Emily Whalen: Trawling in Cape Cod Bay, April 29, 2015

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Emily Whalen
Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
April 27 – May 10, 2015

Mission: Spring Bottom Trawl Survey, Leg IV
Geographical Area of Cruise: Gulf of Maine

Date: April 29, 2015

Weather Data:
GPS location:  4251.770’N, 07043.695’W
Sky condition:  Cloudy
Wind: 10 kts NNW
Wave height: 1-2 feet
Water temperature:  6.2○ C
Air temperature:  8.1○ C

Science and Technology Log:

On board the Henry B. Bigelow we are working to complete the fourth and final leg of the spring bottom trawl survey. Since 1948, NOAA has sent ships along the east coast from Cape Hatteras to the Scotian Shelf to catch, identify, measure and collect the fish and invertebrates from the sea floor. Scientists and fishermen use this data to assess the health of the ocean and make management decisions about fish stocks.

What do you recognize on this chart?  Do you know where Derry, NH is on the map?
This is the area that we will be trawling. Each blue circle represents one of the sites that we will sample. We are covering a LOT of ground! Image courtesy of NOAA.

Today I am going to give you a rundown of the small role that I play in this process. I am on the noon to midnight watch with a crew of six other scientists, which means that we are responsible for processing everything caught in the giant trawl net on board during those hours. During the first three legs of the survey, the Bigelow has sampled over 300 sites. We are working to finish the survey by completing the remaining sites, which are scattered throughout Cape Cod Bay and the Gulf of Maine.  The data collected on this trip will be added to data from similar trips that NOAA has taken each spring for almost 60 years.  These huge sets of data allow scientists to track species that are dwindling, recovering, thriving or shifting habitats.

The CTD ready to deploy.
The CTD ready to deploy.

At each sampling station, the ship first drops a man-sized piece of equipment called a CTD to the sea floor. The CTD measures conductivity, temperature and depth, hence its name.  Using the conductivity measurement, the CTD software also calculates salinity, which is the amount of dissolved salt in the water.  It also has light sensors that are used to measure how much light is penetrating through the water.

While the CTD is in the water,  the deck crew prepares the trawl net and streams it from the back of the ship.  The net is towed by a set of hydraulic winches that are controlled by a sophisticated autotrawl system.  The system senses the tension on each trawl warp and will pay out or reel in cable to ensure that the net is fishing properly.

Once deployed, the net sinks to the bottom and the ship tows it for twenty minutes, which is a little more than one nautical mile. The mouth of the net is rectangular so that it can open up wide and catch the most fish.  The bottom edge of the mouth has something called a rockhopper sweep on it, which is made of a series of heavy disks that roll along the rocky bottom instead of getting hung up or tangled.  The top edge of the net has floats along it to hold it wide open.   There are sensors positioned throughout the net that send data back to the ship about the shape of the net’s mouth, the water temperature on the bottom, the amount of contact with the bottom, the speed of water through the net and the direction that the water is flowing through the net.  It is important that each tow is standardized like this so that the fish populations in the sample areas aren’t misrepresented by the catch.   For example, if the net was twisted or didn’t open properly, the catch might be very small, even in an area that is teaming with fish.

Do you think this is what trawl nets looked like in 1948?
This is what the net looks like when it is coming back on board. The deck hands are guiding the trawl warps onto the big black spools. The whole process is powered by two hydraulic winches.

After twenty minutes, the net is hauled back onto the boat using heavy-duty winches.  The science crew changes into brightly colored foul weather gear and heads to the wet lab, where we wait to see what we’ve caught in the net. The watch chief turns the music up and everyone goes to their station along a conveyor belt the transports the fish from outside on the deck to inside the lab. We sort the catch by species into baskets and buckets, working at a slow, comfortable pace when the catch is small, or at a rapid fire, breakneck speed when the catch is large.

If you guessed 'sponges', then you are correct!
This is the conveyor belt that transports the catch from the deck into the wetlab. The crew works to sort things into buckets. Do you know what these chunky yellow blobs that we caught this time are?

After that, the species and weight of each container is recorded into the Fisheries Scientific Computing System (FSCS), which is an amazing software system that allows our team of seven people to collect an enormous amount of data very quickly. Then we work in teams of two to process each fish at work stations using a barcode scanner, magnetic lengthing board, digital scale, fillet knives, tweezers, two touch screen monitors, a freshwater hose, scannable stickers, envelopes, baggies, jars and finally a conveyor belt that leads to a chute that returns the catch back to the ocean.  To picture what this looks like, imagine a grocery store checkout line crossed with an arcade crossed with a water park crossed with an operating room.  Add in some music playing from an ipod and it’s a pretty raucous scene!

The data that we collect for each fish varies.  At a bare minimum, we will measure the length of the fish, which is electronically transmitted into FSCS.  For some fish, we also record the weight, sex and stage of maturity.  This also often includes taking tissue samples and packaging them up so that they can be studied back at the lab.  Fortunately, for each fish, the FSCS screen automatically prompts us about which measurements need to be taken and samples need to be kept.  For some fish, we cut out and label a small piece of gonad or some scales.  We collect the otoliths, or ear bones from many fish.

It does not look this neat and tidy when we are working!
These are the work stations in the wet lab. The cutters stand on the left processing the fish, and the recorders stand on the right.These bones can be used to determine the age of each fish because they are made of rings of calcium carbonate that accumulate over time.

Most of the samples will got back to the Northeast Fisheries Science Center where they will be processed by NOAA scientists.  Some of them will go to other scientists from universities and other labs who have requested special sampling from the Bigelow.  It’s like we are working on a dozen different research projects all at once!

 

 

 

Something to Think About:

Below are two pictures that I took from the flying bridge as we departed from the Coast Guard Station in Boston. They were taken just moments apart from each other. Why do you think that the area in the first picture has been built up with beautiful skyscrapers while the area in the second picture is filled with shipping containers and industry? Which area do you think is more important to the city? Post your thoughts in the comment section below.

Rows of shipping containers. What do you think is inside them?
Downtown Boston.  Just a mile from the shipping containers.  Why do you think this area is so different from the previous picture?
Downtown Boston. Just a mile from the shipping containers. Why do you think this area is so different from the previous picture?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Log

Believe it or not, I actually feel very relaxed on board the Bigelow!  The food is excellent, my stateroom is comfortable and all I have to do is follow the instructions of the crew and the FSCS.  The internet is fast enough to occasionally check my email, but not fast enough to stream music or obsessively read articles I find on Twitter.  The gentle rocking of the boat is relaxing, and there is a constant supply of coffee and yogurt.  I have already read one whole book (Paper Towns by John Greene) and later tonight I will go to the onboard library and choose another.  That said, I do miss my family and my dog and I’m sure that in a few days I will start to miss my students too!

If the description above doesn’t make you want to consider volunteering on a NOAA cruise, maybe the radical outfits will.  On the left, you can see me trying on my Mustang Suit, which is designed to keep me safe in the unlikely event that the ship sinks.  On the right, you can see me in my stylish yellow foul weather pants.  They look even better when they are covered in sparkling fish scales!

Seriously, they keep me totally dry!
Banana Yellow Pants: SO 2015! Photo taken by fellow volunteer Megan Plourde.
Seriously, do I look awesome, or what?
This is a Mustang Suit. If you owned one of these, where would you most like to wear it? Photo taken by IT Specialist Heidi Marotta.

That’s it for now!  What topics would you like to hear more about?  If you post your questions in the comment section below, I will try to answer them in my next blog post.

Adrienne Heim, September 4, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Adrienne Heim
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 7 – September 2, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: September 4, 2007

NOAA Ship Albatross IV
NOAA Ship Albatross IV

All about the Ship!

For ten days I have been living aboard the ALBATROSS IV – the oldest research vessel within the NOAA fleet. It has been quite an amazing experience for me to wake up each morning surrounded by water. I have been loving every minute of it including falling asleep to the lapping sound of the waves against the porthole of my room. For the most part, the waves have not been too large, except for the first few days. Eating while the ship rocks back and forth has been an interesting sensation. It certainly evokes smiles on all of us who are not accustomed to this environment. When the ALBATROSS IV is not at sea, she resides in Woods Hole, MA. The ALBATROSS IV conducts fishery and living marine resource research for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service in Woods Hole, Ma. Her purpose is to conduct fisheries and oceanographic research within the waters of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. She is fully equipped to collect information on the distribution and abundance of ground fish and sea scallops, as well as, on the environmental factors that may affect fish populations. Some basic facts regarding the ALBATROSS IV are:

Living quarters
Living quarters

Length: 57.0 meters (187 feet)
Breadth: 10.1 meters (33 feet)
Draft: 4.9 meters (16.2 feet)
Gross Tonnage: 1,115
Range: 3,933nmi at 11.5 knots
Date Commissioned: May 1963

QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK FOR MY STUDENTS:

What is the meaning of tonnage and range?

How fast is a knot when compared to miles?

Taking a tour of the ship
Taking a tour of the ship
Mechanics on deck
Mechanics on deck
Sunset over the water
Sunset over the water

Adrienne Heim, September 2, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Adrienne Heim
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 7 – September 2, 2007

Colorful sea stars!
Colorful sea stars!

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: September 2, 2007

Science and Technology Log: Ocean Diversity

Contrary to my initial thoughts, there is an eclectic amount of diversity AND color among the species that dwells within the Georges Bank/Nantucket Shoals. I have been very surprised at the amount of species we collect during our tows. I also am very surprised by the variations of color among the starfish. I just typically associated marine color to warm saltwater dwelling creatures where you would find coral reefs and such, but there is a beautiful array of colors up here. Among the typical sort of sea life you would expect to see here, like dolphins, whales, cod, crabs, sea scallops, clams, tuna etc. there exists a greater level of diversity here. Just to give you an idea, here is a list of some of the marine life we have encountered at our stations:

Monkfish brought up in the survey
Monkfish brought up in the survey

Winter Skate
Little Skate
Silver Hake
Red Hake
Fourspot Flounder
Yellowtail Flounder
Windowpane Flounder
Gulfstream Flounder
Longhorn Sculpin
Ocean Pout
Cancer Crab
Sea Scallop
Atlantic Hagfish
Fourbeard Rockling
American Plaice
Moustache Sculpin

Alligator fish
Alligator fish

Northern Sandlance
Spoonarm Octopus
Goosefish
Loligo Squid
Sea Raven
Asterias Boreal
Fluke
Northern Searobin
Rock Gunnel
American Lobster
Leptasterias Tenera
Alligator Fish
Butterfish
Seacucumber
and many more…

Sea cucumber
Sea cucumber
Spoonarm octopus
Spoonarm octopus

Adrienne Heim, August 27, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Adrienne Heim
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 7 – September 2, 2007

The CTD, recording information at depth
The CTD, recording information at depth

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 27, 2007

Science and Technology Log: CTD Casts
Immediately following the fire and abandon ship drills, we proceeded to have a debriefing regarding appropriate and professional behaviors, as well as, receiving information regarding shift schedules, meals, work expectations, etc. Our Chief Scientist, Victor Nordahl, informed us of the various duties and responsibilities each of us would have during the Sea Scallop Survey. I was paired with another volunteer, Shawn, to help with the measuring of the sea scallops once they were sorted and weighed. I was also assigned the role of performing CTD casts and collecting data from the inclinometer.CTD casts are performed at every third station. The acronym stands for conductivity, temperature, and depth. It is a hefty contraption that is hooked onto a cable and sent down, a vertical cast, into the water. Basically, while the CTD is sent down vertically, it records the temperature, depth, salinity, and pressure. The saltier the water, the more conductivity is generated. The cast first soaks for about one-two minutes at the surface of the water to record the salinity. It is then sent down, stops about 5-10 meters before reaching the bottom of the ocean floor and then is hauled back. Recording this data is essential for scientists, especially while conducting a Sea Scallop Survey; because the CTD casts helps to associate water temperature and salinity with sea scallop abundance. Scientists record the data to view it later and assess the casts with the other data collected from the work stations.
Computers and cameras recording information from the CTD
Computers and cameras recording information from the CTD
The winch at the back of the ship
The winch at the back of the ship
Communicating with the winch operator
Communicating with the winch operator

Adrienne Heim, August 24, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Adrienne Heim
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 7 – September 2, 2007

Working at night
Working at night

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 24, 2007

Science and Technology Log: Sample Sorting

It is then time to get to work. Each of us works in 12 hour shifts. We are either designated to a noon-midnight shift or visa-versa. First, the winch operator sends out the dredge. It trolls in 15 minute increments and collects everything that it encounters along the way. This includes various marine life, vegetation, and bottom sediment like rocks and sand. Once it is brought to surface the deck handler’s work with the winch operator to lower the dredge to the middle of the stern. The dredge is emptied of its contents and then it is our turn to sift through it. The marine life is sorted into blue buckets according to their species. Our Watch Chief teaches us how to identify them, especially when sorting Winter versus Little Skates or Winter versus Yellow-Tail Flounders. We put all of the scallops into large orange baskets. The species are then weighed and measured. We work in pairs and each pair is assigned to one of the three work stations. The data is recorded into the FSCS, which stands for Fisheries Scientific Computer System. Some of the scallops are frozen for further scientific investigation while the others, as well as the other marine life collected from the dredge are put back into the water. The buckets are washed and stored for the next tow, which occurs every 45 minutes as we wait to reach the following station.
Sorting baskets
Sorting baskets

I am learning so much and I can’t wait to bring all of this information back to my students. My next log will discuss the diversity of the marine life here along the Georges Bank and Nantucket Shoals, as well as, the purpose of the FDA sending employees to test for PSP (Paralytic Shellfish Poison) within the meat, viscera, and gonads of the sea scallops.

QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK FOR MY STUDENTS:
What preys upon sea scallops besides starfish?
How are the open and closed waters designated and determined?
What is the impact of scallop fishing on the overall ecosystem?

Sorting on deck
Sorting on deck

Adrienne Heim, August 16, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Adrienne Heim
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 7 – September 2, 2007

IMG_0478Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 16, 2007

Science Log: Beautiful Sunsets

The best thing about working 12 hour shifts are the sunsets! Sunsets along the Atlantic Ocean have been positively beautiful.
The weather has shifted drastically while on board the ALBATRSS IV. Initially in the voyage the weather was cold, foggy, damp, and windy. The visibility was difficult, as well as, balancing myself with the continuous rocking of the vessel. Quite a feat! Recently the weather has been gorgeous: fair skies, very warm, with a rewarding breeze. My partner, Shawn McPhee, and I have developed quite a rhythm for measuring the scallops and cleaning up. We have even “graduated” to measuring many other species in order to help expedite the process and allow enough time for our Watch Chiefs to focus, more importantly, on collecting other sorts of data during each tow.
IMG_0453
IMG_0415

Elizabeth Martz, August 8, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Martz
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 5 – 16, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: August 8, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Visibility = <1 nautical miles
Cloud cover = fog
Wind direction = 200 degrees
Wind speed = 21 knots (kts.)
Sea wave height = 2-3 feet
Swell wave height = 2 feet
Seawater temperature = 15.1 degrees Celsius
Sea level pressure = 1004.2 mb

I love finding the sea scallops in the pile of all items from one dredge tow. I am having a remarkable time on the ALBATROSS IV
I love finding the sea scallops in the pile of all items from one dredge tow. I am having a remarkable time on the ALBATROSS IV

Science and Technology Log 

12:00 midnight—Today my 12 hour shifts began.  This is an amazing experience.  I am loving my time onboard the ALBATROSS IV.  It is quite exciting.  Today was outstanding. I am experiencing being a researcher at sea. The ALBATROSS IV has 12-hour shifts. The researchers are organized into two different shifts which are each 12 hours. I am on the midnight to noon shift.  It is very different than my “teacher hours”. I usually work from 7:30 to 5:00 at school. I am only required to be at school from 7:45- 3:15, but I can never accomplish all of my responsibilities in that brief of a time.  I love school and I love being prepared. To work on the ALBATROSS IV, you need to be prepared and ready for a hard day’s work! I am loving the work and at this time it is not too hard. 

My Responsibilities 

Steve is assisting with sending the dredge into the water.  It is about 2 am and we are 2 hours into our watch shift.  The dredge is over 1,600 lbs. and there are many pieces of equipment that help the dredge function properly!
Steve is assisting with sending the dredge into the water. It is about 2 am and we are 2 hours into our watch shift. The dredge is over 1,600 lbs. and there are many pieces of equipment that help the dredge function properly!

I am a working member onboard the ALBATROSS IV.  I am making every moment count and I am learning so much. The dredge haul experience is unbelievable. There are two fishermen that help to release and the dredge.  The two fishermen on my watch are Steve and Mike.  They are amazing at fixing the net, loading the dredge, releasing the dredge, retrieving the dredge, cleaning the deck, helping to sort the organisms in the  tow, and so much more.  These fishermen have the expertise of sending the dredge into the water and helping it return back after a 15-minute tow.  The Chief Boatswain (head fisherman), Tony, controls the mechanical devices that assist the fishermen in sending the dredge to sea.  Tony is so talented. He has the ability to communicate and accomplish any task onboard the ALBATROSS IV!  The fisherman and all the scientists on my watch observe the dredge coming onboard the ship. Once the dredge is on deck there is so much to do!!! When the dredge returns from being in the water for 15 minutes, there is so much to do.  First, the fishermen need to bring the dredge up on deck. There are strong metal wires that bring the dredge up on deck. There are metal pulleys that help move the wire.  There are mechanically parts that are controlled so that the dredge lands on deck without damaging anything… including the dredge. The entire process is so awesome and neat.

The scientists are all so excited to discover new things in this pile.  Every dredge tow is full of biotic (living) and abiotic (non –living) items.  It is so wonderful to discover new things.
The scientists are all so excited to discover new things in this pile. Every dredge tow is full of biotic and abiotic items. It is so wonderful to discover new things.

After the dredge is placed on deck, the fun begins. First, a scientist checks the dredge to see if it laid correctly on the ocean floor.  The equipment that records the behavior of the tow is called an inclinometer. The inclinometer is placed inside the top of the dredge and the information is recorded.  The scientist then needs to go to a different room to read the information from the inclinometer.  It is an interesting piece of scientific equipment.  The next experience is the best!!  After a quick photo of what materials are found in the dredge, all the scientists gather around the dredge materials.  We all marvel at what we dredged and then sort the items.  We place all fish in one bucket and all skates in another.  The scallops are all collected.  The scallops are even organized by size. (Very small scallops are placed in a different bucket.)  All the extra items go in a different bucket. When all biotic items have been discovered, then we shovel all the “habitat” (rocks and sand) into baskets.  Every object that lands on deck is counted and documented.

I love all the amazing things I have found from this experience

Adrienne Heim, August 7, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Adrienne Heim
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 7 – September 2, 2007

Woods Hole
Woods Hole

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 7, 2007

Weather Data

Visibility: 10 miles or more
Latitude: 68° 27.5 W
Longitude: 41° 24.7 N
Wind Speed: 6.5-7 Knots
Wind Direction: N NE
Cloud Cover: 10-20% : Stratus
Seawater Temperature: 15.5 °C
Sea Level Pressure: 1013.2mb
Sea Wave Height: 1 foot
Sea Wave Swell: 2 feet
Science and Technology Log
Downtown shops
Downtown shops

I arrived in Woods Hole, MA on Sunday August 5th, 2007. The ALBATROSS IV was scheduled to depart early Monday morning, but we were unfortunately delayed a couple of days as a result of waiting for some diesel oil and fresh water shipments to arrive. During our delay we took a tour of the NOAA Aquarium right there in Woods Hole, MA. We started to become more acquainted with some of the species we would encounter while on the survey. We set sail early Tuesday afternoon. I stood at the stern of the vessel watching the landscape fade away into the foggy mist.

Once on board and steadily sailing north bound, a few procedures and protocols were immediately rehearsed. The first procedure was a fire drill. As the alarm sounded, we quickly retrieved life jackets and a large orange tote containing a wet suit from our rooms and proceeded into the “wet lab” where we waited for the following instructions. Afterwards, an abandon ship drill was announced. The entire crew congregated at the stern of the vessel. Each individual had to rapidly unpack the survival suit from the large orange tote. We had to slip into the red immersion suits, which proved to be a bit difficult for me to maneuver. However, hopefully in the event of an actual abandon ship emergency, I would be much more successful at putting them on. They certainly provide enough protection in case of an emergency.

The harbor
The harbor

Elizabeth Martz, August 7, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Martz
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 5 – 16, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: August 7, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Visibility = <.2 nautical miles
Cloud cover = Fog
Wind direction = 185 degrees
Wind speed = 5 knots (kts.)
Sea wave height = <1 feet
Swell wave height = 2 feet
Seawater temperature = 15.2  degrees Celsius
Sea level pressure = 1013.8 mb

Science and Technology Log 

8:00 a.m.—Breakfast.  Yummy!  Breakfast is one of the best meals of the day.  Great food and selection.

9:30 a.m.—I went to the local post office!  I went to the Marine Biological Laboratory.  I viewed information on the Alvin launch in 1964.  This submersible is amazing!  It can withstand such water pressure changes. Science Rules!

11:00 a.m.—Sea Scallop research and information: Presentation by Victor Nordahl:  Chief scientist!

The dredge has an 8-ft. wide opening and a sweep chain. This opening moves across the bottom of the ocean floor collecting organisms.  The sweep chain is heavy metal that holds the opening … well… open!
The dredge has an 8-ft. wide opening and a sweep chain. This opening moves across the bottom of the ocean floor collecting organisms. The sweep chain is heavy metal that holds the opening … well… open!

The dredge has a net liner and its purpose is to keep fish and scallops in the dredge. The liner is often damaged by rocks & boulders that enter it. These 2 scientists are repairing the ripped net liner on our standard dredge. On a common dredge found on fishing boats, there is no liner. Fishermen finding scallops do not want to catch & analyze fish. They just want the scallop meats.  As scientists, we want to study everything.  The basic dredge haul provides us with lots to study.  It is 7’ wide metal rod covered with rubber disks across the bottom of the dredge.  There are dumping chains attached to the clubstick that help with the dumping of materials out of the dredge. The dredge goes out three times the water depth. For example:  If the water depth is 100 meters, the dredge will send 300 meters of metal cable out.  To calculate the distance of the dredge from the ship, you could use the Pythagorean Theorem (a^2 + b^2 = c^2.  BUT the net curves & the equation doesn’t give you the most accurate results. So, you can calculate the amount and make a estimate of the net distance from the ship.  In this example, the dredge is about 260 meters away from the ship. The dredge’s bag has an opening where all the organisms enter. The ring bag is built to hold rocks, living organisms, movement on the floor, and store many organisms for study. The dredge sometimes needs to be repaired due to weather conditions or course substrate (items found on the ocean floor).

LOOK at the dredge above. This is showing the longer top side. Try to imagine a metal opening on the other side. This opening is about 6 feet from the top of the dredge. When the dredge is in the water, the longer side is on top. The part with the opening is found underneath. The dredge runs along the bottom floor and collects the organisms.  It is amazing how many organisms you can find on the ocean floor. It is incredible how many diverse species are located in the Atlantic Ocean.

More Notes about the Dredge 

This dredge collects organisms from the ocean floor. Notice the strong metal cable and metal pulley which help to reel the dredge back onto the ship.  The roller helps move the dredge in and out of the water.  When the dredge is empty, it weighs 1600 pounds. The pulleys and metal cable help scientists bring the dredge back up on the ship’s deck!
This dredge collects organisms from the ocean floor. Notice the strong metal cable and metal pulley which help to reel the dredge back onto the ship. The roller helps move the dredge in and out of the water. When the dredge is empty, it weighs 1600 pounds.

We have 5 dredges on board the ship. When we get to the end of the Leg III, we will be conducting surveys in areas with lots of rocks and materials that will harm the dredges.  We will determine the strength of the dredges. We will be using different dredges.  We will use the standard dredge and the rock- chain dredge. The standard dredge can capture large rocks or boulders during the dredge haul. The rock-chain dredge is designed to stop large rocks from entering the dredge. With the rock-chain dredge, the scientists who analyze the findings from the dredge have fewer rocks to

Sea Scallop Survey = Goals and Information 

The Sea Scallop Survey is an important and interesting task for scientists onboard the ALBATROSS IV. Purpose of the scientific expedition of learning:

1. What is range of the scallops?  Do you find them in shallow water?  Do you find them in deep water?   Where do scallops prefer to grow and survive?  Do we find more scallops in areas of a smaller rocks, bigger boulders, or small particles of sand?

2. Scientists can estimate how many scallops we will find.  Marine biologists would like to learn more about the population of scallops in various areas.  Scientists would like to come to an understanding about where most scallops reside on the ocean floor.

3. Scientists have randomly selected stations from Cape Hatteras, NC to Georges Bank (east of Cape Cod). An area close to Nova Scotia is where scientists test to see the existence of scallops.

4. Scientists ask, “How many scallops are out there?”

5. Scientists ask, “How will the scallop population be different in the future?”

      • I ask: Why will the population be different?
      • I ask: What makes one species survive and another species not survive in an area?
      • • I ask: How can science help the scallop population increase?  Will helping the scallop population help or hurt the ecosystem? Other questions:
      • What bottom substrate is most prevalent in areas with large sea scallop harvests? (This year, the scientists found the most scallops on an area with a sandy bottom.)
      • Why is that bottom substrate a better environment for sea scallop growth? {little scallops = gravel, sand; bigger scallops orientate to areas by the current (moving water)
      • How long do sea scallops live? (10-15 years)
      • What temperature is the best for sea scallop survival? (The most important temperature is one that produces the most spawning. When more scallops are born, then more scallops survive.
  • How much do sea scallops cost to buy in the store? (about $12/pound)
  • How much do the fisherman make for spending a day at sea catching scallops that they sell to the local restaurant or buyer?
  • What topics do scientists find interesting about scallops? (Each scientist has their own ideas and opinions.)
This picture is taken right off the fantail of the ALBATROSS IV.  It is a gorgeous view of the sunrise from the back deck of the ship.
It is a gorgeous view of the sunrise from the back deck.

6. How can scientists protect fisheries (the scallops) and those who harvest them (the fishermen)?

7. Various universities, scientists, and government agencies closed water areas around Nantucket in 1994. In this area, no fishing or dredging is allowed.  All citizens must not remove anything from the area.

      • If you have a permit to fish, you need to be knowledgeable of the fishing rules.   When water areas are closed for fishing, you need to know where they are and what to do.
      • When they closed the area, the fish did not return.
      • The scallop population has greatly increased.
      • Many areas of the ocean are under a rotational management plan. (This is also called limited access areas).  In these areas of the ocean, fishermen are allowed into an area for various times.
      • Sometimes fishermen are not allowed to capture a specific type of fish.
      • There are times when fishermen cannot collect any scallops.
      • These rotational management areas are created due to research and scientific studies that are completed at sea. In other words, all the scientists onboard the ALBATROSS IV are making a difference in the regulations that fishermen adhere to.
      • Scallops are a resource. They are a biotic (living) thing. Many people spend their lives harvesting this resource from the ocean. Many people spend their lives eating this resource.  No matter who you are, you can impact the health of the water and the home to this resource. We all need to make an effort to protect our waterways and care about the resources that benefit our lives. 
This was the basic size of a tow. It is incredible how many organisms and sea scallops are found in one dredge tow. It is beautiful to see such amazing animals and species from our ocean.
This was the basic size of a tow. It is incredible how many organisms are found in one dredge tow. It is beautiful to see such amazing animals from our ocean.

8. The ALBATROSS IV has surveyed over 525 randomly- generated locations.  The ALBATROSS IV has selected over 25 basic locations to compare studies year after year. The scientists have been collecting data since 1975. (I think that is so outstanding and AWESOME!)

9. Here is a small lesson about how the stations are randomly-generated.  First, think of an area in the ocean. Then, divide that area into 100 squares.  Next divide those 100 squares into small areas.  The randomly-generated stations are determined from all those small areas.  Finally, the researchers need to decide the best way to travel to all of those randomly-generated areas.

10. The tow “what you catch” naturally changes year after year.  You will never catch all the same organisms every year.  You will discover that fish populations change for many reasons.  Here is a list of some reasons why a population may be different each year:

      • Birth rate/death rate
      • Habitat change
      • Fish movement
      • Fish maturity
      • Number of fish caught by the fishermen
      • Amount of water in the area
      • Environmental factors = salinity over time, temperature, rainfall, hurricanes, tsunamis, and more…
      • 13. Sometimes ships are retired and new ships replace them.  When a new ship surveys an area, the scientists need to make sure that the new ship’s equipment is consistent with the old equipment.  Long-term data is analyzed.  The new equipment and old equipment must keep the data valid. Many factors are taken into consideration:
  • Do ships have the same power, dredge, wire used, and same liner?
  • If the equipment is different, how can we control bias?
  • Do the ships test areas with the same water level, salinity, disease, same amount of fishermen in the area, wind, etc.?
  • There are so many factors to consider and to control!
  • A few ways to control bias and determine an average number of scallops include: = determine fish mortality: death due to being caught = natural mortality: predation/ death = don’t factor in temperature, salinity, water currents, food availability, recruitment (spawning and growing)

11. The ALBATROSS IV keeps a constant 3.8 knots speed when the dredge is out in the water. The ALBATROSS IV can reach 10- 11 knots when cruising along.  I think it is an amazing how it feels on the water.

This is a winter flounder.  It is a resource to many fisherman and scientist.  There were several types of flounder in each dredge tow.
This is a winter flounder. It is a resource to many fisherman. There were several types of flounder in each dredge tow.

12. The sea scallop study is a great arena to start an ecosystem investigation. We need to know more about other organisms to determine details about ecosystem!  Animals help and hurt each other.

13. As a scientist, you map habitat with a multibeam, tow camera, and dredge an area.  The dredge validates the information from the tow camera.  (The efficiency issue is solved.) The multibeam shows the entire habitat and determines everything there is to validate animal documented.

14. There are so many characteristics about the sea scallops.

      • Thickness of the sea scallop shell
      • Weight of the meat
      • Color of the meat
      • Shape of the shell
      • Texture of the shell
      • Weight of the shell
      • On the ALBATROSS IV, many procedures are followed for each dredge tow!
      • There is an inclinometer on the dredge.  The inclinometer will show if the dredge flipped.
      • A photo is taken right when the dredge tow is dumped on the deck.  The picture shows the station number, tow number (location), if it is open or closed area, and more. (See picture above.)
      • When sorting the tow, there are procedures to follow.  Always sort what is in front of you. By sorting all animals right in front of you, true randomness and validity of diverse sizes are discovered.  Place all fish in one bucket. Put all skates in one bucket.  Place all crabs in another (if you need to collect them.) Put all small scallops in a blue bucket.  Place all large and medium scallops in another bucket. Put all other animals in another bucket.  Place all “habitat” in an orange basket.
      • What do sea scallops eat?  Well, they eat starfish.  They eat the Asterias Boreal and Elptarstius Tenera. So neat. 

Elizabeth Martz, August 6, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Martz
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 5 – 16, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: August 6, 2007

Wood’s Hole is an amazing place of nature, water, and other environmental benefits.  Notice how many boats & people benefit from the water.
Wood’s Hole is an amazing place of nature, water, and other environmental benefits. Notice how many boats & people benefit from the water.

Science and Technology Log

7:15 a.m.—Breakfast.  I met many scientists, crew, teachers, officers, & more… details about Sea Scallop Leg III will occur at 10 am.  Awesome food for breakfast.

8:30 a.m.—Free time in the town.  I saw the countryside, the marina, & visited the town of Wood’s Hole. We had a scientist’s meeting for all watch shifts.  (I am on the 12 a.m. (midnight) -12 p.m. (noon) watch.) We discussed expectations, responsibilities, and ideas about this adventure/experience. We were informed of sexual harassment, drug possession rules, and other NOAA policies.  I clearly understood my expectations and responsibilities.  The ALBATROSS IV is 187 feet in length, 38 feet in width. The major reason that the ALBATROSS IV is out to sea is to learn more about the sea scallop population. We sample for sea scallops from Virginia to Eastern Georges Bank (off the coast of Nova Scotia). This is the Leg III of the Sea Scallop study.  We will be surveying sea scallops from Northern part of Georges Bank that borders on the Gulf of Maine to the Great South Channel east of Massachusetts.  The dredge is towed for 15 minutes at a speed of 3.8 knots.  The dredge covers about 1.0 nautical miles of ocean bottom.  A nautical mile is compared to 1.15 land mile.

Questions for the Day (I am always thinking about how my students can benefit from my experiences!)

  1. How many students in my class have been to the ocean?
  2. How many students in my class have touched an aquatic or marine organism?
  3. How many students can name 10 different aquatic organisms?
  4. How many students have been on a large ship or cruise ship?
This sea a scallop was collected during a night dredge onboard the ALBATROSS IV on 8/9/07.
This sea a scallop was collected during a night dredge onboard

Details about sorting the dredge haul:

Sea scallops are collected, measured, and weighed. This scallop is upside down. The top of a scallop is more convex (curves out) and the bottom of a scallop is more flat.  Do you see how the convex side (the top of the sea scallop) fits nicely in your hand? The white area you see is the male gonad of the sea scallop. The fleshy, white section that a customer eats is found deeper inside the sea scallop. All the diverse organisms we find in the dredge are collected in blue buckets. Each organism is sorted by type and measured individually by a researcher.  Many studies are being conducted onboard the ALBATROSS IV.  Some of the studies include: sea scallop shell analysis for age, sea scallop size analysis, sea scallop health analysis, human health when consuming sea scallops, skate analysis, populations of starfish and crabs, water characteristics are analyzed, and so much more.  The focus of the ALBATROSS IV’s voyage is to count the number of sea scallops from each dredge.  The scientists also collect fish, skates, and other unique organisms at each station.

Shawn McPhee & Adrienne Heim are measuring scallops.  Over 350 scallops were collected on one dredge haul.
Shawn McPhee & Adrienne Heim are measuring scallops. Over 350 scallops were collected on one dredge haul.

The fish include American plaice flounder, Atlantic Hagfish, fourspot flounder, goosefish, longhorn sculpin, northern sand lance, ocean pout, red hake, sea raven, windowpane flounder, winter flounder, yellowtail flounder, and more. The skates include  barndoor skate, little skate, winter skate, smooth skate, and more.  Unique organisms include octopus, squid, and lobsters. If there are more scallops than we can sort or measure, we conduct a subsample.  A subsample is when you choose a smaller amount to measure and expand by volume.

For example, if you have 10 baskets of scallops, you choose 5 to measure and your expansion is two.

  •  Orange baskets hold “habitat”. Abiotic habitat items include rocks, boulders, gravel, sand, and shells. Biotic habitat items include: brittle stars, shrimp, sand dollars, clams, and spider crabs.  All of these biotic and abiotic items are counted and documented for each station.

