local marine ecosystem along the coastline of South Carolina. The county I now live in, Beaufort County, is 50% saltwater tidal marsh and borders on the Atlantic Ocean. The marine ecosystem plays a large role in the community. I presently teach at May River High School, in Bluffton, SC, and appropriately the mascot is a SHARK! Because we live in a marine environment, teaching students about their sense of place is extremely important. Student take part in numerous field trips directly exploring the local ecosystem – visits to maritime centers, beaches and kayaking on the rivers. In teaching Marine Science, my goal is to instill in my students knowledge of and love and respect for their beautiful home marine environment.
I am a single mother of two adult daughters and their visits include many adventures on the water. Volunteering in local beach /river cleanups and recycling programs is important to me. After listening to citizens concerns about the local environment, I am so proud to live in a county that recently implemented a plastic bag ban in all grocery stores beginning in October. Being an activist in local environmental causes is important to me.
Kids in Kayaks Program
I am so excited to partake on this TAS adventure, to work with real scientists, gathering real data, to bring back to my classroom . Aboard the Henry B. Bigelow, a NOAA state of the art research vessel, I will work along scientists collecting data on the hydrographic, planktonic and pelagic components of the northeast Atlantic. In two weeks, my journey into the Northern Atlantic Ocean will begin! Leaving 9 days before the end of school, my students will end of year test and graduate without me present. But we will be connected as they follow my experience at sea through the wonders of technology!
Geographic Area of Cruise: North Coast of Kodiak Island, Alaska
Weather Data from the Bridge
Latitude 19.6400° N
Longitude 155.9969° W
The current weather in Kona, Hawaii on the Big Island is 86 degrees Fahrenheit with 59% humidity. Winds from the west are coming in at 6 miles per hour or 5.2 knots as we will say on the ship. It is mostly sunny with a 20 % chance of rain.
Personal Log and Introduction
My fascination with the intricacies of the human body led me to pursue biochemistry and earn a bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College in 2002. While I enjoyed analyzing pharmaceuticals for Pfizer and conducting sleep research with Weill Cornell Medical College, I missed the social aspects of a profession. This prompted me to pursue teaching and I received a Master’s Degree in Education from Pace University in 2007.
I began teaching at a small private school in Westchester County, New York, where I taught both middle school and high school science and founded a Habitat for Humanity club and traveled to Nicaragua with a group of students to build homes for the community. My love of hands on tasks and community service made this an enriching endeavor.
Eight years ago, my adventurous spirit transported me from Long Island, NY to Maui, Hawaii, where I shared my enthusiasm for science with students while exploring the vast terrain, plant life and coral reefs. My next adventure brought me to Hilo on the Big Island where I was part of an enriching professional development program, Ku’Aina Pa, that taught about gardening and culture. Here is where I met my friend Ben who told me about West Hawaii Explorations Academy, W.H.E.A., an outdoor science project based school with a shark lagoon. I never knew charter schools like this existed!
I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the W.H.E.A. high school team for the past five years, where I advise science projects, teach Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus and an after school Chemistry class. I advise an Urchin Survey project where we monitor the population of urchins at a Marine Life Conservation District and I love providing the opportunity for students to collect real data. We have access to deep ocean water which students have used for cold agriculture projects in the past and more recently to precipitate O.R.M. (orbitally realigned molecules) to use as a fertilizer. Some of my favorite parts about my job are learning alongside students, as I knew nothing about plumbing a marine tank before W.H.E.A., and working with such a great team! When I am teaching students how to be stewards of the land through the lens of science and math, I feel as if I am pursuing my passion in life and it fulfills me greatly.
I participated in the Ethnomathematics and STEM Institute last year, where I learned to teach math through a cultural lens with environmental service work. I was inspired by a group of amazing colleagues and met Christina who told me about the NOAA Teacher at Sea opportunity. Since I love experiential learning, I eagerly completed the application and am thrilled to be embarking on this amazing opportunity.
I am passionate about teaching and developing culturally relevant projects that instill a sense of wonder and I seek out soul nourishing experiences like Ku’Aina Pa and the Ethnomathematics and STEM Institute. I am certain that the Teacher at Sea program will provide a profound, enriching experience that will allow me to develop meaningful curriculum to share with students and fellow educators, while allowing me to grow personally.
When I’m not utilizing my enthusiasm and creativity to instill students with curiosity and responsibility to make a more sustainable future, I enjoy exploring the beautiful Big Island by backpacking or hiking to some of its exotic locations. I also enjoy long distance running, beach yoga, any activity in or around the ocean and cooking nourishing meals.
Did you know?
Lo’ihi is the new volcanic island of Hawaii that is forming 20 miles Southeast of the Big Island. This seamount formed from volcanic activity over the hot spot currently rises 10,100 feet off of the ocean floor but is still 3,100 feet from the surface of the water.
