Dana Chu: Introduction, May 12, 2016

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Dana Chu
(Almost) Aboard NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada
May 13-22, 2016

Mission: Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies (ACCESS) is a working partnership between Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, and Point Blue Conservation Science to survey the oceanographic conditions that influence and drive the availability of prey species (i.e., krill) to predators (i.e., marine mammals and sea birds).

Geographical area of cruise:  Greater Farallones, Cordell Bank, and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries (all off the coast of California)

Date:  Thursday, May 12, 2016

Personal Log

TAS Dana Chu profile picHello from Sacramento, California! My name is Dana Chu and I am a Math and Science teacher and an Education Specialist at Florin High School.   This year I also teach a class called Multiple Strategies for Academics and Transitions and support a Spanish 1 class.   Florin High School has a diverse population of over 1,400 students that speak nineteen different languages. After school, I serve as an advisor to the Florin High School Watershed Team which is composed of students from all grade levels.

TAS Dana Chu watershed team

Florin HS Watershed Team at the American River Clean Up, September 2015

I am a firm believer that providing students with the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in wildlife areas and natural habitats is the key to inspiring them to become responsible stewards of their environment, both land and water. Our school is within walking distance of several local creeks. The Cosumnes River Preserve and the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, both of which serve as protected habitat and crucial feeding ground for migrating birds, are a short drive away.   We are also fortunate to be close to the American River where anadromous fish such as the Chinook salmon and Steelhead trout spawn. Salmon fry raised in the classroom through the Fish in the Classroom Program from Nimbus Fish Hatchery will be released there. Throughout the year, some of our students participate on field trips to these locations.   I can’t wait to share my Teacher at Sea experience with all of my students, especially because the water from our local creek and rivers eventually all feed into the ocean.

TAS Dana Chu watching sandhill cranes

Students from the Watershed Team watch Sandhill Cranes fly in to roost for the evening. This field trip was made possible by the Save Our Sandhill Cranes non-profit organization.

I applied for the NOAA Teacher at Sea program because I am very interested in sea turtles, ocean plastic pollution, and birds. I love being out on water whenever the opportunity arises and taking photographs of nature. I also want to learn from and directly work with scientists in the field. Having never traveled in the ocean for an extended period of time before, this research trip is a unique and exciting learning opportunity and chance for me to engage in many first-hand experiences. With ocean plastic pollution being a serious issue, I wonder what we will come across during the days while I am at sea. I can’t wait to sail out on the NOAA Ship Bell Shimada and to assist with scientific research in the Pacific Ocean! For more specific details on this expedition, please check the links for the Ship and the Mission.

TAS Dana Chu kayaking

This is a photo of me kayaking in Costa Rica in 2014.

In the meantime, I am in the midst of preparing for my upcoming scientific adventure. I am packing the last items needed for this research trip.   At school, the 9th graders are finishing up the Water and Ocean unit with a marine animal research project. I hope to bring back relevant information to share. My 11th graders are working on their career transition portfolios and mock job interviews. I look forward to learning about the different types of scientific and marine careers available from the members of this research cruise so I can inform my students of other potential careers they might have not considered.

When you hear from me next, I will have sailed out of San Francisco, California and experienced my first days of working and living at sea. I look forward to seeing the various pelagic birds plus marine mammals and invertebrates within their natural habitat. I am so excited to be part of this expedition!

 

Talia Romito: First Day at Sea, July 23 – 24, 2012

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Talia Romito
Onboard R/V Fulmar
July 24– July 29, 2012

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic area of cruise: Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries
Date: July 23 & 24, 2012

Location Data:
Latitude: 37 48.87 W
Longitude: 123 23.04 N

Weather Data From Bridge:
Air Temperature 12.2 C (54 F)
Wind Speed 10 knots
Wind Direction: From the South
Surface Water Temperature: 13 C (55.4 F)

Personal Log

Day 1, July 23, 2012

Wow! I have been preparing for this day for months and now I’m here.  This is the adventure of a lifetime.  I’m so excited to tell everyone about everything that I’ve done so far and I’ve only been on board for two days.