The number of crabs and starfish is calculated every third station. The CTD shows the details of the water column and helps determine where scallops are found.

The dredge is equipped with an inclinometer.  This equipment is a sensor that measures dredge angle relative to the bottom of the ocean floor.  The sensor has an internal clock that allows us to determine the amount of time that the dredge is on the bottom and in fishing position.

We collected this many sea scallops from one dredge.  It is outstanding how many scallops live in one area of the Atlantic Ocean.  I counted and learned details about scallops.
We collected this many sea scallops from one dredge. It is outstanding how many scallops live in one area of the Atlantic Ocean. I counted and learned details about scallops.

Good Questions for My Students 

  1. If you know the average speed (V) of the vessel during that time (T) you can calculate the distance that the dredge travelled. The students can use the equation : Distance = Velocity x Time
  2. Would you be a researcher out at sea(on the ocean)? If you had the chance to investigate the number of sea scallops in an area of the Atlantic Ocean, would you go?
  3. Why are research vessels, like the ALBATROSS IV, so important for the study of science?

ALBATROSS IV Topics of Investigation 

  1.  Sea Scallop study and investigation.
  2.  FDA sea scallop study. The FDA is dissecting and analyzing the health of the sea scallops. The sea scallop gonads and viscera are being tested for hazardous toxins: a marine biotoxin called saxitoxin.  It causes PSP:  Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning. The sea scallop is unharmed because saxitoxin is part of their diet.  The sea scallops are filter-feeders. The saxitoxin is produced by a dinoflagellate called Alexandrium Species.   Saxitoxin is a neuron toxin that affects your nervous system.  It specifically causes concerns in the nervous system where your breathing and muscle movement is controlled. If saxitoxin is consumed by a person, the affected person can be incubated (a tube is placed down your throat and air is forced into your lungs), then you will be fine.  If you do not seek medical attention, you will have major difficulty breathing and the person will have concerns with their nervous system (all other functions).  Not good!!

A Tour of the ALBATROSS IV 

There are 3 outside wet work stations, inside dry station, CTD station, Watch Chief station, and more! There is a galley, Researcher work areas, hurricane deck, computer room, Officer’s staterooms, our living quarters, exercise room, “the bridge”, and other areas that I will discover throughout the boat. There are 14 scientists onboard this vessel.  I am one of those scientists.  It has been stated that the research collected would not be possible without the help of volunteers.   Very cool. I feel like I am an important part of this journey out to sea.

Important fact:  When I am on watch:  It is so important to take everything with me! Do not go back to the room.  Be sure to have your computer, notes, change of clothes, and more. Be prepared.

All stations (randomly picked sites) give scientists about the sea scallop population and details about their survival. Victor has a map posted in the dry lab.  It is awesome.  It is really, really cool and neat.

Victor stated over and over again!!!!  ASK QUESTIONS!

Questions I Have 

  1. What is the basic sea scallop population in the Atlantic Ocean?
  2. How do the populations change from one site to another?  The distribution is relative to depth, latitude, bottom type, and temperature/ salinity!  If we go to an area more shallow we will not locate as many sea scallops.
  3. Why does the population change over several years in the same area? Recruitment is a factor. This means that baby scallops larvae will settle  in an area and they will grow.
  4. In what water depth can you find the most sea scallops?  Why?
  5. What environmental conditions are best for sea scallop survival?
  6. In what other areas of the world are sea scallops present and prevalent?
  7. What helps the sea scallops survive?

Drills 

Fire/ collision drill:  bring life vest and emergence suit; go to the wet lab and listen for announcements Abandon ship drill: 7 short sounds and one long sound ;  bring life vest, emergent suit, long sleeve shirt, long pants, and go to raft #6 Man overboard: go to lookout area and point the entire time!

This is the standard dredge used on the ALBATROSS IV. This dredge is extremely important in collecting sea scallops from the ocean.
This is the standard dredge that is extremely important in collecting sea scallops from the ocean.

Other Announcements 

Always report concerns! Be vocal when you have a problem and let’s solve it.  Please don’t keep it inside and cause you concern… share what you feel.

This Sea Scallop survey has viewed, documented, and calculated organism counts in over 500 stations. The Sea Scallop survey is analyzing information about the location of sea scallops, the growth of sea scallops, and so much more.  The Chief Scientist, Victor Nordahl, would love to use this information about sea scallops to begin more studies about the ecosystem.  He stated “The sea scallop information is an excellent start to understanding the entire make-up of the ecosystem where the scallops are found.  If we discover more about where we find the sea scallops, then we can help the sea scallops and more organisms survive.  The ALBATROSS IV may be retired soon.  The boat has experienced and investigated numerous events.  The vessel is beginning to show wear and tear.  It has equipment that shows age and needs repair. Each boat needs to stay in compliance with NOAA standards and the ALBATROSS IV continues to make repairs to keep up with those standards.

The major goal of a research vessel is to collect accurate and reliable data.  When an old ship is retired (no longer used to collect scientific information), then scientists need to compare the equipment on the old ship with the equipment on the new ship.  This is called calibration. The new ship will use information from the old ship for at least one year. The data needs to be compared and analyzed because all data is used for long-term studies. If one ship makes scientific conclusions and another ship makes conclusions that are totally different from the first ship, then the data is not valid.  The data could not be used and the scientists work would be a waste.  So, NOAA and other research companies who collect scientific data need to make sure that their research procedures are accurate and reliable.

We will actually collect information about the sea scallop population using 2 different nets. The information will be analyzed and conclusions will be calculated about the reliability of the different dredges.  The research outcomes will allow scientists to determine how the dredges and nets are different.  The scientists will calculate the differences between the equipment and make a calibration.  Neat stuff.

10:45 a.m.—Tour of Marine Biological Lab.  Bill Kramer, an information technology scientist for NOAA, gave us a tour MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory).  We learned about the marine environment and observed animals in the aquariums.

12:20 p.m.—Lunch.  Excellent selection and many healthy choices.  Great food.

1:20 p.m.-12:30 a.m.—ALBATROSS IV needs a special type of fuel/oil.  We had free time.  I explored Wood’s Hole on 8/6/06, so I took the ferry to Oak Bluff!  It was outstanding. I did get caught in an enormous rain storm, but I made it safely to Wood’s Hole. I am so honored to be a part of the NOAA crew and I look forward to my adventure! I had the chance that night to speak to many other volunteers.  We stayed up and talked all evening about our ideas and hopes for this trip.  We are all excited and motivated to be a part of the crew of the ALBATROSS IV!!

I am very enthusiastically anticipating what I am going to do and what I will learn.

  1. Will I personally collect sea scallops? I think so!
  2. Will I see other marine organisms? Whales?  Dolphins?  Fish?  Birds? I hope!!
  3. How can I share with my students what I learned from this experience? Pictures, lessons, stories, and interviews
  4. How will I organize all the information I learn so that my students have a better understanding about being a researcher?  Computer documents and more
  5. How can I document everything I see and do using my digital camera? Take 1,000 pictures
  6. How can I motivate my students to be life-long learners?   Smile and share stories of my adventures at sea!
  7. How many of my students participate in fun summer activities involving science? I do hope that many students get involved in science camps and more.  After I return, I plan to share stories and I hope this motivates them to attend science events!!
  8. Why should students want to be scientists and researchers? I think it is obvious!! Science rules!!!
  9. How will I help the marine organisms survive or how will I make a difference in the lives of others who study marine life?  Be happy!
  10. I am so excited and I am ready!

Elizabeth Martz, August 5, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Martz
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 5 – 16, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Elizabeth Martz, works aboard NOAA Ship ALBATROSS IV.
NOAA Teacher at Sea, Elizabeth Martz, works aboard NOAA Ship ALBATROSS IV.

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: August 5, 2007

Personal Log

12:50 p.m. I boarded the airplane at BWI for its journey to Boston, MA. This little plane handled the changes of air pressure, air currents, take off, landing, and so much more… Excellent experience. I documented my journey in the air by taking numerous pictures with my camera.   This photo shows the details of the land about 25 minutes into flight from BWI to Boston.  3:20 p.m. Bus to Wood’s Hole:  It was an experience. I loved the plane ride. I did not enjoy the bus ride. It took forever to reach Wood’s Hole.  6:30 p.m. Arrive on NOAA boat: Awesome vessel!  I discovered details about the ship’s size, location of my room, crew members, & security personnel.  I am so thankful that NOAA allowed me to stay onboard the ALBATROSS IV the night before I began my duties as a researcher. I was able to see and understand more about the life on a sea vessel.

The ALBATROSS IV is docked at Wood’s Hole preparing for its journey on the high seas.  It is an impressive ship with lots of equipment.
The ALBATROSS IV is docked at Wood’s Hole preparing for its journey on the high seas. It is an impressive ship.

Other volunteers arrived to board the ship. Adrienne, a Teacher from New York, teaches Spanish and more.  Vickery and Greg are scientists from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) who are researching the Sea Scallops. Sean, cousin of the Chief Scientist, is heading towards a degree from the University of Maine.  We are all enthusiastically ready for this trip on board the ALBATROSS IV.

7:00- 11:50 p.m. Walked at Wood’s Hole: I am so impressed by this town (small & sweet).  I had dinner at Shucker’s Seafood Restaurant.  Yummy!  Upon returning to the boat, I talked with scientists and security about their experiences and what they love about being out at sea.

The view from the plane.
The view from the plane.

Susie Hill, August 2, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Susie Hill
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: August 2, 2007

The “Day Crew”From Left to Right: Larry Brady (Watch Chief), Nikolai Klibansky, Jakub Kircun, Stacy Rowe (Chief Scientist), Sarah Pregracke, Claude Larson, Susie Hill, and Melissa Ellwanger
The “Day Crew”From Left to Right: Larry Brady (Watch Chief), Nikolai Klibansky, Jakub Kircun, Stacy Rowe (Chief Scientist), Sarah Pregracke, Claude Larson, Susie Hill, and Melissa Ellwanger

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 18.9° C
Sea Temperature: 20.1° C
Relative Humidity: 78 %
Barometric Pressure: 1016.6 millibars
Windspeed: 3.5 knots
Water Depth: 60.6 meters
Conductivity: 43.21 mmhos
Salinity: 32.05 ppt

Science and Technology Log 

My final day aboard the NOAA ALBATROSS IV is here! I’ve had such a wonderful experience learning about the marine life at the bottom of the North Atlantic, working with the Scientist and NOAA Corp staff, and getting the real feel of what it’s like to live and have a career out at sea. I cannot wait to get back to last two weeks. As a NOAA Teacher at Sea, we get to develop curriculum based on our trip that can be used by our local schools, or in my case, a maritime and marine science themed museum, as well as could be used by teachers around the country through NOAA. I’ve got so many cool ideas brewing through my head about what I want to develop lesson plans on. Once again, I came here thinking that we’re only going to be studying scallops, but I’ve learned so much more! Thank you, NOAA!

Claude Larson, August 2, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Claude Larson
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: August 2, 2007

larson_log5Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 15.4° C
Water Temperature: 15.2° C
Relative Humidity: 96%
Wind Speed: 11 knots
Wind Direction: SW

Science and Technology Log 

Well with 202 tows behind us, the ALBATROSS IV is headed for Woods Hole. It has been a busy 10 days and the scientists and crew are tired, yet anxious for their return home to their family and friends.  Reflecting on the Sea Scallop Survey cruise, I have a new found and deep respect for the gritty science that this group does. The wealth of knowledge that the scientific team brings to the survey is extremely impressive.  The experience and skills of the crew afforded us the opportunity to conduct scientific research in a most effective manner.  The specifically designed technology that is utilized on board shows the depth and breadth of understanding that goes into a project of this undertaking. The years of work that have gone into the planning and execution of this project from its beginnings to the present, some thirty years later, are evident as each task has been streamlined for effective sample collection and data analysis.  It has truly been a hands-on experience with top notch scientific research for practical application. I feel privileged to have met and worked with the people aboard this ship.

Along with having the opportunity to learn and experience the marine science that is presented here in the North Atlantic, it has been my pleasure to meet and get to know the people on the ALBATROSS IV. In the eleventh hour of a watch when your energy resources start to dwindle, there is always someone to make you laugh, lend you a hand and help you find the fun in what would otherwise be considered arduous amounts of work. The crew, from the bridge to the engine room, has been so friendly and has shared their stories and humor throughout our time on board.  It is an experience like no other I have ever had. I am glad I took every opportunity I had to sit and talk with them and listen to their histories and future plans.

Although thanks doesn’t seem like nearly enough to say, this is one final thank you to NOAA for opportunity to sail on this cruise, to the crew for their efforts to help us a million different ways and to the scientists for all that I have learned and experienced.  I will certainly have stories to share and memories to keep for a long time.

Susie Hill, August 1, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Susie Hill
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: August 1, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 16.4° C
Sea Temperature: 18.1° C
Relative Humidity: 100%
Barometric Pressure: 1012.8 millibars
Windspeed: 2.70 knots
Water Depth: 83.3 meters
Conductivity: 42.72 mmhos
Salinity: 32.03 ppt

Chris Daniels, Operations Officer, and Kurt Zegowitz, Executive Officer, on the bridge sailing the NOAA ALBATROSS IV
Chris Daniels, Operations Officer, and Kurt Zegowitz, Executive Officer, on the bridge sailing the NOAA ALBATROSS IV

This morning was awesome! We’re heading our way into Canada and we see whales! There were about 4 of them scattered around the ship. Unfortunately, they were too far away from the ship to get good pictures. We think they were humpback or fin whales by seeing the fluke (or tail fin) and the way they arched their back.  The best place to get a great view of the wide ocean or see the big marine life is the bow, or front of the ship. The bridge is also up there. This is the command center where the ship’s officers sail the ship. There are six NOAA Corps officers aboard the ship including Commanding Officer (CO), Steve Wagner, and Executive Officer (XO), LCDR Kurt Zegowitz. Kurt has many responsibilities as XO including sailing the ship (of course), supervising the four Junior Officers, managing the ship’s budget, being the ship’s Safety Officer, being the Dive Master, and serving as Acting CO if Steve is unavailable to sail. Formerly known as the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Corps before 1970, the NOAA Corps is recognized as one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The officers manage the vessel and work together with the scientists to ensure that the scientific missions of each ship are accomplished. 

Claude Larson, July 31, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Claude Larson
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 31, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 17º C
Water Temperature: 18.3º C
Wind Speed: 10.8 knots
Wind Direction: W Latitude: 41 24.54 N Longitude: 66 34.50 W
Cloud Cover: 8/8
Humidity: 100%

Dive Master and Executive Officer Kurt Zegowitz (left) and Commanding Officer Steve Wagner (right) inspect the hull of the ALBATROSS IV prior to setting sail.
Dive Master and Executive Officer Kurt Zegowitz (left) and Commanding Officer Steve Wagner (right) inspect the hull of the ALBATROSS IV prior to setting sail.

Science and Technology Log 

NOAA ships are equipped with the necessities for successful scientific research and sea voyages. Much of which goes unnoticed, unless a specific set of circumstances arises.  With these capabilities, there is an understanding that not only does the ship have a wealth of material resources, but the ship’s crew has been trained in the operation, maintenance and procedures required for use of all of these devices.  One aspect of gear and training I’d like to focus on is this log entry is the SCUBA capabilities on board. I caught up with the ship’s Dive Master and Executive Officer, LCDR Kurt Zegowitz to get a better understanding of what the SCUBA team does on board the ALBATROSS IV.

The ALBATROSS IV SCUBA team also includes crew members Commanding Officer Steve Wagner, Operations Officer ENS Chris Daniels, and Navigation Officers ENS Chad Meckley and ENS Chris Skapin. Their primary responsibility is ship husbandry or taking care of the ship’s hull. To ensure proper operation of the ship the hull must be inspected, usually before each sail.  The propeller is checked for line entanglement.  The bow thruster, transducers and sea suction intake grates are also cleaned.  The sea suction intake grates allow sea water to be brought in to cool the engine as the boat steams along.  While in Woods Hole, the crew also helps the aquarium by clearing the intakes for their sea water supply.

Some other aspects of SCUBA team work throughout NOAA include research, sample taking and fish collecting. For example, on research trips off of the Hawaiian Islands scientists will have the divers collect species of fish and other sea creatures for scientific study. In order to collect fish, the divers use a Hawaiian sling and collect the fish in a bag that is attached to their leg and towed behind them at a distance of about 30 feet.  This precaution protects the divers in the event that a shark in search of the injured fish is in the area.

NOAA Corps personnel who choose to receive SCUBA training can go to one of two sites, Seattle, Washington or the Florida Keys.  The basic training requires three intense weeks of work with SCUBA gear and dives.  Upon completion of the training they receive the title of working diver and with increased experience and training can move up to advanced diver, master diver and diving instructor.  NOAA divers are required to dive every six weeks and do so in both warm and cold water.  They have wet suits for warmer weather and dry suits for colder months.

Now for a quick physics lesson. The SCUBA air tanks are filled with compressed air and weigh approximately 35 pounds when full.  Which is quite a lot to tow around on land however, in the water the buoyant force equalizes the weight and the divers can float easily even with the 35 pound weight on their backs.  The air lasts for approximately 40 minutes give or take, depending on their rate of breathing and lung capacity.  The divers must also wear weight belts to help them stay submerged easily.  Some physics here again, the larger you are the more buoyant you are and the leaner you are the less buoyant you are. This means that if you a larger person you will need a heavier weight belt to keep you submerged, whereas a thinner person will only need a small amount of weight.  Again, these belts feel like they’d be rather uncomfortable to wear on land, but with the counter force of buoyancy the divers do not feel the weight once they are in the water.

Although modest about his skills, it is obvious that Kurt is an accomplished diver and that he enjoys it thoroughly. SCUBA training has given Kurt opportunities to dive in Hawaii, Alaska, Seattle, New England and the Chesapeake Bay.  He’s been up close and nosey with tiger sharks at 80 foot depths and has seen giant kelp beds and coral reefs.  Executive Officer LCDR Kurt Zegowitz encourages anyone from the Corps who is interested in becoming SCUBA certified to go through training with NOAA.

Susie Hill, July 30, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Susie Hill
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 30, 2007

Mesh netting in the dredge
Mesh netting in the dredge

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 17.5° C
Sea Temperature: 18.6° C
Relative Humidity: 100 %
Barometric Pressure: 1014.8 millibars
Wind Speed: 3.62 knots
Water Depth: 65.3 meters
Conductivity: 43.45 mmhos
Salinity: 32.03 ppt

Science and Technology Log 

I can’t believe it’s already been a week already since we left from Woods Hole, MA. I’m still getting a hang of the time schedule, but it’s working out okay. The weather has been beautiful. The staff is great—I’ve learned so much from them. The food is delicious, too! Today’s focus will be on the dredge. This is a metal frame with a metal ringed and meshed net that we use to dredge or scoop the sea bottom in hopes of finding our prize catch, sea scallops. The bag is about 8 feet wide with 2” rings and mesh netting. The mesh netting, called a liner, is in the dredge to ensure catching of the smaller scallops as well as the other species that coexist with the scallops. The dredge is lifted, put into the water, and dragged using a motorized gantry with a block and tackle system. The dredge is towed for 15 minutes at each station. The depths for this trip have been ranging from 29 meters to 112 meters. Sea Scallop dredge surveys have been conducted by the National Marine Fisheries Services since 1975.

The dredge is prepared for deployment.
The dredge is prepared for deployment.

 

Susie Hill, July 28, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Susie Hill
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 28, 2007

Here I am measuring a skate using the FSCS system.
Here I am measuring a skate using the FSCS system.

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 21.4° C
Sea Temperature: 19° C
Relative Humidity: 100%
Barometric Pressure: 1013.6 millibars
Wind Speed: 10.78 knots
Water Depth: 62.4 meters
Conductivity: 44.76 mmhos
Salinity: 32.58 ppt

Science and Technology Log 

I am completely exhausted! We had about 12-14 stations almost back to back last night. Down on your knees picking through the sort to find scallops and fish to back bending of lifting up full baskets and cleaning the deck, I’m tired. It was loads of fun, though. We went from collections of sand dollars to big scallops, quahogs (clams), flounders, big sea stars, and sticky, slimy skates.  When the scallops, flounders and skates come in, we weigh them on a scale and then measure their length and count them using the Fisheries Scientific Computer System (FSCS). It’s pretty cool how it works. You lay the species on the electronic board, and it gets measured by us using a magnetic stick to mark it. Once marked, the measurement goes right into the computer as well as counts it. One station, we counted 788 scallops! That is a lot, but they say there’s more where that came from!

Susie Hill, July 27, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Susie Hill
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 27, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 21° C
Set Temperature: 22° C
Relative Humidity: 100 %
Barometric Pressure: 1017.1 millibars
Wind Speed: 3.76 knots
Water Depth: 67.0 meters
Conductivity: 45.75 mmhos
Salinity: 32.13 ppt

Science and Technology Log 

The weather has been very nice, sunny, and calm. Conditions were so clear last night that we could see fireworks far off into the distance. I’m getting into the routine of all of the stations- sorting for fish and scallops, weighing, measuring the length (or in scallop terms, shell height), counting starfish, and cleaning off the deck.

Today’s focus is on the CTD meter that measures conductivity, temperature, and depth. This is the instrument that they use to determine the conditions of the water. It is lowered down to about 5-10 meters from the ocean floor about twice in a shift (12 hours). Some other results they also receive are pressure and salinity levels. These measurements are collected at the surface as well as at the bottom. Once they receive all of the data, it is loaded into a computer and turned into a very colorful graph.  Scallops like to live in water temperatures of < 20° C and in water depths of up to 200 meters south of Cape Cod (Dvora Hart, WHOI, 2002).

The CTD
The CTD

Susie Hill, July 26, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Susie Hill
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 26, 2007

Sunfish (Mola mola)
Sunfish (Mola mola)

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 20.6° C
Sea Temperature: 22.6 ° C
Relative Humidity: 97%
Barometric Pressure: 1022.1 millibars
Wind Speed: 3.36 knots
Water Depth: 57.2 m
Conductivity: 46.15 mmhos
Salinity: 31.56 ppt

Science and Technology Log 

From noon to midnight, we go from being hot under the shining sun searching for the treasure of scallops in the collected pile to sitting under the beautiful moonlight shining across the vast ocean waiting for the next tow. It’s wonderful no matter how you look at science!

Today, I got to start up the starfish study. We are counting starfish from the sort to figure out the abundance and distribution of the Asterias sp. and Astropecten sp. in the researched area. Depending on the location of the station will determine how many of sea stars you have. The first station, we had loads of starfish! The starfish are randomly collected off of the remaining pile after everyone has been through it for their studies. Out of 4.5 liters (about 5 large handfuls), I counted 340 Astropecten sp. I can’t imagine how many there really were! With the passing of the stations from each night, the majority species of the pile has shifted from starfish to sand dollars. I’m glad I don’t have to count those because there’s so many of them. Sand dollars are part of the echinoderm family with the sea stars. I always thought that they were white like you buy them in the beach souvenir shops, but they’re a dark purple color when they’re alive. Pretty cool! I’ve got lots of samples to bring home!

With being in the middle of the ocean, you also get to see the big marine life! It was kind of gross, but amazing at the same time! We thought it was a dead whale, but it ended up being a basking shark that has been dead for maybe a week. You could see the decaying skin, bloated belly, and the now showing gill rakers (the cartilaginous structures that filter food and sediment out of the gills when the shark eats). We also saw a sunfish (Mola mola)! We show a mini-movie of one of them as you’re going up the moving escalator at Nauticus, but it is so awesome seeing it in real life! It looks like a whale that’s been flattened. So cool! 

Claude Larson, July 26, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Claude Larson
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 26, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 21.9º C
Water Temperature: 22.6 º C
Relative Humidity: 91%
Wind Speed: 8 knots
Wind Direction: S

Melissa Ellwanger (left) and Stacey Etheridge (right)check the results from the test strips for PSPs.
Melissa Ellwanger (left) and Stacey Etheridge check the results for PSPs.

Science and Technology Log 

The ALBATROSS IV is well underway with the second leg of its Sea Scallop Survey for this year. After several tows we have collected, counted, weighed and measured not only sea scallops but, several types of fish, crabs and starfish.  As a teacher, I would like to focus on the application of some the science that is going on here on the ship. Specifically, I want to explain the work of two scientists on board Stacey Etheridge and Melissa Ellwanger who work at the FDA, Food and Drug Administration.

Sea scallops are studied by NOAA because of their importance commercially.  People enjoy them baked, fried, sautéed and served up hot. In other parts of the world, Europe and Asia, certain parts of the scallops are valued commercially as a food source. These parts are the gonads and viscera, or internal organs and membranes.  Last year the FDA had to close certain fishing areas were closed to bivalve molluscan harvesting because PSPs, paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins were too high for human consumption.  These toxins accumulate in filter feeders and thus harvesting was closed to organisms such as surfclams, mussels and quahogs. Sea scallops could still be harvested for the adductor muscle only. Toxins in scallops, however, build up in the gonads and viscera. If a person were to eat these affected seafoods they could actually become paralyzed and it could be fatal unless the victim receives respiratory support.

The toxins are produced by certain algae that are found in the environment with the scallops. The toxins vary in potency and can actually become stronger after the scallops eat them by interacting with the digestive processes of the sea scallop.  This leads us to Stacey and Melissa’s experiment. At each collection of sea scallops, they collect twelve random sea scallops to test.  They dissect the scallop and separate the gonad and viscera and test them separately.  They puree the organs, add extraction chemicals, filter them and then test the liquid that they filter from the organs on little test plates that look like test strips people use when they are trying to find out if they are pregnant.

The preliminary results from some of the samples they have collected have been positive for PSPs. This raises the question about whether or not those collected scallops can be sold for all of their parts or just the meaty section.  The work Stacey and Melissa are doing with NOAA and the FDA is an excellent example of applied science that benefits people and helps improve one of their food sources.

Susie Hill, July 25, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Susie Hill
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 25, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 20.8 ° C
Sea Temperature: 21.8 ° C
Relative Humidity: 93%
Barometric Pressure: 1022.4 millibars
Wind Speed: 5 knots
Water Depth: 58 meters
Conductivity: 44.91 mmhos
Salinity: 31 ppt

Science and Technology Log 

It’s the morning after my first shift, and surprisingly, I still have energy! It was so much fun! It took us about 8 hours to get to our first tow station, and then we went right to work. At each tow station, the dredge is emptied out onto the deck for us to sort. In addition to the standard sampling to assess the stock, scientists request certain species samples for additional research before each cruise. The samples that are being pulled this trip are scallops, skates, hake fish, starfish (some of us call them sea stars), and monkfish (or goosefish). So, we pull these out of the catch and the rest is thrown back out to sea. It’s a race from there to get all of the research done before the next tow. The scientists everywhere (including me!) are weighing , dissecting, and recording the data into the FSCS (Fisheries Scientific Computer System). It’s awesome!

One of my stations was to help take the data on the sea scallops. We measured the gonad, meat, and viscera (pretty much everything else in the shell) weights of 5 randomly chosen sea scallops to determine the sex and shell height/meat weight relationships. The shells will be measured back at Woods Hole to determine the age. Do you know how scientists determine the age of a scallop? They count the rings on the outer shell just like you would to determine the age of a tree. We also collected these samples to help with a study being done by Scientist Stacey Etheridge and Melissa Ellwanger from FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to determine PSP (paralytic shellfish poisoning) levels. They are also testing for Alexandrium sp., a dinoflagellate phytoplankton, in the water sample that can also cause PSP in humans.

It is pretty cool that the scientists let us help out at the different stations so we could get a hand in everything that is going on. When I came on, I thought that we were only going to be doing one study- studying just scallops. It turns out that we get to experience so much more!

Claude Larson, July 25, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Claude Larson
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 25, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 21.7° C
Water Temperature: 22.9
Relative Humidity 93%
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Wind Direction: SE 120

Jakub Kircun teaches Claude Larson how to insert the probe that measures inclination in the top of the dredge equipment.
Jakub Kircun teaches Claude Larson how to insert the probe that measures inclination in the top of the dredge equipment.

Science and Technology Log 

Today was the beginning of our first 12 hour watches. The tows were relatively well spaced which allowed for ample clean up time between tows and even for a little down time as we steamed for over an hour and I have a few minutes to write this log entry.

As I learn the skills needed to be useful on the Scallop Survey, I want to give you an idea of how a tow is carried out. The bridge generally gives us a ten minute alert before a tow over the all call system.  From that point we can finish up what we are doing and prepare for the tow. A crew member operates a huge winch and block and tackle that moves a thick metal cable. The cable is attached to a large metal hook that is attached to an 8 foot wide dredge net. The net is raised from the aft deck of the ship and put in the water.  The dredge net is then towed for fifteen minutes and then lifted onto the deck.  At this time, a probe that measures inclination is inserted in the dredge rigging and information about the collection of the tow is recorded and loaded onto another computer for later use.

While the probe is being read, someone takes a picture of the pile of organisms on deck with a small whiteboard with important information.  This information includes the station number, stratum and tow number, as well as whether this area is open or closed to commercial fishing.

The watch crew then brings baskets and buckets over to the edges of the pile and kneels on cushions to sift through the collected material.  We sort the collection into sea scallops, fish and, on each third tow, we also collect crabs. After a few minutes we shift areas and continue to look for certain animals, this helps us to make sure we have found all of the organisms we are looking for.  The fish are then further sorted by species.  The watch chief weighs each separate species and records that information on the FSCS, Fisheries Scientific Computer System. There are three FSCS stations and we all get to work at one of them.  The computer allows you to take the scallop or fish and lay it on a long board. The organism is held along the front panel of the system and a magnet is placed at the other end. The magnet causes the computer to automatically record the length of the scallop or fish. From there some of the scallop shells are cleaned for a scientist back in Woods Hole, Dvora Hart, and carefully labeled and placed in a cloth bag. Some of the scallops are also dissected for an FDA study on PSPs, paralytic shellfish poisoning. When ever we catch a monkfish, also known as a goosefish, one of the scientists on the watch crew dissects it for vertebrae for a study they are doing on aging the fish and its reproductive stage.

Once all the organisms are measured, weighed, dissected or cleaned, the remainder of the pile is shoveled in large baskets and thrown back into the ocean.  Each basket and bucket is rinsed as is each FSCS station.  If another tow is arriving shortly, the watch crew prepares for repeating this process. The steps happen in relatively that order, however they also occur in a sort of unison and the watch crew starts to form a rhythm.  The watch chief and veteran crew members help any of the new folks on board, which is great since we are sometimes unsure what to do next or how to do a new task.  The old saying of many hands make light work definitely applies here. With each tow there are surprises to dig for. Sometimes you get to see large egg cases or beautiful shellfish and unusual fish.

With all of this said, the all call has just given us a ten minute to station call.  I must get ready for whatever treasures will be brought up with this collection.

Claude Larson, July 24, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Claude Larson
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 24, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Wind speed: 13 knots SW
Atmospheric Pressure: 1019 mB
Cloud cover: 4/8 cirrus, stratus and cumulous
Air temperature: 18.3º C 65º F
Water temperature: 18.9 º C 66 º F

Teacher at Sea, Claude Larson, waves hello from the aft deck of the Albatross IV as she dons her immersion suit during an abandon ship drill.
Claude Larson waves hello from the aft deck as she dons her immersion suit during an abandon ship drill.

Science and Technology Log 

Although our departure date was delayed by one day due to some problems with the air conditioning system that cools the staterooms, we are glad that the problem has been resolved and we are underway on Tuesday, July 24. We left from the dock at approximately 9:00 AM under partially cloudy skies and with a light breeze. Just as I was standing on the hurricane deck enjoying the view of the diminishing landscape, there is an all call onboard and we are asked to muster in our stations for a fire drill.

We gathered all of our emergency gear and met in the wet lab area of the ship. In a few minutes, an abandon ship drill is announced and we head out to our life raft assignments and don our bright red immersion suits.  They are a bit of a task to put on, but provide ample protection should we ever actually abandon ship. They are known as the “Gumby Suits” and I have made that my first image in my log of this cruise.

A few minutes after we put away our emergency gear, the Chief Scientist, Stacy Rowe asks the crew for a test tow to ensure that all of the equipment we will need to survey the scallops is in working order. This is a great opportunity for those of us who are new on board to see how the procedure works. The deck hands skillfully direct the large dredge net over the back of the boat and release a specific length of cable based on depth of the water.  Unfortunately, during the first attempt the net flips and does not collect any specimens.  However, the second tow is more successful and allows us to get a collection of organisms large enough to sample.

Those of us who have never been on a scallop survey before get to work.  While kneeling on mats we sort through the pile for any living organisms.  These are put in blue buckets. The organisms are then sorted by species and we get a hands-on lesson from Larry Brady, our Watch Chief on how to identify certain organisms.  Once all the species are identified and sorted, we weigh them, count them and measure the length of a few using FSCS, the Fisheries Scientific Computer System. The deck, baskets and buckets are cleaned and put back until the next tow. Our next tow is south of Long Island, approximately 87 nautical miles away, so we take the opportunity to enjoy a quick lunch break and some down time until we are on our modified watch schedule from 6 PM to Midnight.

I am looking forward to our first official tow and the treasures we will find there.  Hopefully my body will have made some adjustments to the rocking and rolling of the ship as we steam through the Atlantic.  In the meantime, I will leave you with my question of the day.

Why would scientists who are studying the overall health of an ocean environment collect and study organisms from the bottom of the ocean? 

Susie Hill, July 23, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Susie Hill
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 23, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 19.4° C
Sea Temperature: 20.9 ° C
Relative Humidity: 83%
Barometric Pressure: 1019.4 millibars
Windspeed: 19.32 knots
Water Depth: 48.5 meters
Conductivity: 045.16 mmhos
Salinity: 33 ppt

Sea Scallop (Placopecten magellanicus)
Sea Scallop (Placopecten magellanicus)

Science and Technology Log 

My NOAA Teacher at Sea Journey begins! We set sail this morning at 9:00 a.m. on the NOAA ALBATROSS IV Ship out of Woods Hole, Massachusetts to assess the scallop populations between Long Island, New York and Georges Bank of the Altantic Ocean. The areas being studied are chosen by the stratified random sampling method that is based on depth and bottom composition. Some other stations are specially selected by the scientists for further studying.  Among the sea, calico, or Icelandic species of scallops, we’ll also be pulling up species of fish and crab that will be studied by other scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI, pronounced as Hooey around here). Stacey Rowe is our Chief Scientist for this trip.