Mission: Conduct ROV and multibeam sonar surveys inside and outside six marine protected areas (MPAs) and the Oculina Experimental Closed Area (OECA) to assess the efficacy of this management tool to protect species of the snapper grouper complex and Oculina coral
Geographic Area of Cruise: Continental shelf edge of the South Atlantic Bight between Port Canaveral, FL and Cape Hatteras, NC
Date: April 23rd, 2018
Welcome to my first blog entry as I prepare for an amazing opportunity with the NOAA Teacher at Sea program. I am a science teacher at Camas High School, a public school of a little over 2000 students. Camas is a rapidly growing suburb of Vancouver, located across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. In my 22nd year of teaching, my current assignments include environmental science, anatomy and physiology and forensic science. I love to involve my students in authentic investigations, from building a sustainable farm on school property to designing and building solar ovens. I incorporate project-based learning opportunities and authentic long-term investigations whenever possible. I helped develop and implement our STEM-based magnet program, and I continue to help guide improvements to the program. To be sure I am teaching relevant and up-to-date content and skills, I need to have my own experiences with authentic scientific research.
I applied to this program because of my love for the process of scientific investigations and my desire to share this unique experience with students. I want to increase my knowledge of fisheries and am especially interested in bringing to my classroom new learnings about STEM career opportunities at NOAA. My goal with all my students is to teach the tools for scientific literacy, how to use evidence and reasoning in evaluating claims and to be able to communicate science
I am currently in full list-making mode, trying to make sure I will remember the Dramamine, several layers of clothing and a dozen other things. However, my mind drifts back to wondering about what science knowledge and technology skills I will be called upon to use
I love the water. I love scuba diving, kayaking and the paddle boarding I tried with my daughters for the first time this summer. I have four children—2 boys in college and 2 girls still at home. During vacations, we often migrate toward the water to explore a stream bed or the sandy shores of the Pacific.
On May 12th I will be boarding NOAA Ship Pisces off the coast of Florida to assess the efficacy of the marine protected areas (MPAs) in protecting species of the snapper grouper complex and Oculina coral. ROV and multibeam sonar surveys will be used inside and outside the MPAs and in the Oculina Experimental Closed Area (OECA) in the south Atlantic to gather data on habitat and fish resources. This research will help fishery managers make decisions on the areas future use and how to best protect these valuable resources.
Did You Know?
President Theodore Roosevelt established the first MPA and the first National Wildlife Refuge in the United States, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in 1903.
Fact or Fiction?
Aquaculture uses more wild fish than it produces.
To find out the evidence that rejects or supports that claim visit NOAA Fisheries site at the following link
In two weeks I will be embarking on my first ocean science experience aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather. After having several friends become “Teachers at Sea,” I just knew that I wanted to have this experience so I could become a better ocean educator and bring this knowledge back to my students.
I am a seventh and eighth grade teacher from Rosholt Middle School, a small school district in rural Wisconsin. Our pre-Kindergarten through 12 grade building has 650 students. As a middle school teacher my duties include earth science, health, language and reading. I also work with small groups of gifted students two hours a day. It makes me flexibility and a “jack of all trades” as they say.
My real passion is science and environmental education, and I have found ways to teach my other subjects often using these as topics.
My students would tell you I like boats and working with scientists! I have spent time working with Sea Grant on the Great Lakes. Sea Grant is a network that is a partnership between 33 university-based programs and NOAA. They are in every coastal and Great Lakes state. I have attended and taught workshops for teachers through Sea Grant. In 2011, at the invitation of Sea Grant, I spent 9 days on Lake Superior with 16 other teachers and 3 scientists aboard the Environmental Protection Agency’s R/V Lake Guardian studying near and offshore environments.
In 2016, I was aboard Wisconsin’s Flagship, Denis Sullivan , with Sea Grant and a group of teachers on a six day journey up Lake Michigan and across Lake Superior. This is the same tall ship that my seventh grade students sail on each fall.
My students on S/V Denis Sullivan
Raising the sails
I am so excited to be working on an ocean vessel. I have always dreamed of going to Alaska, and I can not think of a better way to do it.
I will be on a hydrographic survey to collect data that will be used to produce maps for safe navigation. The instruments onboard include multibeam echosounders and side sonar that work to image the ocean floor. Four small boats are also used to set up tide measuring stations. The data is also used for other scientific and environmental prediction purposes such as tsunami displacement measurements and mapping of fish habitat.
I am very excited to share how all of the science equipment is used and how the data is organized. I would like to find a way to have my students be involved in science labs that use some of the techniques and data used by the scientists on the ship. I would also like to learn more about careers in NOAA that some of my students may be interested in pursuing!
Did you know?
NOAA’s mission is: Science, Service and Stewardship
1. To understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts;
2. To share that knowledge and information with others; and
3. To conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.
Now that word is out about my NOAA Teacher at Sea selection, I am being asked many questions about my upcoming research mission. The truth of the matter is that I am unsure exactly what to expect. While the administrators of the program have done a great job of communicating information, NOAA has many different objectives. Even the missions, which are annual events, appear to be unique experiences as there are so many variables involved when doing research at sea.