Travel and Arrival

Me and Dad at Lunch

Me and Dad at Lunch, Picture by Karen Romito

I set off early Monday July 23, 2012 for the boat docked in Sausalito from my parents’ home near Sacramento, CA.  I’m fortunate to have my parents give me a ride so I don’t have to worry about leaving my car parked overnight.  We got into San Francisco at lunchtime and decided to stop at the Franciscan Restaurant near Fisherman’s Wharf.  The food was incredible and both Mom and Dad filled their cravings for bread bowls with clam chowder. Yummy!  We had an amazing view across the bay to Sausalito.  Next we headed for downtown Sausalito for dessert.  (If you haven’t gotten the clue yet this trip is all about great food and making friends.) It was beautiful with lots of little places to lose yourself and enjoy the view and watch people walking or riding by.  Cafe Tutti was a great little place for three waffle cones, laughs, and picturesque memories.  Then it was time to head to the boat!

Boat Tour and Unpacking

Permission to come Aboard?

Permission to come Aboard?, Picture by Karen Romito

I met Kaitlin Graiff and Erik Larson on board when I arrived.  She is the (Acting) Research Coordinator for the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and he is the Captain of the R/V Fulmar.  They were both so welcoming and gave us all the grand tour.  It only consisted of about fifty steps, but who’s counting.  We saw the wheelhouse (where you drive the boat), the bunk rooms (where you sleep on the boat), the galley (where you eat on the boat), the head (where you handle business on the boat), the fly bridge (where you observe animals), and the rear deck (where you use equipment to study the ocean).  I know that’s lots to remember, but it’s smaller than it sounds with cozy little places to have a snack or a cat nap.  Before I said my goodbyes Mom made me take a picture with all of my gear.  Thanks Mom!

Then it was time to unpack.  I chose the top bunk on the starboard side of the boat.  Now the important thing to remember is to duck when you get the top bunk.  There is almost no head room so duck early and often.  I’ve hit my head three times already.

Scientists Arrive

While Kaitlin, Erik, and I were getting to know each other, two more scientists arrived throughout the evening before dinner.  They were bringing the two most important parts of our cruise: the food and the equipment.  Jaime Jahncke, California Current Director for PRBO Conservation Science arrived first.  His name and title sound very official, but he is the most charismatic person you’ll meet.  He loves to joke around and have a good time while working to preserve and manage wildlife.  Last to arrive Monday night was Jan Roletto, Research Coordinator at Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.  Jan is the lead scientist on the cruise, mother hen to everyone.  She brought the most important thing for the trip: FOOD.  We have chips, nuts, crackers, chocolate covered everything, every soda drink imaginable, and more!  Did I mention that this trip is all about the food :).

Jan Roletto, Jaime Jahncke, and Kirsten Lindquist

The Scientists and Observer:
Jan Roletto, Jaime Jahncke, and Kirsten Lindquist

Day 2, July 24, 2012

Early Risers

Survival Suit

Me in Survival Suit during Safety Drill

I am usually a morning person, but this morning I could have stayed in bed a little longer.  The crew, scientists, and I woke up between 5 and 6 AM to welcome five more people onto the boat.  Daniel Hossfeld, Intern at Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary; Carol Keiper, Marine Mammal and Seabird Observer; Kirsten Lindquist, Ecosystem Monitoring Manager at Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association; Kerri Beeker, Major and Planned Gifts Officer at PRBO Conservation Science; and Caitlin Byrnes, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.  Once everyone was on board and the gear was stowed and tied down we headed for the first transect line of the day.