We started off our day with the fire drill where we find our assigned stations and wait for directions by the Ship’s Captain. My station was the wet science lab near the stern (or back) of the ship with the other scientists. Next was the abandon ship drill where we grabbed our “gumby” survival suit and life jacket, and went to our next station which was Life Raft #5. The gumby suit was cool! Sorry, I didn’t get any pictures. Too busy following orders to get in station. Then, we did a “test tow” of the dredge to see if it worked. The dredge is the metal net that the ship uses to scoop up the animals from the sea bottom for sampling. Last, we caught species of flounder (left eye and windowpane), cancer crabs, and sea robins. The area that we dredged is not popular with scallops, so we didn’t pull any up. Our job as volunteers was to sort and weigh the collected species.  I am working the noon-midnight shift, so I’ll be getting ready now to take my place in prepping for our wonderful catch! Wish me luck!

Cool Fact for the Day 

The Virginia fossil is the scallop, Chesapecten jeffersoni.

Mary Ann Penning, July 19, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Ann Penning
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 9 – 20, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 19, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Visibility: 7 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 166 degrees
Wind speed: 7 knots (kts)
Sea wave height: 1 foot
Swell wave height: 2 feet
Seawater temperature: 23.1 degrees C
Sea level pressure: 1010.0 millibars (mb)
Air Temperature: 24.0 degrees C
Cloud cover: partly cloudy; hazy

Science and Technology Log  

This is our last full day on the ALBATROSS IV; it’s hard to believe that we’ve reached this point. We were not far from New York City this afternoon, when we did our final two tows. In our last tow, found among the scallops that we caught, was a ten pound goose fish, the biggest caught on our watch. (I understand that their tails are good to eat.)  Getting our picture taken with the goose fish for the “picture of the day”, signaled the end of the towing operations for this trip. We then took time to clean our areas and equipment.  We did the fantail, while the night shift did the interior wet room and the Chief Scientist’s office. We scrubbed all the baskets and buckets, the measuring equipment and our foul weather gear.  It was time consuming, but with a team approach, it didn’t take long. The Chief Scientist and the skilled fishermen were repairing the netting in the dredge. I would never have guessed the amount of effort it takes to run a scientific survey such as this one, until I participated in one.

The only part of the ship I hadn’t been to was the engine room.  So this afternoon, when life was much slower, I asked if I could see it. It was certainly noisy in the lower bowels of the ship, even with protective “earmuffs.” I learned that the ship took on 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel before we left Woods Hole.  The ship can carry 30,000 gallons total.  There are two big diesel Caterpillar engines that operate the ship.  The ship generates its own electricity, too. Two diesel generators drive the generators that manufacture electricity.  One diesel generator drives the hydraulic pumps for the winch operations. I had been curious about the fresh water on board the ship, when I first learned that the hoses we used to clean our equipment, used sea water.  The ship can carry 22,000 gallons of water. At the end of our two week trip, we had less than half of that left. The engineers said that the ship uses about 1000 gallons a day.  If the ship goes out for three weeks, two desalinators, located below the ship, are used to turn sea water into fresh water.  (They are not used exclusively for providing fresh water because of the slowing down and stopping process involved in towing the dredge.  There is not enough heat from the engine for the system to be the primary source of fresh water.  There are a series of filters that are used in the process.)  Big vessels, it seems, can be self sustaining, floating cities.

Personal Log 

I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to participate in this experience.  Before I could even be considered a candidate for the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program, I had to be cleared medically.  One lieutenant called me with a few questions and he cautioned me by saying, “You know this program is very competitive.  A lot of teachers want to participate.” I replied by saying that you never know until you try.  And try I did! Both in the application process and now while on board the ALBATROSS IV.  We actually measured and recorded electronically 53,077 scallops from the 210 various stations in the Mid-Atlantic that we surveyed. Expanding those numbers mathematically, the projected amount of scallops caught for these areas is – drumroll, please – 148,063 scallops.  From my perspective, these amounts are astounding, just astounding!  What more can I say.  When these statistics are analyzed, the actual number of scallops in the resource will be determined.  Then openings and closings of various scallop fishing areas will be decided; it is a complex process.

It was the people, ultimately, who helped make the trip enjoyable.  I enjoyed talking to the young NOAA officers about the NOAA Corps and their program at the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, Long Island. Many of them have science backgrounds – meteorology, ecology, oceanography, and geography.  One is going on to NOAA flight school soon. He might be responsible for monitoring whale migration for ships one day.  Their commanding officer, Kurt Zegowitz, a very kind, patient, and personable man, welcomed me aboard and offered his help.  His patience was certainly appreciated because he was instrumental in helping me get my logs published.

The other NOAA paid staff, with their varied interest and background in science, were wonderful to me.  Jonathon, Laura, and Heath, responsible for the day watch, were very patient and helped me identify the various fish so that I could help sort and weigh them.  When one fish couldn’t be identified immediately, Laura looked at the gills to help her make the decision.  Identification guides were available to help determine the identity of any specimens of which they were unsure.  It was fun to hear their stories of the numerous and varied NOAA survey trips with which they’ve been involved.  Dvora Hart and Victor Nordahl, whom I’ve mentioned throughout my logs, were dynamite individuals.

From the support staff – the computer techs, the cooks, the engineers, and the skilled fishermen – I heard interesting stories.  Many of them have worked, fished, and sailed all over the world. Their team approach and camaraderie was evident and neat to see.

On board with us, too, have been five awesome college volunteers who are interested in science careers. There were three women and two men from various universities in the Northeast. One young woman was from the Coast Guard Academy; she’ll be a senior next year. She’s coming back for the second leg of the trip when the vessel and scallop survey head north to Georges Bank. Another young woman, working on her Master’s Degree, has a dual major in Marine Biology and Marine Policy.  They were impressive, young and energetic; it felt good to be able to keep up with them.

Tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM our young officers will back the ship into the dock at Woods Hole after our whirlwind 1,554.3 nautical miles’ adventure into sampling sea scallops. The survey will continue for two more legs; each two week trips.  Their fish and terrain will be somewhat different, but the scallops the same.  I’m anxious to read the logs of the Teachers at Sea participating in those portions of the trip.  Because of this trip, I have greater respect for the scientific community and survey work such as this and for fishermen who make scallop fishing their life work.  Thanks to the NOAA Teacher at Sea program I have had a wonderful opportunity to participate in an amazing, once in a lifetime, learning adventure.

Mary Ann Penning, July 17, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Ann Penning
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 9 – 20, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 17, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Visibility: 4 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 278 degrees
Wind speed: 6 knots (kts)
Sea wave height: 1 foot
Swell wave height: 3 feet
Seawater temperature: 25.2 degrees C
Sea level pressure: 1017.1 millibars (mb)
Air Temperature: 24.9 degrees C
Cloud cover: hazy

Dvora Hart is counting astropectin, a type of sea star (also called starfish), for sampling.
Dvora Hart is counting astropectin, a type of sea star (also called starfish), for sampling.

Science and Technology Log 

For a person who has rarely eaten scallops, I’m really getting an up close and personal look into the lives of these mollusks.  Dr. Deborah, aka Dvora, Hart is our resident scallops’ expert traveling and working on this trip. She has studied scallops for eight years and travels internationally speaking on behalf of scallops everywhere. She is an intermediary between the science side of scallops and with the fishermen and the fishing industry. While incorporating her mathematics background, she works closely with our Chief Scientist Victor Nordahl developing these surveys. Talking with her over the course of the trip and just listening to her wealth of knowledge have taught me a lot about scallops in such a short time.  She is passionate about scallops and knowledgeable about other organisms that we saw on the trip. In a nutshell or should I say “in a scallop shell”, I’ll share what I’ve learned about scallops in just a little less than two weeks.

Scallops have been around for millions of years.  Five to ten million years ago, in the Chesapeake Bay area, there used to be a shallow sea.  Much later, scallop fossils, found by Indians living in this area, were used for bowls.  In fact Virginia’s state fossil is a scallop measuring up to 200 mm, named Chesapecten jeffersonius, obviously named after Thomas Jefferson.  I didn’t even know there were state fossils!

These sea stars, also known as starfish, are classified as Astropecten americanus.
These sea stars, also known as starfish, are classified as Astropecten americanus.

Sea scallops like living in about 40 – 80 meters of water in the Mid-Atlantic. It is neither too warm in the summer nor too cold in the winter at these ocean depths for them to develop. In deeper water, one of their nemesis, Astropecten americanus, a type of starfish, will eat the baby scallops whole. (There are over 100 different species of Astropecten around the world.) Scallops swim, eat phytoplankton, and spawn when their food source is higher in the spring and fall.  They can range in size from a few centimeters to 15 centimeters from their hinge to their tip. The family of scallops includes our Atlantic Sea Scallops, (called Giant Scallops in Canada), Bay Scallops, and Calico Scallops.

In the US, the scallop industry wholesale at the dock brings in about $400 million dollars, while the retail value is worth about $800 million.  All fisheries in the northeast bring in about 1.2 billion dollars and scallops and lobsters are responsible for about one third each, while all other fish comprise the other third.  Full time scalloping permits can range in the three to four million dollar range; one can somewhat understand why these permits would be highly desirable. There are a limited number available.

In 1998, only 12 million pounds of sea scallops were caught in the U.S.  Since 2002, they have been bringing in over 50 million pounds each year.  Why the change?  Part of it is skill, part of it is good luck, but the main reason is that areas were closed for three years to allow the baby scallops to grow to bigger sizes.  In some of our surveyed areas that have been open to harvesting scallops, we have seen fewer and smaller scallops.  In Elephant Trunk, which just opened for scallop fishing in March, we have generally seen more scallops which are bigger. Data collected over time by surveys such as this one have supported the closings and reopening of areas.

This sea scallop survey is collecting data about sea scallops and other species to manage the sea scallop fishery properly in the southern part of the range of sea scallops. Our trip has spanned from New Jersey to the tip of North Carolina and back again. We have targeted underwater areas such as Hudson Canyon, Elephant Trunk, and a station on the edge of Norfolk Canyon to name just a few.  The NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service manages the area from 3 miles to 200 miles across the continental shelf.  The waters from shore to three miles out are managed by the various states and operate under different rules. The restrictions for scallop fishing are managed by a fishery management board comprised of 19 representatives from various states.

Scallop boats are allowed to retrieve about one fourth of the total scallops a year.  If they catch more than that, they fish out too many of the big ones in an area. If they catch too few a year, more will die from natural causes.  It takes about four years to deplete an area of scallops. (The four inch rings in their dredges allow smaller scallops to escape.)

My interview with Dvora has spanned the entire cruise.  As we have asked questions, whether kneeling in the pile on the fantail or in the workrooms or at the dinner table, she has been generous with her information and we have become more aware and knowledgeable about scallops and their economic impact on the US.

Scientists in front of the NOAA map showing the location of the scallop sampling stations.
Scientists in front of the NOAA map showing the location of the scallop sampling stations.

Personal Log 

Thinking back over the trip, there have been some exciting highlights.  Three that come to mind are the following.  I finally went up to the bridge, about 1:00 AM one morning to see how the operations are run at night. I had been up there during the day and so I was familiar with the equipment during the daylight.  I walked into a quiet, dark room with only red lights showing. (I understand they don’t destroy your night vision.)  The side doors were open and a cool breeze was coming in.  It was hazy outside; I thought I couldn’t see any stars, something I had hoped to see.  The officer in charge said to look straight up and there were definitely some stars to see.  He helped me find the big dipper through the haze.  After craning my neck for awhile, I stepped to the starboard side and I found Cassiopeia, like a big, wide “W” in the sky.  He brought out a star chart to help me identify the constellations. Even though I was tired, it was definitely worth staying up a little later than usual.

Another job I learned how to do was check the inclinometer when the dredge came up on deck. (I had to wear a hard hat for safety.) It is a device which checks the dredge’s towing efficiency. A hand held wand type device transfers information from the inclinometer, which is stored in a protective steel tube at the top of the dredge.  Once back in the workroom, I would download the information onto a computer and print out a copy in graph form.  We could see from the graph if the dredge flipped when it went into the water. If it did, then we would have to turn around and retow.  This happened only twice that I am aware of during the entire trip.  The Chief Scientist ultimately analyzes all the data.

And I learned how to shuck a scallop! We could shuck scallops for the galley in our down time if the scallops came from an open area.  I’ve had them smoked, baked, sautéed, and even raw, marinated in special sauces.  Not that I’m a connoisseur now, but I’ve certainly learned to enjoy them.

Questions of the Day 

Estimate how many miles we will have traveled on our entire trip.  Remember we have zigzagged on our course from Woods Hole to the southern end of Virginia and back.  We left Woods Hole on the afternoon of July10th and we will be returning at 7:00 AM on Friday, July 20th.

How many gallons of diesel fuel does the ship hold? The ALBATROSS IV is a 187 foot long vessel with a breadth of 33 feet, and a draft of 17 feet 3 inches.  (It displaces 1115 tons of water.)

How does the ship get fresh water?

Mary Ann Penning, July 15, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Ann Penning
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 9 – 20, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 15, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Visibility: 4 nautical miles(nm)
Wind direction: 196 degrees
Wind speed: 59 knots (kts)
Sea wave height: 2 feet
Swell wave height: not available
Seawater temperature: 24.3 degrees C
Sea level pressure: 1013.2 millibars (mb)
Air Temperature: 25.1 degrees C
Cloud cover: partly cloudy, hazy

Penning at the Limnoterra Boards (measuring boards) measuring the length of a goose fish caught along with the scallops in the dredge.
Penning at the Limnoterra Boards (measuring boards) measuring the length of a goose fish caught along with the scallops in the dredge.

Science and Technology Log 

We have traveled along the continental shelf of the eastern seaboard since we set sail from Woods Hole almost a week ago. The route of the ship zigzags from one location to another, visiting previously selected underwater stations, where scallop and fish specimens are collected. Some areas are in shallower water than others and some have been closed to commercial fishermen, while others have just recently opened.  NOAA maps showing these locations are posted in our workroom outside the fantail (rear deck of the ship where we work) along with charts showing the distance between the tows.  The NOAA officer on the bridge works in tandem with the three skilled fishermen who control the dredge equipment – the gantry and the winch.  We wait for 15 minutes while the dredge is towed over an area approximately 4500 square meters.  The ALBATROSS IV is working nonstop. The teamwork is incredible!

Before the sorting begins, the pile dumped from the dredge is photographed with location information.
Before the sorting begins, the pile dumped from the dredge is photographed with location information.

When the dredge is opened on deck, it is amazing what we find.  Usually eight of us, on hands and knees, sort a pile that can be about eight by six feet wide and about one to two feet high. It’s like playing in a sand pile looking for hidden treasure.  Sometimes the pile is somewhat dry and packed with sand and rusty red sand dollars that camouflage the scallops. Sometimes the catch seems to be wet and slimy and filled with nothing but astropectin, the starfish that gobble the baby scallops whole.  As a result there are very few adult scallops in that area. At one station it was projected that there were about 30,000 astropecten. That would be about five per square meter.  And if we took into account the ones that we missed, there could be approximately ten per square meter.  When we first entered an area named Elephant Trunk, recently opened in March, the pile dumped from the dredge seemed nothing but scallops.  The catch was very clean and we just shoveled them into baskets.  At another station we measured 792 scallops.  Expanding on the sampling size with a special formula, it was determined that there were 7,920 scallops at this location.  Imagine the economic value of this one station alone.

Mixed in with the haul can be a variety of other organisms such as crabs, starfish, little skates, goose fish with their big mouth and ugly teeth, various sizes of four spotted flounder, and sea mice with their spiny edges. Usually we find a variety of hakes: red, spotted or silver, (commercially known as whiting). These fish seem to “hang around” scallops. We collect and count the fish and crabs, too, at some points.  At one such “crab station” I counted 146 crabs.  I’m getting a “hands on” course in fish and scallops.

After sorting scallops into round, laundry type plastic baskets and fish into separate buckets, the residue is shoveled into baskets and accounted for too.  Using various sampling techniques, it is determined how many scallops or baskets of scallops will be weighed and measured on three sophisticated, computerized measuring devices.  But still everything has to be done by hand. Age and growth samples on five scallops are taken at various sites which are packaged and taken back to the lab to be evaluated.  At one site we analyzed 60 scallops for age and growth. The rings on scallops are analogous to tree rings. After cleaning our equipment with hoses spraying sea water, we’re ready for the next station. All these techniques are employed about once an hour around the clock for an expected total of 200 stations. That’s a lot of scientific data for someone to analyze.

Personal Log 

Where can someone spend their “down time” on a cruise like this?  While waiting for the catch to come in, most of us like to sit around the Chief Scientist’s office or the similar space across the hall.  It’s close to the fantail where we do most of our work.  I like to read if I only have a few minutes.  I finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone this way. I brought a laptop computer with me and I finally realized I could work on my logs from there.  A lounge upstairs, where you can watch satellite TV or movies, provides ample entertainment.  In that same area is the computer room where we can e-mail from the ship, however no internet is available.  Occasionally, I like to go to the galley for a snack which, fortunately or unfortunately, is right down the hallway from our workspace.  Fresh fruit is available, along with cereal and popsicles or ice cream.  There may be leftover dessert from dinner, too.  Our rooms are downstairs one level, but as a courtesy to those sleeping from the opposite watch, we don’t enter our rooms then.  Sometimes I like to go out and just look at the water. There was a sliver of a moon last night with the planet Venus peering over it.  That was an awesome sight!

Questions of the Day 

How big can scallops grow? What is their habitat like?  Why is this data on scallops collected?  Who or what benefits from this labor intensive work?  Join me in my next log as I discuss these important mollusks with Dr. Dvora Hart, a scallops’ expert, participating in our scientific survey.

Mary Ann Penning, July 14, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Ann Penning
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 9 – 20, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 14, 2007

An example of a “Gumby” suit.
An example of a “Gumby” suit.

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 006 degrees
Wind speed: 16 knots (kts)
Sea wave height: 2-3 feet
Swell wave height: 4 feet
Seawater temperature: 22.8 degrees C
Sea level pressure: 1010.9 millibars (mb)
Air Temperature: 22.3 degrees C
Cloud cover: cloudy

Science and Technology Log 

Our ship has been rocking and rolling – literally and figuratively.  I think I have my sea legs now, for the most part, but I still sometimes take a zig-zag route over the deck getting from one point to another.  The weather has been varied. There have been some cloudy days where the fog can creep in unexpectedly. The sunny days are great, but that promotes very sweaty working conditions. I’ve seen two beautiful sunsets; I want to get in at least one sunrise before I leave the ship. As I begin to write this, our room is rolling gently from one side to another. Is this how a baby might feel rocked in their cradle? 

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Mary Ann Penning, measures a fish.
NOAA Teacher at Sea, Mary Ann Penning, measures a fish.

After we left the dock Tuesday afternoon, the staff gradually got us into the routine of shipboard life.  We had a disaster drill and tried on the famous, heavy foam – like, bright orange survival suits. They come rolled up in their own little sleeping bag.  Remember Gumby?  Think of him and imagine all of us on deck getting ready to go trick or treating on Halloween!

Not far from Martha’s Vineyard, we did two trial dredge deployments.  The Chief Scientist tested the equipment and the exercise gave the volunteer scientists a chance to run through the exercises of sorting, weighing, and measuring the catch.  We donned our foul weather gear – boots and slickers.  We did a modified twelve hour work schedule that evening. While the night shift tried to sleep, we went on duty from 6:00 to midnight.  Since there was really nothing to do, it was fun watching a movie in the lounge, but I found it hard to stay awake. I was glad to crawl into my bottom bunk and finally drift off to sleep.

Crew of the ALBATROSS prepare the dredge.
Crew of the ALBATROSS prepare the dredge.

With a twelve hour work schedule, I’ve been trying to get into a routine of work, writing my logs, answering e-mail, doing some light reading and, oh yes, squeezing in time for eating.  I’m still adjusting and find myself tired at various points throughout the day.  I’m finally delving into the Harry Potter series.  I need to keep up with my fifth graders who are enthralled with the books and movies. I brought the first three books with me.  Reading is a good way to spend the 20 minutes we might have between the scallop collecting duties. It just feels good to sit down after the physical labor of collecting specimens from the dredge.

Our dredge, designed by NOAA fisheries staff, drags along the surface layer of the marine habitat for scallops and other benthic organisms.  Benthic means animals that live on the sea floor. The dredge is eight feet wide and about 20 feet long.  It is made of heavy steel and metal rings that are linked together to create the bag behind the dredge frame.  There is an inside liner of netting which allows us to catch the smaller scallops, too.  Our Chief scientist , Victor Nordahl, is responsible for the standardization of the gear.  He describes it like dragging a butterfly net along the bottom of the Atlantic.  This envelope of rings and netting comprise about ten feet of the total length.  (It is similar to what commercial scallop fisherman use except that they can’t use the inside liner.  Their nets are bigger too -two fifteen foot dredges with 4” rings.) The ALBATROSS IV tows the dredge for one nautical mile for 15 minutes while traveling at 3.8 knots.  It takes a heavy duty winch below the decking to recover the dredge back on deck.  A typical dredge haul weighs about 2,000 lbs and the dredge itself weighs 1,500 lbs.  Its catch is what we’re after.

A small fishing ship as seen from the ALBATROSS.
A small fishing ship as seen from the ALBATROSS.

Personal Log 

Our state rooms are small, yet big enough for three people to sleep.  There is a bunk bed and one single bed on the opposite wall. Both are metal and are built into the wall.  One built in desk with six drawers for clothes sits between the beds.  There is one freestanding chair. Underneath the beds are three drawers for extra storage.  Surprisingly we have two closets which are great for storing luggage. There is a small sink with a mirror and medicine cabinet across from the dresser/desk. A bathroom with toilet and shower sits between our room and the room next door.  Two of us are on the day watch and one is on at night.

Questions of the Day 

Can you estimate how many square meters we cover during that time? Can you guess the number of scallops we catch in one haul, depending on the station?  Or the astropecten, a type of starfish that love to feast on baby scallops? Over the course of one day, after visiting about fourteen different stations during each shift, while using various sampling techniques, the answers are astounding. Look for these amazing statistics in my next log. 

Mary Ann Penning, July 9, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Ann Penning
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 9 – 20, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 9, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Mary Ann Penning, prepares to set sail aboard NOAA Ship ALBATROSS IV out of Woods Hole, MA.
NOAA TAS, Mary Ann Penning, prepares to set sail aboard NOAA Ship ALBATROSS IV out of Woods Hole, MA.

I am Mary Ann Penning, a fifth grade teacher at Randolph Elementary School in Arlington, VA.  I am sailing aboard the NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries Research Vessel ALBATROSS IV with NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program.  I will be part of the crew of scientists collecting sea scallop data on the first leg of this three leg expedition. The mission of the entire cruise is to collect information about sea scallops and other species to help manage the sea scallop fishery properly. Our trip spans twelve days from July 9-July 20 and will cover the southern range of the sea scallop habitat on the continental shelf from New Jersey to the tip of North Carolina. I have been excited for several months waiting for this trip to begin.

It’s the evening of July 9th, sailing day, and we’re still in port in Woods Hole. There have been several unavoidable mechanical issues in today’s plans and, hopefully, tomorrow morning at 8:00 we’ll be leaving the harbor. It seems that many people have been working hard behind the scenes to make our delayed departure a reality. The volunteers are anxious to put the sea scallop survey into production.  Most people on the ship seem to be patient, though, and the unexpected is taken in stride. Those living within a reasonable driving distance have gone home and will return early tomorrow morning.

I had stayed on the ship last night, when I first arrived.  There were just a few people on board and it was pretty quiet, except for the normal ship noises.  But this morning was a different scene. There was crew rushing back and forth through the narrow hallways all morning. College volunteers with an interest in science and other crew members were arriving from various parts of the US.  Meetings and orientations were held to acquaint the newcomers with various aspects of the cruise and its sea scallop mission under the guidance of chief scientist Victor Nordahl and Operations Research Analyst Deborah Hart. Foul weather gear was gathered and rules and regulations were dispensed with a smattering of good humor thrown in.  After my first day of meals, I can tell that I am going to have to watch my calorie intake; the brownies will have to suffice for two meals – they’re too big for just one! What a whirlwind of activity.  Nice people all around.

I’ll update my log as soon as I can. I learned today that I’m on the day shift from noon until midnight.  It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out, once we’re underway.

Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey, August 30, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 15 – September 1, 2006

Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 30, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility: 10-12 nautical mile
Wind direction: 3.7 o
Wind speed:  8.5 kts
Sea wave height: 1’
Swell wave height: 2-3’
Seawater temperature: 18.8 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1014.2 mb
Cloud cover: 7/8

Science and Technology Log 

There was a spectacular sunrise this morning and then, during our next-to-last station Steve pointed out a sun dog in the sky above us. We’ve got one more station left to do – in Cape Cod Bay and then we’ll sail through the Cape Cod Canal and back to port at Woods Hole, about a day and a half early.  We will have completed 138 stations in total.  It will all turn into a set of numbers put out on the Web, at some point, and, when I see them, I’ll now know what went into producing them.

Tamara Browning, a teacher from Tenafly Middle School, Tenafly, NJ, and Karen Meyers deploy a drift buoy in the Gulf of Maine.
Tamara Browning, a teacher from Tenafly Middle School, Tenafly, NJ, and Karen Meyers deploy a drift buoy in the Gulf of Maine.

Personal Log – Karen Meyers 

The photo contest entries are up.  The “kids” watch came up with several entries and some of them are pretty cute.  I especially like the one of me, with a shrimp on my shoulder, on the cover of Time magazine, labeled “Teacher of the Year” and the caption “Teacher discovers the oceans are teeming with life.”  I still think we’ve got a good shot at winning. Voting opens at 1100 and closes at 1600.  The suspense is killing me!  It’s been a wonderful trip and there’s a lot about this life that I’ll miss including the constant and ever-changing beauty of the sea; the clean, fresh air; the spectacular sunrises; the 3 meals a day cooked for me; but, most of all, the camaraderie with an interesting and fun-loving group of people.

Personal Log – Alexa Carey 

All the photos are up and the competition is over with.  It’s great what the other group has come up with.  There’s a picture of Tamara and Karen peaking over the bongo nets, Don getting eaten up by the grab and Jerry “pickled” inside of a sample jar.  So far, we have no idea who’s going to win. I love our picture of Tony as a fairy.  As soon as you know Tony, though, that makes the picture all the more entertaining.

We’re almost off the boat.  I’m going to miss the crew terribly, especially Tony, Mike, Steve, Tim, Lino and Orlando.  Okay, I admit it…I’ll miss every single person A LOT!  =) I’ll miss talking with Kurt (XO/CO) and the rest of the officers, Tracy and Alicea.  It’s terrible that I miss these people already…especially because I haven’t left yet.

As soon as we get into port, many of the crew will head off to their homes.  It’s difficult on them because they are away from land for such a long period of time.  Respect is definitely deserved for these men and women who dedicate such a large part of their lives to helping forward knowledge of the oceans and its inhabitants.  I promised Orlando a picture of the Ling Cod I caught (my first fish ever) the week before I came out.  Although there is quite a bit of distance between all of us, I’ll give it my all to keep in touch with everyone when I get home.

Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey, August 29, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 15 – September 1, 2006

Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 29, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  <1 nautical mile
Wind direction: o
Wind speed:  20-25 kts
Sea wave height: 2-3’
Swell wave height: 4-6’
Seawater temperature: 14 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1015.2 mb
Cloud cover: 8/8

The rain has stopped but it’s a very foggy day here in the Gulf of Maine – not unusual for this area, according to the officers.  I visited the bridge early this morning before dawn and Acting XO Jason Appler mentioned the “cabin fever” that can result from sailing through fog for days on end. We were hoping to see the beautiful coast of Maine but we may pass without ever catching a glimpse if this fog keeps up.

On the second station of our watch, in addition to the bongos, we used another plankton net which extends from a rectangular frame.  It’s called a neuston net and it’s towed right at the surface, partly in and partly out of the water.  The object of this tow is to catch lobster larvae which, according to Jerry, are often found clinging to seaweed drifting at the surface. We’re doing this sampling for a student who is considering studying the distribution of lobster larvae for a thesis.

Jerry reminded me of two terms I learned at some point in the past but had forgotten.  Meroplankton  are animals that are residents of the plankton for only part of their lives, e.g., larvae of fish, crustaceans, and other animals.  Holoplankton is made up of jellyfish, copepods, chaetognaths, ctenophores, salps, larvaceans, and other animals that spend their entire lives in the plankton.

Jerry has a copy of the book The Open Sea by Sir Alister Hardy, a classic work of biological oceanography.  As only one example of his many marine expeditions, Hardy served as Chief Zoologist on the R.R.S. Discovery when it voyaged to Antarctica in the 1920’s. The first half of the book is devoted to plankton and the second half to fish and fisheries. Both parts contain a number of his beautiful watercolors of the animals discussed, painted from freshly caught specimens and all the more remarkable for the fact that they were done on a rocking ship!

Personal Log – Karen Meyers 

The seas got pretty bouncy this evening. I had been feeling pretty cocky about my “sea legs” but was getting a little uneasy. However, I did cope without any problems.  I don’t really understand seasickness and I get the feeling no one else does either.  I wonder how often and for how long one has to be at sea before their sea legs become permanent.

Personal Log – Alexa Carey 

It’s like riding a bucking bronco out here on the ocean.  Walking, by itself, is forcing me to improve my coordination.  I love it. I’m only worried about how I’ll be on land…last time I was swaying back and forth for a few hours. I think Karen got quite a kick out of that.

We’re still taking pictures for the contest.  It’s difficult being creative, especially because we’re limited on what we have for resources.  We’ve got one picture that I hope turns out well. One of Tracy’s good friends sent her the picture of the Brady Bunch.  I’ve been trying to work the picture so that our shift’s faces are in place of the original cast.  The only one that truly looks in place is Wes, he actually looks natural!  We’re having such a great time!

We all climbed into our survival suits again and took pictures on the stairs.  Believe me when I say that sitting on the stairs in those “Gumby” suits, is a very difficult task.  Wes was holding all of us up. Tracy had a hold of the side and I was propped up in between them.  Alicea was very ready to jump forward in case we were to all start the journey downstairs a bit too quickly. I’m still having an amazing time.

Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey, August 28, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 15 – September 1, 2006

Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 28, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  <1 nautical mile
Wind direction: 116 o
Wind speed: 15 kts
Sea wave height: 1’
Swell wave height: 2-3’
Seawater temperature: 13.8 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1015.6 mb
Cloud cover: 8/8

Science and Technology Log 

This is the first rainy day we’ve had.  It’s pretty chilly as well and not all that pleasant working on deck so we were delighted when the “kids” watch came on (our watch is known as the “geezer” watch) and got us out of doing an EPA station.  I can’t imagine doing this in January. It’s a great day to stay indoors which is what I’ve been doing as much as possible – working on lesson plans and the Power Point on this trip, and reading.  I did help Jerry do a collection for a WHOI scientist who is looking at the bacterium that causes Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning.  That involved filtering 2 L of seawater through progressively smaller filters and then washing the filtrate off the finest filter into a bottle of medium in which the bacterium, Pseudo-nitzchia, will grow.

I had some nice conversations with crewmembers today.  Chief Boatswain Tony Vieira came from Portugal with his family at the age of 17.  After working construction for a few years, he began commercial fishing with his brother and fished for 18 years.  Ten years ago he was happy to give up that difficult and dangerous profession to work for NOAA. Although he plans to retire before long, Tony says he won’t want to stay away from the ocean for long and will probably look for opportunities to fill in on ships now and then.

We pulled up a heteropod with the bongos (not exactly in them) yesterday or the day before. It’s a gastropod that’s modified for a planktonic existence. Unfortunately, it was somewhat mangled so we didn’t get a complete picture of what one looks like.  It would be wonderful to see some of these animals in their natural element.

Personal Log – Alexa Carey 

“Alexa, call the bridge.” I froze for a second as if I had just been called to the principal’s office. Going to a phone, ENS Chris Skapin told me he had a project for me and I was to carry a very large box to the bridge. As Wes and I scrambled to find a very large box, we speculated the many different activities I was about to be a part of.  As soon as I walked in, the men talked in unusually quiet whispers.  After several minutes, I figured out why.  Acting XO Jason Appler had made quick friends with a small bird fluttering around the bridge. A sigh of relief came from me as we hunted down the small creature.  After attempting to feed and give water to the small bird, he was let free.  Unfortunately, as Mike Conway pointed out, few birds that are not adapted to sea-life can survive so far out to sea.

I finally got up to the bridge.  Kurt showed me how everything works, radar and all the other navigation programs.  All the crew told me that if I want to see some sort of marine life, to go up to the bridge when XO Jason Appler is there.  About ten minutes after I was up on the bridge with Skapin and Appler, we saw a humpback whale come completely out of the water. There was a huge pod swimming about 100 m away.

Jerry added another station to break up our steam time; we had had one six-hour steam which we were all looking forward to. It seems like we might be getting in earlier than I expected, maybe now I’ll have extra time to hang out with Tracy and Alicea before we all have to leave. I can’t believe my three weeks are almost over!

Personal Log – Karen Meyers 

I don’t think I’ve spent so many days without a to-do list in years.  I can see some of the appeal of the mariner’s life.  Things are a bit simpler out here.

Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey, August 27, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 15 – September 1, 2006

Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 27, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility: 12 nautical miles
Wind direction 36 o
Wind speed: 13 kts
Sea wave height: 1’
Swell wave height: 2’
Seawater temperature: 15.5 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1025.6 mb
Cloud cover: 7/8

Science and Technology Log 

This morning we launched a drifter buoy that will transmit its position to a satellite so our students can monitor it via a website. Tamara Browning, the other teacher on board, wrote her school’s name on it and I wrote Garrison Forest School and drew a paw print for the GFS Grizzlies. The buoy consists of a small flotation device – about a foot in diameter or a little larger – which contains the electronics and is tethered to a part that looks like a wind sock but will be underwater where it will catch water currents as opposed to wind. Jerry picked a launching spot in the channel where the Labrador Current enters the Gulf of Maine. He says it may stay in the Gulf of Maine and circle around or it may exit with the outgoing current.  It is designed to last for over 400 days. It will fun to have my students follow it and plot its course on a map.

JE Orlando Thompson gave us a tour of the engine room this morning.  He took us into the air-conditioned booth which overlooks the room and contains the control panels.  Orlando explained that the center part of the console controls the main engines (there are 2), the left portion controls the power supply for the ship, and the right side is for the trawl engine which is used when trawling or dredging.  He said that the fuel for each day is first purified to remove sediments and then put into the day tank.  The emergency generator, which is located behind the bridge, has its own fuel tank.  The ship runs on diesel fuel. Down on the floor of the engine room, he showed us the transmission and the shaft that runs aft to the propeller.  The ship moves forward when the blades of the propeller are adjusted to the right pitch. To stop the forward motion during sampling, the pitch is changed. Orlando, who was originally from Panama, learned his craft in the Navy where he served on aircraft carriers that he says make the ALBATROSS IV look like a toy.