One thing I know for sure is that almost 3 weeks out at sea seems like a long time, especially for someone that has lived in Ohio for his entire life. Clark County, Ohio (where I teach 8th Grade Science and STEM at Greenon Jr./Sr. High School) is probably what most people think of when they think of “Midwestern living.” A mixture of agriculture and fading industry, we are a close-knit community, which is something John Cougar Mellencamp would find familiar. While we have plenty of creeks and lakes, many of my students have never seen the ocean. I have been fortunate enough to go on a handful of cruises, but have never been at sea for more than 10 consecutive days, and those included stops along the way. I am fairly confident I will do fine, but I am also packing motion sickness medication to be on the safe side. Fingers crossed!
I will live aboard the NOAA research vessel Henry Bigelow (Follow this link for additional information). This 209 feet long, state-of-the-art, research vessel is likely a giant step up from what you may have seen on “Deadliest Catch.” While it is definitely built for collecting fish and other biomass, it conducts trawl sampling (think of a long, specialized net that is dragged behind the ship). NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow is equipped with many advanced features including a modern wet lab which allows scientists (and me!) to sort, weigh, measure, and examine the catch. This information is then added to NOAA’s extensive database which provides our country’s scientists with valuable information regarding the status of the organisms that reside within the ocean.
Another question that I am frequently asked is, “What about your students?” The best part about this arrangement is, not only will I be immersed in authentic scientific research (which will add value to my educational practice), but the use of Google Classroom will allow my students to share my adventures from the field. In addition to frequent online updates where I will answer questions and discuss ongoing research and associated phenomena, my students will use NOAA educational resources to learn more about our oceans and the life within them.
As I prepare to leave in a few days, I am full of emotion. I am obviously very excited to be afforded this unique opportunity. I love travel, adventure, and learning, so this research cruise will be a perfect fit. I will work alongside 37 people (sailors, fisherman, scientists, and engineers to name a few) who are very good at what they do for a living. I can’t wait to pick their brains to learn how I can incorporate their knowledge into my classroom. All of that being said, I will definitely miss both my family and my students. I look forward to returning home and sharing my experiences with them.
TAS Tom Jenkins (center)
Please check back over the next few weeks as I will write additional blogs regarding my NOAA Teacher at Sea adventure. I would love to make this blog series interactive, so if you have any questions, please post them in the comments section below.
Welcome to my Teacher at Sea blog! My name is Kate Schafer, and I am a teacher at the Upper School at the Harker School in San Jose, California, right in the middle of Silicon Valley. I teach biology, marine biology and food science to mostly juniors and seniors. This may seem like an odd mix of courses, but I am so fortunate to be able to teach students about all my favorite topics. I have heard that the food is delicious on the Oregon II, and I’m interested in learning more about the challenges of keeping a crew fed when you can’t pop down to the corner grocery store when you realize that you forgot to order that crucial ingredient. I have spent many hours on the ocean, and spent six years studying coral reefs in Belize, Central America, but I’ve never been to sea on a research vessel. I’m thrilled to have that opportunity and to share it with my students.
The weather has been a big topic of conversation of late here in San Jose. Two weekends ago set all-time record high temperatures throughout the Bay Area, even along the coast. Living in close proximity to the ocean, we expect relief from that rare hot day to come rather quickly, but the heat lingered for days. We’re back to normal fall weather as I head off, though. This morning is cool and seasonable. I know from growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, that I’m heading to warm and humid conditions on the other end of my travels.
Science and Technology Log
On this research cruise, we will be conducting long line surveys, looking at shark and red snapper populations in the Gulf of Mexico. I will report more on where we are going and what we’re studying once the leg of the survey begins. There are multiple legs to the survey, and I’ll be joining in for the fourth and final leg. It has been a tumultuous time in the Gulf over the past few weeks, and it will be interesting to learn about how this has impacted the coastal waters in the area we will be surveying.
I am sitting in the airport in San Jose, ready to board my flight to Dallas, en route to Gulfport and my final destination of Pascagoula, Mississippi. Wow! It’s been a frantic week of getting all sorts of last minute pieces put together to allow things to, hopefully, run smoothly in my absence. It’s early morning, so I’m still in a bit of a groggy cloud, making the fact that I’m actually heading off on this adventure all the more unreal.
Even the grogginess cannot stifle my excitement, though, as I head off for two weeks of working with scientists and collecting data. As I was packing last night, I couldn’t help but be reminded of all the previous trips I packed for more than 15 years ago to conduct field research on coral reefs in Belize. I was studying a type of crustacean called the stomatopod and learning about the role that they play in coral reef ecosystems, how they interact with other species like pygmy octopus and crabs, their main source of prey.
I am thrilled to be heading out on this research trip and feel so fortunate for the opportunity. I look forward to questions from you about what we are doing and learning on our voyage. Check in frequently for updated blog posts once the trip commences.
