Each day is started and then ended with a water sample from the ocean. The technology is called a CTD, but the procedure would be called a CTD cast (as if we were casting it in the ocean). CTD stands for conductivity, temperature, and depth. The CTD consists of a collection of electronic instruments that measure the properties of the water, including a laser that checks the clarity of the water. Sampling water bottles are connected to a metal frame called a “rosette”. This information on water characteristics is important to both the scientists and the survey mapping team that use cameras and sonar. This information lets them know how well the clarity of the water is and the speed of sound that helps with the depth finders and sonar.
What is Conductivity?
Conductivity is a measure of the ability of water to pass an electrical current.
What is Salinity?
Salinity is the dissolved salt content of a body of water and is a strong conductor of water.
So why is it important for scientist to know what each of these are?
The higher salinity the water is, the higher the conductivity of electrical currents.
Temperature also plays a role in the density. Knowing each of these is important because it lets the scientists know the water quality at different depths so they can make adjustments to their cameras and sonar.
Jack Prior, Chief Scientist
Jack is a pretty “chill” guy, and I have enjoyed watching him in action the past few days. Jack is the field party chief of this mission which involves everything from planning the trip, to deciding the daily sampling locations, deploying cameras, mapping, and figuring out what to do when things go wrong. Jack is in charge of planning and submitting the protocol for the entire mission and also is responsible for the end reports of the mission. You will find Jack on this leg sitting behind multiple computers regulating and keeping a watchful eye on all of the important information regarding this mission. Jack attended the University of West Florida to get his degree in marine biology.
Student Question of the Day
Whenever I get a chance, I ask random crew members questions that my students back home were curious about. Here is how Jack answered some of the students’ questions.
Konnor, Nichole, Lillian ask: What degree do you have and what all is needed to do your job?
Jack started his major in biology and had originally planned on going on to be a pharmacist, but then moved to Florida where he ended up getting his degree in marine biology instead. Jack continued to also get his Masters at the University of West Florida, too. Jack changed his career path because he enjoyed marine life. Volunteer work is crucial to get experience, and can benefit you on becoming more diverse when it comes to getting a job in marine biology.
Alyson asks: What would be your dream job?
Someday Jack wants to explore the seafloor in a submarine.
Blake, Sailor, Lilli, Jenna ask: What is your favorite food on the ship?
Taco Tuesdays seem to be a huge hit on the ship, as well as Friday pizza day.
Auburn, Ashton M., Karson, Liam: What would you consider to be the coolest marine life you have seen?
Seeing large diverse reef habitats is what Jack says he finds the most interesting, especially uncommon invertebrates that you’d never see on the beach.
Jaxon and Dwight: Can you be on the ship if you have health issues and what happens if there is a medical emergency?
The ship is a pretty confined space with steep stairs, uneven footing, areas you have to be able to step over, and have the ability to carry heavy weight. If there is ever a medical emergency, the ship works alongside the United States Coast Guard to get them the help they need. However, the ship is great working with all issues and plans accordingly to those who may have special diet restrictions.
Well, I will say that I am getting better at having my sea legs but that is still a work in progress. I have really enjoyed getting to understand the life on this ship, and I am just amazed at how diverse everyone is and yet still make this an amazing environment. It has taken me a few days to get the hang of where things are and to get out of my comfort zone to ask what I feel like has to be a million questions about everything. I have really enjoyed getting to hear and learn about the crew’s background and how they ended up on NOAA Ship Pisces. I greatly appreciate their willingness to answer my questions, even though I am sure I am in their way at moments. Everyone has a job to do and work different hours and shifts. It is great to see how they all respect each other’s space and sleeping hours.