Personal Log – Karen Myers 

We finally saw whales today! Well, maybe not whole whales but we did see spouts, flukes, and tails. Ensign Chris Daniels identified them as Right Whales by their divided, v-shaped spouts.  One reason that whalers called this species “Right” whales is that they are slow and sluggish and so were easier to catch up with and kill

Personal Log – Alexa Carey 

Tracy, Alicea and I all sleep through breakfast and lunch so we meet in the galley for cereal and toast around 12:00. Unfortunately, we missed the whales that showed up around 10 a.m. Apparently there were several pods swimming around the boat, one off the port side, one off the starboard side and one off the portside of the fantail.  I’m still trying to understand the different terminology.  Don Cobb stated that there were probably close to 40 whales total in the three different pods.

Karla is definitely a trooper. For her sampling, she has to be working for sixteen hours straight, however, there have been days when she’s been awake for over 24.  It’s great to be in a group of close girls.  Tracy and Alicea are very welcoming, friendly and personable. In such confined spaces, that’s a blessing to find two women who are so agreeable.  There’s no pettiness, nor competition.

Life at sea is simpler than on land, I think, though you have to be able to find ways to keep yourself occupied and still find times to simply sit back and enjoy the frontier around you. I’ll spend time writing to home and my friends, talking to the various crew members, scientists and officers, reading, journaling my opinions and interpretations, and relaxing on the hurricane deck looking out to the sea.  It’s very calm and laid back here.  I think I like it here…

We’re having a cook-out tonight!  Well, actually, it’s a pseudo-cookout because we left the propane tank at port. It’s basically an onboard barbeque which everyone gets together for (assuming that we’re not on station at the time).  Tracy says, “Nothing beats eating dinner right on the ocean as the sun starts going beneath the clouds.”  Following, Alicea said, “We takes a beating, but we keeps on eating.”

Ten minutes before we arrive at each station, the bridge sends an announcement over the intercom.  Depending on the officer manning the bridge, a variety of calls can be decreed onboard. Ensign Chris Daniels (now nicknamed the Nascar driver), however, gave all the calls in one, “10 minutes to station, 10 minutes to CTD, 10 minutes to bongos, 10 minutes to bottom grab, 10 minutes to the longest station of the cruise.”  Unbeknownst to the shift at the time, it was indeed the longest station and took over two hours on station due to problems with the CTD and bottom grab.  As Alicea put it, “We should kindly ask the bridge to keep their comments to themselves [so they stop jinxing us]!”

Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey, August 26, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 15 – September 1, 2006

Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 26, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility: 12 nautical miles
Wind direction: 3 o
Wind speed: 16 kts
Sea wave height: 1-2 ’
Swell wave height: 2 1/2’
Seawater temperature: 15.5 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1024 mb
Cloud cover: 1/8

Science and Technology Log 

Today we sampled at the deepest station of the trip – 350 m. We had to do what they call a “double dipper” because the bongos are never lowered any deeper than 200 m since pretty much any organisms of interest to Fisheries are with 200 m of the surface.  But the CTD is still lowered all the way to within 5-10 m of the bottom in order to get a complete hydrographic profile.

Karla Heidelberg is engaged in real cutting edge research in microbial genetics.  Now at the University of Southern California, she has worked with the J. Craig Venter Institute which is in the midst of an ambitious program to provide a genomic survey of microbial life in the world’s oceans.  This survey is producing the largest gene catalogue ever assembled and will provide scientists worldwide with an opportunity to better understand how ecosystems function and to discover new genes of ecological importance.  The survey is based on collections made during a circumnavigation of the globe by the sailing yacht Sorcerer II between September 2003, and January 2006.  But this expedition didn’t allow for sampling of the same areas over time.  So, with the help of an NSF grant and NOAA ship time, Karla is sampling and resampling areas in the Gulf of Maine.  When she takes samples, she pumps 200-400 L of water on board and filters it through a series of filters, first to eliminate the zooplankton and phytoplankton, and then to separate the various components of the microbial community.  The filters are frozen while on board ship and then, back in the lab, they’re subjected to an enzyme treatment to remove everything but the DNA. The DNA is then nebulized to break it into small fragments and the fragments are cloned.  The fragments are reassembled and sequenced.  As poorly understood as the ocean in general is, the microbial life of the ocean is a true frontier!

Personal Log – Karen Meyers 

I love sitting out on one of the decks gazing at the sea.  Of course, I’m always hoping to see a whale or a Giant Ocean Sunfish but even though I’ve been pretty unsuccessful at spotting anything, I find it very calming to watch the ocean.  I’m amazed when I look at it that there are painters who are skillful enough to recreate the complex patterns on a canvas.

Personal Log – Alexa Carey 

Well our shift worked extremely hard today, hard enough that we all fell asleep within 10 minutes of a post-shift movie.  We got hit with station after station during our 12 hour period. It’s fascinating, though, to be looking at the organisms that come up in the grab or bongo nets. I’m not very familiar with the different scientific classifications of animals, but I certainly have an appreciation for what the ocean holds.  As Karla said, we’re seeing what 1% of the Earth has ever seen before.  We’re truly in undiscovered territory.

Like the rainforest, there are many species that have yet to be discovered.  At ISEF, my father and I went to an IMAX theatre to watch Deep Blue Sea in 3D.  The VPR (Video Plankton Recorder) showed images just like what we saw on the big screen. I live on the coast, yet I had no idea what was in the ocean.  In fact, people come from all over to whale watch in Gold Beach.  Yet I have never seen a whale, nor have I seen a dolphin.

I go home in six days and head back to school in eight.  I’m getting pretty fond of being out here now, and the idea of sitting in a classroom reading from textbooks isn’t as appealing. I do miss discussions with my teachers (i.e. Ms. Anthony (Calculus); Coach Swift (American Gov’t); Mr. Lee (Honors English II)) though.  Anyway, we’re coming on shift now. So I’d best be off to work.

Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey, August 24, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 15 – September 1, 2006

Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 24, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility: 12 nautical miles
Wind direction 90o
Wind speed:  12-13 kts
Sea wave height 2’
Swell wave height 3-4’
Seawater temperature 20.4C
Sea Level Pressure: 1018 mb
Cloud cover: 4/8

Science and Technology Log 

We’re finally on the famous George’s Bank. It’s been a busy day – we had 7 stations on our watch, including 2 EPA stations.  It’s a lovely day, a little chilly, with a brisk wind.

I asked Jerry earlier in the cruise why George’s Bank has historically been such a productive area for fisheries. He explained that, first of all, it’s shallow so fish can spawn there and sunlight can penetrate the water column, providing energy for phytoplankton.  Steve said he’s seen a picture from the 1900’s of guys playing baseball on the shoals in the middle of the Bank.  Secondly, there’s a gyre-like water movement, probably resulting from the Labrador Current meeting the Gulf Stream, so it’s rich in nutrients and the fish that hatch there tend to be kept there by the current.  I’ve also heard about the “Hague Line” that was established by the International Court in the Hague to divide George’s Bank between Canada and the U.S.  Steve talked about how fisherman fish right along it. It’s great to get the perspectives of someone like Jerry whose views are those of a scientist well versed in fish and fisheries and Steve who has a wealth of knowledge from fishing this area.

I had a nice visit on the bridge this morning with Acting CO Kurt Zegowitz and Ensign Chad Meckley. Chad told me that the ALBATROSS IV doesn’t have a rudder – it’s steered by something called a Kort Nozzle which is essentially a large metal open-ended cylinder around the propeller.  When it is turned, it directs the outwash which makes the ship turn. Jerry suggested that it may be better for fishing boats because the nets sometimes get caught on a rudder.  However, this ship is not as maneuverable as it would be with a rudder.

I also got some more information on life in the NOAA Corps.  It seems like a pretty attractive job for a young person. Kurt spent his first sea duty in Hawaii and had a wonderful experience. Chad is thinking about what kind of billet he hopes to be assigned to for his shore duty, which will come after the ALBATROSS IV is decommissioned.  Kurt showed me a list of NOAA Corps billets – both at sea and on land and a list of the individuals in the Corps and where they are currently stationed.  I was pleased to see how many women are in the Corps.

Personal Log – Alexa Carey

I’ve become good friends with my new watch-mates; we have a lot of fun together.  From after-shift meetings at 3 a.m. to ‘Cake Breaks,’ Alicea, Wes, Tracy and I have really come together as a team.  I’ve never been too fond of group projects, most of the time because it leads to one person doing all of the work.  However, our shift has selected specific job roles that we trade off to ease the constant work load and maximize efficiency.

I’ve been talking to a wide variety of people through email, from my science teacher to friends from ISEF to family abroad.  I’m hoping to have a new puppy waiting at home when I get there. We used to have a Keeshond (Dutch Barge dog) named Dutch.  I’m hoping for a Tervuren or Husky, but it’s ultimately up to my parents because he/she will stay with them when I head over to school.  I encourage anyone I know who has a dog to watch the Dog Whisperer w/ Cesar Milan (Animal planet).

I’ve only been up since 11 a.m. (we go to bed after 3 a.m.) so not much has occurred today. Both shifts will be getting hit with stations rapidly today.  We might have close to 8 stations in just a single shift.  Still no whale sightings, but we’re not giving up hope. Last night, a sea of fish rode next to us on the boat. These fish (juveniles about 8 inches long), would jump about 3 feet out and across the water.  It was pretty neat. I’m going to get lunch and start piling on my gear.

Personal Log – Karen Meyers 

I can’t believe how comfortable I feel aboard ship now.  At first I was at loose ends about how to fill the free time, especially since it comes in chunks of unpredictable length.  But now, between writing logs, writing emails, working on the photo contest, making up a Power Point on my experience as a NOAA Teacher at Sea, talking to people on board, and trying to spend some time on the bridge or the hurricane deck watching for whales, the day just zips by.

Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey, August 22, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 15 – September 1, 2006

Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 22, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility: 8 nautical miles
Wind direction 270 o
Wind speed: 5.5 kts
Sea wave height 1-2’
Swell wave height 2’
Seawater temperature 19 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1017.4 mb
Cloud cover: 6/8, Cumulus, Cirrus

Science and Technology Log 

We’ve done 4 stations on our watch and that’s it for today because we’re heading back into port to exchange personnel. We expect to dock around 4 p.m. and then leave Wednesday morning around 11.

I went up to the bridge to get weather data today and came away again with a wealth of information from Captain Steve Wagner.  He explained the difference between sea waves and swell waves.  Swell waves are generated by distant weather systems and tend to have longer wavelengths. Sea waves are created by local winds – they’re more like chop.  There can be swells coming from different directions and this is the source, he said, of the belief among surfers that every third wave is a bigger wave.  If there are swells approaching a beach from two different directions, sometimes they’ll come together in constructive interference, resulting in a wave that’s larger than either and other times they’ll cancel each other out in destructive interference.  It may be every third wave that they come together or it may be every fifth wave or whatever.  They estimate the heights of the waves and the swells visually.  Seawater temperature is measured by a hull sensor.  Cloud cover is also measured visually by dividing the sky into 8th’s and estimating how many 8th’s are made up of clouds.  Visibility is measured visually as well but confirmed, if possible, by radar or land sightings. For instance, right now Martha’s Vineyard is visible and they know the distance to the island so that can help them come up with a visibility number. If they’re out at sea and there’s nothing to use as a marker and the horizon appears crisp, they post a 10-mile visibility.  They send all their weather data to the National Weather Service every 3 hours.  They have a book–the same one with the Beaufort Scale ratings–that has pictures of cloud formations, each with a number and letter to identify it so they can use that for their reports.

He also explained that when they’re estimating visibility, they have to take into account “height of eye” which is how far above the water they are when they’re looking out.  For Steve Wagner on this ship, it’s about 26 feet because the bridge is about 20 feet above the water and Steve himself is 6 feet tall.  That affects the visibility distance and there’s a formula they can use which takes the square root of height of eye and multiplies by 1.17 to correct the visibility figure.

We also discussed the fact that US offshore charts use fathoms (1 fathom = 6 feet) while the charts of harbors, which have shallower water and so require greater resolution, use feet. Canadian charts use meters.  So a mariner has to be aware of what measurement the chart he’s looking at uses. He said the Spanish have their own fathom which is less than 6 feet.

I find it fascinating that there’s such a combination of information from high-tech sources like GPS and low-tech sources like the human eye used in piloting, navigation, and weather prediction.

Personal Log – Karen Meyers 

I got very said news via email yesterday.  A woman who worked in the business office at my school and was an experienced horsewoman was killed in a riding accident.  The service was today. I’ll look for a sympathy card and send it to her family while we’re in port.

Alexa, Tamara, and I are going on a shopping trip to Falmouth.  I have a list of things to buy including a deck chair, if I can find one. No one here seems to object to the concept of deck chairs but there are only 3 on the whole ship and they’re in much demand.  If I can find a cheap, lightweight one in Falmouth, I’ll buy it and then just donate it to the ship when I leave, along with the book Cod by Mark Kurlansky which I finished and passed on to Jerry Prezioso and my cache of granola bars if there are any left (which there almost certainly will be).

Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey, August 21, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 15 – September 1, 2006

Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 21, 2006

Science and Technology Log 

It’s a beautiful day – clear and a bit blustery and the water is a beautiful deep blue.  We’re off the coast of Long Island, heading back towards Woods Hole where we’re expected to arrive about 4:30 p.m. tomorrow, spend the night there and exchange some personnel, and leave the next day to head north.  It’s been a very quiet watch – we had two stations in rapid succession starting about 2:30 a.m. and then had a long steam – for about 7 hours and then one more station.  So there’s been lots of free time to fill with reading, working on crossword and Sudoku puzzles, checking email, sunning on the bow, using the exercise equipment, etc.

Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey, August 18, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 15 – September 1, 2006

Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 18, 2006

Science and Technology Log 

I visited the bridge this morning and plan to go back again for another visit because there’s so much to learn there. There’s an amazing amount of equipment up there and Captain Steve Wagner made an attempt to explain some of it to me.  There are two radar units of different frequencies. The higher frequency unit is a 3 cm unit (I assume 3 cm is the wavelength) and has greater resolution so it can be used when entering harbors, for instance.  The other is a 10 cm unit that can cover a larger area.  They have to have two of every instrument in case one malfunctions.  They have the same program – NobelTec – as Jerry uses. It shows the charts for all the areas we are cruising through.  On the chart, our course is plotted and every station is marked with a square that becomes a star when you click on it. The ship appears as a little green, boat-shaped figure that the program calls the SS Minnow (after the boat in Gilligan’s Island).  The program can tell you the distance to the next station and the ETA (estimated time of arrival) as well as the time to reach the station.  You can zoom in or out and scroll around. It shows depths in fathoms.  The program works with a GPS unit to monitor position.  On another monitor, they get online weather information.  The site on the screen had a graphic which shows the area we’re heading into marked all over with the little icons used in weather maps to show wind speed and direction. It was easy to see the low-pressure system which I’d heard was weakening off the coast of South Carolina.  They also get weather data through a little machine called a NAVTEX (Navigational Telex), similar to a FAX, that prints out a continuous strip of paper about 4 inches wide and gives weather data for various segments of the coast, e.g., Fenwick Island to Cape Hatteras or Cape Hatteras to Murrells Inlet. The information comes from stations at several points along the coast.  The machine checks the accuracy as it prints out and gives an error rate at the top right.  If it’s too high, it stops and starts over. I can sympathize with Captain Wagner when he talks about how difficult it is to keep up with the new technology.  I feel the same way as a teacher. The big difference is that he has lives in his hands.  At the same time, he adds that the technology available makes his job much easier.

Personal Log – Alexa Carey 

Dolphins…enough said. The most amazing thing is seeing a massive pod of dolphins riding the wake less than 25 feet directly below you.  Tamara, Karen, Barbara, Jerry and I all clambered around the bow of the deck desperately snapping photos and avoiding wet paint as we safely peered over the edge. ENS Chris Daniels spied several areas with dolphins and flying fish and quickly pointed every spot out as he tried many different ways to get our attention.

We did another EPA station, which we do every five stations.  A great many of the crew joined us after our shift to play a game of ‘Set’; there were about 8 people pulling, pushing, and looking either dazed or confused at the visual card game.  I’ve been learning a lot about life on the East Coast and oceanography from Carly Blair, URI graduate student, while she sunbathed outside on the Hurricane deck.  Many activities occur out on the Hurricane deck like exercising on several of the available machines, sunbathing, whale watching, etc. It’s good to know that we still have our fun after working shift.

The two people who I admire extremely at this point are Don Cobb and Jon Hare, both East Coast natives. They are so knowledgeable on every subject that arises and work probably more than 18 hours a day.  Don came out to teach Barbara and me the procedures for each test and he spent an extra shift answering all questions and supervising our actions. Jerry taught me most of the computer and paperwork, and I was pretty confused for a while. Later that night, I sat in with Jon as he ran everything.  Every step of the way, he’d pause and explain how the system works and how to operate it. It’s something I appreciate beyond words.

I can’t believe how many great people are concentrated into such a small area.  I just don’t want to head home soon.

Personal Log – Karen Meyers 

I agree with Alexa – the dolphins were inspiring!  It’s amazing that they can swim faster than the ship – twice as fast, according to Jon.  I feel like I’m getting to know the people on the ship better and they’re an entertaining bunch.  They work so hard – Tim Monaghan just told us that someone figured out that a mariner works 7 years longer in a lifetime than an onshore worker because they work round the clock 7 days a week.  It makes my life seem awfully easy by comparison!

Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey, August 17, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 15 – September 1, 2006

Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 17, 2006

Alexa Carey, Steve Flavin, and Jon Hare maneuver the bongos and the Video Plankton Recorder to prepare for sampling.
Alexa Carey, Steve Flavin, and Jon Hare maneuver the bongos and the Video Plankton Recorder to prepare for sampling.

Science and Technology Log 

0200–I made it up for our watch and helped Alexa with the first plankton tow.  She’s already like a pro.  They call the sampling device “bongos,” I guess because it consists of two big stainless steel open-ended shallow cylinders which look somewhat like bongo drums to which are attached the two long, conical plankton nets. The mesh openings are 335 μm. They’re towed for about 5 minutes.  This time they also did two baby bongos which are for a University of Connecticut researcher who wants to look at the genetics of plankton on either side of the edge of the continental shelf. Jerry tells me this apparatus is considered to be superior to the old plankton nets which were towed from a bridle because it was thought the bridle scared away some plankton that were mobile enough to avoid it.  Now the bridle is between the two nets which act to balance one another out and give a two-for-one sample.  They use one for zooplankton and one for fish larvae.  The samples are sent to Poland where they’re sorted and it takes almost a year to get the data back.  The bongos are attached to a big boom which is operated from the winch booth which sits above the aft deck.  They’re lowered over the port side and the ship is maneuvered so the wind is coming toward the port side so that the ship doesn’t get blown over the nets.  Steve Flavin, the deckhand who helps with the sampling, points out that in rough weather, that also means that the seas are coming over the port side as you’re working.  He says they’ve been out when the seas are breaking over the bow and over the entire superstructure onto the aft deck!

Chief Scientist Jerry Prezioso explained the sampling track to me.  They have the entire sampling area from the North almost up to the Bay of Fundy south to Hatter divided into what they call “strata” which are areas of continuous depth readings.  Each one is numbered and for each sampling trip (4, sometimes 5, per year), the computer randomly generates several stations within that stratum. From what he says, there has been a lot of discussion of the best way to sample to get a complete and accurate picture.  The original program was called MarMap which was started in the 70’s.  It used a grid pattern and sampled at the same stations every time.  The criticism of that was that some areas never got sampled so significant information could have been missed.

We’ve had an extremely busy shift.  We’re in an area off of Delaware Bay where “gliders” have been deployed. They are instruments that look like torpedoes and are programmed to work autonomously, moving back and forth across this area at varying depths and sending out data on salinity. John Hare is using that data to decide where we’ll do stations that will help to delimit the line between shelf water and slope water.  So we’ve done a number of stations in rapid succession.

We’ve also been testing a VPR, Video Plankton Recorder, which uses a camera and rotating strobe light to take pictures of plankton. The VPR takes as many as 20 pictures per second. A computer program then selects the images that can be identified.  The VPR would be used to supplement the bongos.  It reveals the depth at which the particular organisms occur which can’t be determined from the bongo samples.

Personal Log – Karen Meyers 

I’m relieved that my seasickness has passed.  I’m still finding that life at sea is somewhat of a challenge for me.  But I do like sleeping on a rocking ship.  I’m surprised by how much I miss my family – it’s different only being in touch by email and not being able to hear their voices.  I’m enjoying getting to know the various people on the ship – everyone is so kind and they all have such interesting backgrounds.  It’s such a different life that people live at sea! I’m impressed by the dedication of the scientists – they are serious about getting every station right, in spite of having done the procedure over and over again for years. Not only the scientists, but also Steve Flavin, the deckhand who helps us get the equipment over the side and back in again, is meticulous about never missing a step.

Personal Log – Alexa Carey 

Tamara, Karen and I interviewed Ensign Chad Meckley about his career path in NOAA corps. After coming out of the Merchant Marine Academy and completing BOTC training (a two-year course packed into four months), Meckley has begun working on the ALBATROSS IV to complete his sea-experience requirement . He describes his BOTC training as similar to drinking through a fire hose.

Karen and I are so lucky to come aboard to such a great crew.  I finally know everyone’s names and I believe most know mine.  Originally, I was quite scared of what this experience might be like because I know very little about the macro/micro organisms which we are observing. Secondly, I’ve never been to the East Coast before nor flown on a plane by myself for close to 10 hours. I miss my family quite a lot; I’d never really been this far away nor for such a long period of time.  Being completely out of contact for a week or more is quite difficult, but I know I’ll see them soon.  Fortunately, I’ve been adopted by a whole new family aboard ship just like at ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair) last May.

The crew and scientists aboard are amazing!  There’s so much to learn, not just from the scientists, but the officers and crew.  These men and women have hands-on experience with a huge variety of subjects. I’m getting to learn from top field-experts in ways textbooks cannot convey.  Additionally, I’m improving my understanding of science, technology, engineering, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Everything is going smoothly with the weather, especially because it’s hurricane season.  There are beautiful sunsets and sunrises.  It’s just a great overall experience, something that no one should pass up. I get back on the 2nd of September, drive another 6 hours home, and then have one day off before school but, it’s all worth it.  I’ve been requested to interview as many of the officers, crew and scientists as possible in the allotted time.  During the work shift, I found I can handle several of the procedures alone, though I’m constantly afraid of making a mistake.  So far, I’ve heard I’m the youngest to ever sail aboard so I’m attempting to learn quickly and earn my keep.

Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey, August 16, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 15 – September 1, 2006

Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 16, 2006

Science and Technology Log 

13:47 — I’ve lost the past day to seasickness. All the other visitors/females on board have also been sick except for Alexa who is amazing.  We are on the midnight to noon shift with Jerry. I missed the whole shift but Alexa worked the whole shift.  Barbara and Carly are barely functioning. Tamara and I are still hurting.  Everyone is very kind and encouraging. Think I’ll head back to bed for now.

 

Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey, August 15, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karen Meyers & Alexa Carey
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 15 – September 1, 2006

Alexa Carey, a student from Oregon, prepares to set sail aboard NOAA ship ALBATROSS IV.
Alexa Carey, a student from Oregon, prepares to set sail

Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 15, 2006

Science and Technology Log 

We’re still at the dock in Woods Hole.  NOAA inspectors delayed the ALBATROSS IV’s departure for a day. We’re due to leave at 2 p.m. today.  Weather is overcast and windy.

The science crew consists of Jerry Prezioso, Chief Scientist, who is from NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service; Jon Hare, also of NMFS; Don Cobb of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Barbara Sherman, who is a secretary at EPA in Narragansett and is out for a week as a volunteer; Carly Blair, a graduate student from URI; Alexa Carey, a student from Gold Beach, OR; Tamara Brown, a middle school teacher from Teaneck, NJ; and me.  I’ve met most but not all of the ship’s crew.  There are three NOAA Corps officers: Ensign Chad Meckley, Ensign Chris Daniels and Ensign Chris Skapin. We learned that the NOAA Corps is the seventh branch of the uniformed services, responsible for operating NOAA’s ships and planes.

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Karen Meyers, is ready to sail
Teacher at Sea, Karen Meyers, is ready to sail

The plan is to cruise south, perhaps as far as Cape Hatteras.  NMFS will be doing plankton tows and testing a video camera for surveying plankton.  EPA is taking water samples to test for a variety of nutrients and sediment samples to test for heavy metals and benthic organisms.  We’ll come back to WH on 8/23 to exchange personnel and then head north up to the Gulf of Maine and possibly as far as the Bay of Fundy near Nova Scotia, Canada.

Linda Depro, August 9, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Linda Depro
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 31 – August 11, 2006

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: Georges Bank, New England
Date: August 9, 2006

Science and Technology Log 

The dredge caught a monster lobster today.  The scientists seemed to think it was more than twenty years old. When held up it was the size of an adult’s length from shoulders to knees, and two hands were needed to hold it!  A spiny dogfish (looks like a shark) was also caught. I held it to have my picture taken and I plan to hang it on my classroom door! Otherwise the catches were the usual—some with lots of rocks, some with sand, others with many star fish or skates.  All these fantastic sea creatures that I have only seen in books have become part of my life here on board the ALBATROSS IV.  The star fish and hermit crabs are my favorites, skates are cool to look at and pick up by the tail and put in the bucket, goosefish (known as monk fish in the grocery store) have a face that “only a mother could love”, and the scallops, even though I’ve seen thousands of them are each a little different.

Personal Log 

Sunset was beautiful again tonight and the moon is spectacular.  With my binoculars the craters were very clear. A lone seagull followed us for a while; his white body against the black sky would have inspired me to write a poem if I were a poet.  Hard to believe the adventure is coming to an end, and what an adventure it was.  The crew has been super, very kind, and willing to talk and answer questions.  The scientists have an important job collecting and recording data; they are an interesting group to work with.  Thanks to all for making my time on the ALBATROSS IV the adventure of a lifetime.

Patti Conner, August 8, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Patti Connor
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 31 – August 11, 2006

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: Northwest Atlantic
Date: August 8, 2006

Data: (collected very early morning, 3AM) 
Air temperature = 18 C0 (65 F0 )
Water temperature = 18.9 C0 (68 F0)
Weather = rain
Depth of trawl = 98 meters (remember, a meter and a yard are pretty close)
Water salinity = 31.28 ppm
Wind speed = 18 knots

Two-shelled mollusks and a one-shelled mollusk
Two-shelled mollusks and a one-shelled mollusk

Science and Technology Log 

We have been very busy collecting samples of scallops and fish.  We are weighing and measuring the scallops.  Some of the dredge amounts are huge so we collect all the scallops and take a sub-sample and weigh and measure those.  Another sample of scallops is cleaned, measured and frozen to determine the age of the scallops which is done at a lab on shore. We collect cancer crabs and starfish and count them as they eat scallops and we want to see the amount of predation. We are covering all 24 hours so there is a day watch from noon to midnight, and there is a night watch (mine) from midnight to noon.  When you eat a scallop, you are eating the abductor muscle.  This muscle can be quite large in a Sea Scallop which allows it to “swim” across the ocean floor and not creep along like a clam does.

Personal Log 

Two days ago the weather was warm and sunny.  I was lucky enough to see whales. I have never seen a whale out of captivity before and it was beautiful to see.  This morning there were very heavy rains and lightning. It didn’t take long for that weather front to move on. I am tired as my body is still adjusting to the work schedule. The work is also very physical as much of what we are sampling ends up back in the ocean.  We are collecting, shoveling, measuring and cleaning all the time. A few more day and we’ll be back to port at Woods Hole.  I will be returning to finish teaching summer school on Monday.  I can’t wait to be in the classroom and see my students again.

Answer to last log: The picture was the internal structures of a scallop, a two-shelled mollusk. The black dots were eyes. I read that the eyes are fairly complex structures with retinas, lenses, and a large nerve fiber.

Linda Depro, August 7, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Linda Depro
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 31 – August 11, 2006

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: Georges Bank, New England
Date: August 7, 2006

Science and Technology Log 

It’s a small world here on the ALBATROSS IV.  Chad Meckley is a 1996 Wilson High School graduate. Wilson is in Berks County and I live in Lancaster County, less than forty minutes away.  If you want to talk to Chad, look on the bridge.

Chad earned a geography/environmental science degree from Shippensburg University and moved to Colorado to be near the mountains.  After working several years in sales, Chad happened to be talking to a friend who knew about the NOAA Corps.  He applied, was accepted, and began training in February 2006.

We are on Leg 2 of the Sea Scallop Cruise and it is Chad’s third cruise with NOAA.  He enjoys being on the ocean and plans to continue his NOAA career.  Chad has two goals: to become Officer of the Deck (so he can command the ship) and to experience his first winter at sea.

It is evident that Chad enjoys what he’s doing; you can see it in his smile.  Best Wishes, Chad!

Last watch was not quite as busy as the night before.  We had two stations that were mostly Brittle Stars, very interesting little starfish.  They are a tannish color about the diameter of a coffee mug, with long thin arms that visibly move. When they were shoveled into laundry size baskets each time we had two baskets full, and that’s a lot of Brittle Stars!

Personal Log 

Yesterday, Sunday, was an absolutely, drop dead gorgeous day on the ocean.  The sun was out and the water was calm.  Whales were sighted, but in the distance.  I did see them surfacing and took pictures. Imagine a 4×6 all bluish-green and a fourth-inch dot of black. Sunset was working on spectacular, but just as the sun reached the water it went behind a layer of clouds. We are almost at full moon and the night time was just as beautiful in its own way.

Linda Depro, August 5, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Linda Depro
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 31 – August 11, 2006

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: Georges Bank, New England
Date: August 5, 2006

Science and Technology Log 

Yesterday was quite a day—many stations, lots of scallops, and BIG rocks.  I am amazed that the trawl net liner was not damaged.  Last night, though, a rock the size of a small car was hauled onto deck—that one did tear the liner.  It’s interesting to watch the winch drop it in the ocean.

My new special position (I’m still sorting, shoveling, and measuring) is taking the inclinometer, or bottom contact sensor, reading.  To you landlubbers, it’s a device attached to the trawl that gathers data and tells the scientists whether the net was parallel to the bottom of the ocean. So when the net comes up with very little the information from the inclinometer is helpful.

Here’s what I do. I have an optic shuttle (about the size of a hot dog) that I secure in the inclinometer located on the trawl.  Each part has sensors and when put together properly the inclinometer sends the data to the optic shuttle (like a zip) and when all information is received and a little green light flashed I take in into a computer and transfer the data onto the hard drive. It’s an important piece to the mission.

What I have been doing here is an example of how important hands-on learning really is for understanding and transfer. I could have read all about this experience (like you are with this journal), but until I held the fish, scrubbed the scallops, cut into a Monk fish to discover the ovaries, etc., I had no real understanding.  Amazing!

Personal Log 

The weather remains beautiful, the people are great, and the food is delicious.

Linda Depro, August 4, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Linda Depro
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 31 – August 11, 2006

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: Georges Bank, New England
Date: August 4, 2006

Science and Technology Log 

If you are observant you will notice that I’m on my second Friday in a row.  Time is a hard thing to keep track of here on the ocean.  Last watch, Thursday I think, we entered Canadian waters. I was looking for a sign the said “Welcome to Canada”, but I must have missed it.

I am a scallop scrubber!  With each haul five scallops are chosen at random to gather in-depth data on (all other scallops are weighed and measured only).  The shells are scrubbed clean so the scientists on shore can determine the age.  Scallop shells are a little like a tree trunk. Age is determined by growth rings.  The larger scallops can be five years and older. The scallop is measured for length and weighed individually then opened. The sex is entered into the computer next.  Male scallops have a white gonad and females have a pink gonad.  The gonad is weighed, and then the muscle (what we would call the “scallop”) is cut out and weighed.  The shell is dried and numbered to match the data, bagged, and frozen.  Some scallops are very clean, but others can have barnacles, “weeds”, sponges, and/or slime (don’t know the scientific term!) growing on their shells. As a shell scrubber you get to know these things and the best way to remove them!!  Finally the whole station is hosed down for the next haul.

Personal Log 

The noise of the engines and the rocking of the ship are becoming second nature.  The weather has been kind and swells small.  I am really, really hoping that is stays this way.  Laundry is my goal for the morning.  The washer and drier are behind a metal door called a hatch. There are six dogs (big metal latches) that must be closed when the ship is at sea. I have opened and closed those six dogs so many times I’ve given them names: King, Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Lady, Spot, and ToTo!  So many things to learn.

Patti Conner, August 4, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Patti Connor
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 31 – August 11, 2006

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: Northwest Atlantic
Date: August 4, 2006

Data: (collected mid-morning) 
Air temperature = 17 C(62.6 F0 )
Water temperature = 19.2 C0 (66 F0)
Weather = hazy
Depth of trawl = 85 meters (remember, a meter and a yard are pretty close)
Water salinity = 31.06 ppm
Wind speed = 10.56 knots

I am working in the Biology Lab which is located on the back deck of the ALBATROSS IV
I am working in the Biology Lab which is located on the back deck of the ALBATROSS IV

Science and Technology Log 

The 12 hour shift is going very well. It is a little cooler out here than I expected, but the water temperature does affect the air. It is quite foggy today as we continue to travel northeast around Georges Bank. We have been in a little deeper water today, and have collected fewer scallops but we continue to bring in fish and many broken mollusk shells. Surprisingly, we brought up more algae than before even though the water is deeper. The main fish we are collecting are: Flounder, Hake, Skates, Sculpin, and Goosefish (also know as Monk Fish). I will be sending some pictures of the fish as well as some more invertebrate pictures.

Personal Log 

I miss being at home and respect those who are at sea working. It is demanding work, but when the sun rises over the water it is an impressive site and makes everything seem worthwhile. I wouldn’t care to be out here in the winter, but the boat and crew are except for a few weeks of the year. Next time we have a snow day, I’ll be thinking of my friends out here on the boat in howling winds. Today we had a little time between dredging so I was able to come up with several new labs for next year. My students will have a few new labs for our Under The Sea Unit. We will have some fish, and reptile (Sea Turtle) identifications to make using taxonomic keys. I am also working on a Squid dissection lab in addition to the Starfish dissection lab. Of course there will be a lab on Scallops (no, we are not going to eat them!).

Invertebrate identification from previous log = Echinoderms (Sunstars), and Vertebrate identification = Me! 

What invertebrate is this?  Look at the number of shells.  What are the small black spots?

connor_log3a

Linda Depro, August 3, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Linda Depro
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 31 – August 11, 2006

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: Georges Bank, New England
Date: August 3, 2006

Science and Technology Log 

Life happens here aboard ALBATROSS IV in twelve-hour intervals. My watch is from twelve noon until twelve midnight and the other watch is from twelve midnight until twelve noon.  I feel fortunate to have the “day watch” because at midnight I fall into bed dead tired and let the ocean rock me to sleep.  After breakfast I have time to write in my journal, read, do laundry, or sit and talk to the many interesting people who are aboard.  Lunch at 11:15 and then it’s off to work at 11:50.  If the stations are close together that means there is not much steam time and hauls can come in in 45 minutes or less.  So far that has been enough time to log all the data from the previous haul, freeze any biological samples to be worked up at the on shore lab, and clean up.  If steam time is longer I can read a book, get a snack (there is always fresh fruit out – I am a happy camper!), or eat dinner.