Science and Technology Log

The Work

This section has a little more science and technical language, but just bear with me because I want you to understand what we’re doing out here.  Applied California Current Ecosystem Study (ACCESS) has been monitoring 30 different transect lines (hot spots for animal activity) in Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones, and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries.  Today we completed four transects: Nearshore 5, Offshore 5, Offshore 7, and Nearshore 7.  On these four lines the scientists observed the wildlife – documenting seabirds and marine mammals.  They use a laptop with Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking and software that shows a map of the area we are studying with the transect lines.  The software uses codes to name birds and marine mammals: a number to code for behavior, a number for zone (ie. distance from boat), and a true bearing direction from the bow (front) of the boat.  The birds are identified using the American Ornithology Union (AOU), which is a four letter code based on the bird’s common name (ie. Common Murre, COMU).  The birds are observed at a max distance of 200 meters from the boat.  Marine mammals are also given a four letter code based on the common name of the animal (ie. Blue Whale: BLWH).

Another important aspect of the observation is continually updating environmental conditions.  Observers describe visibility, swell height of the waves, wind speed and direction, cloud cover, and an overall rating for the conditions for that time.  Click on the Title below for an example of their codes.

Bird and Mammal Codes

What did I do Today?!

My bunk

Napping while recovering from nausea.
Good times!

Well, to sum it up in a word: relax!  I was able to get used to being at sea and rest a little from a stressful week of preparation for this trip.  I was nauseous this morning for about six hours, but I was able to overcome by sitting still and gazing at the horizon.  I must admit that being around a bunch of different food while feeling nauseous is not fun and makes you feel worse.  When I finally felt better I was able to have lots of great conversations with Kerri and Caitlin.  They are doing so much to support this ACCESS cruise and awareness about conservation of ecosystems.  It was nice to get a picture of the non-profit side of these issues.  I was also able to see some Pacific white sided dolphins bow riding and two humpback whales about 20 feet off the bow.  They popped up in front of the boat and we had to slow down so we didn’t interrupt them.

Humpback Whale Breaching

Humpback Whale Breaching, Picture by Sophie Webb

Pacific White Sided Dolphin Porpoising

Pacific White Sided Dolphin Porpoising

The first two days have been amazing and I can’t wait to see what we’re going to do next.  Tomorrow, we’ll be completing transect line 6.  You’ll  notice that there are black dots on the map.  Those indicate places where I will work with Kaitlin to get water column samples and samples of krill and zooplankton.

ACCESS Transect Lines

ACCESS Transect Lines

Deborah Moraga, June 27, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea Log: Deborah Moraga
NOAA Ship: Fulmar
Date: July 20‐28, 2010

Mission: ACCESS
(Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies)
Geographical area of cruise: Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries
Date: June 27,2010

Weather Data from the Bridge
Start Time: 0700 (7:00 am)
End Time: 1600 (4:00 pm)
Position:
Line 10 start on western end: Latitude = 37o 20.6852 N; Longitude = 122o 56.5215 W
Line 10 end on eastern end: Latitude = 37 o 21.3466 N; Longitude = 122o 27.5634 W
Present Weather: Started with full could cover and cleared to no cloud cover by mid day
Visibility: greater than 10 nautical miles
Wind Speed: 5 knots
Wave Height: 0.5 meters
Sea Water Temp: 14.72 C
Air Temperature: Dry bulb = 14 C Barometric Pressure: 1013.2 mb

Science and Technology Log
We left Half Moon Bay at 0700 (7:00 am) to survey line 10. We traveled out to about 30 miles offshore then deployed the Tucker trawl.

Tucker Trawl

Tucker Trawl

When the team deploys the Tucker trawl the goal is to collect krill. They are relying on the echo‐sounder to determine where the krill are located in the water column. The echo‐sounder sends out sound waves that bounce off objects in the water and works much like a sophisticated fish finder. Dolphins hunt for their prey in much the same way. A computer connected to the echo‐sounder is used to display the image of the water column as the sound waves travel back to the boat. By reading the colors on the screen the team can determine the depth of krill.

