Geographic Area of Cruise: Northeastern Coast of U.S.
Date: June 3, 2018
Weather From Bridge
Sea Wave Height: 4-6 ft
Wind Speed: 20 knots
Wind Direction: NE
Air Temperature: 10°C
Sky: few clouds
Science and Technology Log
As the Henry B. Bigelow traverses the Gulf of Maine sampling the microorganisms at stations, another pair of scientists are observing bird and marine mammal populations. Much of my time between sampling stations, I head up to the flying bridge and join Nicholas Metheny and John Loch, Seabird Observers, on the lookout for the seabird and marine mammals. The seabirds most commonly observed in the Gulf of Maine are the Wilson Storm Petrel and the Sooty Shearwater. These two species account for 60% of the birds seen. These pelagic seabirds live offshore and only return to land to breed, often on remote islands.
All the samplings taken with bongo nets are samplings of the producers and primary consumers, the small organisms in the food chain. On the observation deck, the fish and marine mammals that rely on a healthy bottom food chain are observed. Spotting marine mammals adds much to the excitement of the day. The bridge will announce a sighting and if possible, one gets to the flying bridge to see the wildlife. One of the first sightings was of humpback whales in the distance, followed by sperm whale and pilot whale sightings.
The most fascinating sightings were of Mola Mola- Ocean Sunfish. They were spotted often and very close to the ship.
The science crew is kept busy sampling at each station. There is some down time steaming from station to station at 12 knots but it is enjoyable. I spend the down time talking to crew and scientists. Chief Scientist Jerry Prezioso has been an awesome mentor and photographer! I am learning so much and am so excited to bring it back into my classroom next year. The seas have been relatively calm but the forecast for the end of the cruise is not favorable for sampling due to high winds. If winds are over 30 knots, the crew has difficulty deploying the nets so sampling is suspended. The science crew has taken samples from 114 stations. These samples will be sent off to be analyzed at different labs.
The deck crew and scientist party have been a pleasure to work with. I have learned so much from each of them
The cruise was cut short by two days due to high winds. The last sampling station was in Cape Cod Bay. Tomorrow the ship will head back to port through the Cape Cod Canal, ending a fantastic cruise. I am so excited to see the data from all these samples. Thanks Teacher at Sea program for a great adventure!
At Day 5, I am getting acclimated to life on the sea. Days are filled with data collection at randomly selected stations. One of the collections is of plankton, phytoplankton, zooplankton and ichthyoplankton. Plankton sampling has occurred since the early 19th century with simple collecting devices. In early ocean sampling, it was believed that plankton were evenly distributed throughout the ocean, so a sample taken anywhere would be a good representation for a large area. This idea is no longer supported. The belief is that there are large scale spatial variations in concentrations of plankton populations, which has lead to random sampling methods using bongo nets. Widely used since the 1970’s, bongo nets are named from their side by side configuration which makes them look like a set of bongo drums.
There are two sets of bongo nets the ship is using: a regular bongo with a diameter of 61 cm and 333 micron mesh and two different sets of baby bongos, 22 cm in diameter, and one set with 333 micron mesh and the other with 165 micron mesh for smaller organisms. As the station to sample is approached, the bridge announces “Ten minutes to Bongo!” and all scientists and crew get prepared to deploy bongos. They are lowered into the water with a crane and winch system and towed for 8 to 25 minutes, depending on the depth, at a speed of 1-2 knots There is an important communication between the bridge and the scientists during bongo deployment. The ship gets to the correct GPS and slows down for the tow. See video for deployment procedure:
A video of bongo deployment (no dialogue)
When nets are retrieved, the bongos are rinsed to collect all the samples to the cod-end of the net. The baby bongo samples are preserved in ethyl alcohol to be sent to the Narraganset Lab to look for fish eggs and larvae and to the University of Connecticut to get a census of marine zooplankton. The large bongo samples are preserved in formaldehyde to be sent to a lab in Poland to identify species and count numbers.
After nets are washed they are prepared for next station. The cod-ends are tied with the “Taylor” knot shown below. After many attempts and a very patient teacher, I finally learned how to tie this knot.
The questions scientists are trying to answer with the data from these samples are:
What living plankton organisms does the sea contain at a given time?