There is so much science around me that I never knew existed, and I am shocked on how much technology is actually being used and heavily relied upon. Today was the first day the waves were calm enough that I was able to go out on the stern (learning names of different areas of the ship) to work on the blog and soak up a little bit of Sun. It was nice to be able to get some fresh air. The food has been amazing on the ship. I love how everyone is so courteous by thanking the cooks, as well as cleaning up after themselves before leaving the mess. The mess is the area in which we eat and the kitchen is called the galley. It has taken me a few days to understand the boat “lingo” but I am starting to catch on. The stairs are pretty steep, and everyone on board says to use 3 points of contact when walking. This is so that if they hit a wave while walking you are more stable. I could definitely see this being an issue going up and down the stairs. The doors are super heavy and I am still learning how to get those twisted and sealed tight the first time I close it (I am getting there).
Latitude: 57º 9.61 N Longitude: 152º 20.99W Wind Speed: 15 knots Wind Direction: 210 º Air Temperature: 12º Celsius Barometric Pressure: 1013 mb Depth of water column 84 m Surface Sea Temperature: 12º Celsius
Welcome to a tour of the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson.
Your tour guide today is the Room
Allow me to explain.
When I am not a Teacher at Sea on the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson, I am the special education preschool teacher in Room 11 at Nevada Avenue Elementary School in Canoga Park, California. My classroom has a classroom bear (made of construction paper) that “hides” every night when the students go home. In the beginning of the year, he is sort of easy to find, but as the year progresses, he is harder and harder to find. By the end of the year, only a paw or an ear might be showing!
thing my students want to do every morning is look for the bear. When they find it, they excitedly explain where
it is. Speech and language are things we work on in class all the time, and the
bear gives us something fun to talk about! For some students, a single word might
be the goal. Other students may be working on putting a few words together, or
even enough to make a sentence. It’s
also a great time for them to learn prepositional words or phrases to describe
where the bear is hiding, such as next to, under, beneath, or on top of.
Now it’s YOUR turn. I hope you have fun touring the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson with the Room 11 Bear and finding him in the photos where he decided to hide in a tricky spot. He is in EVERY picture.
NOAA Teacher at Sea Dieuwertje “DJ” Kast Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow May 19 – June 3, 2015
Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring Survey
Geographical area of cruise: East Coast Date: June 1, 2015 Day 14
Rainy and Choppy
Air Temperature: 8 °C
Water Temperature: 10.46°C
Barometer: 1021.3 mb
TSG (Sound-Velocity): 1487 meters/sec
TSG- Conductivity: 3.63 s/m
TSG- Salinity: 32.66 PSU
Wind: 30 knots North East
Interview with Dennis Carey and Jeremy Howard, Chief Steward and Chief Cook of NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow Research Cruise 1502. They have been working together for 3.5 years.
What is your job here on the ship?
My name is Dennis and I am the Chief Steward. This means that I am in charge of food production and management. I am the Head of the Steward Department and I have been for about 12 years now.
How is a boat kitchen different from a home kitchen?
First of all, a boat kitchen is called a galley and the dinning area where everyone eats is called a mess hall. Additionally, a water fountain is called a scuttlebutt.
In terms of a technical answer to your question, we have:
Convection oven- it cooks things faster because it can cook at 25F higher than a regular oven and the air is circulated by a fan as well.
3. Steam jacket kettle- for sauces and soups
4. Commercialized equipment- blender& large refrigerator
5. Gallon water, coffee and milk machine
6. Cereal dispensers!
7. Salad bars
8. Dragon/ Dishwasher Machine: It sanitizes by steaming dishes up to 195F.
Tell me about your experience:
I served 22 years with the Navy, and 12 years with NOAA and all those years were in food service.
What training do you need for your job:
Back in my day, I was called a Mess Specialist when I graduated C-school, now called culinary specialists.
According to https://www.navycs.com/navy-jobs/culinary-specialist.html: The Navy Cook rating was one of the original ratings in 1797. The name Cook was changed to Ship’s Cook in 1838. It wasn’t until 1948 that the culmination of the various rates Commissary Steward, Ship’s Cook, Ship’s Cook (B) (Butchers), and Baker consolidated into the Commissaryman rating. In 1975, the name was changed to Mess Management Specialist, and finally, in 2004, the Culinary Specialist rating was established.