Collecting krill

Collecting krill

Collecting krill

Collecting krill

Collecting krill

Collecting krill

The scientists send weights (called messengers) down a cable that is attached to the Tucker trawl as it is towed behind the boat. Once the messenger reaches the end of the line where the net is located, it triggers one of the three nets to close. Triggering the nets this way allows for the researchers to sample zooplankton at three different depths.

image of water column on computer screen

Image of water column on computer screen

When the cod‐ends of the nets were brought onboard Jaime Jahncke (scientist for PRBO Conservation Science) examined the contents. Some of the organisms that were collected were…

When the cod‐ends of the nets were brought onboard Jaime Jahncke (scientist for PRBO Conservation Science) examined the contents. Some of the organisms that were collected were.

• Thysanoessa spinifera – a species of krill

• Crab megalopa larvae
Euphausia pacifica – a species of krill

Deborah Moraga, June 25, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea Log: Deborah Moraga
NOAA Ship: Fulmar
Date: July 20‐28, 2010

Mission: ACCESS
(Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies)
Geographical area of cruise: Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries
Date: June 25,2010

Weather Data from the Bridge

Start Time: 0610 (6:10 am)
End Time: 1630 (4:30 pm)
Position:
Line 5 start on eastern end: Latitude = 37o 48.87 N; Longitude = 122o 52.74 W
Line 5 end on western end: Latitude =37o 48.078 N; Longitude = 123o 23.04 W
Present Weather: Cloud cover 100%
Visibility: greater than 10 nautical miles
Wind Speed: 5‐10 knots
Wave Height: 0.5‐1 meters
Sea Water Temp: 12.86 C
Air Temperature: Dry bulb = 11 C
Barometric Pressure: 1014.0 mb

Science and Technology Log

Imagine standing next to an animal that is 12 times the length of you. It happened to us aboard the R/V Fulmar. Today, humpback whales where milling around our 67 foot boat. We were able to take some great pictures and some video.

humpback whale

Humpback Whale

The humpback consumes krill and small fish. Krill is a small (1.5 inches in average length) shrimp like organism. Krill is a primary consumer. They feed on phytoplankton. Phytoplankton is a producer in the ocean ecosystem. These small “plants” absorb light energy from the sun and through the process of photosynthesis they make energy for the consumers to ingest and use. Krill feed on this phytoplankton at night just below the surface of the ocean. During the day the krill swim to deeper parts of the water column to avoid predators like the humpback whale.

humpback whale

Humpback Whale

Other organisms observed today, included a pod of Pacific white‐sided dolphins, a Tufted puffin, and South Polar Skuas.

Deborah Moraga, June 24, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea Log: Deborah Moraga
NOAA Ship: Fulmar
Date: July 20‐28, 2010

Mission: ACCESS
(Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies)
Geographical area of cruise: Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries
Date: June 24,2010

Weather Data from the Bridge
Start Time: 0705 (7:05 am) End Time: 1658 (4:58 pm)
Position:
CBOMP Line 6 start on eastern end: Latitude = 38o 6.6066 N; Longitude = 123o 24.804 W
CBOMP Line 1 end on eastern end: Latitude = 37o 56.1066 N; Longitude = 123o 18.7206 W
Nearshore line 1 start on western end: Latitude = 38o 8.5369 N; Longitude = 123o 5.8019 W
Nearshore line 1 end on eastern end: Latitude = 38o 8.7436 N; Longitude = 122o 57.5893 W
Present Weather: Cloud cover 100%
Visibility: 3‐5 nautical miles
Wind Speed: light, variable winds 5 knots or less
Wave Height: 0 to 1.1 meters Sea
Water Temp: 11.6 C
Air Temperature: Dry bulb = 11 C
Barometric Pressure: 1014.0 mb

We saw Dall’s porpoises riding the bow wake. Riding the bow means the porpoises were using the energy of the wave that is created by the front of the boat to body surf. It is a treat to watch them weave back and forth then leap up out of the water.