Personal Log 

Yesterday morning I was showering before breakfast.  As I was soaping I looked out the port hole that is in the shower. It was one of those “wow” moments.  Where else can a person take a shower with white caps splashing against the window?  I recounted my experience with the watch chief. She said, “Wait until the porthole is underwater.”  I certainly will be holding on the grab bars!

I’ve talked to the head cook and his assistant several times, both very kind men who obviously enjoy their jobs. Their food is excellent.  Each meal includes two entrees and many sides.  One lunch entree was unbelievable – blackened scallops prepared by using the scallops that had been part of the biological sampling in the wet lab.  Talk about fresh – and were they delicious!!

Patti Conner, August 2, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Patti Connor
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 31 – August 11, 2006

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: Northwest Atlantic
Date: August 2, 2006

Data: (collected mid-morning) 
Air temperature = 17 C0 (62.6 F0 )
Water temperature = 15.5 C0 (60 F0)
Weather = sunny, windy
Depth of trawl = 45.4 meters (remember, a meter and a yard are pretty close)
Water salinity = 31.54 ppm
Wind speed = 13.52 knots

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Patti Connor, helps to sort sea scallops aboard NOAA ship ALBATROSS IV.
NOAA Teacher at Sea, Patti Connor, helps to sort sea scallops aboard NOAA ship ALBATROSS IV.

Science and Technology Log 

Today we are sailing northeast of our sailing position yesterday. We are going to circle Georges Bank counterclockwise. Our dredges today were interesting. We continue to bring scallops in, but my watch team tells me there are more plentiful spots to come.  At one site, we found so many sand dollars that I couldn’t believe my eyes.  This particular species of sand dollar produces a very brilliant green colored pigment which stains everything (starfish, algae, fish and me!).  I am learning to identify the many species of starfish that we bring in.  One of my jobs is to count them at various sites by randomly selecting from the dredge material.  At one site, I was counting hundreds of them.  It’s amazing how well they can hide and are camouflaged in the algae.  Many of the scallops have thick red layers of red algae on them (remember that red algae can grow at deeper depths because the red pigment can trap the minimal amount of sunlight needed for photosynthesis), and they also can be found carrying Porifera (sponges) on them which also helps them to be camouflaged.

Personal Log 

I do love it out here. My inner ear and brain has adjusted to the perpetual motion of the boat. I have not had a problem with seasickness yet.  It has helped that the weather has been nice. I am also doing well with the midnight to noon work schedule.  It is a little funny to see the fog roll across the deck of the boat in the darkness of the night.  Sunrise is my favorite time as the light changes how everything looks, especially the dredge samples, and it is nice to see the waves and the great expanse of the water.

Yesterdays invertebrate sample: Starfish (phylum = Echinodermata).

Today’s invertebrate sample: starfish!
Today’s invertebrate sample: starfish!

Linda Depro, August 1, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Linda Depro
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 31 – August 11, 2006

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: Georges Bank, New England
Date: August 1, 2006

Science and Technology Log 

To quote that famous seaman, Popeye, “A sailor’s life for me!!”  I’m thinking about joining him and changing careers – this experience is fantastic.

The ALBATROSS IV is conducting the second leg of the Atlantic scallop survey, and we are in Georges Bank off the coast of New England.  In specific stations (areas of the ocean) the scientists are keeping data;  the number of scallops, their size, and weight, the number and kind of fish, the volume of the entire catch, and at specific stations the number of crabs, or the number of starfish.

The vessel steams to each station where the dredge is lowered and then AIV trawls for fifteen minutes.  The haul is brought in and emptied onto the aft deck where the scientists, volunteers, and me (teacher at sea) sort through and put the scallops and fish into different baskets. With that completed we go back and shovel all unneeded shells, sand, etc. into baskets that are recorded (for volume) and returned to the sea.  The scallops and fish are taken into the wet lab where they are counted, weighed, and measured.  Five random scallops are chosen to be individually surveyed.  The shells are scrubbed clean (one of my jobs) so their age can be determined later; each is measured, weighed, and opened. The sex of the scallop is recorded, the gonad weighed, and the abductor muscle weighed.  Finally the shell is numbered to correspond to the data (in a computer) for each.  The shells are bagged, marked, and frozen for later study.

Personal Log 

All my expectations about this adventure pale to the experience that it has been so far.  When Patti Connor (the other Teacher at Sea) and I saw the ALBATROSS IV for the first time we were awe-struck.  My excitement at that moment wiped away any worries or fears about the adventure. Tony, the first bo’sun, was on deck and welcomed us aboard.  He was the first, and with each new crewmember, from the steward to the engineer to the captain we met I felt more and more “at home.”

The staterooms hold three scientists; my bed is on the bottom of the bunk bed.  We have two portholes for light, a sink, two closets, and some storage drawers.  The head and shower are shared with the next stateroom.  The room is pretty much for sleeping and showering because I cannot go in while one roommate on the opposite watch is sleeping.  It is amazing how the roll of the boat puts me to sleep, and so far I have been sleeping quite well.

Sorting through the piles that are brought up from the bottom of the sea is very exciting.  Even those who have been doing this for a while are enthusiastic about the catch.  I am picking up REAL LIVE hermit crabs, flounder, scallops, crabs, starfish, sand dollars, and more!

Patti Conner, July 31, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Patti Connor
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 31 – August 11, 2006

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: Northwest Atlantic
Date: July 31, 2006

Weather Data
Air temperature = 17 C0
Water temperature = 18.3 C0
Weather = Fog, haze
Depth of trawl = 60.9 meters
Water salinity = 31.03 ppm
Wind speed = 13 knots

The ALBATROSS lV moored at port, Woods Hole, MA
The ALBATROSS lV moored at port, Woods Hole, MA

Science and Technology Log 

I woke up at 11:00 PM (23:00) Monday and started to get ready for my first 12-hour watch.  The ship changed to two 12-hour watches this year instead of the 6 hours on, 6 hours off, 6 hours on, 6 hours off watches.  I would think that the 12 hour watches are less disruptive to our biological clocks, and would make it much easier to get into a working, eating and sleeping pattern.  The scientists and crewmembers on my watch seem quite happy with this schedule.  We are sailing around Georges Bank, and doing 15-minute dredging samples at computer predetermined sites.  Some of the sites are close together and others are spaced farther apart.  When the dredging gear is brought aboard, there is a scramble to sort through the material.  We are separating fish and scallops and counting them, and then the other invertebrate animals are returned to the sea. The scallops are taken to the wet, biology lab and weighed and measured using computerized equipment and a program which tallies the data for scientists to interpret here and on shore. Since the scallop industry is such a large economic industry, these studies help to ensure the survival of the business and ecosystem.

Personal Log 

What an amazing journey this has been. I will never forget seeing my first sampling of marine organisms dredged up from the bottom of the sea.  Sorting through the algae, fish and invertebrates is just an exciting experience. It is fabulous to see fish that I have never seen before, and see their mouth shape and structure which allows them to eat and survive. The invertebrates such as mollusks, sponges and echinoderms are fabulous and abundant. To reinforce our invertebrate phyla, I will be posting an animal picture of the day and asking you to identify the phylum.  I will post the answer the next day. Do you remember these guys (or gals)?

What phyla do these animals belong to?

Joel Jaroch, July 10-28, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Joel Jaroch
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 13 – 28, 2006

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic
Dates: July 10-29, 2006

I will be presenting my experience on the ALBATROSS IV a bit different from the typical Teacher at Sea log format because of some challenges we faced in getting to sea and given the work schedule we kept—12 hour shifts, leaving me a bit exhausted from the work.

So, from this entry you will get an overall “look” at what took place during the time at sea for the Sea Scallop survey. Since the work done for each 12 hour shift was the same procedurally and only the change was in content of what was caught, I believe you will find the way in which I am presenting my experiences as more reader friendly.

As my shift ended at noon each day, I will present the weather data from the bridge in a chart for the 1200 hour each day we were at sea. This allows you to see change in the weather over the days at the same time each day. What do you see in terms of sea and air temperature change as we steamed north at the end of our survey? Can you guess which day(s) we felt the effects of Tropical Storm Beryl?

The ALBATROSS IV at port prior to departure for the North Atlantic Sea Scallop survey Leg 1.
The ALBATROSS IV at port prior to departure for the North Atlantic Sea Scallop survey Leg 1.

Science and Technology Component: 

In a 12 hour period of sampling for the North Atlantic Sea Scallop a wide array of organisms were taken from the sea floor bottom with the dredge. The dredge was run for a set amount of time, always 15 minutes. Over those few minutes and the ALBATROSS IV running at about 3.85 knots, the dredge tow covered about 1 nautical mile.

When this is done a station would have been sampled. There are a certain number of stations that are sampled within what is called a stratum. The number of stations sampled in any given strata is dependent upon strata size. A strata is defined by an area of uniform depth AND what substrate exists on the sea floor. Substrate is the living and non-living things found on the sea floor bottom.

The number of stations per stratum is determined based on two factors – area of stratum and the importance of that area to the scallop assessment (the computer randomly picks the locations but the number or stations is predetermined.) A non-random station becomes part of the survey sample when a site is picked on purpose by NOAA scientists or other scientists because there is a specific reason to go there for sampling. For example, one reason a station is non-random is because a scientist wants to develop a history for a station to monitor changes over time.

Along the North Atlantic there are many strata and the potential for hundreds of stations for NOAA scientist use to assess the sea scallop population. Therefore, for the first leg of the 2006 Sea Scallop survey 295 stations were sampled. This was done with two teams of 8 to 9 people working 24 hours a day. One shift worked from noon to midnight while the other team began work at midnight and finished at noon. The following chart shows how many stations were sampled by each team for the dates July 13 through 27. The primary reason for the wide range of stations sampled from shift to shift and day-to-day has to do with the distance between stations. The greater the distance the longer it took the ALBATROSS IV to steam to the next station. Also weather conditions had certainly slowed some of the sampling. With any thunder and lightning, the NOAA officers would not permit the team to be on the back deck sorting a sample for obvious safety reasons.

Jon Jarrell and Peter Kiss, NOAA General Vessel Assistants, help ensure the dredge contents are completely emptied on stern.
Jon Jarrell and Peter Kiss, NOAA General Vessel Assistants, help ensure the dredge contents are completely emptied on stern.

A TEAM: So, who is on a team? Two people on the bridge at all times, a NOAA officer and lookout. As safety is the number one priority of the NOAA officer on the bridge, the lookout helps the officer by looking out for anything that may not be caught by the ship’s radar so that the officer can navigate the ship from station to station. There are two people on constant watch of the two 565 horsepower engines, the two smaller engines that generate electricity, the units that produce freshwater from sea water, the hydraulic machinery that power the boom, Gantry and winch along with all the other mechanical parts and machinery, the two cooks that keep us fueled for the long shifts, a watch chief (Sean Lacey for my shift) who is under the guidance of the chief scientist (Stacy Rowe) for this leg, two other NOAA Biological Science Technicians (Bill Duffy and Alicia Long), the two fisherman – deck crew that manage the boom, Gantry, and winch cables because of safety issues (Steve Flavin and Mike Conway for my shift), the boom, Gantry, and winch operator (Lino Luis) and three volunteers.

Teamwork and constant communication between ALL parties took place to ensure that sampling success was achieved and safety was always observed.  A STATION: What happened at the end of any 15 minute dredge tow? A series of events would be put into action by all members of the shift. Those on the bridge move the ship to the next station, the engineers ensure that the machine components are running properly, and the science and volunteer crew, along with the greatly appreciated help of the fisherman (Steve Flavin and Mike Conway on my shift) and the Gantry operator (Lino Luis) got to the task of analyzing the haul. THE routine on the stern of the ALBATROSS IV was always the same when it came to going through a station haul—the only change seen from station to station was the contents of a haul.

So, for the 14 days that the two teams worked, 295 stations were sampled and the work to analyze each haul looked the same. Needless to say, as each station and day passed, the actual processing of a haul was done more efficiently.

And what would this work look like for a team? Below are the procedures we used to analyze each haul. In addition, you will find the data we collected for one 12 hour shift combined in a chart to give you an idea of what was caught. The data was for the midnight to noon shift on July 16th.

PROCEDURES FOR ANALYZING A STATION HAUL:

  1. Gantry hauls the dredge from sea floor bottom and nearly aboard the ship after the 15 minute tow through the designated station. A winch does the final work and brings the dredge aboard the ship on the back deck.
  2. An Inclinometer reading is gathered from dredge using the Optic Shuttle to transfer data to computer so as to check how the dredge ran on sea floor bottom. NOTE: Only twice did the dredge flip in the process of sampling the 295 stations! Although the graphed data from the inclinometer verified this, the NOAA scientist also suspected a dredge flip given the amount of material hauled from sea floor bottom as well as the marks on the top of the dredge as it ran upside down on the sea floor bottom – the sand shining the metal of dredge top.
  3. Dredge tow contents are emptied onto deck for processing using boom.
  4. Digital camera records haul pile along with a small white marker board that gives strata number, station number, tow number, whether it is a random or non-random station, and if the stratum was open or closed to certain fishing. Closed area regulations vary – often it does not mean that it is closed only to scallop fishermen, some areas are completely closed to all fishing, some are open at certain times of the year to certain types of fishing.
  5. The crew systematically searched through the haul to pull out all specified living organisms and nonliving items to be placed in either 5 gallon buckets (white) or bushel baskets (red)—fish generally placed into the buckets and scallops into the baskets. The watch chief tells all members to switch spots at the pile once the first search is done so that we all look through the pile a second time, working from a spot that someone else worked to ensure all required items are pulled from the pile. Sometimes so many scallops were brought aboard the ALBATROSS IV, that every available bushel basket was filled.
  6. Every third station a member takes handfuls from the haul—moving around the haul to get as random sample as possible, and fills a one gallon bucket to sub-sample the entire haul for starfish. The sub-sample is searched for all starfish which are then sorted by species and counted. The actual number of starfish, by species, is expanded to an Expected Number of starfish for the entire haul using an expansion factor. In addition, all Cancer species crabs were counted in total while other crabs are not counted. The reason Cancer species are counted is because there appears to be a relationship to the number of these crabs and scallops – ie. more of these crabs means less scallops.
  7. Every third station the CTD test is deployed to the sea floor bottom using the SeaBird Sensory Device to test for three specific water parameters: Conductivity, Temperature, and Density. Twice a day a water sample is also collected—in the General Oceanics 12 tube and bottled during this same CTD cast for the purpose of calibrating the Sensory Device. The software used to record this data was created by NOAA with the wiring from the device running all the way into the designated computer from the boom where the CTD sensor instrument is lowered to sea floor and brought back by the boom.
  8. All specified specimens—living and non-living, are entered into the NOAA created software: Fisheries Scientific Computer System (FSCS). There are three processing stations to do this, each with their own touch screen monitor to activate and record the data to FSCS. All members helped in the processing of the catch, first by sorting fish by species, counting crabs and starfish when required as third station.
Bill Duffy, NOAA Biological Science Technician on the ALBATROSS IV has the honor of getting his picture taken with the necessary haul information written on the small white board in his hand.
Bill Duffy, NOAA Biological Science Technician on the ALBATROSS IV has the honor of getting his picture taken with the necessary haul information written on the small white board in his hand.

9. The sea scallops is generally the first to be entered into FSCS for weight. If the haul contains a great number of bushel baskets, a sub-sample will be used to represent the whole and then expanded to represent the whole catch for that station. For example, if 12 bushel baskets of sea scallops were collected from the haul, approximately 500 scallops are to be measured for length. This could be 2 to 3 baskets from the 12. Say it is 2 baskets given the size distribution—that is, they are nearly all the same size OR the size varies greatly among the scallops, all the scallops in those 2 baskets will be measured using the Limnoterra FMB IV measuring board —an magnet wand that will activate a signal to record the scallop length to the FSCS. The program then expands, in this case, the sub-sample to the entire catch by an expansion factor of 6 to give an Expected Number of scallops for this haul.

10.The weight of all fish, by species is recorded into FSCS while only certain fish species (see chart below) are measured for length to go along with the number of fish caught by species.

Sampling baskets
Sampling baskets

11.For non-random sites or for specific requests from scientists, certain fish species and specific scallop data may need to be collected, processed, and put into the flash freezer. For example, a scientist want all Fawn Cusk-eel fish for sound production study while another scientist wants scallop meat weights and gonad weights for an age and growth study. Labels for such requests are printed on an Eltron TLP 2742 printer. Specimens are put into either ziplock plastic bag or cloth sacks.

12.Using the saltwater hoses, processing stations and deck area is cleaned for the next station haul. We all take a breather—especially necessary when we have a large haul of scallops requiring a lot of processing.

NOAA Teacher at Sea Joel Jaroch measures a Little Skate on the Limnoterra FMB IV under the watchful eye of Bill Duffy, NOAA Biological Science Technician, at one of the processing stations.
NOAA Teacher at Sea Joel Jaroch measures a Little Skate on the Limnoterra FMB IV under the watchful eye of Bill Duffy, NOAA Biological Science Technician, at one of the processing stations.

Catch Data for Stations 45 – 57 North Atlantic Sea Scallop Survey 2006 

1 Recorded Number: Actual number of organisms collected, counted, and recorded. 2 Little Skate: A certain number of this fish is also evaluated for sexual maturity and recorded. 3 Expected Number: When a large number of organisms are caught for any given haul (in our case only for starfish and scallops) a small subset of the specific organism catch would be randomly selected. That subset would be counted and recorded. Using an expansion factor, an expected number of the specific organism for that haul would be determined to represent the entire catch for that haul.  4 StarFish: For this chart I have combined all starfish species into one group whereas NOAA scientists record the starfish by species. In addition, starfish are sub-sampled every third station only from the entire haul. 5 Sea Scallop Clapper: This refers to sea scallop shells that are still attached at the hinge, as a bivalve, but do not have a living scallop inside. NOAA records this data because the number and size of clappers provides a means for determining recent death in a given area.

As the chart above represents the entire catch for stations 45 through 57 over a given 12 hour period of July 16th, the next 12 hour period of work, or the next could look completely different from a data point of view. For example, during several of my 12 hour shifts we caught few scallops compared to the data given above—an expected number of scallops of 22,142 for stations 45 through 57. Certainly for that 12 hour period we had a significant work load given the number of scallops hauled aboard the ship with the need to put them all in the bushel baskets and then measuring the length of a sub-sample of the entire haul when such a large number were brought aboard.

Some unusual fish were brought up onto the ALBATROSS IV from the sea floor bottom, in this case, Goose Fish.
Some unusual fish were brought up onto the ALBATROSS IV from the sea floor bottom, in this case, Goose Fish.

Summary of Science and Technology Component: 

After reading all of the above information there are a few things that I would like you to understand completely. The procedures that we carried out each 12 hour shift was the same. This allowed us to become familiar with the steps we needed to take in analyzing each haul and therefore work more efficiently as a team. Following the same procedures on every tow allows for tows to be comparable with other tows – this is true for all tows conducted this year and throughout the history of the scallop survey. This is very important when it comes to analyzing the data. The aspect that changed was the contents of each haul brought aboard the ALBATROSS IV at each station that we sampled. For me there was always that little bit of excitement in seeing if something new would be in the next haul. Inevitably I was able to see new and different organisms with each haul. The pipe fish and sea horse being just two examples.

Finally, I appreciate the work that ALL aboard the ALBATROSS IV are doing to continue this North Atlantic Sea Scallop Survey. As such a long ongoing survey, the amount of data that NOAA has and continues to build year to year, their work and efforts seem to prove truly worthwhile as the vitality of the sea scallop population is healthy. I think of the relationship that must exist between the fisherman making their livelihood from the sea scallop and entire NOAA crew that studies the scallop and believe the relationship is a good one. The wild stock sea scallops that you and I can buy from the local grocery store is evidence that all involved parties are making this marine resource a well managed one based upon a cooperative relationship between many parties. Three cheers for all involved!!!

Conversations I had with NOAA Crew: 

1. Who needs more “fuel” in one 24 hour period, 33 hard working individuals aboard the ALBATROSS IV or a 565 horse power engine?

In talking with Kevin Cruse, Chief Mechanical Engineer, he had told me that the 565 hp Caterpillar engine will consume about 1000 gallons of #2 diesel fuel in a 24 hour period. He went on to tell me that, on average, the total water use during a similar 24 hour period is also about 1000 gallons of water. The ship is equipped with two Maxim Evaporators that can produce 1900 gallons of fresh water a day from the sea water. Usually just one of the evaporators is running at a time. The ALBATROSS IV can hold up to 22,324 gallons of freshwater. Kevin said that it is important to keep as much freshwater in the holding tanks because as the diesel fuel is used up, with the loss that weight (1 gallon of diesel fuel is about 7 pounds) the ship loses a little bit of stability as it does not ride as low in the water.

2. The conveniences of “staying in touch….”

Although the technology in not truly that new, Billy Dowdell, Electronic Technician, gave me an explanation as to how the integration of computers and a satellite helped me keep in touch with my family while I was at sea. The Skycell Satellite Transceiver takes stored emails from the crew aboard the ship and sends them out two at a time while receiving emails destined for those of us aboard the ALBATROSS IV, also two at a time and only for $6.00 per minute. As a regular schedule, emails are sent and received three times a day. Billy allowed me to help send and receive a batch of emails one afternoon. It all took just a few moments. This technology is a great feature for those at sea so that we can keep in touch with our loved ones. I appreciated the contact from my family.

3. What would be some of your initial thoughts and ideas if I say ALBATROSS IV Engine Room?

I wonder if ‘loud’ and ‘hot’ come to mind? Tim Monaghan, General Vessel Assistant, gave me the grand tour of the engine room, ear protection required. It is a world unto itself! Aside from being loud and hot the next thing that struck me was the overall neatness of the entire place, not to mention what must be miles and miles of wiring and piping. Of course, it also could be the five engines that are so obvious: two 565 hp Caterpillar engines that power the 8 foot diameter—3 blade propeller cursing at 10 knots, three smaller engines for electricity generation and to power the hydraulic systems. Although there is a vast supply of spare parts aboard the ship as back up parts, the crew of the engine room can also fabricate some specific parts if need be. Impressive. Finally, I was told, “It’s a Caterpillar.” As the sea scallop survey runs 24 hours a day and we were at sea for 15 days, I found it incredible that the 565 hp engine (only one was running) was constantly working without a hiccup. The constant burning of the #2 diesel fuel supply would allow the ALBATROSS IV to run about 3900 nautical miles. Not bad for a ship commissioned in May of 1963.

4. So, you wonder about being an NOAA Officer?

I had the chance to talk with all of the NOAA officers and had an interesting conversation with Navigation Officer, Chris Daniels. Safety of all aboard in paramount as Chris made this clear to me from the beginning of our conversation. While on the bridge, this is what Chris is most concerned with. As a great responsibility you have to be able to manage this, otherwise the officer work may not be for you. In addition, he told me that all NOAA officers rotate between assignments at sea and on land; two years at sea and three years on land assignment. So, you must be willing and able to cope with the constant change in job site and environment. Chris feels this is actually a perk because to travel though out the country, whether at sea or on land assignment, is a great opportunity to see other places and constantly meet new people. Which brings up the final point—the family life. Although growing up as a child of a military family, he does not deny that for some to find a person that will cope with the constant change and movement is a real issue needing consideration before becoming an officer. This is especially true given that NOAA officers are at sea 240 days each year!

The top side of many scallops can be quite beautiful as these samples show.
The top side of many scallops can be quite beautiful as these samples show.

5. So you want to be a NOAA Scientist?

I had the great pleasure of working with three young and extremely intelligent people. Their overall effort and diligence were duly noted as Biological Science Technicians. First, Sean Lucey, also serving as Watch Chief for the midnight to noon shift, will begin his masters degree work this fall. What he enjoys most about the survey is the opportunity to be outdoors, on the open ocean, taking in the wonderful view. He also considers it all a great adventure. Although he finds challenges in getting the volunteers to mesh and work together as a group, he welcomes this part of the job also because of how it will help him continue to grow as a crew leader. Second is Bill Duffy, with a hardy laugh that grows from deep down within and rolls out loud and clear. He finds the work he is doing truly rewarding because the sea scallop survey is being done for the sake of science. The work certainly will impact the lives of many and feels his work will help secure the livelihood of fisherman for a long time to come. The challenge of such work for Bill is being away from loved ones for extended periods of time. As the work covers many hours and much of it done on our hands and knees, the physical demands of the job are also noted by Bill as a real challenge. He does marvel at the overall diversity of the volunteers that help out with the survey work, meeting new and interesting people from all walks-of-life. Finally, Alicia Long, having worked for NOAA for the past three years, she also has plans to return to school to get her masters degree. What she finds rewarding about these surveys is that every trip is different, with something new happening each time (and she is not just talking about the volunteers). She went on to say that training volunteers takes time and when we have the routine down, it is about the end of the survey. She finds the ground fish survey work truly challenging with the cold, windy and rough seas— enough to tax even the most seasoned scientist.

6. And the work of a Skilled Fisherman?

I had the great pleasure to talk with Steve Flavin, a Skilled Fisherman, as we worked the same midnight to noon shift. He talked about many aspects of being a Skilled Fisherman for NOAA as well as what it was like to be a fisherman making a living from the sea before coming to NOAA. He certainly has the keen eyes of a fisherman and person who has spent a great deal of time at sea, a great wealth of knowledge about the sea, and a real compassion for the living organisms hauled aboard the ALBATROSS IV—he would often set aside a hermit crab or two so as to return them to the sea as soon as possible. Yet, of all the things we talked about and all that he shared, his interest in the osprey that had found a perch on the upper reaches of the ship did not surprise me as to who he is. After one of the hauls, he had set aside a fish that had been counted for that station. From the back port side of the ship, he tossed the fish in a nice clean arch over the side, to ensure that the osprey would see it. Sure enough, the osprey, in one fluid motion, flew off the perch, down to the sea, and deftly plucked the fish from the sea. Returning to its perch, the osprey proceeded to eat the fish. Within a few hours it took flight from that perch to some distant point. Steve speculated that it may have gained back some strength (as it was on the perch for over 24 hours!!!) and was able to move on. Many land birds that end up blown to sea often end up dying because they eventually drink sea water. Thank goodness the osprey didn’t.

Sea Scallops have light sensory spots –the dark circular marks, to help them detect changes in light amount.
Sea Scallops have light sensory spots –the dark circular marks, to help them detect changes in light amount.

Personal Logs

July 10, 2006 

Day one after arriving in Woods Hole, flying into Boston from Philadelphia and taking a bus trip from Logan Airport to the ALBATROSS IV. An entire crew was putting two 1600 meter cables onto winch spools for setting out and hauling back the dredge for each station we sampled. Meet with Ms. Hart and she gave all scientists an overview of the sea scallop survey. Meals aboard ship are filling and complete. We did not get under way because of certain issues that needed addressing on the ALBATROSS IV.

July 12, 2006: 

Still at dock because of ship issues. So, Dave, the other teacher aboard ship and I went to a NOAA warehouse to work on two dredges, replacing several parts of the dredge. It was a hands-on learning experience. This work is necessary so that there are always backup dredges available to use on the ALBATROSS IV as the sea floor bottom can cause havoc upon the dredges—you wouldn’t believe the size of some of the rocks brought aboard the ship.

July 13, 2006: 

All hands aboard and the ALBATROSS IV leaves Woods Hole around 6pm. The breeze in my face felt good as I stood starboard side, taking in the sites and trying to contain my excitement. Need to get to bed as so as possible because I will be getting up in a few hours to start the midnight to noon shift.

July 14, 2006: 

End of my first shift of the survey. We did not have to start until about 6am as we had to steam to the very first station to sample. So we got the chance to ease into the work— completing our shift after only 6 hours. Yet, the new smells (the sand dollars produce a strong odor) and the “rough” seas – all new to me, resulted in a weakness in the stomach and legs. The thought of food alone was enough to keep me away from the mess hall and I certainly was not talkative at that time. Water and PLENTY of saltine crackers became my nourishment for the next few days!

July 16, 2006: 

As the 12 hours is a long shift, we have to approach the work as running a marathon and not a sprint—working “slow” and steady. We had many hauls and the catches were large, lots of sea scallops to process. For two of our hauls we filled 28 bushel baskets with large sized scallops! It is a site to see. Starting to challenge my stomach again by eating something other than saltine crackers and it responded with some grumblings.

July 17, 2006: 

Such a calm sea has also calmed my stomach on such a beautiful and clear day, just like yesterday. An osprey has been overhead aboard the ALBATROSS IV for over 24 hours. Wonder if it has gotten tired of standing on its perch for so long without “sitting” to rest. One of the crew was able to entice it from it purchase by throwing a fish in a high arch overboard. The osprey didn’t miss that and took it’s time in eating every part of the fish.

July 18, 2006: 

There was a red glowing ball, balanced easily on the morning horizon. What a sight which a photo cannot fully capture. I want it etched into my mind for recall at a later date and truly enjoy and marvel at. I do miss the sunsets as I need to be in bed for a 11pm wake-up call.

July 21, 2006: 

Needed to skip a few days of note taking because of tropical storm Beryl and the havoc it played on my mind and stomach. Understand that the sea was plenty rough for me during the storm but I was told that these 7 to 8 foot waves were typical during the fall and winter ground fish survey. I can’t imagine the trials my stomach would need to endure with seas that boil more so. Life jackets were required as we worked in these rough waters on the back deck. The bridge finally made the call around 5am to stop all deck research work as seas riled even more. Interesting, we “jogged”—the ALBATROSS IV running at only a few knots, with the movement of the water and winds with the plan of having the storm pass us up. Therefore, we didn’t get many stations sampled. Needless to say, I was in bed shortly after our shift was over—skipping lunch for sure, as a means to quiet my stomach and sleep as much as I could through the storm. I found that lying in my bunk that the movement of the ship did not bother me as much as being seasick—although sleep was fitful.

After several late night hours of true hard work, we are given a spectacular light show to help ease us into the morning hours aboard the ALBATROSS IV.
After several late night hours of true hard work, we are given a spectacular light show to help ease us into the morning hours aboard the ALBATROSS IV.

July 23, 2006: 

Given a tour of the engine room and the use of the satellite system to send and receive emails yesterday. Plenty of information and sites to take in as both places are integral parts of ship operations. Rain and thunderstorms today slowed our progress. We can’t be out on the back deck during thunderstorms for obvious safety concerns. So didn’t get as many stations completed. Have notice a slight change in overall attitude of many of crew aboard the ALBATROSS IV—as the end of the survey is in sight?

July 25, 2006: 

Had a chance to talk in detail with one of the young NOAA officers, Chris Daniels. He really shed a great deal of light on what it is like to be an officer. Found it extremely interesting. We had a long steam between 2 stations today, a 6 hour steam, which certainly cut into the number of stations we worked today during my shift. The rest was appreciated as we head towards Georges Bank to sample there.

July 26, 2006: 

The size of the scallops on Georges Bank are incredible, many in the 15cm to 16cm range! The weather has been extremely agreeable to my stomach and appealing to the eye—a calm blue sea.

July 27, 2006: 

Our last day of sampling and real excitement is in the air. There was a lot of distance between stations so we did not get to many stations. This was kind of a nice way to end all the work, on a bit of an easy note. And then the steam for port while cleaning up all the places that the scientists have used in our work. “Many hands make light work”, as both crews work together to clean up our work areas.

And, if you ask me, I would do it all again. There are many people to thank but I want to mention the other Teacher at Sea, Dave Riddle, who so willingly shared his work and photos with me. Also, Alicia Long put together a CD of photos and data for me to use in putting all of this together. So thanks.

Finally, it was a pleasure and honor to meet so many wonderful people aboard the ALBATROSS IV. They all made me feel welcome and at ease even when I was feeling a bit seasick.

Thank you kindly,

Joel

David Riddle, July 27, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
David Riddle
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 13 – 28, 2006

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 27, 2006

Parting Thoughts 

It’s Thursday afternoon. We have completed almost 300 tows to sample scallops from Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod.  Today will be our last full day at sea; we return to Woods Hole, MA early Friday morning. I am of course looking forward to getting back to land and eventually back home to North Carolina, but I am immensely grateful for this experience.

During our introductory meeting at the start of the cruise, our ship was compared to “a city at sea”. I’ve thought about that a number of times.  All the normal services provided by municipalities must be duplicated on board a ship:  electricity for heating and cooling, fresh water for drinking and washing, food supplies to last for the duration of the cruise, waste disposal, emergency services, communications, even entertainment.  Then too, this is a city on the move.  It takes brainpower to know where we are and where we’re heading at every moment in time.  And it takes mechanical power to keep us moving through the water.

I would suggest that it also takes a considerable amount of people-power to keep this city-at-sea operating at its fullest capacity.  And I’ve witnessed this sort of people-power consistently aboard the ALBATROSS IV the past 15 days.  Organization, planning, and procedures govern nearly everything.  Officers, crew, and scientists know what to do and what not to do, and all this works to achieve the overall goal of gathering the data necessary to continue this study of scallops that started back in 1975.

But beyond merely following procedures, I’ve also witnessed something else among the individuals on board this vessel that makes work progress smoothly:  simple courtesy. People are quick to offer a helping hand. “Thank you”, “Excuse me”, “Let me help you with that”, as well as unspoken gestures of consideration, are plentiful.  Everyone seems fully aware that we are, literally, all in the same boat out here, and getting along is an important aspect of getting the job done.

So, as I approach the end of this experience, I am grateful to all those who made it possible: the NOAA Teacher at Sea program and its administrators, as well as the officers, crew, and scientists aboard the ALBATROSS IV.  Thank you all for the valuable work you do, and thank you for allowing me to be a small part of it.

David Riddle, July 25, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
David Riddle
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 13 – 28, 2006

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 25, 2006

Science and Technology Log 

Science-wise, catches of scallops have been variable. Sometimes we’ve hauled in huge numbers; other times almost none.  We’re still sorting and counting and measuring fish from every catch, and as we move back northward, a little east of our starting point now, the fish species have begun to change.  We’ve even caught a few lobsters.

I’ve been trained to do several different jobs so far.  I’ve monitored the computer station while collecting the CTD data, determining salinity by lowering the device over the side that measures conductivity, temperature, and density within 5-10 meters of the bottom.  I’ve also helped download the data from the inclinometer, which results in a graph showing the angle of the dredge relative to the bottom during the tow.