I attended Rose State College in Oklahoma and Central Texas University.
I went to C-school, which is also called advanced food preparation and management.
You will need experience and lots of it, particularly on the job experience. I started with an Intern culinary internship with Hilton Northwest in Oklahoma city.
I also did a Food Service Attendance. It is a 3 month rotation where everybody has to work in the galley. They kept me as a cook!
According to the Navy Personnel Command,
General Culinary Specialist description:
Culinary Specialists (CS) receive extensive training in culinary arts, and other areas within the hospitality industry. This CS rating is responsible for all aspects of the dining (shipboard mess decks) and shore duty living areas. Culinary Specialists work in the “heart of the ship,” and are vital in maintaining high crew morale on ships, construction battalions and every shore base.
Menu management and ordering the quantities and types of food items necessary for quantity food preparation.
Operating kitchen and dining facilities.
Maintaining subsistence inventories using storeroom management procedures.
Culinary Specialists work in kitchen, dining areas, bachelor quarters, living quarters and food service storerooms aboard ships, shore bases, construction battalions, and designated aircraft. The work is physical, creative and mentally challenging; in which one has to be flexible and versatile in their daily duties.
After “A” School, Culinary Specialists are assigned to deploying units or shore stations in the United States and/or overseas. During a 20-year career in the Navy, CS’s spend approximately 60 percent of their time assigned to fleet units and 40 percent to shore stations.
Apprenticeships are highly valued for ship work and below are the current USMAP apprenticeship trades that are currently offered for the Culinary Specialist rating:
I’ve been a NOAA steward for 6 years and every year NOAA sends stewards to training to keep up with the culinary skills.
Tell me more about cooking for so many people
You have to be able to cook portions for crew size. Crew size varies per mission of the cruise and so we figure out all of the crew aboard for consumption of goods. We make sure we are accommodating food choices like: vegetarian, gluten free, lactose free, etc. Our crew size is 32 people right now, and the maximum crew size is 41 people. We try to minimize waste. Main goal of the steward department is to cook GREAT food and not waste it.
Why did you chose to be a chef?
I am passionate about cooking great food. Being a cook, you have to have passion because there is a lot of routine in cooking. You start seeing the same people every day, cooking similar food and so I figure out ways to keep on learning new things, and continuously improve.
To be a chef you need to have good communication skills with the chief steward and in general you need to be flexible especially out on a ship.
Being out at sea- you can’t go to the store if you forgot something. You have to have attention to detail before we get underway.
NOAA is the best kept secret for culinary work. I love the Bigelow- I have a great career here, and I might not be able to see foreign ports so much but I am guaranteed to see my family. I get to see them 2 to 3 months out of the year versus 2 weeks like on navy ships. BEST KEPT SECRET.
We do all the food shopping before we leave for trip. Chief Steward orders the food from a reputable FDA approved supplier. Dennis does all the inventory. We can’t waste money or food on this ship. He needs to do an inventory of things and we go by our motto with inventory which is: First in, first out!
What was your first ship?
NOAA Ship- Delaware II!
But technically, before that I was in the Navy for 5 years. I was part of the Hurricane Katrina relief in New Orleans.
What does a typical day look like?
Both of us get up at 4 AM to prepare breakfast and we make 3 square meals a day (7-8 AM, 11 AM-12:30 PM, and 5-6 PM). We finish about 7:30 PM.
You gotta keep a good morale about your career, you keep growing, and it never gets boring. We also help with the morale of the ship and we host Bingo Nights, and Ice Cream Socials, which allows new crew to bond with old crew.
I’ll humbly say that Bigelow has the best steward department EVER!