How does this material vary from season to season and year to year?
As scientist Chris Taylor reminded me, no sample is a bad sample. Each sample contributes to the conclusions made in the end. After samples are examined by the labs, I look forward to seeing the results of this survey.
I am enjoying every second of this cruise. We did hit rough seas but I had no effect due to wearing the patch. Hopefully, we will have calm seas as we head to the Gulf of Maine. The food is great. Chef Dennis prepares awesome meals. I am eating a lot!! Even had an ice cream bar set up last night. Life is very comfortable on the ship.
Chef Dennis prepare another great meal
INTERVIEW: Andrew Harrison and Maddie Armstrong
I choose to interview ship members Andrew Harrison and Maddie Anderson because they are in the process of earning their mariner licenses. Also, the perspective from a female in a male dominated career is of interest. I often get questions from students about opportunities in the marine science field. The marine science field has many paths to take. One path is research and another is earning a Merchant Mariner license. There are several ways to obtain a Merchant Mariners USCG license. The two most common paths are the hawsepiper and Maritime academy. The hawsepiper path begins with accumulating sea hours, taking training courses, completing board assessment and passing the USCG exam. This path can take up to 14 years to complete. In the Maritime college route, requirements for Merchant Mariner license can be complete in 4 years and earn a college diploma. The interviews below give some direction to pursuing a career on a ship.
Interviewees role on ship:
Andrew Harrison- assignment on ship- Crew Able Body
Maddie Armstrong –assignment on ship- student and science party volunteer
The connecting link between Maddie and Andrew is they both are affiliated with Maine Maritime Academy. Andrew graduated in 2015 and Maddie is presently a student. What interested me the most is that a Maritime degree could be granted through college studies. I had no idea this was an option for students interested in maritime careers. There are 7 Maritime academies across the US. https://www.edumaritime.net/usa/top-maritime-programs, each with their unique specialty. All programs are USCG approved and students earn license upon graduation through the US Coast Guard. From talking to Andrew and Maddie I feel attending college to earn a merchant mariners license prepares one better for life at sea.
What degree do you hold?
Andrew: I have a BA Vessel Operations and Technology and a 500 Ton license.
Maddie: I will graduate with double major BA in Marine Science / Vessel Operations and Technology. Presently I have a 200 ton license but the plan is to graduate with a 500 Ton and 3rd Mate license.
Where did your interest in marine science stem from?
Andrew: Since I was 14, I have been sailing and love the ocean
Maddie: Growing up in the middle of Maine, it was difficult to experience the ocean often. My parents would take me to the ocean as a reward or holiday gift.
What experiences do students at Maine Maritime Academy get to prepare for maritime license?
Maddie: The academy has a ship, The State of Maine, which is a moving classroom. Students practice navigation on the ship. There is also the Pentagoet Tug to practice barge pulling. Smaller vessels are available to practice to practice navigation on. At the academy you can practice on real ships.
Andrew: The Academy gives students a faster way to obtain license than a non collegiate Hawsepiper route. Through a maritime college you also earn a college degree and graduate with a license. The academy route is faster but also more expensive. To obtain a similar license without going to an academy would take up to 15 years. Plus the academy has connections to job opportunities after graduation.
What other ships have you worked on over the years?
Andrew: I was a deck hand on Spirit of South Carolina; worked on yachts out of Charleston; Space X barge AD- collected rocket after launch
Maddie: I have had some experience on a lot of different vessels through the academy. I started working on the Schooner Bowdoin and Brig Niagara for a summer. Then moved on to charter boats and small cruise ships.
What advice would you give a student who is interested in pursuing a Merchant Mariners license?
Andrew: Volunteer on ships as much as you can. Experience on a Schooner is invaluable. Be prepared to put in the time.
Maddie: You have to be self driven and want to be on the water. You also have to be self confident and willing to give it your all at a moments notice.
How much time can a merchant mariner expect to spend at sea each year?
Andrew: It varies with the vessel and cruise. It can be 9 months at sea and 3 months off; 60 days at sea; and 69 days off; 5-7 weeks on and 3-5 off. The bottom line is to be prepared to be away from home for long periods of time.
What are your interests and hobbies when you are on shore?
Andrew: Fishing, sailing, scuba, reading and video games.