I’ve learned the procedures for measuring and collecting additional data on little skates. They’re the fish that look like stingrays.  We measure, length, width, weight, and determine degree of sexual maturity.

Now I’m doing the starfish count, every third tow.  My job is to collect a random bucket full of the by-catch (the leftovers) after everything else countable has been removed, then sort, count, and weigh the starfish according to species.  Sometimes the whole catch is mostly starfish, so there’s plenty to keep me busy.

Sightings:  This afternoon I saw the dorsal fins of two ocean sunfish (Mola mola). I would have assumed they were sharks, since all that was visible was the fin, but the fishermen said you could tell by the shape of the fin and the way it moved through the water. The Peterson Guide to Atlantic Coast Fishes says they’re among the largest of the marine bony fishes.  (Whale sharks and basking sharks are larger, but sharks have cartilage instead of bony skeletons.) Sunfishes can be as large as 3 meters long and 3.3 meters tall, and they may weigh over two tons.

Personal Log 

Several days have passed since my last log entry.  I’ve been making some hand-written notes, but they’re mostly about our encounter with the fringes of Tropical Storm Beryl and my re-encounter with seasickness.  Everyone has been very understanding, and I’ve appreciated it. I’m feeling back to normal now.

David Riddle, July 17, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
David Riddle
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 13 – 28, 2006

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 17, 2006

A seahorse that came up with the dredge
A seahorse that came up with the dredge

Science and Technology Log

It’s almost halfway through my watch now, and I have a little down time.  The day started with several stations that were close together, which kept us busy. Now the sampling stations are farther apart, and I’ve had time to work on some photographs of shells.

Our catches turn up lots of interesting creatures.  Some I recognize from my college invertebrate zoology course (oh, so many years ago!)  Others I’ve only seen pictures of.  There are occasional sea squirts, bulbous little creatures that squirt a stream of water when squeezed.  We find an occasional “sea mouse”, a polychaete worm, bristly-looking on the backside and shaped sort of like, well, a mouse.  Underneath you can see the segments.  Hermit crabs are abundant; many of them simply abandon their shells when they’re dumped onto the deck. This is probably not a good survival strategy, since they get dumped back overboard only to drift slowly to the bottom without any protection at all. Oh well, most everything in the ocean is somebody else’s lunch anyway. We find other species of crabs as well.  The larger ones are set aside and are sitting in a bucket which has seawater continually being pumped through it to keep them alive. I wonder whose lunch they’ll turn out to be?  We’ve caught a few small dogfish sharks, under two feet in length.  I’m told on some of the ground fish surveys they catch tons of them (literally). Considerably smaller were two needlefish, about 6 inches long and ••• inch wide.

I find myself wondering things like, “What must it be like to be that small, living in this huge ocean?”  Them I’m reminded of our little planet’s location in our galaxy, and the Milky Way’s tiny place in a universe with millions of other galaxies.  OK. Humility is a good thing.

Then too, I’m reminded that small is not always equivalent to unimportant.  Do you like breathing?  Well, consider that roughly 3 out of every 4 breaths you take come to you courtesy of the phytoplankton in the oceans of the world.  There they are, soaking up the sunshine and the carbon dioxide and pumping out huge quantities of oxygen every single daylight hour. They’re microscopic, but their importance in the overall scheme of life on this planet is enormous. I suppose it would be helpful to remember, while we’re busy saving the whales, we should take care of the little guys too.  But then, how would “Save the Plankton” look on a T-shirt or bumper sticker?

On a more practical note, we’re due to reach our turn-around point in 5 more stations.  We will have reached our southernmost latitude, which will put us due east of the North Carolina-Virginia border.  Then we’ll begin making our way back up the coast, stopping at the stations in shallower waters.  I flew to Boston from my home in western NC to take part in this Teacher at Sea experience.  So this is the closest to home I’ll be for the next 12 days.

I keep thinking I’m done with my log for the day and then something else happens.  At station 99 we caught a seahorse!  The depth was 24 fathoms, and I seriously doubt it was on the bottom, but when the dredge came up, there it was on deck.

Sightings: The osprey was still here this morning, but as of late afternoon it was gone.

David Riddle, July 15, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
David Riddle
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 13 – 28, 2006

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 15, 2006

Not all scallop shells are pretty, but these were outstanding!
Not all scallop shells are pretty, but these were outstanding!

Science and Technology Log

We’re in an area now with an abundance of scallops, and most of them are large. When the catch is emptied from the net onto the deck, it takes 6 to 8 people working steadily, on hands and knees, to separate the scallops from the rest of the catch.  We’ve gotten up to 16 bushels so far in one 15 minute tow, using an 8 foot dredge. If the next station is nearby, we just have time to get the measurements completed and clean up before it’s time to start again.  But it’s not always that busy.  If the next station is several miles away, we get time to sit for a few minutes and relax.

During one of my relaxing moments, I photographed some of the fish that were caught along with scallops and starfish and everything else.  We catch small skates, which are shaped like stingrays, with a broad, diamond-shaped body and an elongated narrow tail.  We also catch goosefish, sometimes called angler fish, with mouths agape, showing rows of needle-like teeth. We catch flounder too.  All of these are bottom-dwellers, probably too slow to swim away from the net, or else when they feel the net coming they just hunker down in their standard defensive posture, which unfortunately is no help when the thing that’s coming after you weighs nearly a ton and is being dragged at between 3 and 4 knots.

Scallop eyes are visible as rows of dots inside the shell margin.
Scallop eyes are visible as rows of dots inside the shell margin.

As we have moved farther south today, I’ve begun noticing scallops with different patterns on their shells. Some look like sunbursts; some are striped.  I’ve collected a few to take home.  I want to get some photos of live scallops also. When they open their shells you can see the row of eyes along the margin of the gills.  Scallops can swim, which is unusual for a bivalve. The powerful muscle (the part we eat) which holds the shells together, opens and closes the shell in rapid succession. This draws water in between the shells and forces it out the back near the hinge in little concentrated jets. Scallops swim by jet propulsion!  Prior to sailing, we saw a brief film clip showing a group of scallops swimming, in a jerky, erratic motion.

Sightings: An osprey landed on the mast about 11:00am.  The fishermen say we’re about 20 miles offshore, so I imagine he/she is pretty tired.  Maybe it will hang around for a while. Later…It’s 9:00 pm now and the osprey is still perched on the mast.  I expect it will still be here in the morning.  Another small songbird showed up later in the afternoon. I didn’t see it, so I don’t know the species.  The fishermen offered it some fresh water, but it didn’t drink.  They say it probably won’t survive this far out, if it won’t drink. Even so, some birds seem quite at home this far out.

Personal Log 

Midnight notes: We did 18 stations in 12 hours; several were back to back.  Do you think I’m ready for a shower and bed?  Does a scallop live in the ocean?

David Riddle, July 14, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
David Riddle
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 13 – 28, 2006

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 14, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea David Riddle holds a medium-size goosefish.
NOAA Teacher at Sea David Riddle holds a medium-size goosefish.

Science and Technology Log

My first shift involved getting accustomed to the job. It seems like an incredible amount of detailed instructions and procedures at first, but over time, the routine emerges.  The dredge goes out and tows for 15 minutes.  Then it comes back in and the inclinometer data is downloaded. The inclinometer is attached to the frame of the dredge and measures the angle of the dredge in relation to the bottom. This data allows verification that the dredge was towing at the proper angle. Then the dredge frame is moved, the net is dumped, and I take a photo of the catch with Amanda holding a sign telling which tow and which location. Then we dig through the pile, on hands and knees, sorting out scallops, clappers (recently dead scallops with the shell halves still hinged), all fish species, and every third station we save and count crabs and do a random sample count to estimate the number of starfish.  Starfish are scallop predators. Also, at every third station before we do a tow the CTD measuring device is lowered over the side. CTD stands for Conductivity, Temperature, and Density, and these numbers are used to calculate salinity. The temperature data from the CTD helps establish the conditions which scallops may or may not prefer.  CTD data is not only related to the Scallop Survey, but NOAA ships regularly collect data that is used by scientists working on other projects.

The location of each tow is selected randomly by computer within various strata which vary by depth. There’s a navigational chart posted on the wall that shows the precise location of all the areas being sampled.  Some samples are taken from areas that are closed to commercial fishing, for resource management purposes.  Some areas may be closed indefinitely while others are rotated or allow fishing on a “restricted access” program.

Sightings: In the afternoon, whales were blowing on the horizon, too far away to see any more than that.  I counted five spouts together in one place, then two more a little farther behind. Hammerhead shark, reported from the bridge.  I saw the fin. Dolphins alongside in the dark: they look silver-gray, in the reflection of the ship’s lights.

Personal Log 

I awoke feeling fine, and went around taking some video of fishing operations.  But I felt uneasy from late morning on.  Twelve hours is a long time to work when feeling queasy, but interestingly, when I was focused on a specific task, even something as simple as shucking scallops and talking, I was less aware of my discomfort.  I was tired toward the end of my 12-hour shift, tired of feeling queasy, tired of the half-asleep feeling that comes from the anti-nausea medication.  A shower and bed were most welcome!

David Riddle, July 13, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
David Riddle
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 13 – 28, 2006

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 13, 2006

NOAA ship ALBATROSS IV in port at Woods Hole, MA.
NOAA ship ALBATROSS IV in port at Woods Hole, MA.

Science and Technology Log 

After a 3-day delay due to technical issues, the NOAA Ship ALBATROSS IV headed out to sea for leg 1 of the Sea Scallop Survey at 6:00 pm today.  We completed a test tow to check the equipment, and the volunteer scientists got to examine the samples collected. We also learned how to identify, weigh, and measure several species of fish, using the Fisheries Scientific Computer System (FSCS), which we are assured will become second nature in short order.  So far, no scallops, but that’s not a surprise, considering the location of our first tow.

Sightings: Portuguese Man-of-War (Physalia), just a few as we were heading out.

Personal Log 

The ALBATROSS IV has two Teachers at Sea on this cruise, plus three other volunteers on the scientists’ crew. We are currently underway to our first station, which is several hours away. The scientific crew scheduled to stand the first watch, which starts at midnight, will be able to get a little sleep before they’re called for duty in the pre-dawn hours. My watch starts at noon tomorrow, so sleep won’t be an issue for me.  Sleeping in a bed that gently pitches and rolls may be a challenge, however.  Time will tell.

Joan Raybourn, August 25, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Joan Raybourn
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 14 – 25, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Productivity Survey
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 25, 2005

Personal Log

Today was the last day of our two-week adventure at sea. At dawn this morning, we paused for a while before entering the north end of the Cape Cod Canal. While we have been within sight of land for a day or two, it was strange to see land on both sides of us. The canal was built in the 1930s, and using it to get back to Woods Hole saves at least half a day’s sailing time. Without it, we would have to sail all the way around the “arm” of Cape Cod. We slipped into the canal and eased our way south, back into civilization. We stood on the bow of the ship and watched fish playing in the water, seabirds hovering hopefully over them. People walked their dogs on the path beside the canal, and sailboats passed silently. All was quiet. When a siren split the air, we knew we were back.

The trip through the canal took about an hour and a half, and we were in Buzzards Bay. We made our way through the islands and back around to Woods Hole, to the pier where our trip began. We cleaned the labs and packed our gear and samples to go ashore. At the pier, a gangplank was attached to the ALBATROSS IV so that we could move “all ashore that was going ashore”. We lugged boxes and crates over it to the NOAA warehouse, the EPA truck, and the NOAA van that would take the samples back to the lab in Rhode Island. It was a strange feeling to be back on land. At the beginning of the trip, my body had to adapt to the motion of the ship, and for the first two days I staggered around until I got my sea legs. Back on land, my body had to adapt again; even though my brain knew I was on solid land, the sensation of motion persisted.

And then it was over. By 2:30, everyone who was leaving was gone, and our shipboard community was dissolved. Since my flight home is not until tomorrow, I will stay one more night aboard the ALBATROSS IV. It’s a little lonely now, with everyone gone and no work to do. But I’ve been up since midnight, when my last watch began, and an early bedtime tonight will be welcome. What an adventure this has been! I will never forget my days out on the wide blue sea, with nothing to see but sky and wind and ocean. Whenever city life hems me in, I’ll be able to go back in my mind’s eye, feeling the wind and the sunshine, and watching the endless play of the sea, all the way to forever.

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Joan Raybourn, August 24, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Joan Raybourn
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 14 – 25, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Productivity Survey
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 24, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 43°32’ N
Longitude: 69°55 W
Visibility: 8 miles
Air Temperature: 17° C
Wind direction: E (99 degrees)
Wind speed: 5 knots
Sea wave height: 1’
Sea swell height: <1’
Sea water temperature: 18.8°C
Sea level pressure: 1018.0 millibars
Cloud cover: 7/8 Cumulus

Question of the Day: At what degrees on the compass would you find the intermediate directions? (Use information below to help you and look for the answer at the end of today’s log.

Yesterday’s Answer: GMT stands for “Greenwich Mean Time”. GMT is the time at the Prime Meridian, which passes through Greenwich, England. People around the world can use this time as an international reference point for local time. We are on Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), which is four hours behind GMT. At 1:33 a.m. GMT, it was already August 24 in Greenwich, but our local time was 9:33 p.m. EDT, still August 23, so that is the date I used in the log.

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Science and Technology Log

Over the last eleven days, the ALBATROSS IV has zigzagged back and forth across southern New England waters, Georges Bank, and the Gulf of Maine. The collection stations were chosen in advance of the trip and plotted on an electronic chart. So how does the crew drive the boat to the next station?

Ship navigation is a combination of automated and manual tasks. Based on the ship’s current position and the latitude and longitude of the next station, the navigator determines what heading to take. That is, he decides in exactly which direction to go using a compass. The ship has an electronic gyroscope as well as a manual compass similar to the ones you may have seen, only larger. It has a magnetic needle that points north, and is divided into 360 degrees. The cardinal directions are these: 0° is north, 90° is east, 180° is south, and 270° is west. The navigator enters the heading into the ship’s navigation computer, and if conditions are normal, he can set the ship on Autopilot. Then the computer will automatically adjust the ship’s direction to keep it on course.

The fact that the ship is running on Autopilot does not mean that the crew can take a break. The crew sets the ship’s speed depending on weather and sea conditions, and on how much other ship traffic there is in the area. In open water, the ALBATROSS IV cruises at about ten to twelve knots, which means we cover about 10 to 12 nautical miles per hour. The crew must constantly monitor to make sure the ship is operating safely and efficiently. They plot the ship’s course on paper, monitor weather conditions, watch for other ships and communicate with them, and adjust the ship’s course and speed. At the collection stations, they are able to put the ship at the exact latitude and longitude called for, and keep it there during water casts and sediment grabs, or moving at just the right speed for plankton tows.

Navigators keep a constant watch out for other ships, using a combination of visual and radar data. They use radar to pinpoint the ships’ locations, and often can be seen scanning the sea with binoculars. Signal lights on ships help with navigation, too. Ships have a red light on the port (left) side and a green light on the starboard (right) side. This helps navigators know which side of a ship is facing them and in which direction it is headed. Of course, radio communication makes it possible for ships’ crews to talk to each other and make sure they are passing safely.

Personal Log

Tonight will be the last night of the cruise. We expect to be back in Woods Hole by midday tomorrow, two days earlier than planned. We’ve been blessed with excellent weather, and have made good time cruising between stations. I was very excited last night to see fireworks in the toilet! Toilets on the ship are flushed with sea water, which often contains some bioluminescent phytoplankton. Sometimes the swirling action of the water will excite them, and we’ll see blue-green sparkles and flashes as the water washes down. (Sewage and waste water are biologically treated on board so that they are safe to release into the ocean.)

I want to thank the crew of the ship, especially the NOAA Corps officers who have welcomed me on the bridge and answered many questions about ship operations. I am particularly grateful to Capt. Jim Illg, who reviewed all of my logs, and Ensign Patrick Murphy, who answered many questions about weather and navigation.

Finally, I want to thank the scientists who willingly shared their knowledge and patiently taught me protocols for their work. Jerry Prezioso, a NOAA oceanographer, served as chief scientist on this cruise. He helped me prepare ahead of time via telephone and email, and has been endlessly helpful to this novice seafarer. His enthusiasm is infectious, and he has a knack for turning any event into a positive experience. Jackie Anderson, a NOAA marine taxonomist, taught me to operate the CTD unit and helped me identify the kinds of zooplankton we captured in the bongo nets. Don Cobb, an EPA marine environmental scientist, helped me understand the kinds of research the EPA is doing to monitor the health of our oceans and estuaries. Thanks to all of them for their  work in keeping Planet Earth healthy, and for making this an experience I can take back to my classroom and use to help make science real for my students.

Today’s Answer: The intermediate directions are those that fall between the cardinal directions, so to find their degree equivalents, find the halfway point between the numbers for each cardinal direction. Northeast would be at 45°, southeast would be at 135°, southwest would be at 225°, and northwest would be at 315°.

Joan Raybourn, August 23, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Joan Raybourn
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 14 – 25, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Productivity Survey
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 23, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 44°23’ N
Longitude: 66°37’ W
Visibility: 10 miles
Wind direction: W (270 degrees)
Wind speed: 12.7 knots
Sea wave height: 1’
Sea swell height: 1’
Sea water temperature: 11.1°C
Sea level pressure: 1014.7 millibars
Cloud cover: 1/8 Clear with a few cumulus clouds low on the horizon

Question of the Day: What does “GMT” stand for and how does it affect the date in the log information above?

Yesterday’s Answer: The clock shows 9:17 a.m. There are 24 hours around the clock face. The hour hand is pointing a little past the 9, so that is the hour. To read the minute hand, notice its position. On a twelve-hour clock, this position would indicate about 17 minutes past the hour. Since this clock counts off 24 hours instead of counting to 12 twice, the afternoon and evening hours have their own numbers. For example, 4:00 p.m. on a twelve-hour clock would be 16:00 on a twenty-four-hour clock. There is no need to indicate a.m. or p.m. since each hour has its own unique number.

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Science and Technology Log

Today I spent some time up on the bridge talking to the crew about weather. The ship collects all kinds of weather data from on-board sensors, including air temperature, air pressure, wind speed and direction, and relative humidity. It also receives weather data from sources outside the ship via satellite link and email. I was especially interested in how the crew determines visibility, cloud cover, sea wave height, and sea swell height, since these represent subjective data. “Subjective” means that someone uses known data and their own experience to make a judgment. Here are some examples.

Visibility just means how far you can see into the distance. This is very hard to judge on the sea because there are no reference points – no objects to “go by” to decide how far away something is. Radar gives an accurate distance from the Albatross IV to objects such as other ships, and on a clear day, the horizon is about twelve miles away. A navigator learns to estimate visibility by combining radar information with how far away objects look in relation to the horizon. It takes a lot of practice to be able to judge visibility using only your eyes!

Cloud cover just means the amount of the sky that is covered by clouds. This is expressed in eighths. Today the cloud cover was about 1/8, meaning about one eighth of the sky had clouds and seven eighths was clear. To make the estimate, mentally divide the sky in half and ask yourself if about half of the sky is cloudy. If you see that less than half the sky has clouds, then mentally divide the sky into fourths, and then eighths. This can be tricky if the clouds are scattered around because it is hard to see a fraction that isn’t all “together”. Once again, this skill takes a lot of practice.

Sea swell height and sea wave height are both descriptors of how the ocean surface is behaving. These are important to observe because they affect the motion of the ship. Swells are large rolling humps of water that are created by the winds from storms. Navigators can tell how far away the storm is by observing the speed of, and length between, the swells. The ship might rock with long, slow swells caused by a storm hundreds of miles away, or with the shorter, faster swells of a storm that is closer. Waves, on the other hand, are caused by local wind; that is, the wind that is blowing right at your location. Waves might just be rippling the water if the wind is light, but can be large if the wind is strong. Both swell height and wave height are estimated in feet from the trough (bottom) to the crest (top) of the wave. Again, this skill takes lots of practice.

Personal Log

Yesterday we got word that a pod of about seventy right whales had been sighted in the Bay of Fundy. This represents a large fraction of this endangered species’ entire population of fewer than 300. Our route has taken us up a little way into the bay, and we have been eagerly watching for whales. We’ve seen several blows in the distance, and occasionally a glimpse of a long back breaking the water. Most of them have been fin whales, but we did see two or three right whales before it was completely dark. It’s exciting to see these giants of the ocean and we hope to see more when the sun comes up.

Joan Raybourn, August 22, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Joan Raybourn
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 14 – 25, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Productivity Survey
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 22, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 42°17’ N
Longitude: 69°38’ W
Wind direction: SE (130 degrees)
Wind speed: 10.3 knots
Air Temperature: 19°C
Sea water temperature: 21.8°C
Sea level pressure: 1016.5 millibars
Cloud cover: High, thin cirrus

Question of the Day: What time does the 24-hour clock in picture #7 show?

Yesterday’s Answer: Sediment is composed of all the small particles of “stuff” that sink to the ocean floor. Near the coast, fresh water is flowing into the ocean from rivers and streams, and human activity creates more matter that is flushed into the ocean. Because there are more sources of sediment near the coast, it collects more quickly there than it does in the open sea.

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Science and Technology Log

Advances in computer technology have made the process of collecting plankton and water samples much easier than it was in the past. During a plankton tow or a water cast, many different people are working together from different parts of the ship, and technology makes it easier to communicate, obtain plankton and water samples from precise locations, and protect equipment from damage. The ship’s crew navigates the ship to the exact station location and maintains the location while the samples are collected, there are scientists and crew members on the aft deck handling the collection equipment, a crew member operates the winch to lift and move the equipment, and a scientist operates the computer system that collects data from the Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth instrument (CTD).

The stations, or places where we will collect samples, are designated in advance of the trip and plotted on a computer map. A computer chooses the stations randomly so that we get information from all over the area with no accidental human pattern. The ship’s commanding officer and the head scientist work together to determine the course the ship will take to visit each station. Many factors must be considered, including efficiency, fuel conservation, and weather. Once the course is set, the chief scientist “connects the dots” on the computer map. Then it is easy to see where we are going next, how far away it is, and when we can expect to be there. “Are we there yet?” is a question asked not only by children on vacations, but by scientists and crew at sea!

When the ship approaches a station, the bridge crew makes an announcement so that everyone knows to get ready. “Ten minutes to bongo” means that it is time for the CTD operator to fire up the computer, for the winch operator to get set, and for the deck crew and scientists to get into their gear and make sure the equipment is ready to go. There is a video camera on the aft deck that enables everyone inside to see what is happening on the deck. This makes it easier to coordinate the collection process and to act quickly if there is an emergency.

When the ship is at the exact position of the station, the bridge radios the winch operator. He in turn lets the CTD operator know that we are ready to begin. The CTD person starts the computer program and tells the deck crew to turn the CTD on. The winch operator lifts the equipment and casts it over the side of the ship into the ocean. The “cast” might have just the CTD unit, or water bottles to collect water samples, or the bongos to collect plankton samples. The CTD goes down on every cast since it is collecting data that is important for the success of the tow as well as for further study.

During the cast, the CTD operator watches the computer display to make sure collections are made at the correct water depths. He or she talks to the winch operator over a walkie-talkie so that he knows how far to drop the line and when to pull it back up.  Plankton is collected at about 5 meters above the ocean floor. The ship’s computer tells us how deep the water is and the CTD tells us how deep the instrument itself is. By comparing these two numbers, the CTD person can make sure the equipment doesn’t drag the bottom, which would damage it and contaminate the samples. Once the CTD and the collection equipment are out of the water, the unit is turned off and the CTD operator finishes up the data collection process by entering information such as date, time, latitude, longitude, station and cast numbers. We just finished Station #75, and will be doing our 100th cast at the next station. (More than one cast is done at some stations.) Sample collections at each station can take anywhere from about 20 minutes for a relatively shallow plankton tow to about 2 hours if we are in deep water and collecting plankton, water, and sediment.

During the cast, the CTD operator can watch as the computer creates line graphs showing the data that is being recorded by the CTD unit. In picture #6 above, the line graph on the right shows the depth, while the graph on the left shows the sea temperature in red, the density of the water in yellow, salinity in blue, and fluorescence in green. Density is kind of like how “thick” the water is, salinity is how salty it is, and fluorescence is a measure of phytoplankton. Line graphs show change over time, so we can see how these values change while the CTD is in the water.

Personal Log

Some adaptations take longer than others. Since I switched watches, I have never been completely sure of what day it is, and when I get up in late morning, I’m always surprised to see lunch being served instead of breakfast. However, I have learned to use the physics of the ship’s motion to make everyday tasks easier. Carrying a heavy load up the stairs is easier if you wait for a swell to lift the ship and give you a little boost, and opening doors and drawers, standing up, and even drinking water is easier if you do it with, rather than against, the roll of the ship. As much as I staggered around for the first two days of the cruise, I wonder now if dry land will feel odd when we get there at the end of the week.

Joan Raybourn, August 21, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Joan Raybourn
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 14 – 25, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Productivity Survey
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 21, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 42°17’ N
Longitude: 69°38’ W
Wind direction: SE (130 degrees)
Wind speed: 10.3 knots
Air Temperature: 19°C
Sea water temperature: 21.8°C
Sea level pressure: 1016.5 millibars
Cloud cover: High, thin cirrus

Question of the Day: Why does sediment collect on the ocean floor more rapidly near the coast than it does further out in the ocean?

Yesterday’s Answer: The stern of the ship is at the back, and the sun rises in the east, so the ship must have been heading west.

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Science and Technology Log

On this cruise, there are actually two separate but complementary kinds of research going on. We have two scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who are collecting samples of the sediment on the ocean floor, which will be analyzed both biologically and chemically. Biology is the study of living things, so the scientists will look to see what organisms are living in the top layer of the ocean floor. The chemical analysis will show what non-living substances, mainly nitrogen and phosphorus compounds, are present. Chemicals may occur naturally, or may be a result of pollution. This work gives us information about human influence on the ocean ecosystem.

To collect the ocean floor sample, scientists use a sediment grab (picture #1). The “grab” is lowered into the ocean until it hits the bottom, where the container closes and “grabs” a sample of whatever is down there. Then it is hauled back to the surface and opened to see what has been collected. There could be sand, silt, mud, rocks, and any creatures living at the bottom of the ocean. There are two chambers in the grab. From one chamber, the top 2-3 cm of sediment are scooped into a pot, mixed up, and put in jars for later chemical analysis. This thin top layer will yield information about the most recent deposits of sediment. Near the coast, that sample may represent matter that has settled to the ocean floor over a year or so. Further out, that much sediment would take several years to deposit. The contents of the other chamber are dumped into a bucket and washed through a sieve to remove the sediment and leave only the biological parts.

The sieves used for the sediment sample are very much like the ones used for the plankton samples, but bigger and with larger mesh at the bottom (picture #4). The bigger “holes” in the mesh allow silt and sand to be washed out. Whatever is left in the sieve is put into jars and stored in coolers for later analysis. The sample contains evidence of what lives in the benthic layer, the top layer of the ocean floor. This evidence could be plankton, worm tubes, or remains of once-living animals.

At each station where a sediment grab is performed, three water samples are taken, one each from the bottom, the middle, and the surface of the ocean. One liter of each water sample is filtered (picture #6) to analyze its nutrient content. This process is somewhat similar to the chlorophyll filtering I described in yesterday’s log. The filters are saved to be analyzed in laboratories, which will look for both dissolved nutrients and particulate matter. Dissolved nutrients are like the sugar that dissolves in your cup of tea – you can’t see it, but it’s still there. Particulate matter consists of tiny bits (particles) of things such as plankton, whale feces, plants, anything that might be swirling around in the ocean.

The EPA is primarily concerned with human influences on natural environments. By collecting sediment and water data, scientists can see what substances humans are putting into the ocean, and what effects they are having on the plants and animals living there. This work meshes well with the plankton research work, since the health of the plankton is directly influenced by the health of its environment. Everything in the natural world is connected, and we humans must learn how to balance our wants and needs with the needs of all other living things. If we are not careful about how we use our Earth, we will upset the balance of nature and create negative consequences that we may not see for years. For example, if chemicals dumped into the ocean (on purpose or accidentally) kill large numbers of phytoplankton, then the entire food web will be disrupted in a kind of ripple effect, like a stone dropped into a pond. The zooplankton (who eat phytoplankton) will starve, and the animals that eat zooplankton will either starve or move to a different part of the ocean, which in turn changes that part of the ecosystem. From this very small example, maybe you can see how huge our responsibility is to keep our oceans (and other environments) clean.

Personal Log

I am so grateful to Jerry Prezioso, our NOAA chief scientist, and Don Cobb, our EPA scientist. They have included me in all of their operations from Day 1, and have been infinitely patient with my many questions. They have explained things over and over until I “got it”, from procedures for collecting samples to the science behind all their work. It has been eye-opening to be on the student side of learning. Many times I have not even had enough background knowledge to know what questions to ask, or have been almost paralyzed with fear that I might do something wrong and skew someone’s data. I know this experience will help me better understand my students who go through these same feelings of anxiety and joy when they are learning something new.

Joan Raybourn, August 20, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Joan Raybourn
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 14 – 25, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Productivity Survey
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 20, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 42°17’ N
Longitude: 69°38’ W
Wind direction: SE (130 degrees)
Wind speed: 10.3 knots
Air Temperature: 19°C
Sea water temperature: 21.8°C
Sea level pressure: 1016.5 millibars
Cloud cover: High, thin cirrus

Question of the Day: Based on the caption for photo #6 above, in which direction was the ALBATROSS IV traveling when the picture was taken?

Yesterday’s Answer: Our location at 41.39 N and 67.11 W means our goldfinch was 160 nautical miles from Woods Hole. A nautical mile is equal to one minute of latitude and is slightly longer than an ordinary land mile.

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Science and Technology Log

In addition to collecting zooplankton samples, we also collect water samples and measure the amount of chlorophyll they contain. Phytoplankton are too small to see, but an instrument called a flourometer can measure their presence. The flourometer shines a beam of light through the water sample and measures how much blue light (fluorescence) is present.

This process is fairly delicate and great care must be taken to get a good representative water sample, and then not to contaminate it during processing. Water samples are collected in two ways: some are collected in water bottles that are attached to the bongo cable, and others are collected from a hose that is pumping sea water into the plankton lab.  In picture #1 above, our chief scientist, Jerry Prezioso, is collecting a sample from the plankton lab hose. The sample itself is poured through a filter into the bottle to remove any large particles that may be present. Then 200 ml of the sample water is pumped through a fiberglass filter (picture #2). The filter traps chlorophyll as the water passes through. Even though the large amounts of chlorophyll in land plants gives them their bright green color, the small amounts present in phytoplankton are not visible, so you can’t see it on the filter. In picture #3, Jerry uses tweezers to remove the filter (a small white circle) and place it into a cuvette, which is a small test tube. The cuvette contains acetone, which preserves the sample. Then it is placed upside down in the cooler for 12 to 24 hours, which allows the chlorophyll on the filter to wash out into the acetone.

When the sample is ready to be measured, it is taken out of the cooler along with a “blank”, a cuvette of plain acetone with no chlorophyll present. The two cuvettes must warm up a little before they are read, because water condensation on the outside of the cuvette can result in a false reading. We use the flourometer to take three separate readings. When we do science investigations at school, we determine which factors are constant (kept the same for each trial) and which are variable (the thing you are changing in each trial). In this case, the variable is the amount of chlorophyll on the filter. In order to make sure we are measuring only chlorophyll, we also “read” two constants: a solid standard, which is contained in its own tube and used for every trial, and the blank containing only acetone. After the chlorophyll sample is read, we can compare the three sets of data to see how much chlorophyll is really there. In picture #4, I am putting a cuvette into the flourometer, which will shine a light through it and display a number value. The numbers for the solid standard, the blank, and the chlorophyll sample are all recorded on the clipboard along with data such as date, time, and where the sample was collected. Later, the data will be entered into a computer for further analysis.

Why do we want to know about chlorophyll in the ocean? Well, chlorophyll is produced by plants, in this case, phytoplankton. By measuring the amount of chlorophyll in the water samples, scientists are able to determine how much phytoplankton is present. Since phytoplankton is the base of the ocean food web, it is one more piece of the ocean ecosystem puzzle.

Personal Log

Today I switched from the day watch to the night watch, but the timing was good because we had a long steam between stations and I was able to get a little extra sleep before doing a double watch. While all the scientists usually eat meals together, we work in teams to cover the watches, so I will be working with a different set of people. I am now on watch from noon to 6:00 p.m. and from midnight to 6:00 a.m. We will be working our way north for the next week, and the probability of seeing whales is increasing. That will be exciting!

Joan Raybourn, August 19, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Joan Raybourn
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 14 – 25, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Productivity Survey
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 19, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 40’ 17” N
Longitude:  70’ 08” W
Wind direction: NNE (29 degrees)
Wind speed: 19.6 knots
Air temperature: 19° C
Sea water temperature: 22.8°C
Sea level pressure: 1018.1 millibars
Cloud cover: cloudy

Question of the Day: Yesterday a goldfinch visited us, but we are far out to sea. When I took the picture above (#6), our position was 41.39 N and 67.11 W. About how far was this little guy from Woods Hole, Massachusetts?

Yesterday’s Answer: Qualitative data is the “what” that your doctor can observe but not necessarily measure. She might look in your ears, eyes, and throat, feel your internal organs through your abdomen, observe your spine, test your reflexes, have you balance on one foot with your eyes closed, and ask general questions about how you feel. Quantitative data is the “how much”; it is something that can be measured. Your doctor will probably measure how tall you are and how much you weigh, and take your temperature and your blood pressure. If she takes blood or urine samples, they will be analyzed for both qualitative and quantitative properties. We are observing and recording similar kinds of data about the ocean, so scientists can get a good picture of the health of this ecosystem.

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Science and Technology Log

We are very fortunate on this cruise to be able to deploy a drifter buoy. The NOAA Office of Climate Observation (OCO) established the Adopt-a-Drifter program in December 2004. The program makes buoys available to teachers who are participating on cruises as Teachers at Sea. Our drifter has been adopted by my school, Greenbrier Intermediate School of Chesapeake, Virginia, and by Julie Long’s school, Farnsworth Middle School of Guilderland, New York. We named him (It’s a buoy!) Moose in honor of the fact that he was deployed in the Georges Bank area of the Gulf of Maine, which has a number of GOMOOS (Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing Systems) buoys. Moose is the fourth drifter buoy to be deployed as part of the NOAA program, and joins over 1,000 drifter buoys collecting data worldwide.