NOAA Teacher at Sea: Margaret Stephens NOAA Ship: Pisces Mission: Fisheries, bathymetric data collection for habitat mapping Geographical Area of Cruise: SE United States continental shelf waters from Cape Hatteras, NC to St. Lucie Inlet, FL Dates of log: Thursday, 19 May through Saturday, 21 May, 2011
Weather Data from the Bridge
Position: Latitude 27.87, Longitude -80.16
Wind Speed 11.06 kts
Wind Direction. 131.46 º
Surface Water Temperature 26.88 ºC
Surface Water Temperature
Air Temperature 27.10 ºC
Relative Humidity 78.00 %
Barometric Pressure 1015.50 mb
Water Depth 28.05 m
Sky conditions: clear
Science and Technology Log
General Description of the Scientific Work Aboard Pisces
While at sea, the ship’s operations and scientific crews work in shifts 24/7 – yes, that’s twenty-four hours, every day, with ship operations, maintenance, data collection and gear deployment continuing day and night.
The scientific team, headed by Chief Scientist, Dr. Nate Bacheler, includes researchers who are mostly marine biologists specializing in fisheries. Each team member has complementary specialized skills such as acoustics (use of sonar for sea floor mapping), physical or chemical oceanography, underwater video camera operations, data management and analysis, and many aspects of fish biology.
The main mission of this research cruise is to study red snapper and related grouper species, fish that are of great importance economically and to the marine ecosystem in near shore areas off the southeastern coast of the United States. In particular, the team is studying where the fish are likely to be found (their spatial distribution patterns) and their numbers, or abundance, and population dynamics (how the populations change over time).
This work expands the knowledge needed to guide decisions about how to protect and manage fisheries in a sustainable manner. Healthy, sustainable fish populations are essential to the economy, to the function of healthy ecosystems, and as high-protein (and tasty) food sources. In the past, many fish species have been overfished, resulting in dangerous declines in their populations.
The scientific work on board Pisces for this project is divided into three main areas. This log entry gives an overview of each of the three main areas of work, with a more detailed account of the acoustics, or mapping portion. Upcoming logs will describe the other phases in more detail.
Acoustics – Using the science of sound with advanced sonar and computer technology, the acoustics team maps the sea floor and identifies areas likely to be good fish habitat.
Fish survey – The survey team sets baited traps to catch fish, then collects them, identifies the species, and records essential data about the species of most interest.
Underwater videography – The video team attaches cameras to the traps to view the kinds and activities of fish in the water and assess the type of sea bottom, such as sandy or hard, flat or “bumpy”, regular or irregular.
After all this information is collected in the field, much of the painstaking, detailed analysis takes place back in the home labs and offices of the researchers.
Since acoustics is the first step used to identify specific sites to set traps for the fish survey, we’ll start here.
Throughout a long night shift, from 6 p.m. until the work is complete, often 7 a.m. or later the following day, the acoustics team uses sonar (SOund NAvigation and Ranging) and computer analysis to map the sea floor and identify promising areas to set traps for the fish survey. See a detailed description of the sonar equipment and procedures below.
At 5 a.m., the acoustics team meets with Chief Scientist Nate to report any sites they identified overnight and select the stations to sample with fish traps and underwater cameras during the day. The team then converts their data into a kind of route map that the helmsman (the ship’s “driver”) uses to steer the ship along the designated survey route.
The acoustics team members possess extensive knowledge about fish habitats, geography and geology of the sea floor, and computer and sonar technology. They also need to be aware of the interactions among wind, weather and currents and understand charts (marine maps) and ship’s navigation. They constantly communicate with the ship’s bridge via the internal radio network.
The acoustics lab houses work space large enough for five to ten people, banks of computer screens, servers, and large-scale display monitors projecting images from the sonar devices, real time navigation, and views from cameras positioned in work areas on deck.
Once the now-very-sleepy acoustics lab team wraps up its nocturnal work, the team members turn in for a day’s (or night’s?) sleep, just as the other teams’ daylight tasks begin in earnest.
Fish Survey Work
By 6 a.m., in the predawn darkness, the rear deck becomes a hub of concentrated activity, with sounds muffled by the early ocean haze and drone of the engines and generators. The four or more members of the fish survey team, still rubbing sleep from their eyes, assemble on the stern deck (rear of ship or fantail) to prepare the traps to catch fish for the day. Before the sun rises, floodlights illuminate the work of cutting and hanging menhaden, whole fish bait, in the traps, securing the underwater cameras in place, tagging each piece of equipment carefully and checking that everything is ready for deployment.