Maddie: I like to read, hike and learn to play instruments. Now I am learning to play a didgeridoo- a wind instrument developed by indigenous Australians.
Where do you see yourself working in 10 years?
Maddie: Working on a research vessel with ROV exploration.
Andrew: In 10 years, I plan to be a 1600 Ton Master Captain working for NOAA or another cruise company.
NOAA Teacher at Sea Susan Dee Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow May 23 – June 7, 2018
Mission: Spring Ecosystem Monitoring Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Northeastern Coast U.S.
Date: May 24, 2018
Weather Data from Bridge
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 feet
Wind Speed: 12 knots°
Wind Direction: west
Air Temperature: 13.5°C
Sky: Few clouds
Science and Technology Log
Tuesday, May 22, I arrived at Newport Naval Base and boarded NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow to begin my Teacher at Sea journey by staying overnight on a docked ship. Day 1 was filled with many new experiences as we headed out to sea. The Henry B. Bigelow is part of a fleet of vessels commissioned to conduct fishery surveys. To learn more about the Henry B. Bigelow, check out this website: Henry B. Bigelow. The objective of this cruise is to access the hydrographic, planktonic and pelagic components of North East U.S. continental shelf ecosystem. The majority of the surveys we will take involve the microbiotic parts of the sea – phytoplankton, zooplankton and mesoplankton. Plankton are small microscope organisms in the oceans that are extremely important to the entire Earth ecosystem. These organisms are the foundation of the entire ocean food web. By studying their populations. scientists can get an accurate picture of the state of larger ocean organism populations.
Before leaving the dock, I met with Emily Peacock from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) to learn how to run an Imaging Flow Cytobot instrument that uses video and flow cytometric technology to capture images of phytoplankton. The IFCB was developed by Dr Heidi Sosik and Rob Olsen (WHOI) to get a better understanding of coastal plankton communities. The IFCB runs 24 hours a day collecting sea water and continuously measuring phytoplankton abundance. Five milliliters of sea water are analyzed every 20 minutes and produces the images shown below.
The science party on board is made up of scientists from National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) part of NOAA Fisheries Division. The chief scientist, Jerry Prezioso, works out of Narragansett Lab and the lead scientist, Tamara Holzworth Davis, is from the Woods Hole Lab, both from the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Other members of the Science Party are Seabird/Marine Mammal observers and a student from Maine Maritime Academy. The Crew and scientist group work together to coordinate sampling stations. The crew gets the ship to the site and aid the scientists in deploying instruments. The scientists collect the data and samples at each station. The Crew and scientists work together to find the best and most efficient sea route to each sampling site. Note all the stops for specimen collection on map below. There definitely has to be a plan!
Because research instrument deployment is done 24 hours a day, the NOAA Corps crew and scientists are divided into two shifts. I am on watch 1200 – 2400 hours, considered the day shift. This schedule is working good for me. I finish duty at midnight, go to sleep till 9:00 AM and rise to be back on duty at noon. Not a bad schedule. Due to clear weather and calm seas, the ship headed east out of Newport Harbor towards the continental shelf and started collecting samples at planned stops. I joined another group of scientists observing bird and marine mammal populations from the flying bridge of the ship. Humpback whales and basking sharks breached several times during the day
It has only been two days but I feel very acclimated to life at sea. I am not seasick, thanks to calm seas and the patch. Finding the way around the ship is getting easier- it is like a maze. Spotting a pod of humpback whales breaching and basking sharks was a highlight of the day. My Biology students back at May River High School scored great on End of Course Exam. Congratulations May River High School Sharks! Thinking of y’all.
Geographic Area of Cruise: Northeastern Coast U.S.
Date: May 7, 2018
If I was to describe myself in one word it would be a thalassophile- a lover of the sea. So when I got accepted to the NOAA Teacher at Sea program, I was totally overwhelmed with excitement. What a great adventure! From my younger days boating on Long Island Sound in NY to the present day boating on the waterways around Hilton Head, SC, I have always been drawn to the sea.