The buoy itself is a blue and white sphere about the size of a beach ball. It is attached to a drogue, a long “tail” that hangs below the buoy and ensures that it is drifting with the surface currents and not being pushed along by the wind. The buoy is equipped with a water temperature sensor, and a transmitter so that its position and temperature data can be beamed to a satellite, which relays this information to a ground station that will place it on a website. Julie and I decorated the buoy with our school names and signatures – it even has a Greenbrier Intermediate School sticker and a picture of our panther mascot. Then we deployed the buoy on August 18 by tossing it over the side of the ship while it was moving slowly. It was a little sad to see Moose drifting off without us, so small on the huge ocean, but we can follow his adventures for the next 410 days by checking the Adopt a Drifter website. You can begin tracking it here. You can find Moose by clicking on his WMO number, which is 44902. The website will give you the location of the buoy (latitude and longitude) and the date, time, and temperature of the surface water at that location.

What can scientists do with the data about surface water currents that buoys such as Moose are collecting? Of course it can be used to track major ocean currents. Knowledge of currents is useful for understanding the ocean ecosystem and for navigation. But this data will also be used to build models of climate and weather patterns, predict the movement of pollution spills, and even to assist with forecasting the path of approaching hurricanes.

Personal Log

I finally feel like I am becoming useful as a scientist on this cruise, not just an interested observer. Although I have been busy helping from Day 1, I am gaining confidence about conducting some parts of the work on my own. I have learned to collect and preserve the plankton samples, process water samples for chlorophyll, and operate the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth), a computer linked instrument that measures oceanographic data. This morning I was up in time to watch a beautiful sunrise and had time to do a load of laundry during a long steam between stations. We had a raft of seabirds sitting hopefully off the stern while we were stopped for some work, and the weather is cool and sunny. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Joan Raybourn, August 18, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Joan Raybourn
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 14 – 25, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Productivity Survey
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 18, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 41.36 N
Longitude:  67.11 W
Wind direction: N (343 degrees)
Wind speed: 2.6 knots
Sea water temperature: 17.9°C
Sea level pressure: 1019.3 millibars
Cloud cover: 00 Clear

Question of the Day: What kind of quantitative and qualitative data does your doctor take when you go in for a checkup? (Read the science log below for explanations of these terms.)

Yesterday’s Answer: Phytoplankton are eaten by zooplankton, which are in turn eaten by penguins, sea birds, fishes, squid, seals, and humpback and blue whales.

7

Science and Technology Log

On some of the plankton tows, we attach a set of “baby bongos”, which are a smaller version of the big bongos. Their nets are made of a much finer mesh, so they catch even smaller kinds of plankton. The samples retrieved from the baby bongos are sent to scientists who are working on genetic analysis. By examining the DNA present in the samples, they can discover new species and determine how known species are distributed in the water.

After the nets are washed down, and their contents are in the sieves, we bring the sieves inside to preserve the samples. The plankton from each net go into separate jars, two jars for each big bongo haul, and two more if we do a baby bongo haul. The plankton are carefully washed out of the sieve and into the jars with a small stream of water. Then we add formaldehyde to preserve the samples in the big bongo jars, and ethanol to preserve the genetic samples in the baby bongo jars. Each jar is labeled to show where it was collected, and stored until we get to shore. The big bongo samples each have a special purpose. One will be analyzed to see what kinds of ichthyoplankton, or tiny baby fish, are present. The second jar will be analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Qualitative data tells what kind of plankton you have. Quantitative data tells how much plankton the jar contains. You can think of these as “the what (qualitative) and how much of the what (quantitative)”.

All of this data is an indicator of the health of the ocean ecosystem. It’s kind of like when you go to the doctor for a checkup. Your doctor takes your pulse and your temperature, looks in your mouth and ears, tests your reflexes, and takes other kind of data to see how healthy you are. The scientists involved in this project are giving the ocean a checkup. We are collecting data on the water itself (salinity and temperature at different depths), on the plankton that live in it, and on the weather. Over the years, patterns develop that help scientists know what is “normal” and what is not, how weather influences the ocean ecosystem, and how to predict future events.

Personal Log

I decided not to take a nap yesterday afternoon, and I can feel the difference this morning. It was hard to get up! Sometimes it is hard to remember what day it is because of the six-hour watch schedule. Instead of a nap yesterday, I went up on the hurricane deck with my book and just sat. I read a little, watched the other crew do a bongo haul, dozed a little, but mostly just watched the sky and the ocean. The sea stretches all the way to the horizon in every direction, the sun sparkles on the water, a few feathery clouds float in the sky. Very occasionally, a far away fishing boat or cargo ship slips by. Life is good. We are planning to deploy our drifter buoy this afternoon. More about that tomorrow.

Joan Raybourn, August 17, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Joan Raybourn
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 14 – 25, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Productivity Survey
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 17, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 40’ 17” N
Longitude:  70’ 08” W
Wind direction: NNE (29 degrees)
Wind speed: 19.6 knots
Air temperature: 19° C
Sea water temperature: 22.8°C
Sea level pressure: 1018.1 millibars
Cloud cover: cloudy

Question of the Day: What kinds of animals depend on plankton as a major food source?

Yesterday’s Answer: Phytoplankton are producers, since they make their own food.

6

Science and Technology Log

On this cruise aboard the ALBATROSS IV we will be taking plankton samples at 90 stations off the coast of New England. The stations are randomly chosen by a computer, so some are close together and some are further apart. The idea is to get a broad picture of the ecological health of the entire region.

The actual process of plankton collection is called a plankton tow, because the nets are towed through the water while the ship is moving slowly, collecting plankton as the water moves through them. Can you guess why the collection apparatus is called a bongo? (Look at picture #2 above.) The frame looks just like a pair of bongo drums! Attached to the frame are two long nets that collect the plankton. The bongo isn’t heavy enough to sink into the water evenly on its own, so a lead ball is added to help pull it down to the bottom smoothly. (See pictures 3 & 4.) The bongo is attached to a cable, which is in turn attached to a pulley system that lowers the bongo into the water and pulls it back up again. Since we only want floating plankton, we have to be sure the bongo doesn’t scrape the bottom. We lower the bongo to about 5 meters above the bottom, and then bring it back up.

The nets bring in all kinds of zooplankton, very small but big enough to see. (Most phytoplankton are so tiny they slip right through the net!) There are lots of copepods, which are related to lobsters, and sometimes arrow worms, which are tiny predators that love to eat copepods! There are other species as well, including some jellyfish. We have to be very careful to save the entire sample so that scientists back on shore can see exactly what was living near each station. When the nets are back on board, we use a hose to wash the plankton down to the bottom of the net. Then we untie the net, dump the plankton into a sieve, and spray some more to be sure nothing is left in the net. At the end of this process, we tie the bottoms of the nets again (so they are ready for the next tow) and take the sieves with the plankton inside to the wet lab for the next step. I’ll describe the process of preserving the plankton samples in tomorrow’s log.

Several kinds of data (besides the plankton itself) are collected on each tow. For example, we take water samples to analyze for salinity and chlorophyll, and the EPA scientists are collecting samples of the ocean floor. In the days to come, I will describe them and explain how computers are used to make all of this work easier. Stay tuned!

Personal Log

I am becoming much more comfortable with the routine tasks of the trip. I can handle the bongo pretty well, and can preserve the plankton samples we get. I am learning to operate the computer end of the process and will soon be able to do that on my own. I can use the tracking system to see where we are going next and how long it will be until we get there. Do I have time to take some pictures? How about to grab a snack? I enjoy talking with the crew, and have discovered that “it’s a small world after all” – our navigator grew up in Virginia Beach and another crew member just built a house in Chesapeake. I can now walk without too much trouble, and this morning I awoke before my alarm went off because I heard the engines slow down as we approached a tow station. There is rumor of a cookout on the deck tonight, so I’d better go get in a nap before then!

Joan Raybourn, August 16, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Joan Raybourn
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 14 – 25, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Productivity Survey
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 16, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 40’ 17” N
Longitude:  70’ 08” W
Wind direction: NNE (29 degrees)
Wind speed: 19.6 knots
Air temperature: 19° C
Sea water temperature: 22.8°C
Sea level pressure: 1018.1 millibars
Cloud cover: cloudy

Question of the Day:  What is phytoplankton’s place in the food chain? (producer or consumer)

Yesterday’s Answer: Factors that could influence the depth to which sunlight penetrates the sea water include amount of cloud cover and how clear the water is. If the weather is clear, more sunlight makes it through the atmosphere to the surface of the sea. If the water is clear, the sunlight can go deeper than if the water is murky with a large mass of surface plankton, excess nutrients, pollutants, or silt.

5

Science and Technology Log

In yesterday’s log I talked about phytoplankton. The other group of plankton is zooplankton. Phytoplankton are plants, and zooplankton are animals. If you think of the sea as a bowl of soup, the zooplankton are the chunky parts. They include organisms that spend all of their lives as plankton, as well as the baby forms of other seas animals, such as crabs, lobsters, and fish. Most zooplankton eat phytoplankton, making them the second step up the ocean food chain.

While you would need a microscope to see most phytoplankton, you can see most zooplankton with an ordinary magnifying glass. Many are big enough to see with the naked eye. While phytoplankton need to stay near the surface of the sea in order to absorb the sunlight they need for photosynthesis, zooplankton can live at any depth. Zooplankton have structural adaptations that help them float easily in the ocean currents. Some have feathery hairs to that can catch the current. Others have tiny floats filled with air, and still others contain oil that helps them float. There are even behavioral adaptations that zooplankton have developed to help them survive. One kind of snail makes a raft of air bubbles and floats on that. Some even link together and float through the ocean looking like skydivers holding hands.

Many animals go through several physical changes as they go through their life cycles. For example, a butterfly begins life as an egg, hatches into a caterpillar (larval stage), makes a chrysalis, and finally emerges as a beautiful adult. Many marine animals go through similar changes, and during their larval stage they are part of the mix of plankton in the ocean. These “temporary” zooplankton are called meroplankton. These include baby crabs, lobsters, clams, snails, sea stars, and squid. Permanent plankton are called holoplankton, and include copepods, krill, sea butterflies, and jellyfish.

One of our deck hands joked about having sushi for breakfast right after we completed a very productive plankton tow. We might not like that kind of sushi, but many ocean animals love it, and depend on it as their food source. Krill (shrimp-like zooplankton) are a very popular menu item with penguins, sea birds, fishes, squid, seals, and humpbacks and blue whales. “A single blue whale may devour up to eight tons of krill a day.” (from Sea Soup: Zooplankton by Mary M. Cerullo)

Most of the plankton we are collecting on this cruise are zooplankton. We preserve them in jars, and when the cruise is over they will be sent to laboratories where other scientists will analyze the samples. We also analyze water samples for chlorophyll, though, which is made by phytoplankton and is therefore an indicator of their health. In the days to come, I will describe the procedures used for the plankton collection, as well as those used for the EPA research.

Personal Log

Life on board a research vessel is not all work and no play. During down time, people rest, read, play games, watch movies, work on needlework, or get a snack, much like life at home. When I am not on watch, I write my logs, take and organize pictures, take a shower, do laundry, send email, and sleep. The scientists are usually able to eat meals together around the time we switch watches. We gather for breakfast around 5:30 a.m., for lunch around 11:30 a.m., and for dinner around 5:30 p.m. It’s nice to have a chance to catch up with each other while one group comes to work and the other goes off to bed.

Joan Raybourn, August 15, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Joan Raybourn
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 14 – 25, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Productivity Survey
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 15, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 40° 01’ N
Longitude: 71° 37’ W
Wind direction: SSW (207)
Wind speed: 14 knots
Air temperature: 24° C
Sea water temperature: 24.8° C
Sea level pressure: 1015 millibars
Cloud cover: Hazy

Question of the Day: There is some variation in the depth to which sunlight penetrates. What factors could account for this?

Yesterday’s Answer: Because phytoplankton use photosynthesis to make their own food, they live near the surface of the ocean where they can absorb sunlight. Enough sunlight for photosynthesis penetrates to about 10 meters below the surface.

4

Science and Technology Log

“Phytoplankton are incredibly small. Each one is a single cell or a chain of identical cells. One teaspoon of seawater can hold a million phytoplankton.” (from Sea Soup: Phytoplankton by Mary M. Cerullo) They are so small that pictures of them must be taken through a microscope that magnifies them hundreds times. There are thousands of different kinds of phytoplankton, and new species are being discovered all the time. In fact, some kinds of phytoplankton were thought to be dust specks on microscope slides, until researchers built microscopes that are more powerful and discovered that those specks were really living organisms. Even though phytoplankton are plants, they don’t look like plants on land. They don’t have roots, stems, or leaves. “Instead they resemble spiky balls, tiny harpoons, links on a bracelet, spaceships, and many other shapes that defy description.” (Cerullo)

Why should we care about something that most of us will never see? First, phytoplankton are the base of the ocean food web, and all other living organisms in the ocean depend on them. Many ocean animals (including zooplankton) eat them, and are in turn eaten by larger animals. Without phytoplankton, the ocean food web would collapse. A special kind of phytoplankton called zooxanthellae helps to build coral reefs, one of the largest structures on earth. Corals are animals, but they need the help of the zooxanthellae to survive. The zooxanthellae live with the corals, providing food and oxygen, helping the corals take in minerals, and giving the corals their beautiful colors. Many people are worried about global warming, often called the greenhouse effect. This phenomenon is mostly due to the release of excess carbon dioxide into the air, which traps heat in the upper atmosphere. Every year, phytoplankton use nearly half of the carbon dioxide, slowing down global warming. Phytoplankton also help replace the ozone layer, which protects us from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. The remains of ancient phytoplankton provide us with oil and natural gas to use for energy. When they died, their remains sank to the bottom of the ocean, were covered with layers of mud, and over millions of years changed into oil deposits. “Products made from phytoplankton also filter swimming pools, distill fruit juice, wine, and beer, put the polish in toothpaste, and keep dynamite from exploding too soon. But perhaps most important, phytoplankton help us to breathe. About half of the world’s oxygen comes from phytoplankton. That means every other breath you take is thanks to phytoplankton.” (Cerullo)

As you can see, keeping the ocean environment healthy for phytoplankton is very important. Whenever you enjoy your warm house on a cold day, enjoy pictures of corals, eat fish, brush your teeth, or just breathe, you have phytoplankton to thank!

Personal Log

Now that we have been at sea for almost two days, I am adjusting to the watch schedule, which is different from normal life on land. My watches are from 6:00 a.m. to noon and from 6 p.m. to midnight. I try to get four or five ours of sleep between midnight and 6:00 a.m., and a shorter nap in the afternoon. Sometimes there is time to rest even on watch, while we are traveling to the next station. It’s a good time to catch up on reading, or wander around and ask questions about ship operations. About halfway through the cruise, Julie and I will swap watch schedules so that we can each experience what happens at other times of the day. Meals are excellent; usually better than I eat at home, since someone else is doing the cooking! The weather continues to be warm and muggy, but this morning is a little cooler. The crew is keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Irene, which does not look like a threat to our mission. Best of all, I have not been seasick, and probably won’t be unless we hit some rough seas. Today we discovered a stowaway in the wet lab. As the fume hood was being repaired, a bat flew out and perched on the ceiling (See picture #6). Definitely not a shipboard critter! Our chief scientist, Jerry, caught it in a paper cup and released it. We were close enough to land that the little guy should make it safely to a more hospitable habitat. Until tomorrow.

Joan Raybourn, August 14, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Joan Raybourn
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 14 – 25, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Productivity Survey
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 14, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 40° 01’ N
Longitude: 71° 37’ W
Wind direction: SSW (207)
Wind speed: 14 knots
Air temperature: 24° C
Sea water temperature: 24.8° C
Sea level pressure: 1015 millibars
Cloud cover: Hazy

Question of the Day: Phytoplankton are plants and use photosynthesis to make their own food. Where in the ocean would you expect to see phytoplankton living?

3

Science and Technology Log

The main function of this cruise is to collect plankton samples, which will be analyzed to determine the health of the ecosystem. The word plankton comes from the Greek “planktos”, meaning to drift. These tiny creatures of the sea have very little swimming ability of their own, but drift with the currents of the ocean. Plankton fall into two groups: phytoplankton, which are plants and require sunlight for photosynthesis; and zooplankton, which are animals. Phytoplankton are the base of the ocean food web and are the food source for zooplankton. Some kinds of zooplankton are plankton for their entire lives, drifting at the mercy of ocean currents. Other kinds of zooplankton are in the larval stage of their life cycles and will grow and change into free swimmers or bottom dwellers. Most plankton are microscopic, but some are much larger, such as jellyfish. I will expand on these topics in the days to come.

In addition to the plankton research, we have two scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with us. They are collecting samples from the bottom of the ocean, as well as water samples at each of their sampling locations. The first sample collected this morning was mostly sand, and it will be analyzed for both chemical and biological properties. The chemical analysis will show what kind and how much of any pollutants are present. The biological analysis will show how many and what kind of organisms are living on the ocean floor. Both sets of information give important clues to the health of the ocean ecosystem, and about human impact on it.

These two sets of data, from the plankton collection and the ocean floor collection, will give scientists a good picture of how healthy this part of the ocean ecosystem is. Healthy plankton is critical to the health of all other ocean species, since it is the base of the food web. Humans can have an impact on that through pollution of the water, whether intentional or not. This research will help us understand how we can keep our oceans healthy.

Personal Log

I arrived in Woods Hole, Massachusetts on Friday evening and spent the night in town. At the motel, I met the other teacher, Julie, who will be sailing on this cruise. She teaches eighth grade science in Albany, New York. On Saturday morning we made our way to the dock and boarded our home for the next two weeks, the NOAA ship Albatross IV. Jerry, our chief scientist, showed us around the boat and introduced us to the crew and other scientists. We moved into our room, retrieved linens from a closet and made up our bunks. At 2:00 p.m., we set sail for the southern portion of our cruise. It was foggy as we left the harbor so visibility was poor. We participated in an abandon ship drill, struggling into our “Gumby” suits and learning how to work all the parts that will keep us safe if we have to abandon the ship. In a real emergency, I will have to be much faster! The weather, while humid, is much cooler than back home in Virginia Beach. Julie and I are on opposite watch schedules, so we will see each other only briefly during the cruise. The crew and scientists are all very friendly and helpful, which is good because I have so much to learn!

John Sammons, August 4, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 4, 2005

Screen shot 2014-02-02 at 10.26.11 PMWeather Data from the bridge

Latitude: 42° 5’ N
Longitude: 67° 28’ W
Visibility: undetermined
Wind direction: E ( 107 degrees)
Wind speed:  12 knots
Sea wave height: 3’
Swell wave height: 0’
Sea water temperature: 14°C
Sea level pressure:  1022.2 millibars
Cloud cover: 30% Partly cloudy,cumulus

Question of the Day: Last day at sea

Yesterday’s Answer: Scallops are categorized as invertebrates. Scallops belong to the animal kingdom.

Science and Technology Log

On Thursday, we got word that our ship would be back in port by early Friday morning between 4 and 7 a.m. Once we complete the last 20 or so stations, it will be time to clean up and prepare the ship for docking. A large spider crab was brought in at station 454.

The chart below shows a selected number of species and the total and average catch weights from July 25–August 3.

LOGGED_SPECIES_NAME

TOTAL # CAUGHT

TOTAL MASS (grams)

AVERAGE MASS (grams)

OBJECTS WITH SIMILAR MASS

HAGFISH ATLANTIC

41

3230

79

SPINY DOGFISH

1

1560

1560

BARNDOOR SKATE

31

35342

1140

WINTER SKATE

183

196116

1072

LITTLE SKATE

1,628

638483

392

SMOOTH SKATE

19

9517

501

THORNY SKATE

32

7739

242

ATLANTIC HERRING

3

402

134

SILVER HAKE

1,018

117103

115

COD

32

11498

359

HADDOCK

348

64742

186

WHITE HAKE

9

8180

909

RED HAKE

2,941

407185

138

SPOTTED HAKE

2

310

155

FOURBEARD ROCKLING

23

296

13

AMERICAN PLAICE

102

30261

297

FLUKE

18

28240

1569

FOURSPOT FLOUNDER

798

126633

159

YT FLOUNDER

463

111390

241

WINTER FLOUNDER

61

48560

796

WITCH FLOUNDER

47

18300

389

WINDOWPANE FLOUNDER

126

27576

219

GULF STREAM FLOUNDER

344

9189

27

BLACKBELLY ROSEFISH

1

8

8

SCULPIN UNCL

6

18

3

MOUSTACHE SCULPIN

31

33

1

LH SCULPIN

571

88391

155

SEA RAVEN

29

21468

740

ALLIGATORFISH

4

2

1

NORTHERN SEAROBIN

1

47

47

CUNNER

2

493

247

ROCK GUNNEL

18

75

4

NORTHERN SAND LANCE

26

37

1

OCEAN POUT

290

71883

248

FAWN CUSKEEL

11

382

35

GOOSEFISH

389

1046990

?

AMERICAN LOBSTER

22

34552

1571

CANCER CRAB UNCL UNSEXED

1,138

123203

108

STARFISH UNCL

78,925

161850

2

ASTERIAS BOREAL

36,851

243218

7

ASTROPECTEN SP

2,833

15623

6

ICELAND SCALLOP LIVE

18

447

25

SCALLOP ICELAND CLAPPER

3

56

19

CONGER EEL UNCL

1

200

200

SEA SCALLOP CLAPPER

1,980

227126

115

SEA SCALLOP LIVE

114,868

20960122

?

SNAKE EEL UNCL

5

59

12

ILLEX SQUID

12

1442

120

LOLIGO SQUID

3

186

62

SPOONARM OCTOPUS

8

201

25

SCORPIONFISH AND ROCKFISH

1

4

4

1) Use a calculator to find the average masses of the goosefish and sea scallops. You can find these averages by dividing the total mass by the total number caught.
2) Which species had the most average mass?
3) Which species had the least average mass?
4) Which two or three species have about the same mass?
5) Complete the last column in the table by finding everyday objects that have similar masses. Choose at least ten.
6) Select the top ten heaviest species and create a bar graph comparing their masses.

Personal Log

A Fond Farewell 

The time has come to say goodbye to all our friends for now,
The night watch worked from 12 til six, it’s time to take a bow.
Larry crunched the numbers and helped it make more sense,
Vic was the head scientist who made things seem less tense.
KB shared her knowledge in a very caring way,
While Lara measured up the scallops quickly every day.
Erin took the sign and camera to the pile to pose,
It was Kris who was in charge and kept us on our toes.
Nikolai had a funny way of helping us all learn,
And with that said I, John, must conclude, it’s over, let’s adjourn!

Ode to the ALBATROSS IV 

By John Sammons

Arrived on early Sunday eve to find the ship was docked,
Passing through the metal gate that I only thought was locked.
Resting from her recent trip, she makes a humming sound,
Waiting for her crew to board and get a look around.
The sun reflects and sparkles in the ever choppy sea,
I wonder what this exciting adventure will bring to me.

The waves come toward the ALBATROSS and into the lengthy side,
Feel the rocking back and forth, so hold on for the bumpy ride.
Prepare the dredge and send it forth to bring up another load,
Bring out the baskets and buckets and pads to get in a sorting mode.
Place the containers on the scale then measure the scallop’s shell,
Soon the shift will come to an end with only stories left to tell.

Steaming forward to the station that is just right up ahead,
Six hours is up, and our shift will end, so it’s time to go to bed.
Before I rest and take a nap, some chow I would like to eat,
It will be good to rest a little while and get off from my feet.
The food is great, so many choices that we are able to choose,
Just fill ‘er up and head to bed and settle for a snooze.

Time to muster and be alert for another shift begins,
Shells and starfish wait for us, along with things with fins.
Pull up a bucket and a pad to sample and to sort,
It’s been three days since ALBATROSS steamed from the distant port.
Ouch! I bellowed as a scallop clamped onto my finger,
Upon the deck you sort and scoop, but dare not stand and linger.

Let me stop and ponder now about the time I’ve spent,
It seems like days and nights have passed, they’ve come, they’ve gone, they went!
Zigging left and zigging right, we have sailed right out to sea,
It seems so wide and open, such an awesome sight for me.
There’s so much to learn from everyone who works upon this ship,
It’s hard to think that soon we’ll be halfway through our trip.

Stand in awe as the sun begins to finally set,
Awash in orange and red and yellow, it is hard to forget.
What a lasting beauty as the sky begins to glow,
Its splendor in the many colors that it will show.
Waiting for its lasting blaze of light to end the day,
Now I lay me down to sleep, I ask of Him, I pray

The heavy dredge is ready for another timely tow,
Expect to catch the scallops, to the surface they will go.
Dropping to the bottom where its 80 meters deep,
Spending fifteen minutes dragging and bringing in the keep.
Then they’re sorted on the surface while hiding in their shell,
The aging/growth ridges on their outside’s what they tell.

Working two shifts makes it hard to fully stay awake,
But ignoring the wakeup call could be a big mistake.
So much to choose from when it’s finally time for us to eat,
Better be there when it is your time to get a decent seat.
Take a minute or two to rest while the ship is on a steam,
When it’s time to go to bed, enjoy that time to dream.

Ten minutes to go before it’s time for another CTD,
When the crew will set and drop it down into the sea.
It only takes a moment for the thing to take a dash,
To the bottom it will go, watch that it doesn’t crash.
Then it’s time to drop the dredge and ready for the tow,
Soon you’ll hear them haul it in, and it’ll be time to go.

With just a few days left before we enter the home port,
We still continue to collect and sample and we sort.
The number of each species catch continues to go up,
We even brought a dogfish in that was only just a “pup”.
What more can we expect to find within the capture net,
From this station to the next one, we’ll take what we can get.

The time has come to say goodbye to all our friends for now,
The night watch worked from 12 til six, it’s time to take a bow.
Larry crunched the numbers and helped it make more sense,
Vic was the head scientist who made things seem less tense.
KB shared her knowledge in a very caring way,
While Lara measured up the scallops quickly every day.
Erin took the sign and camera to the pile to pose,
It was Kris who was in charge and kept us on our toes.
Nikolai had a funny way of helping us all learn,
And with that said I, John, must conclude, it’s over, let’s adjourn!

John Sammons, August 3, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 3, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 42° 5’ N
Longitude: 67° 28’ W
Visibility: undetermined
Wind direction: E ( 107 degrees)
Wind speed:  12 knots
Sea wave height: 3’
Swell wave height: 0’
Sea water temperature: 14°C
Sea level pressure:  1022.2 millibars
Cloud cover: 30% Partly cloudy,cumulus

Questions of the Day: In what group is the scallop categorized – vertebrates or invertebrates? What kingdom does the scallop belong – monerans, protests, fungi, plants, or animals?

(You may need to use a dictionary to look up these words before deciding the correct answer.)

Screen shot 2014-02-02 at 10.25.09 PM

Yesterday’s Answer: If the sea scallop population were to change drastically, then the population of starfish and crabs might change, too. Other organisms that are in the same community as the scallop are little skate, red hake, yellow tail flounder, and goosefish.

Science and Technology Log:

On Wednesday, the ALBATROSS IV began surveying the western edge of Georges Bank. Typically dense fog, cool temperatures, low visibility dominate the scene. We are currently about 55 miles offshore as we continue to meander between stations and conduct a sampling of the various strata. This morning we caught a dogfish shark in the dredge and took a photo opportunity. It is exciting when a new species (one we have not seen yet on this survey) appears in the dredge. The biggest excitement came when hagfish started to appear in the dredge. These snake-like fish tried to squirm their way off the deck. Several adjustments were made in the trackline (or stations we will visit) to account for time and problems with the tow.

The chart below shows a selected number of species and the total catch weights from July 25 – August 2.

Species Names

Catch Weight (grams)

HAGFISH ATLANTIC

3,230

SPINY DOGFISH

1,560

BARNDOOR SKATE

33,462

WINTER SKATE

152,976

LITTLE SKATE

608,663

SMOOTH SKATE

5,303

THORNY SKATE

6,199

ATLANTIC HERRING

402

SILVER HAKE

116,339

COD

11,498

HADDOCK

59,354

WHITE HAKE

7,140

RED HAKE

399,512

SPOTTED HAKE

310

FOURBEARD ROCKLING

191

AMERICAN PLAICE

30,250

FLUKE

27,660

FOURSPOT FLOUNDER

124,973

YT FLOUNDER

108,054

WINTER FLOUNDER

46,980

WITCH FLOUNDER

15,660

WINDOWPANE FLOUNDER

27,576

GULF STREAM FLOUNDER

9,189

BLACKBELLY ROSEFISH

8

SCULPIN UNCL

18

MOUSTACHE SCULPIN

33

LH SCULPIN

80,691

SEA RAVEN

21,468

ALLIGATORFISH

2

NORTHERN SEAROBIN

47

CUNNER

493

ROCK GUNNEL

75

NORTHERN SAND LANCE

40

OCEAN POUT

68

FAWN CUSKEEL

382

GOOSEFISH

933,330

AMERICAN LOBSTER MALE

34,550

CANCER CRAB UNCL UNSEXED

122,684

STARFISH UNCL

161,477

ASTERIAS BOREAL

242,902

ASTROPECTEN SP

15,623

ICELAND SCALLOP LIVE

450

SCALLOP ICELAND CLAPPER

56

CONGER EEL UNCL

200

SEA SCALLOP CLAPPER

222,600

SEA SCALLOP LIVE

19,863,690

SNAKE EEL UNCL

59

ILLEX SQUID

1,313

OCTOPUS SPOONARM

109

SPOONARM OCTOPUS

200

SCORPIONFISH AND ROCKFISH UNCL

4

UNKNOWN 01

19

1) Order the 10 highest amounts from greatest to least.
2) Order the 10 lowest amounts from least to greatest.
3) Which species has a total with a 9 in the millions place?
4) Which species has a total with a 6 in the ten thousands place?
5) Which species has a total with a 9 in the hundred thousands place?
6) Choose a species to research. Why do you think their numbers are higher or lower than the others are?

Personal Log

A Few Days Left 

With just a few days left before we enter the home port,
We still continue to collect and sample and we sort.
The number of each species catch continues to go up,
We even brought a dogfish in that was only just a “pup”.
What more can we expect to find within the capture net,
From this station to the next one, we’ll take what we can get.

John Sammons, August 2, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 2, 2005

Weather Data from the bridge

Latitude: 42° 5’ N
Longitude: 67° 28’ W
Visibility: undetermined
Wind direction: E ( 107 degrees)
Wind speed:  12 knots
Sea wave height: 3’
Swell wave height: 0’
Sea water temperature: 14°C
Sea level pressure:  1022.2 millibars
Cloud cover: 30% Partly cloudy,cumulus

Questions of the Day: Explain what might happen if the sea scallop population were to change drastically. What other organisms are in the same community as the scallop?

(You may want to look at the Day 8 food web and the graph below.)

Yesterday’s Answer:

Scallops are predators because they eat something else, that is phytoplankton and zooplankton. They are primarily herbivores. Scallops are mostly prey to, or eaten by, sea stars and crabs.

Science and Technology Log

Screen shot 2014-02-02 at 10.24.04 PM*CTD = Conductivity, Temperature, Depth instrument is used to measure salinity, temperature, and depth at selected stations. This is important because different species of marine animals (including the sea scallop) have tolerances for certain temperatures and depths.

On Tuesday, the ALBATROSS IV continued surveying the northern edge of Georges Bank as it makes its way west toward Woods Hole. The weather has been very cooperative with a ridge of high pressure overhead, despite the routine early dense fog. Scallop counts are very low while other newer species are being observed, including various species of sea stars and the hagfish. The chart below shows a selected number of species and the stations in which they were found.

Sea Scallop Survey Leg II: Stations Where Species Were Found

Screen shot 2014-02-02 at 10.24.16 PM

Questions:

1) Which of these species was caught at the most stations?

2) Which of these species was caught at the least number of stations?

3) At how many more stations were the sea scallops caught than the red hake?

4) What might explain why sea scallops were found at the most number of stations on this survey?

5) What is the difference between the number of stations that the yellow tail flounder were located and the sea scallop?

Personal Log

Measuring Up 

Ten minutes to go before it’s time for another CTD,
When the crew will set and drop it down into the waiting sea.
It only takes a moment for the thing to take a dash,
To the bottom it will go, but watch that it don’t crash.
Then it’s time to drop the dredge and ready for the tow,
Soon you’ll hear them haul it in, and it’ll be time to go.

 

John Sammons, August 1, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 1, 2005

Weather Data from the bridge

Latitude: 42° 5’ N
Longitude: 67° 28’ W
Visibility: undetermined
Wind direction: E ( 107 degrees)
Wind speed:  12 knots
Sea wave height: 3’
Swell wave height: 0’
Sea water temperature: 14°C
Sea level pressure:  1022.2 millibars
Cloud cover: 30% Partly cloudy,cumulus

Questions of the Day: What makes a scallop a predator? Is a scallop a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore?  What is the scallop prey to?

Screen shot 2014-02-02 at 10.23.14 PM

Yesterday’s Answer:

Scallop Answers

Science and Technology Log

Facts About Sea Scallops* 

  • Largest wild scallop fishery in the world
  • Most valuable fishery in Northeast US
  • 2004 landings were about 28,000 meats (63 million lbs) worth over $300 million
  • Most landings come from about 300 vessels with “limited access” permits
  • Principal ports are New Bedford MA, Cape May NJ, Hampton Roads VA
  • Typical vessel is 70-90’ and uses two 15’ dredges
  • Most fishing occurs in the Mid-Atlantic area (Virginia to Long Island) and on Georges Bank
  • Sea scallops have an upper temperature tolerance of about 21 C.
  • Most important scallop predators are: sea stars, crabs and other decapods
  • Because they are filter-feeders, their main source of food is phytoplankton in the floor to surface water column.

*Thanks to Dvora Hart, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, for supplying the scallop information. 

On Monday, the ALBATROSS IV began surveying more open areas. Sunday’s 6 – midnight watch experienced very large catches as they sampled the closed areas from the Canada line westward. I got an opportunity to operate on a Goosefish in order to take a vertebrate sample. This will be used to determine the age of the fish. The catches are significantly small since we entered an open area for fishing.  With beautiful weather ahead of us, we should be able to continue to enjoy the sorting time as well as time on deck to relax. The weekly fire and abandon ship drills were held today.

Personal Log

Life at Sea 

Working two shifts makes it hard to fully stay awake,
But ignoring the wakeup call could be a big mistake.
So much to choose from when it’s finally time to eat,
Better be there when it is your time to get a decent seat.
Take a minute or two to rest while the ship is on a steam,
When it’s time to go to bed, enjoy that time to dream.

Cary Atwood, August 1, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: August 1, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: undetermined
Wind direction: E ( 107 degrees)
Wind speed:  12 knots
Sea wave height: 3’
Swell wave height: 0’
Sea water temperature: 14°C
Sea level pressure: 1022.2 millibars
Cloud cover: 30% Partly cloudy,cumulus

Question of the Day

Does the temperature of ocean waters change depending upon its depth?

Answer to yesterday’s question

Bilateral symmetry is the drawing of a line through an object and having it be the same on both sides as a mirror image, such as sea stars and mud stars.