Chief Scientist Nate directs the deployment of the traps from the dry lab, where he faces a bank of computer screens displaying maps of the identified sampling route, the ship’s course in real time, and camera shots showing the personnel and operations on deck. By radio, Nate directs the deck crew to lower the traps at each of the designated sites.
The ship is steered along the sampling route, dropping traps in each of six locations. Each trap is left in place for approximately ninety (90) minutes. Once the last trap is lowered, the ship returns to the first location and raises the traps, usually following the same order. The deck crew members, together with the fish survey team, empty any catch and ready the traps for redeployment.
Chief Scientist Nate Bacheler directs trap deployment from the dry lab
Then the fish survey team, coordinated by Investigator Dave Berrane, sets to work sorting, weighing and measuring any catch and immediately releasing any fish not needed for further study.
As soon as the traps are hauled aboard by the deck crew, the wet lab team detaches and dries the cameras and hands them to the dry lab, where the videography team, headed by Investigator Christina Schobernd, removes the memory cards and transfers and makes duplicates of the video files on computer drives. All the teams take extreme care to label, catalog and back up everything carefully. Data management and redundancy are essential in this business. The scientists view some of the footage immediately to see if the cameras are working properly and to make any adjustments necessary. They also look for anything unusual or unexpected, any fish captured on camera other than those that made it into the trap, and they assess how closely the sea floor type matched what was expected from the acoustic team’s mapping work.
Christina works well into the night to back up and catalog all the day’s video recordings.
Detailed Description of Fisheries Acoustics Surveys
Fisheries Acoustic Surveys: Acoustic surveys help determine the relative abundance of target species and provide information to determine catch rates and guidance for fisheries management.
The equipment aboard Pisces includes two types of sonar devices that use sound waves to measure the water depth, shape or contours of the sea floor, and to a limited extent, fish groupings, or aggregations. Sonar operates using established knowledge about how fast sound travels in water under different conditions to develop a three-dimensional image of the shape of the sea floor. The first type is known as split-beam sonar, which uses sound waves at different frequencies to provide a picture of the underwater environment. Pisces has a Simrad EK60 echosounder.
The second, more sophisticated and expensive system involves Multibeam sonar mapping. Aboard Pisces is a Simrad ME70 device. Multibeam devices emit sound beams that forms an inverted cone, covering a larger area and providing a more complete picture of the sea floor than the series of vertical or horizontal sound signals that the split beam sonar provides. As described above, the bathymetric mapping surveys are conducted primarily during the night, from sundown until dawn, when fish sampling and other ship operations are not taking place. Ideally, this allows the science team to map out a route of sampling sites for the next day’s fish trapping work. At the end of the overnight shift, the acoustics team presents its findings to the Chief Scientist, who then coordinates the day’s activities with the fish team, the ship’s bridge, and the deck crew headed by the chief boatswain.
I cannot say enough about how friendly and helpful everyone on board has been to this neophyte. It takes a while to adjust to any new environment, but being on a ship at sea has its own learning curve. Pisces, at 209 feet long, operates like a small town. Because it is out at sea for weeks at a time, all supplies and systems must be operating 24/7 to keep the ship and crew focused on the appointed mission and keep everyone on board safe, comfortable, and able to do their jobs.
I spent the first two days getting acclimated to the layout of the ship, safety practices, meeting the members of the scientific crew, adjusting to the rigorous schedule, and doing my best not to commit any grave offenses or make big mistakes that would make the work of this very patient group of dedicated professionals any more difficult than it is already.