Did You Know?
That the Oregon II has been part of the NOAA fleet since 1977?
Geographic Area of Cruise: Northwest Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Washington
Date: August 26, 2017
Weather from the Bridge…or Backyard
At home in Decatur, GA we are celebrating a weekend break in the humidity. The sun is shining and the sky is filling with a variety of imagination provoking Cumulus clouds.
Wind Speed: 6mph
Wind Direction: E
On Monday I will travel 2,759 miles to Port Angeles, WA where I will board the Bell M. Shimada. I look forward to cooler temperatures and the invigorating salty air.
Science and Technology Log:
I have yet to meet the scientists and crew of the Shimada so I have no first hand info to share. However this is a great opportunity to introduce the main focus of this survey… Merluccius productus, Pacific Hake.
Pacific Hake is an important species to both humans and many species in the marine ecosystem off of the Pacific Northwest coast of both the United States and Canada. There is a cooperative effort to manage these fish that involves the governments of both the U.S. and Canada, fisheries scientists and fisherman. Such a collaboration and intentional effort amongst so many groups is a great model and example for other issues at large. Here is some background reading related to the Pacific Hake Survey.
I have taught middle school science at Renfroe Middle School (RMS) in the City Schools of Decatur for 10 years. Renfroe is full of wonderfully intelligent, thoughtful and supportive people – students and staff. Currently, I work with 7th grade students as we explore ecology, evolution, genetics, cells and anatomy. I am thrilled to have this adventure at sea to share with my students and friends. I look forward to bringing back real-world research and developing curriculum that we can ALL benefit from.
As an inquisitive and adrenaline hungry person I love the combination of adventure and challenging work, so I am thinking that my time on the Bell M. Shimada may be about as ideal of a learning opportunity as I could imagine. In addition to being a classroom teacher at RMS, I also work as a Mentor in The Nature Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program. LEAF provides an opportunity for Mentors and Interns to spend an intensive month focused on all aspects of conservation. This program encourages all involved towards hands-on environmental stewardship experiences and to broaden the boundaries of our comfort zone. For both my RMS students and LEAF mentees I take this Teacher At Sea opportunity to put into action the message that I often share with them…learning is a life long goal and risk-taking is a way to enhance the connection that you feel with the world.
I want to thank my colleagues and students for a heart warming send-off and I promise all plenty of awesome photos and updates to come.
Did you know?
According to Atlas Obscura, in 1914 the town of Port Angeles had such an issue with sewage flooding that they opted to raise one of the town’s main streets by 10-14 feet. This engineering challenge was accomplished by moving soil from a neighboring hill completely by hand…no mechanical interventions. To this day you can tour the underground areas and see store fronts frozen in time. This lovely seaside town is where I will embark on my voyage.
I’m currently at home in Flagstaff, Arizona. It’s a typical, monsoon season morning coming in at 11.6 degrees C (53 degrees F) at 7:12 am with humidity at 92%. I’m about 1,700 miles away from Pascagoula, Mississippi, where I will be joining the team on our ship, NOAA Ship Oregon II, in just a few days!
Sea wave height: NA
Wind Speed: 2 Mph
Wind Direction: NW
Air Temperature: 11. 6 degrees C
Barometric Pressure: 29.84” falling Rapdily
Sky: scattered clouds
Science and Technology Log
Once on board, I will be assisting the science crew with the third leg of the Shark/Red Snapper Longline Survey and will be fishing from Brownsville, TX to Galveston, TX. The mission of this survey is to monitor interannual variability of shark populations of the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico.
My understanding is that we will be working a 12-hour shift using longline gear to capture specimens and measure the length, weight and sex of the animal. The longline is baited with Atlantic Mackerel and will sit in the water for one hour. Here is what longline gear looks like:
The larger animals will require landing slings! I can’t even imagine. The science crew will also be tagging the animals as well as retaining a few for research. Finclips, like taking a nail clipping, will be gathered for DNA analysis. I am most excited to get up and close with these wonderful creatures tagging them to monitor their movement and health.
As part of the survey we will be gathering CTD (Conductivity Temperature Depth) data that provides a surface to bottom profile of temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll, turbidity and depth. As a class, we will be learning about these in depth in the classroom when we reach our unit on water quality in relation to our local watershed.
I am getting excited for this adventure and happy to have you along for the journey. I look forward to your questions and can’t wait to learn about these beautiful creatures while working with scientists. Please makes sure to check out the “Question of the Day” and other activities that will be posted on this blog. Your current research on sharks will come in handy while I am out here and will be crucial to learning about ocean food webs and current threats. Remember to check in daily for new posts while you are working on your projects.
Weather Data from the Bridge (well, from my home city): 33.656311, -117.887800
I haven’t left yet, so I’ll just report on weather here in coastal southern California. It is a fairly typical August day, late morning temperatures in the high 70s, blue skies and a light 4 knot breeze from 235 deg SW. Yes, there is a reason so many people come to live here, but I’m personally ready for the far more extreme temperatures I will get to experience 30 degrees further north and 50 degrees further west!