Science and Technology Journal

Aside from the major science mission of the scallop survey a few other scientific investigations are taking place on the Albatross.  One such project is the CTD measurements.  C for conductivity, T for temperature and D for depth.  I will elaborate on this in tomorrow’s journal.  Another smaller project is the mapping of habitat using acoustic sounders.

Although the scallop watch crews are labeled as scientists aboard ship, with many us with our master’s degrees in a particular science specialty, only a few are fully engaged in that role for this leg. Vic Nordahl, Chief Scientist, Dvora Hart and Avis Sosa.

Vic is ultimately responsible for collecting and reporting accurate numbers of all scallops and other marine species we have documented.  The watch chiefs report the data to him, but they must audit the data before a full report is made.

Dvora, while on watch, depending upon the tow number will randomly check numbers of starfish, crabs and the weight of scallop meat and gonads.  We are collecting numeric quantities to help better determine the age and growth of scallops in different sampling areas.

Avis Sosa moonlights on these scallop survey crews during her summer vacation from teaching.  Currently she is teaching advanced placement chemistry in a large international school in Jakarta, Indonesia. She is an amazing woman with a huge supply unique life experiences from all over the world under her belt.  For the past 14 years, Avis has been working on various NOAA ships, first as a volunteer, now as a contract employee.  Over the years, she has become a source of expertise in her knowledge of marine mollusks.  While sorting through the pile, she will identify anything in it and give you not only the common name, but the scientific name as well.  Currently she is collecting specimens for the collection in the museum at the Marine Fisheries Lab. She is my role model as the quintessential independent, worldly woman!

Personal Log 

Another day of calm seas and perfect weather.  Even though I hate getting up every morning at 5 a.m., when I arrive on the fantail after breakfast, the fresh salt air and sunrises always makes the early hours worth the struggle of waking my body up.  After donning my rubber boots and “Hellies”, I take a few moments to scan the horizon, note the texture of the water, lean over the deck to watch the shape of the boat wake and breathe in the air of a brand new day.

John Sammons, July 31, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 31, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 41° 26’ N
Longitude: 66° 34’ W
Visibility: <1 mile
Wind direction: NW (306 degrees)
Wind speed: 7 knots
Sea wave height: 1’
Swell wave height: 1’
Sea water temperature: 15°C
Sea level pressure: 1023.3 millibars
Cloud cover: 90% fog, haze, dust

Screen shot 2014-03-01 at 8.35.50 AM

Question of the Day: Predict the mass and size of each scallop pictured above. Match them with the masses and lengths shown below.

Scallops Masses and Lengths

Yesterday’s Answer: Answers may be different.

  1. flat body allows it to lay camouflaged on the bottom
  2. tail fin allows it to move through the water
  3. spiny back and tail protect it from predators
  4. long, slender body allows it to move faster through the water
  5. strong muscle allows it to close the shell to keep out predators
  6. strong arms allow it to pry open shells for food

Science and Technology Log

“Scallops are a family of bivalve mollusks; there are several hundred species of scallops, found in marine environments all over the world.  Like most other bivalves, they consume phytoplankton and other small particles by filter-feeding. Unlike many bivalves (e.g., clams, which bury in the sediments), they live on the bottom surface, and can move by swimming. Atlantic sea scallops (Placopecten magellanicus, also known giant scallops or deep sea scallops) live only in the northwest Atlantic from Cape Hatteras to Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Sea scallops usually spawn in late summer or early fall, though spring spawning may also occur. After hatching, larvae stay in the water column for 4-6 weeks. At settlement, they attach to a hard object by means of byssal threads produced by a gland at the end of their foot.”

*Thanks to Dvora Hart, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, for supplying the scallop information. 

On Sunday, I was able to operate the Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth instrument by myself. This instrument is lowered into the water at every third designated stations. Data is collected as the instrument descends to the bottom. This data includes salinity (saltiness), temperature, and depth of the water. This is important since various marine animals require ideal temperatures to survive. Today’s CTD went down to 80 meters (think 80 meter sticks deep) and recorded a temperature of about 5 °C. That ‘s cold!

Personal Log

Scallop Catch 

The heavy dredge is ready for another timely tow,
Expect to catch the scallops, to the surface they will go.
Dropping to the bottom where its 80 meters deep,
Spending fifteen minutes dragging and bringing in the keep.
Then they’re sorted on the surface while hiding in their shell,
The aging/growth ridges on their outside’s what they tell.

 

Cary Atwood, July 31, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 31, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: Clear
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Seawater temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day 

What is bilateral symmetry?

Answer to yesterday’s question: The Hermit Crab

Science and Technology Log

As we comb through our dredge piles, intent on finding scallops, one of the most prolific creatures I notice is the Hermit Crab of the family Pagurus.  Hermit crabs are common on every coast of the United States and like many people, I am drawn to their special ability to take up residence in cast off mollusk shells. Just as we grow out of shoes when our feet grow, so must they find new homes as they age.  When seen without their shell, their abdomen is coiled, soft and very pink.  They carry their shell with them, and when threatened or attacked are able to retreat quickly for protection.  Hermit crabs are highly adapted to  carry around their permanent burden of a home because they have special appendages on their midsection segment for clinging to the spiral support of a marine snail shell. Their long antennae and large socketless eyes give them a distinct, non-threatening but whimsical  look….and it makes me want to take one home-but of course I couldn’t offer it the same kind of home it already has.

Personal Log

The six hour shifts for the scallop survey are taking its toll on my sleep needs. Every day I feel I am further behind and will never catch up.  This morning I truly did not feel awake until about 10am, even though my watch began at 6 a.m.  My daily schedule consists of the basics: eat, work, eat, relax, sleep, eat and work.  I don’t know how the crew can adjust to this kind of schedule for months on end as they go to sea.  It takes a very special person to adjust to the physical demands, let alone the demands of leaving family behind to come to sea.  However, some of the guys on board have been doing it for 20+years!

Coming to sea has a magnetic pull for some….is it the vast water and open horizons? Is it the need to assert some sort of independence? Is it the opportunity to be a part of something so much larger than one’s self?  As I speak to some of the deck hands, they are generally happy to be working for NOAA and away from the uncertainty of fishing or lobstering. In part it’s having steady work not influenced by the vagaries of what is caught at sea. These days, with the Atlantic fishery recovering, the catch is more consistent. Of the two deck hands I have come to know, both have a far away look in their eye—missing some of the action on a fishing boat, but still in love with the sea.

John Sammons, July 30, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 30, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 41° 26’ N
Longitude: 66° 34’ W
Visibility: <1 mile
Wind direction: NW (306 degrees)
Wind speed: 7 knots
Sea wave height: 1’
Swell wave height: 1’
Sea water temperature: 15°C
Sea level pressure: 1023.3 millibars
Cloud cover: 90% fog, haze, dust

Question of the Day: What physical adaptations help the animals pictured in numbers 1 – 6 above survive in their environment? Give at least three.

 

Screen shot 2014-03-01 at 8.32.02 AM
Photos 7, 8, 9: Evening Sunset

 

Yesterday’s Answer: The cloud types shown in yesterday’s pictures are: 1) cirrus and stratus 2) stratus (fog) 3) cirrus 4) cirrus 5) cumulus 6) cirrus and stratus 7) stratus (fog)  8) stratus 9) cumulus (alto-or cirro-cumulus) There were no cumulonimbus (thunderstorm) clouds (which is a good thing). The crew on the Albatross IV was experiencing FAIR weather.

Science and Technology Log

Animal adaptations fall into two general categories – behavioral and physical. The physical adaptations are the structures on the animal that help in survive, while the behavioral adaptations are the actions the animal takes in order to survive. The structures may include fins, body shape, beaks, mouth parts, legs, gills, etc. that are important to the animal’s ability to endure within the habitat. For example, scallops have a hard shell that helps them survive by keeping out predators. The actions that animals may take in order to survive include playing dead, showing teeth, and licking your face. For example, scallops squirt water in order to push themselves away from their predators.

On Saturday we moved into Canadian waters and are now operating in an open area. We essentially have the same tasks to perform at each station, including taking a picture of the catch before it is sorted, weighing and measuring selected species, tagging and bagging requested species, cleaning the workstations after each station, and operating the CTD. More information about the Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth instrument will be shared in tomorrow’s log. Several whales, dolphins, sharks, and porpoises have been spotted. They are difficult to photograph because I never have a camera ready, and they are breaking the surface at unpredictable time.

The table below shows the amount of some of the marine species collected since our survey began.

Sammons Day 6 Table

  1. Can you tell which species was the most populated in the areas surveyed?
  2. Which species was the least populated?
  3. Are there any that have the same or close to the same amount?
  4. What’s the difference between the number of the most and least populated totals?

Personal Log

Ocean Sunset 

Stand in awe as the sun begins to finally set,
Awash in orange and red and yellow, it is hard to forget.
What a lasting beauty as the sky begins to glow,
Its splendor in the many colors that it will show.
Waiting for its lasting blaze of light to end the day,
Now I lay me down to sleep. . ., I ask of Him, I pray.

Cary Atwood, July 30, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 30, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: Clear
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Seawater temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day:

What kind of crab makes its home in an abandoned snail shell?

Answer to yesterday’s question: Lines- a word used on a ship meaning ropes; Bosun- a very old word derived from “Boat Swain”- meaning the lead fisherman; Steam- the distance to be traveled on a ship from one destination to the next; Swell- wave action –when the action is greater, the difference between the tip of the wave and the trough represents the swell.

Science and Technology Log 

In the past few days, pods of humpback whales have been sighted near our ship.  I grab my binoculars and watch their show.  They are very acrobatic whales, breaching (jumping above the water), slapping their flippers and lobtailing—meaning they dive below the surface leaving only their large tail fluke showing as they wave it in the air.  If you are lucky enough to get close to a humpback whale, you might be able to see the distinctive markings on the underside of their flukes.  These markings are used to identify individual whales. It is hard to imagine the immense size of this mammal as they reach from 36 to 52 feet in length and weigh up to 40 tons

Humpbacks can be found worldwide and in the winter they migrate south to the Caribbean. Their summer feeding grounds are the Gulf of Maine to Iceland.  Humpbacks were commercially fished almost to the brink of extinction in the 1800’s as whaling ships plied their trade all along the Atlantic coastline, making many fisherman and coastal communities very wealthy. Once they were listed on the endangered species list in 1966 it protected them from commercial harvest.  Their numbers have recovered and it is estimated that 8000-10,000 live and feed in the waters of the North Atlantic.  Seeing these whales is a truly special experience

Personal Log– a poem for humpbacks

Humpbacks
On dark waters
You rise
And reach for the sky
Your fluke
Like a signature
Tells all who are near
This is my playground
Too I have returned from the
Brink of extinction.
Atlantic waters
Give me life
Help them remember
I could have been
A ghostly memory
Of times past.
Now, I inspire awe and hope
For the future.

Cary Atwood, July 29, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 29, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: Clear
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Seawater temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day:

Define these terms used aboard the ALBATROSS IV:  lines, bosun, steam, swell

Yesterday’s answer: Pelagic means “of the sea.”  Lesser shearwaters are part of a larger group of pelagic birds who spend their entire adult lives out in the open ocean.  They rest, sleep, feed and mate on the water.  The only time they return to land is to lay a brood of eggs in the same geographic location where they were born and fledged before they left for the open waters of adulthood.

Science and Technology Log  

Today’s topic is ALBATROSS IV Geography: a mini guide to the important places on the ship.

Fantail—Another name for the stern of the ship.  Since this is a ship on which scientific missions are completed, this section of the boat has space to accommodate the gantry and boom, which pulls up the dredge, as well as a full wet lab to process scallops and other groundfish species. Wet Lab—The area in the fantail with touch computer screens and magnetically activated measuring boards and scales to document scallop survey data. Bridge—The enclosed area where navigation and sighting is done by the captain and crewmembers.  A full complement of computers is used to assess position, direction and locations of ships and buoys.

Computer Room—Located on the middle deck, it contains computers with e-mail access, FSCS computers and computer servers.  In every main area of the ship, a computer monitor with a closed circuit view of the fantail can be seen.  This is so the scientists, engineers, and captain can know the status of the fantail area at all times. Galley—Another name for the kitchen area.  Food for the crew is prepared here by Jerome Nelson and served buffet style by Keith.  The menu is posted daily and always includes a wide assortment of meats, breads and vegetables, as well as that all-important treat: ice cream! Hurricane Deck—AKA “Steel Beach”- a small deck above the fantail used for sunbathing and relaxation. Engine Room—Noisy room down in the bulkhead where the engineering crew keeps the two diesel engines running smoothly. Boom and Gantry—Found on the aft deck (otherwise known as the fantail), these are the all-essential components needed to tow the eight-foot net.  The gantry is the large metal A-frame and the boom is the moveable arm or crane, which uses large cables and a pulley system to bring up the net each time. Cabin or stateroom—Sleeping quarters for two or three persons.  It has portholes, bunks and a shared bathroom.

Personal Log 

Today the ocean waters have calmed a bit.  Thursday’s wave action gave new meaning to the term “rock the boat,” which is exactly what we did.  The swells, up to three feet in height, were the distant result of Tropical Storm Franklin as it made its way up into the waters of New England. A good safety rule we learned during our brief introductory meeting was to make sure you gave “one hand to the boat” at all times.  This was especially good advice as my footing placement became increasingly unpredictable.  Ships are built to withstand the high seas, and fortunately, there are plenty of places to put a firm grip as one makes their way around the ship.

John Sammons, July 29, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 29, 2005

Weather Data from the bridge

Latitude: 41° 02’ N
Longitude: 69° 15’ W
Visibility: 0
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Sea water temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day:

What cloud types are shown in below in the photographs (cirrus, cumulus, stratus, cumulonimbus)? What kind of weather would the crew on the ALBATROSS IV be experiencing (fair, rainy, stormy)?

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 9.55.10 PM

Yesterday’s Answer: The ALBATROSS IV is currently located northeast of Virginia.

Science and Technology Log

Weather has a big influence on the decisions made at sea. Using instruments like the ones described in the Day 1 Log, the crew can determine whether conditions are safe and whether to change course. However, decisions about where to go can be affected by the types of clouds that are observed. One cloud formation that influences these choices is the stratus cloud on the ground, more easily known as fog. If it were not for the RADAR and other navigation instruments, dense fog could put an end to the trip. Other cloud types like cirrus clouds could indicate the edge of an approaching storm. With such warning, the ship could navigate around cumulonimbus, or storm, clouds or ride it out. An observant person on watch can make life-saving decisions using weather and cloud types.

The Friday morning watch (midnight – six) consisted of relatively uniform samples, because the tow moved through a restricted closed area of Georges Bank. It seems like this practice is working, since the scallop counts in the restricted and nonrestricted areas vary greatly.

Sampling of Sea Scallops on Georges Bank

The seas have settled a bit and are lower than two feet by the noon – six watch. The sky is almost clear with only a few distance clouds on the horizon. The water is a beautiful marine blue color, unlike the murky brown water near the coast.

Personal Log

Zig-Zagging 

Let me stop and ponder now about the time I’ve spent,
It seems like days and nights have passed, they’ve come, they’ve gone, they went!
Zigging left and zagging right, we have sailed right out to sea,
It seems so wide and open, such an awesome sight for me.
There’s so much to learn from everyone who works upon this ship,
It’s hard to think that soon we’ll be halfway through our trip.

 

Cary Atwood, July 28, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 28, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: undetermined
Wind direction: SSW (217 degrees)
Wind speed:  11 knots
Sea wave height: 0.4’
Swell wave height: 1.4’
Seawater temperature: 18°C
Sea level pressure: 1013.3 millibars
Cloud cover: Obscure, Fog, Haze, Dust

Question of the Day: 

Lesser Shearwaters are common pelagic birds we often sea in great numbers near our ship. What does pelagic mean?

Answer to yesterday’s question: Astropectin species (sea stars) prey primarily on young scallops.  Asteria vulgaris, another kind of sea star will prey upon adult scallops by wrapping themselves around the bivalves and tiring out their muscle.  Once that is done, they will use their mouth to suck out and make a tasty meal of the scallop’s soft, fleshy parts.  Other scallop predators include crabs, lobsters, and some flounder species that eat small scallops.  Wolf fish eat scallops as well.

Science and Technology Log 

I am so pleased to have Dr. Dvora Hart on our cruise.  She has given me a great deal of context regarding the scallop survey conducted aboard the Albatross IV.  As an official operations research analyst, Dr. Hart is responsible for taking the raw data from the yearly scallop surveys and creating mathematical models of past and current surveys and projecting those numbers for future management decisions of the scallop fishery.  Because the fishery is worth about $300 million annually to fishermen, and more than a billion dollars in retail, it is as valuable a fishery resource as the lobster industry.  Together they represent the two most valuable fisheries on the New England coast.

Dr. Hart has worked for the Northeast Fisheries Science Center for over six years now.  Having a strong math and statistics background has put her in a unique position to develop tools and models that help biologists understand the distribution of surf invertebrates. Every three years, stock assessments are reported to local and regional fishery boards with recommendations for the management of scallops.  Needless to say, the messenger is not always a popular person, especially when areas show diminishing populations and should be closed. However, armed with so much longitudinal data can be a benefit, too, in that areas in the past that have been overfished, if left alone, can, over the course of time, recover.  In order to make the scallop fishery a sustainable industry for all who depend on it for their livelihood, a person like Dvora has pioneered the mathematical modeling on scallops’ fishery management.  Her devotion and passion to this endeavor is clear, and one hopes that these management recommendations will enable fishermen to sustain their livelihood for years to come.

John Sammons, July 28, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 28, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 40° 58’ N
Longitude: 67° 13’ W
Visibility: undetermined
Wind direction: SSW (217 degrees)
Wind speed:  11 knots
Sea wave height: 0.4’
Swell wave height: 1.4’
Sea water temperature: 18°C
Sea level pressure: 1013.3 millibars
Cloud cover: Obscure, Fog, Haze, Dust

Question of the Day: In which direction is the ALBATROSS IV relative to Virginia (north, south, east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest)?  Use the latitude and longitude points in today’s log or refer to the “Location” link shown on the webpage.

Yesterday’s Answer: Some scallops use camouflage and countershading to help protect themselves from their predators by blending into the ocean bottom (light to dark brown as seen from above) and blending into the sky (white as seen from below). Because there are two different colors, this is called countershading, which is a form of camouflage and is a physical adaptation.

Science and Technology Log

Proper navigation is an important component of the ALBATROSS IV’s ability to correctly manage the station locations. Without it, the ship would be lost, and there would be no way to accurately measure station samples over time. First, an electronic course map is generated that has the predetermined route and survey station. Course adjustments are made as the ship approaches a station so that it passes within one mile of the station and over it on its way to the next station. Since the dredge stays in the water for fifteen minutes, it requires accurate course and ship positioning. Second, RADAR is used to keep track of other ship traffic. Radios and an automated tracking system are used to keep a safe distance from other ships like freighters and container ships. Third, visual observations from the bridge enable the watch person to determine visibility and weather conditions that may effect navigating the ship. Of course, when there is dense fog like the ship has experienced on the present cruise, the other two components become critical. While it may seem like a glorious job to be up on the bridge of the ship, it certainly requires a person who is able to perform several operations at once and take the blame for things that go wrong.

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 9.49.05 PM

Thursday has been spent sorting and sampling the catch, which has included flounder (flat and slimy), goosefish (mean and toothy), hake (slender and colorful), crab (determined and crusty), skate (mysterious and smooth) and of course, scallops (graceful and tough). As we sample each station’s catch, we have to check over a list provided by land-based scientists in order to save what they need for their research. Two of those scientists are traveling with us and are very knowledgeable about scallops. Dvora Hart is quantifying the abundance of calico scallops, aging sea scallops, and assessing meat quality in certain areas. Avis Sosa is making a reference collection of shells commonly caught during the clam and scallop surveys, including clappers. Clappers are scallops that are still hinged or connected, but contain no internal organs.

The seas at 40°N and 66°W are affected by Tropical Storm Franklin in the distance. The swells are estimated to be 8 – 10 feet and are rocking the boat constantly. It is difficult to walk straight or stand still, but it is still safe to be here.

You have to also make sure everything is attached, or it will slide right unto the floor.

Personal Log

Sort, Sort, Sort 

Time to muster and be alert for another shift begins,
Shells and starfish wait for us, along with things with fins.
Pull up a bucket and a pad to sample and to sort,
It’s been three days since ALBATROSS steamed from the distant port.
Ouch! I bellowed as a scallop clamped onto my finger,
Upon the deck you sort and scoop, no time to stand and linger.

 

Cary Atwood, July 27, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 27, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: Clear
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Seawater temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day: What might be the major predators of Atlantic scallops?

Yesterday’s Answer 

According to Dr. Dvora Hart, probably the world’s expert on Atlantic scallops, who just happens to be on our cruise and is a part of my watch crew, the elements listed below are essential to the survival of these scallops

  • Water temperatures in the range of 0 degrees Celsius –17 Celsius.  Above this point they will die.
  • Firm sand or pebbly gravel needed for attachment as it grows
  • A good supply of phytoplankton and similar sized micro and protozoa and diatoms and detritus to feed upon

Science and Technology Log 

This morning after my watch, I interviewed Captain Michael Abbott who is captaining the ALBATROSS during this cruise. We stood up on the bridge while he demonstrated some of the navigation equipment.  I like spending time on the bridge because the open view from the bow is fabulous, and there are rarely any people up there.  I’ll write about navigation in another entry.

I talked with him about his career in the NOAA officer corps.  He joined the Corp about 21 years ago making it a career when he heard about it on his college campus.  At that time he was completing a degree in geology and hydrology at the University of New Hampshire.  After a three month officer training at the Merchant Marine Academy in King’s Point, New York he became a uniformed officer in the NOAA Corps.  It is the smallest branch of the uniformed non-military service, with less than 300 officers operating ships and aircraft for scientific research purposes.

According to Captain Abbott, his major responsibilities aboard the ALBATROSS IV are the safety of the crew, a successful completion of the scallop survey mission and making the cruise enjoyable for all on board. The crew includes 5 uniformed NOAA officers, scientists and ship crew–all together, about 25 people. Being at sea gives Mike great pleasure in that he is able to contribute to NOAA’s mission and play an active part in stewardship towards the environment.

Personal Log 

A poem today…

Ocean water Glassy smooth
Rippling velvet
Sunset shimmering
Fog rainbows dancing
Ship rocking
Sun glimmering
Shearwaters circling
Teacher adjusting
To daily rhythms
Of the cruise

John Sammons, July 27, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 27, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 40° 31’ N Longitude: 68° 49’ W
Visibility: undetermined
Wind direction: SSW
Wind speed: 16 knots
Sea wave height: 0
Swell wave height: 0
Sea water temperature: 18°C
Sea level pressure: 1012.6 millibars
Cloud cover: Clear

 

Question of the Day: How do scallops use camouflage and countershading to help protect themselves from their predators? (See pictures 5 and 6.) Is this a physical or behavioral adaptation?

Yesterday’s Answer:

1. pulley         2. inclined plane   3. lever
4. pulley         5. pulley                6. inclined plane
7. lever           8. pulley                9. wheel and axle.
Answers will vary on the second part of the question.

Science and Technology Log

The purpose of this scallop survey is to study the “basic biology and distribution of “ scallops and to study the “population dynamics of the species.” Historically, scallop populations have increased and decreased at alarming rates. Overfishing and natural predators have lead to a significant decline of scallops in the Atlantic Ocean. Conversely, scallop populations have flourished in areas that are closed to fishing, thus allowing scallops to mature more. While this is by far the most important reason why there are fewer scallops, scallops have natural adaptations that also help them survive.

One structural adaptation is their color. Notice in the pictures above that some scallops are dark on top and lighter on the bottom. This allows the scallop to blend into the sandy bottom as seen from above and the bright surface as seen from below. A behavioral adaptation that the scallop has is to shoot water as a way to propel itself from a predator. However, these adaptations are not always strong enough to protect themselves from predators and humans.

On Wednesday, we continued to collect scallops. The shells will be used for determining the age of the scallops. In addition, the meat and gonad weights will be used to estimate shell height/meat weight relationships and annual mating cycles. Some other sea life that is coming up in the dredge are different species of flounder, hake, crabs, skate, goosefish, hermit crabs, and starfish. There are many knowledgeable people on board who have provided mini-lessons for me on fish identification, scallop shucking, data entry, and population dynamics.

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 9.44.56 PM

Personal Log

Sleepless on the Atlantic 

Steaming forward to the station that is just right up ahead,
Six hours is up, and our shift will end, so it is time to go to bed.
Before I rest and take a nap, some chow I would like to eat,
It will be good to rest a little while and get off of my feet.
The food is great, so many choices that we are able to choose,
Just fill ‘er up and head to bed and settle for a snooze. 

Cary Atwood, July 26, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 26, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: Clear
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Seawater temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day 

What do scallops need in order to survive within their habitat?

Yesterday’s Answer 

The scientific name of the Atlantic Sea Scallop is Lacopectin magellanicus.  Lacopectin means “smooth scallop.

Science and Technology Log 

The real work of the ALBATROSS IV mission is accomplished during the four six-hour shifts with a crew of six workers each.  On my watch, they are Sean, watch chief, Bill, Avis, Dvora, Noelle and myself. Working as a team, we accomplish great things in each tow, which takes about 30 minutes to process.  Here’s how it unfolds.  The eight-foot dredge basket is specially designed to capture all sizes and ages of scallops for research.  It is dredged from a depth up to 100 meters to the surface for a fifteen-minute time period.

After each tow comes out of the water, fishermen release it from the cable and it’s deposited on the fantail, also known as the back deck of the ship.  The fantail is a huge open area complete with a non-skid surface–very important when the boat is on an intense rock and roll session. With our “Helly’s” on (the yellow and orange storm gear you see in the pictures) and tall rubber boots, I take a picture of the mound, along with Bill, who holds up a whiteboard indicating the catch number, the tow and the strata (level) where we do the dredging. Once that is done, orange baskets, white buckets and kneepads are hauled to it. On our hands and knees we look for what might seem like buried treasure; sifting through the debris of the sea.  We toss scallops and many varieties of fish, into the baskets until we have combed through every inch of them.  Once the sort is done, we all move into the covered lab area for a variety of assessments, including the weight and length measurements of each scallop, as well as any ground fish that are caught.  Even though some of the work is manual, computers play a very important role in accurate capture of the data. One instrument we use is a long, flatbed magnetically charged scanner. Once we put a scallop shell on the bed and hold a magnetized wand against it, it reads out the measurement onto a touch computer screen.  Computers such as this one have relieved some of the tedium of the work, making it more accurate and faster.  The same is done with fish, and depending upon the tow, we will keep crabs and starfish out.

All of this data is uploaded into the FSCS – Fisheries Scientific Computer System which compiles the data from the survey.  This valuable data is used to assess populations and biomass for the scallop fishery and then make management decisions for present and future fishery use. The watch crews and scientists love it because it has saved so much time, and compilation of the data is considerably easier and less time consuming in the long run.

Personal Log 

Sleep of any length of time is longed for, but never received.  Due to our 6 hour on, 6 hour off shifts, at best we can manage 5 hours.  Today I am feeling very zombie like as my body adjusts to this schedule. I rarely see John, my other TAS compadre since he works opposing shifts from mine.  When we do meet, we share notes and commiserate about the work and our need for sleep!

One of my favorite haunts on board in my free time is the bridge and the upper bow.  It is a quiet, calm place with great views–and a really strong pair of binoculars and field guides. The ever shifting texture of the water always captures my attention when I am outside; from the glossy velvet of early mornings, thick fog during the day, complete with fog rainbows!-and the ethereal brightness of sunset through the fog.

Another constant is the “ocean motion”.  We are in a constant state of rocking–at times delicate and other times, the swells are deep and we will roll with them.  I am very glad I have an ear patch to mitigate the possibility of seasickness….now I can just enjoy the ride!

John Sammons, July 26, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 26, 2005

Weather Data from the bridge

Latitude: 40.31 N
Longitude:  69.05 W
Visibility: unknown
Wind direction: S (193 degrees)
Wind speed: 19.6 knots
Sea wave height: 1’
Swell wave height: 1’
Sea water temperature: 17.7°C
Sea level pressure: 1013.0 millibars
Cloud cover: 00 Clear

Question of the Day: Identify and classify the simple machines that make up machines found around the ship. Match the pictures above with the six simple machines-inclined plane, wedge, wheel and axle, screw, wedge, and pulley. Choose one of the machines shown in the pictures, and explain how it makes work easier to do. (Send your answer to one of the e-mails listed below.)

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 9.40.32 PM

Yesterday’s Answer: The weather instruments located on the ALBATROSS IV that measure wind speed and direction are the anemometer and wind vane. They are combined into one instrument, and it looks like an airplane without wings.

Science and Technology Log

Machines serve an important job on the ALBATROSS IV and any other ship. The six simple machines in of themselves can make work easier to do. For example, a round doorknob handle on a ship’s door is not as common as a lever handle. On a ship, you are often unable to turn a doorknob because your hands may be wet or you may be carrying something. Also, door levers make it easier to tighten hatches securely. Some of these simple machines are combined to make compound machines. On the ship, you will find many examples of both simple and compound machines, all of which make work easier and safer to do.

One way in which machines make the scallop survey easier and safer is the use of a crane with many pulleys. The eight-foot wide dredge is lowered as the ship slows to 3.8 knots. When the dredge reaches the bottom, it is towed for 15 minutes. This allows the dredge to drag and fill the netted and chained device. This device resembles a large purse overfilled with goodies when full. Then the catch or load is dropped and released onto the deck. The large pulley system on one of the cranes allows for a cable that can handle a large weight. Likewise, the boom of the crane supports the weight of the towing dredge. One improvement that would help this compound machine would be to create some kind of conveyor system to bring the load back toward the sampling and measuring area without having to drag loaded baskets and buckets. Coincidentally, this is part of the design of the new ship that will replace the ALBATROSS IV, and as a result make work even easier.

Here is a graph showing the total number of scallops brought in at each of the stations so far. Some areas in which the tow was made are closed to scallop harvesting. As a result, larger and more developed scallops were caught. In tomorrow’s log, you will learn a little more about scallop adaptations that have helped them survive despite negative human influences.

*Numbers 1 – 18 corresponds to stations 0227 – 0244.
*Numbers 1 – 18 corresponds to stations 0227 – 0244.


Personal Log

Sea Duty 

The waves come toward the ALBATROSS and into the lengthy side,
Feel the rocking back and forth, so hold on for the bumpy ride.
Prepare the dredge and send it forth to bring up another load,
Bring out the baskets and buckets and pads to get in a sorting mode.
Place the containers on the scale then measure the scallop’s shell,
Soon the shift will come to an end with only stories left to tell.

 

Cary Atwood, July 25, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cary Atwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 5, 2005

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: July 25, 2005

Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: Clear
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Seawater temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day 

What is the scientific name of the Atlantic sea scallop, and what does the Latin name mean?

This question will be answered in tomorrow’s log.

Science and Technology Log 

Day one: the adventure begins! I arrived last night from Boston into Wood’s Hole–what a cool respite from the heat of western Colorado! A short walk later, I was in front of the ALBATROSS IV, the ship that would be my home for the next 11 days.  Tony, the lead fisherman, welcomed me aboard and showed me to my stateroom.  Soon after, Kris, the watch chief for our other work shift, and Noelle, who is working on her master’s thesis showed up. I took the remaining top bunk and moved my gear in.  Our room has two portholes. The most exciting porthole is the one in the shower stall; my eyes are almost dead even with the water line outside….it almost feels like I live in an aquarium!

The mission of the ship on this cruise is the sampling of Atlantic sea scallops.  Why are scallops being sampled?  The scientific work revolves around the close monitoring of scallop populations up and down the New England coastline from Cape Hatteras in the south, to the outer extremes of Georges Bank to the north.

Over the past 30 years, unregulated commercial fishing of scallops has had a huge negative impact on scallop populations.  Because this area holds the largest wild scallop fishery in the world, it has great economic importance not only to the fishermen who dredge to make their living, but also to the economies up and down the coastline.  Historically, commercial fishing could be done by anyone who had a seaworthy vessel and the ability to dredge. Prior to the early 1970’s not much data had been gathered about numbers and locations of scallops, hence the need for surveys to acquire data and impose limits to prevent total decimation of this species.  In my next entry I will explain more about the nitty gritty work that must be accomplished each day by watch crews.

Personal Log 

Old ship sits in port
hiding new technology beneath its decks
Salt spray and seagull call
Grey clapboard houses rest close to water’s edge
As whitecaps signal a change in weather
We are on our way!

Until next time,
Ms. Atwood

John Sammons, July 25, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 25, 2005

Weather Data from the bridge

Latitude: 41° 02’ N
Longitude: 69° 15’ W
Visibility: 0
Wind direction: NNW (230)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Sea wave height: unknown
Swell wave height: unknown
Sea water temperature: 11.4° C
Sea level pressure: 1012 millibars
Cloud cover: Dense Fog

Question of the Day:

What weather instruments located on the ALBATROSS IV measure wind speed and direction? (See picture 5.) (Send your answer to my e-mail listed below.)

Science and Technology Log

Weather and other instrumentation play an important part on the ALBATROSS IV. The ship uses a somewhat automated guidance system to take the ship to the predetermined dredging stations. That system also helped us navigate to where we are currently. With the dense fog on our current heading, it was a good thing they do not have to sail by sight only.

Monday morning, we had many people to meet and many things to learn. The fantail, or back area of the ship, was a gathering point for large discussions as well as our “Abandon ship!” drill. In picture 12 I had to don my “”Gumby suit” for a practice “just in case we have to leave the ship” drill. Of course, it was only a practice one that we hope we will never have to use.

Monday afternoon was a busy one getting the ship ready for departure. There has been lots of training and people to meet. While underway our training continued as we learned about safety drills, scallop sorting and measuring, and water sampling. The water sampling is done using a Conductivity Temperature Depth (CTD) device that determines the salinity (saltiness) and temperature at various levels to the bottom.

On Tuesday evening, we used the Fisheries Scientific Computer Systems (FSCS) to take measurements on scallop sizes and weights. This electronically accepts data automatically when the scallop baskets are placed on the scale. Using what looks like a cutting board, the scallops’ length, gender, and meat mass is determined.

I am on watch (which means I am working) from 12 – 6 in the afternoon and from midnight – 6 in the morning.  I am sure to get some photos for the next day or two to show how this survey is done.

Personal Log

Early Arrival 

I arrived on early Sunday eve to find the ship was docked,
Passing through the metal gate that I only thought was locked.
Resting from her recent trip, she makes a humming sound,
Waiting for her crew to board and get a look around.
The sun reflects and sparkles in the ever choppy sea,
I wonder what this exciting adventure will bring to me.