Sleep Time Because the ship’s work continues round the clock, sleep time varies, depending on the person’s position and duties. It is important for everyone aboard to be mindful that at any hour of the day or night, it’s likely that someone is sleeping. The mapping crew began a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift (or later, until the work is finished) on our second day at sea, and most of them will keep that difficult schedule for the entire cruise. Since I’m the lucky one to experience every aspect of the work, I’ll rotate through the various jobs and schedules. For the first few days, I’ll work with the fish survey team, from 6 a.m. until their work is completed, which may mean a break for supper at 5 p.m. followed by a few more hours of lab work to process all the day’s catch. My first day on the acoustics team, I’m scheduled to start at 4 a.m. assisting their nightly wrap up, as by the last few hours of their shift, they are quite tired.
Dining and Comforts Aboard Ship
Chief Steward Jesse Stiggens and Assistant Steward Michael Sapien create a terrific, appetizing menu for the three main meals and plenty of extras and snacks available at any hour.
The stewards are very accommodating, so anyone who will miss a main meal because of their work or sleep schedule can sign up in advance for the stewards to set aside a full plate of delicious food for them. The mess (dining room on a ship) is open all day and night, with coffee, cold beverages, an array of sandwich fixings, cereals and assorted leftovers kept chilled for anyone to microwave anytime they get a hankering for a nibble or a bigger bite. And…very important for morale … there’s a freezer stocked with ice cream, even Blue Bunny (a favorite in the South that I had not seen before) and Häagen-Dazs. There’s also a big screen television in the mess. The lounge area has computers, a conference or game table, a small library of books, a large screen television and several hundred movie titles, even new releases, for the crew to enjoy in their off time. Also available are wonderful reclining chairs, so comfortable, I wish I had time to use them. The one and only time I tried one out, the fire alarm went off for our first drill, and I haven’t had a free moment since.
Doomsday Came and Went: Saturday, 21 May, 2001….and Pisces work continues
CNN reports: After months of warnings and fear, the Day of Rapture, as predicted by apocalyptic Christian broadcaster Harold Camping, passed without apparent calamity. Judgment Day was to have started at 6 p.m., but as darkness fell on many parts of the world, it appeared that heaven could wait. At this writing, there have been no reports of people soaring upward to the skies, but plenty of folks are talking about it.
That includes those of us on Pisces. The possibility that Doomsday was approaching generated some good-natured kidding and gallows humor. We had some debate about when the end would begin. Since most of the ship’s instruments use Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) as a reference, we speculated that our end time might occur four hours later than east coast Daylight Savings Time (DST).
Everyone had their eyes on the clock and the horizon as first, the predicted doomsday hour of 6 p.m. DST came and went, and then, four hours later, 6 p.m. GMT passed without incident. Any apprehensions were put to rest, and now we have new fodder for discussion.
Special Challenges for Research at Sea
Many people have the idea that science is neat, pretty and conducted in sterile lab environments by other-worldly thinkers in clean white lab coats. That is decidedly not the case in fisheries work at sea. This section lists the special challenges (or, as, some optimists would say, “opportunities”) of conducting shipboard research. Each log will focus on or give examples of one or more challenges.
Limits of “shooting in the dark” – Imagine a vast, dark, deep, ever-changing, difficult-to-penetrate area, with living organisms moving about in and out, with all kinds of surface, bottom, and in-between conditions. That’s what underwater research involves. Examples: The mapping team thinks it has found great habitat for red snapper and grouper, so the survey team expects a bountiful trap. But up comes nothing but a trap still full of untouched bait. Or, the habitat conditions look promising, but the current is too strong to set the traps safely.
The Unexpected – It is often said that the only thing predictable in field research of this kind is unpredictability! You just never know….
Curiosity-seekers and just plain business – recreational and commercial boats – Not surprisingly, the areas of interest for NOAA fisheries research are often favorite fishing grounds for recreational fishermen, scuba divers, and active routes for commercial ships. Therefore, Pisces crew and helm (the person steering the ship) must always be on alert for other boat traffic. Example: On Saturday, a small recreational boat occupied by partiers pulled up nearly alongside Pisces. Despite polite cautions and requests from our bridge for the small boat to move away to a safer distance, the visitors just kept waving and cheering for a while.
Challenges to come in next logs:
Changing sea conditions, weather, waves and current