Science and Technology Log
I have the privilege of being a part of the NOAA Ship Fairweather crew for 10 days. We will be off the coast of Alaska doing hydrographic surveys. While I don’t totally know what to expect, I know that the end goal is mapping for navigation purposes and that the sonar can give some other information, too. Ultimately, that and other hydrographic survey data can be used to make maps and I LOVE maps. This one below (courtesy of USGS) shows the submarine canyons at the end of the Los Angeles River and the Santa Ana River off the coast of Southern California. It’s so cool to have a visual sense of what you’re surfing, paddling, swimming or fishing over.
So, what I do know about what we’re doing is that we’ll be taking side scan sonar data of an area around Nome, Alaska in the Bering Sea. I know that the ship will be running some predetermined patterns to add to an existent database that was begun with legs I, II, and III of this same mission. The ship, by the way, is the Fairweather – (image courtesy of NOAA)
She’s quite grand and I can’t wait to board and to meet all of the shipboard personnel and learn more about the operations firsthand. I’ll have lots of science and procedure and people to talk about in my next post, I’m sure.
Personal Log and Introduction
Lisa Battig, here! I’ve been teaching at Fountain Valley High School since 2007. Fountain Valley High School is a comprehensive public high school with about 3,800 students. I currently teach Chemistry and Environmental Science there and I love it! “FVHS” is filled with teachers who are adventurous and willing to try new things. As a result, we’ve always had an administration that is exceedingly supportive of teacher ideas. The culture is collaborative, encouraging and exciting. I could not wish for a better school. Then there are the 3,800 talented young people who walk on campus every day who really make it a fun place to work. Here is an image of me with 64 of them (and lots of parent chaperones!) at Joshua Tree National Park this past January:
So a bit more about me…
I couldn’t tell the story of where I am now without paying homage to the great Bob Perry. You may not have the privilege of knowing Bob, but that man has inspired probably thousands of students over his career. He was my high school marine biology teacher who also was a master dive instructor, owned his own boat, wrote his own plankton keys, did photography on the side, expected his first year students to do real research and read journal articles, taught us DOS commands and some Basic so we could analyze our data on a computer (1987!!), and had his classes out in the field at the local pier weekly taking raw data. Not to mention he had a research permit and kept three enormous saltwater tanks in the back of his room holding local species so we would be familiar with them and kept a wet table in class that I used when I took an independent research course with him during my senior year.
I was challenged by him, certified in SCUBA by him, encouraged by him, directed by him, mentored by him and ultimately owe at least 80% of what I do in the classroom today to him and his methods.
That spark of interest in high school was the impetus for my undergraduate Marine Biology degree. The ocean was and still is one of my greatest passions. In my college years, I was again blessed with a professor who allowed me to help with his research on copepods and who made certain that we had plenty of time in the field doing trawls, dredges, plankton tows and so much more. Sadly, though, with just an undergraduate degree it was difficult to find anyone willing to pay me to sit in the ocean and hang out with dolphins all day. But my program had been broad and garnered me a minor in Chemistry, also. So out of college I went to work as an analytical chemist instead. That later led me into a varied and interesting career in technical sales and then finally into teaching. It was a good place for me to land – and it’s allowed me to indulge my desires to become more involved in Environmental Science. I went back to school for my MS in Environmental Science a few years ago and was able to develop a sanitation and hygiene education program to be used with small communities throughout the world. This is part of the program being used one on one by a volunteer in a village in El Salvador.
I haven’t lost my love of the ocean, nor my love of research. These days, I indulge the former through surfing and offering my AP students the opportunity to get SCUBA certified. Their certification ends with a three day boat trip to dive spots all around Catalina Island. For the research component, I have my AP students develop their own field or lab research and present the findings in a poster session at the end of the school year. I also find whatever research might be available to me through summer programs and the like. I’ve been able to assist in two local university labs through Howard Hughes Medical Institute grants. The experiences have had broad impacts on me personally and definitely on my teaching as well.
(For clarification, I am behind the camera for this Nias Island beauty, not behind the sheet of water. It was the best surf trip of my life! But this one day was a bit too big for me.)
And finally, how I got involved with the NOAA Teacher at Sea program.
My first year of teaching in 2005, I had a mentor who was chosen to be a part of the Teacher at Sea program. His stories immediately sparked my interest in it and I started dreaming about where I might be able to go and what I might be able to do. Unfortunately, each year some challenge would prevent me from applying. Last November, though, all the pieces finally fell into place and I was able to get that application in. Now I find it almost impossible to believe that a 12 year dream is finally coming to fruition! Again, I am so thankful to have a supportive administration that is willing to let me miss some school so that I can bring real world research, application and STEM connections back into the classroom.
Did You Know?
The solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 will only cover approximately 28% of the sun in Nome, Alaska where I’ll be embarking. However, on March 30, 2033 Nome will be one of the few land masses to be awarded a total eclipse!
Mission: Juvenile Walleye Pollock and Forage Fish Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Alaska (near Kodiak)
Date: August 17, 2017
Weather Data: 30.5°C, cloudy, 78% humidity
Location: Baltimore, MD
It is hot and sticky here in Baltimore and I am looking forward to breathing in the crisp air in Alaska. I am also looking forward to being out on the water. As a Baltimore resident, I am able to spend time in the beautiful Chesapeake Bay. It is a great place to get out on a kayak and take in nature. I can’t wait to take this experience to the next level on the waters of the Gulf of Alaska. I try to go on at least one big adventure each year, and the Teacher at Sea experience definitely will fulfill this goal for 2017! I am also excited about all of the new things I will learn on this trip and I am looking forward to sharing these with my students. I teach STEM courses to students who attend online school. I have seen how connecting scientific experiences and data with students can spark their interest in STEM fields. I am very excited to have the opportunity to use this experience to engage students in scientific activities and discussions.
Science and Technology Log
This mission will take place on the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson, which has its home port in Kodiak, Alaska. From Kodiak we will move through the waters surrounding Kodiak Island and eastward into the Gulf of Alaska. The scientific team will be studying populations of walleye pollock and zooplankton in these waters. The mission will be conducted in two parts. I will be aboard for Leg 1 of the mission. Leg 2 will begin shortly after we return to port on September 2nd. The map below show all of the sampling locations that will be visited during this mission. Leg 1 sampling locations are indicated by red dots. At each location, a variety of sampling will take place. From what I have learned about the mission, it looks like we will be using several different trawls to collect samples. We will then use a variety of methods to identify species and collect data once the samples are onboard.
The Oscar Dyson is described as “one of the most technologically advanced fisheries survey vessels in the world.” From what I see on the NOAA website, it seems to have an impressive amount of scientific equipment onboard. It has a wet lab, dry lab, computer lab, biology lab and hydrology lab. It also has a wide array of data collection gear and mechanical equipment. I am looking forward to checking out all of this equipment for myself and learning more about how it will be used.
This study will focus on collecting data on walleye pollock populations. This fish is a member of the cod family and lives primarily in the waters of the northern Pacific Ocean. As juveniles, this species feeds on krill and zooplankton. As they mature, they eat other fish, including juvenile pollock! Many marine species rely on populations of these fish as a food source in the Gulf of Alaska. Humans also like to eat pollock. It is sold as fillets, but is also used in fish fingers and to make imitation crab meat. Pollock fillets are becoming more popular as cod and haddock populations become overfished. Pollock populations have fluctuated over the years, but are not currently overfished. The dotted line in the graph below shows population numbers in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA).
A scientist from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will also be aboard the Oscar Dyson conducting a seabird observation study. She will work mainly from the bridge, keeping track of the different seabird species she sees as we move from one sampling location to the next.
I am excited about my upcoming adventure for many reasons. As an undergrad, I majored in Natural Resource Management. I went on to be a science teacher, but have always been interested in learning about findings from ecological studies. This experience will allow me to get an up close look at the technology and techniques used to conduct this kind of study. I am looking forward to being able to contribute to the team effort and learn new things to bring back to my students. I am also very excited to be aboard a ship off the coast of Alaska. A trip to Alaska has always been on my bucket list and I am looking forward to taking in the scenery and spotting marine mammals and seabirds. I am also hopeful that we will be able to see a partial solar eclipse from the water. I am bringing my sun viewers, just in case!
Did You Know?
It would take 88 hours to drive from Baltimore, MD to Kodiak, AK.
Geographic Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean from Newport, OR to Port Angeles, WA
Current Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan (home sweet home…not yet on the cruise)
Latitude: 42.297 N
Longitude: 85.5872 W
Wind Speed: 11 mph
Barometric Pressure: 30.14 inHg
Air Temperature: 79 F
Weather Observations: Partly sunny
Science and Technology Log
Before I go any further, let me take this opportunity to thank NOAA and Teacher at Sea for such a wonderful opportunity! I can’t wait to learn all about life at sea and to have an up-close view of oceanographic fisheries research. On this cruise, we will be studying Pacific Hake. Because I have not personally had the chance to experience our research yet, let me show you this quote from the NOAA website regarding our project. Click HERE if you’d like to see the full description.
“Pacific whiting, or hake, is a prevalent fish species found off the West Coast of the United States and Canada. There are three stocks of Pacific whiting: a migratory coastal stock, ranging from southern Baja California to Queen Charlotte Sound; a central-south Puget Sound stock; and a Strait of Georgia stock. While the status of the latter stocks has declined considerably, the coastal stock remains large and is the most abundant commercial fish stock on the Pacific Coast.