Science and Technology Log
Today we worked the Cordell Bank transect lines (COMP). We finished all six lines of bird and marine mammal observations
Marine mammals that were spotted were…
• Blue whale
• Humpbacks‐ adult & calf
• Killer whale – male & female
• Dall’s porpoises
• Harbor porpoises
• Harbor seal
• California sea lion
• Stellar sea lion

Highlighted Birds
• Xantus’s Murrelets
• Parasitic Jaegers

Today, the seas were very calm. This was a good thing because we had guests on board. We also surveyed near shore line one. Near shore lines take about 40 minutes traveling at 10 knots. The offshore lines take more time to survey because they are longer and we deploy the CTD and nets. On our off shore lines today we deployed the CTD seven times and took seven water samples and one of our visitors helped by collecting the last water sample of the day.

Deborah Moraga, June 23, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea Log: Deborah Moraga
NOAA Ship: Fulmar
Date: July 20‐28, 2010

Mission: ACCESS
(Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies)
Geographical area of cruise: Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries
Date: June 23,2010

Weather Data from the Bridge

Start time: 0705 (7:05am)
End Time: 1708 (5:08 pm)
Position:
Line 2 start on eastern end: Latitude = 38o 3.4080 N; Longitude = 123o 10.9800 W
Line 2 end on western end: Latitude = 38o 2.7660 N; Longitude = 123o 33.7800 W
Line 1 start on western end: Latitude = 38o 7.8240 N; Longitude = 123o 31.9200 W
Line 1 end on eastern end: Latitude = 38o 8.3940 N; Longitude = 123o 11.5200 W
Present Weather: Cloud cover 100%
Visibility: 3‐10 nautical miles
Wind Speed: light, variable winds 5 knots or less
Wave Height: 0.25 ‐ 1 meter
Sea Water Temp: 11.5 C
Air Temperature: Dry bulb = 12.1 C
Barometric Pressure: 1013.5 mb

Science and Technology Log
From the flying bridge…It was noted that there are unusually high numbers of some animals from Alaska ‐ such as Northern Fulmars. There were also many sightings of humpback whales, one blue whale, numerous California sea lions and Dall’s porpoises. Today was the first sighting of a fin whale recorded on an ACCESS survey. the CTD

Krill

The seas were so calm… with a swell height of 0.25 meters, you could say the ocean looked as calm as a bathtub right before you get in.

With the seas being so calm it was great to work on the back deck (stern) of the boat. Today while working line 2 we deployed the CTD six times and took hoop net samples of zooplankton at 50 meters below the surface. The Tucker trawl was also deployed (put into the water and towed behind the boat) to 200 meters. In the jars of organisms that we sampled from line 2 we found adult and juvenile krill. We found some krill with chlorophyll still in their stomachs.

Sending out the CTD

Two small fish found their way into the hoop net. Myctophid ‐ these fish live deeper during the day and come up towards the surface at night. The scales on the myctophid looked like a colored mirror and are iridescent.

Myctophid

I had the chance to do the water samples today as the CTD was deployed. To do a water sample you throw a bucket over board (attached to the boat with a line). Pull the bucket out of the water and “clean it out” by swirling the water around. Drop the bucket back into the ocean and bring it up to the deck. You then take a small vial that is labeled with the sampling location and rinse it out several times before capping with a lid. It is then placed in the freezer to be analyzed for nutrients by another agency. I was just about to cap the sample and I heard this ‘poof’ sound. I looked over and two humpback whales surfaced just meters away from me. I knew they were humpbacks, a type of baleen whale, because their blow hole is actually two holes. They started to swim off and fluked (raised their tales above the water before diving) just as I was finishing the water sample, how lucky I am to be here!

Humpback Whale

Personal Log
Getting My Sea Legs
Okay, I will admit I was seasick the first day. I mean really sick. The sea was rough… 9 foot swell and even with a patch on to combat seas sickness…breakfast came up. I have not been sick again! But tomorrow is another day out at sea!