Marla Crouch: The Adventure Is About to Begin, May 22, 2013

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Marla Crouch
Sailing Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
June 8 — 26, 2013

Marla Crouch.

Mission: Pollock Survey Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Alaska Date: May 21, 2013 – Upcoming cruise dates June 6 – 26, 2013 Weather Data from the Bridge: as of 0500 Wind Speed 20.97 kts Air Temperature 5.40°C Relative Humidity 91.00% Barometric Pressure 1,031.50 mb Latitude: 55.72 Longitude:-157.36 Hi, I’m Marla Crouch I live in Issaquah, WA, about 17 miles east of Seattle.  I teach Earth Sciences and I am the Robotics Club Adviser at Maywood Middle School, in the Issaquah School District. On June 6, 2013 I will head north to Alaska to begin my adventure as a NOAA Teacher At Sea.  I’ll be updating this blog about three times a week, so check back often.  Let me know if you have answers to the questions I’ve posted. Science and Technology Log While I am aboard the Oscar Dyson I will be working with the Scientist Team doing a Pollock Survey. The Alaskan Pollock or Walleye is member of the cod family and is the most valuable fish crop in the world. Products made from Pollock were valued at $1 billion in 2010.

Pollock, Courtesy of Google Images

During the survey we will be checking population size and characteristics including age and gender. The Science team will calibrate and monitor equipment used to find the schools of pollock that swim in the mid-water depths of the ocean (330 – 985 feet). Samples of the population will be caught using cone-shaped nets.

Personal Log The last time I cruised Alaska’s water, I was on a cruise ship gliding through the Inland Passage along Alaska’s southeast shores. This time I’m headed about 900 miles west to the island of Unalaska, in the Aleutian Islands and the open waters of the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. My Teacher At Sea experience embarks from Dutch Harbor, AK. Here I will meet the NOAA ship Oscar Dyson; I’ll introduce myself to the ship’s crew and science team and settle in for the 19 day fishery cruise.

Oscar Dyson, courtesy of NOAA
Oscar Dyson, courtesy of NOAA

Have you ever wondered why ships/boats are referred to as “she?” Answer, no one knows for sure as the origins have been lost in oral history. I’ll be interested in finding out how the Oscar Dyson crew refers to her. The NOAA ship Oscar Dyson is 63.8m long, 15m wide and displaces 2479 metric tons when fully loaded. The Dyson can be at sea up to 40 days and travel 12,000 nmi before replenishing supplies. Okay, Ladies and Gentlemen, your turn to do the math. Tell me what are the dimensions of the Dyson in feet? I’ll help; here is the conversion ratio, 1m: 3.28ft. Next question: convert nautical miles to statue miles 1mi: 1.15nmi.

Drawing of NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
Drawing of NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson

The Oscar Dyson was launched in Pascagoula, MS in October 2003 and commissioned in 2005 in Kodiak, AK. The mission of the Dyson is to protect, restore and manage the use of living marine, coastal, and ocean resources through ecosystem-based management. The ship observes weather, sea state and environmental conditions, studies and monitors fisheries, and both marine birds and mammals. Check out the video below of the launching of the Dyson.

Video courtesy of (animation 6) In preparation for my trip I did a little research on Dutch Harbor and the island of Unalaska.  Unalaska is one of approximately 100 stratovolcanic islands spanning 1250 miles in Aleutian Islands chain. The Port of Dutch Harbor is the only deep draft, ice-fee port from Unimak Pass west to Adak and north to the headwaters of the Bering Straits. Annually, more than 1.7 billion pounds of seafood are shipped from Dutch Harbor. Island history includes settlements by the Unangan (Aleut) people roughly 9,000 years ago, architectural and cultural influences from Russia, the invasion by Japanese forces and the internment of American civilians in WWII. The WWII Aleutian Campaign is one of the deadliest battles in the Pacific theater. A note for our students studying WWII: check out the National Park Service web site for the Aleutian World War II.

Did You Know? I’ve learned a new word, Williwaw. I think I’ll add this word to our study of Catastrophic Events.   What is a Williwaw?  You tell me.  Here is a hint, if the ship encounters a Williwaw I may be searching for the Dramamine.