Setting harvest levels of coastal Pacific whiting is accomplished through a bilateral agreement between the United States and Canada, known as the Pacific Whiting Treaty. Traditionally, domestic commercial fishermen harvested whiting with midwater trawl gear between May and September along northern California, Oregon, and Washington. The Makah Tribe also has an active fishery for whiting entirely within their usual and accustomed fishing grounds off the Olympic coast.”
We’re going to be studying the hake populations off the coast of the US Northwest. It appears I’ll get really used to seeing these!
I’ll be aboard the Bell M. Shimada, which was built to do acoustic trawls along the west coast (exactly what we’re doing). It was commissioned in 2010 and is named after Bell Shimada, a fisheries specialist who is known for his study of tuna populations.
I’m excited to get started!
I’ll be honest – I’m a little nervous to be on this voyage with such experienced scientists! While I do love science, I do not teach it during the school year. I teach math and English. I always tell my students that “math and science are married,” and I try to do as many cross-curricular connections as possible. One of the things I’m excited about for this trip is to get pictures and recordings of the many ways math is used in our research. I can’t wait to integrate that into my units next year and take my math students on a “virtual voyage” with me. Putting math into practical contexts makes it a lot more fun.
When I’m not teaching, I spend a lot of time with my family. My family includes my husband, my awesome dogs, my evil cat, and, well, I guess I’ll include my husband’s best friend who’s been living with us on and off for the past year. He’s sort of in our family now. Living with two men and a bunch of animals feels a little like a sitcom at times, but I laugh a lot.
Here’s my husband, me, and one of our dogs:
My newfound favorite hobby is cycling. My husband and I did a bike trip across Ireland earlier this summer, so I spent quite a few months training up for that. It was an absolute blast, and I recommend it to everyone. You should do it!
The one thing that people ask me when they hear I’m going on this voyage is, “Do you get seasick?” My answer is always the same: “We’re about to find out.” I’ve never spent the night on a boat before, so sixteen in a row is going to be quite the experience. I’ve packed four different types of seasickness medications, so hopefully something works!
Did You Know?
Bell Shimada died in 1958 in a plane crash while on his way to conduct research in Mexico. At the time, it was Mexico’s deadliest aviation crash to date. Even though he only lived to be thirty-six, his legacy has stood the test of time.
Geographic Area of Cruise: Northwest Pacific Ocean, off of the coast of Oregon
Date: July 22, 2017
Weather Data from the Bridge
Summer is in full swing in my home state of North Carolina. We are averaging temperatures in the mid 80’s-90’s. Most days are very hot and humid. Traveling to Oregon and sailing off the coast will be bringing weather I haven’t experienced since early Spring. I am excited about having the chance to “cool off” for a while before returning to the southern summer temps.
Looking ahead at the forecast for Newport, Oregon where we will be sailing out of, temperatures will average in the 70’s during the day to lower 50’s in the evening/night.
Science and Technology Log
Since we have just officially set sail, the science and technology log will come in future post. On the Shimada, many experiments and forms of data collection will occur to learn more about Hake and the ecosystems they live in. I will be learning everything from what the in internal organs of Hake look like, how acoustics/sound waves are used to determine the location of Hake to how certain microbes in the water affect the marine ecosystem. Be prepared for some exciting news and amazing discoveries!
My name is Brad Rhew and I am currently a Science Lead teacher at Cook Literacy Model School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
I graduated with my degree in Middle Grades Science and Social Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Before moving into my current role, I was a middle school science teacher. I absolutely LOVED teaching 8th grade science. It was pure enjoyment watching my kiddos get messy in the lab and find their passion for science and learning.
In my current role as a Science Lead Teacher, I work with K-5 teachers planning and executing their science lessons in their classrooms. I also co-teach science lessons in the lab with teachers to help them gain a better understanding of science instruction. This has been a great experience in this role to watch children in kindergarten fall in love with science and then get to foster that passion all the way until they become fifth graders.
I am so excited about my upcoming adventure on the Bell M. Shimada. I know I will experience so many amazing things that I will get to bring back to my classroom. This experience will not only help me in becoming a better educator but will also help me expose my students to even more real-world science concepts.
Did You Know?
On the survey we will be collecting data about Hake fish. Here’s a little bit of information about the type of fish we will be studying.
Hake, also referred to as Pacific Whiting, is normally found off the Pacific coast of the United States. They are typically grey/silver in color with some black speckling. The underside of Hake is a white-cream color. These fish are normally found near the bottom of the ocean since they feed on smaller, bottom-dwelling fish.
These fish normally grow from one to three feet and weigh an average of five pounds. Hake have swim bladders which help them in the changing pressures of the ocean and to be able to navigate between the water columns. In later posts, I will discuss how research scientists in the acoustics lab on the Bell M. Shimada are using these swim batters to locate the fish in the ocean.
Something to Think About
You have probably eaten Hake before and didn’t even realize it. Hake is sometimes referred to as “White Fish” on menus. Because Hake is such a great fish for consumption, overfishing of this species is becoming an issue. Many countries and areas are starting to put regulations in place to help with the decreasing of the Hake population. NOAA has also become involved with this movement.
To learn more about NOAA’s involvement with Hake and more about our Summer Hake Survey visit the following website:
Geographic Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean; U.S. West Coast
Date: June 14, 2017
Weather Data from the Bridge
I am still at home in North Branch, MN having just finished the school year as well as the graduation festivities for my youngest. Whew! The weather data from my bridge is as follows:
Date: June 14, 2017 Wind Speed: NE 9 mph
Time: 3:45 p.m. Latitude: 45.5102° N
Temperature: 81oF Longitude: 92.9931° W
Science and Technology Log
I obviously have nothing to add to the science log at this point, but having observed the blogs from those that have gone before me this season, I will have plenty to report on in the very near future! I am excited for this fabulous learning opportunity and look forward to sharing all that I discover with those back at home and elsewhere!
I join the ranks of many of my fellow Teachers at Sea (TAS) when I say that being able to use my biology degree to get involved in actual field research has been on my “bucket list” for a long time. I entered the field of teaching later in life and via other career paths, have been blessed to have used my degree in many ways – in the field of medicine, in pharmaceuticals, and now as a classroom teacher. Along the way I grew to develop a passion for the field of environmental science and knowing that no one has taught this subject in our district for several years, took up the charge to design a course for the upcoming school year. This idea had been developing for a while and without many funds available in our district for professional development in this content area I began to look for ways to get engaged in environmental programming that I could use directly in my classroom. Through my initial research into this area, I uncovered this exciting TAS opportunity. I hesitated to apply at first – this was going to be quite a challenge and way out of my comfort zone – but isn’t that what I am always encouraging my students to do? Step out of the box? Our science department team attended the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference in Minneapolis last fall where I met a couple of team members from the NOAA Teachers at Sea program. With several questions answered, I decided to apply and here I am – on my way in just a couple of days! I thank my family and friends for their words of encouragement and support. Here are the ones I want to thank the most:
Did You Know?
I am already starting my vocabulary lists! Stay tuned for terms like:
My bags are packed and I am now waiting here in Seattle for the shuttle to take me to the airport to continue my journey to Kodiak, Alaska to meet up with the NOAA crew. I didn’t realize that getting to Kodiak would include 4 flights and 2 days of travel (I guess that’s one of the drawbacks of living behind the Redwood Curtain).
My mind is full of questions as I mentally prepare myself for the next three weeks aboard the Oscar Dyson. It has been a month of preparations not only for my classroom, my family, but more important, for myself. Will I get seasick? How am I going to utilize what I learn on the sea back in the classroom? Will my students make it to the end of the school year without me? (Of course they will!) Will my own kids manage on their own? Will I be helpful and useful to the crew on the ship?
Between making sub plans, packing up my classroom for the end of the year, making sure that my house was stocked with groceries for my kids, and packing for what I think I will need on this research cruise, I have managed to set aside time to read the, “2015 Results of the Acoustic-Trawl Survey of Walleye Pollock in the Gulf of Alaska” from the last NOAA research cruise in that area.
As I was reading about the various troughs, islands, straights, and bays in which the surveys were conducted, I realized that my geographical knowledge of Alaska was very limited. I was not able to visualize where these locations were. I quickly got an “old school” paper map of the state and was then able to track the locations and follow the path of the survey. I was beginning to get the big picture. I realized that I never before had actually looked UP CLOSE at an actual state map of Alaska. There is so much there! I had no idea that the Aleutian Islands were within the Alaska Maritime National Refuge. There are so many small islands! Every time I looked at the map closer, I discovered new details that I missed before.
I quickly shared my newfound knowledge and enthusiasm with my students. We talked about what kind of ecosystems there might be around so many bays, straights and islands. They asked questions about what kinds of animals lived there and wanted to know how many people there are, whether there was a lifeboat on the ship, where the kids go to school, and how they get to the airport. We discussed what it would be like being in Alaska on the summer solstice. They asked more about the seasons and why it stays bright for so long during the day that far north. They were curious about so many little things, however the most frequently asked question that I got was, “Ms. Lenz, are you going to come back?” Of course, I am!
What started as a personal inquiry for me turned into a great classroom discussion for my students and a way for them to begin to understand where I am actually going a bit better. Though I was not able to answers all of their questions (yet), I now feel that I have a greater responsibility to them to come back with some answers to their questions.
Mission: Sea Scallop/Integrated Benthic Survey Geographical Area of Cruise: Northeastern U.S. Atlantic Coast Date: May 30, 2017
How do you prepare yourself mentally for something to which you have no comparison? I, Terry Maxwell, have wrestled with this question since I was notified on February 1st, 2017 that I would be a part of a research cruise in the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program. Do not get me wrong, the people at NOAA have been awesome in answering my questions and providing resources to interact with to prepare for this mission. However, I have lived my