In college, I studied biology and education and first taught middle school science. Then slowly over the years, my passion for the ocean evolved into teaching Environmental Studies and then to teaching Marine Science. Not being a native southerner, I took many professional development classes to learn about the unique lowcountry local marine ecosystem along the coastline of South Carolina. The county I now live in, Beaufort County, is 50% saltwater tidal marsh and borders on the Atlantic Ocean. The marine ecosystem plays a large role in the community. I presently teach at May River High School, in Bluffton, SC, and appropriately the mascot is a SHARK! Because we live in a marine environment, teaching students about their sense of place is extremely important. Student take part in numerous field trips directly exploring the local ecosystem – visits to maritime centers, beaches and kayaking on the rivers. In teaching Marine Science, my goal is to instill in my students knowledge of and love and respect for their beautiful home marine environment.
I am a single mother of two adult daughters and their visits include many adventures on the water. Volunteering in local beach /river cleanups and recycling programs is important to me. After listening to citizens concerns about the local environment, I am so proud to live in a county that recently implemented a plastic bag ban in all grocery stores beginning in October. Being an activist in local environmental causes is important to me.
Kids in Kayaks Program
I am so excited to partake on this TAS adventure, to work with real scientists, gathering real data, to bring back to my classroom . Aboard the Henry B. Bigelow, a NOAA state of the art research vessel, I will work along scientists collecting data on the hydrographic, planktonic and pelagic components of the northeast Atlantic. In two weeks, my journey into the Northern Atlantic Ocean will begin! Leaving 9 days before the end of school, my students will end of year test and graduate without me present. But we will be connected as they follow my experience at sea through the wonders of technology!
Now that word is out about my NOAA Teacher at Sea selection, I am being asked many questions about my upcoming research mission. The truth of the matter is that I am unsure exactly what to expect. While the administrators of the program have done a great job of communicating information, NOAA has many different objectives. Even the missions, which are annual events, appear to be unique experiences as there are so many variables involved when doing research at sea.
One thing I know for sure is that almost 3 weeks out at sea seems like a long time, especially for someone that has lived in Ohio for his entire life. Clark County, Ohio (where I teach 8th Grade Science and STEM at Greenon Jr./Sr. High School) is probably what most people think of when they think of “Midwestern living.” A mixture of agriculture and fading industry, we are a close-knit community, which is something John Cougar Mellencamp would find familiar. While we have plenty of creeks and lakes, many of my students have never seen the ocean. I have been fortunate enough to go on a handful of cruises, but have never been at sea for more than 10 consecutive days, and those included stops along the way. I am fairly confident I will do fine, but I am also packing motion sickness medication to be on the safe side. Fingers crossed!
I will live aboard the NOAA research vessel Henry Bigelow (Follow this link for additional information). This 209 feet long, state-of-the-art, research vessel is likely a giant step up from what you may have seen on “Deadliest Catch.” While it is definitely built for collecting fish and other biomass, it conducts trawl sampling (think of a long, specialized net that is dragged behind the ship). NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow is equipped with many advanced features including a modern wet lab which allows scientists (and me!) to sort, weigh, measure, and examine the catch. This information is then added to NOAA’s extensive database which provides our country’s scientists with valuable information regarding the status of the organisms that reside within the ocean.
Another question that I am frequently asked is, “What about your students?” The best part about this arrangement is, not only will I be immersed in authentic scientific research (which will add value to my educational practice), but the use of Google Classroom will allow my students to share my adventures from the field. In addition to frequent online updates where I will answer questions and discuss ongoing research and associated phenomena, my students will use NOAA educational resources to learn more about our oceans and the life within them.
As I prepare to leave in a few days, I am full of emotion. I am obviously very excited to be afforded this unique opportunity. I love travel, adventure, and learning, so this research cruise will be a perfect fit. I will work alongside 37 people (sailors, fisherman, scientists, and engineers to name a few) who are very good at what they do for a living. I can’t wait to pick their brains to learn how I can incorporate their knowledge into my classroom. All of that being said, I will definitely miss both my family and my students. I look forward to returning home and sharing my experiences with them.
TAS Tom Jenkins (center)
Please check back over the next few weeks as I will write additional blogs regarding my NOAA Teacher at Sea adventure. I would love to make this blog series interactive, so if you have any questions, please post them in the comments section below.
I am on the day schedule which is from noon to midnight. Between stations tonight is a long steam so I took the opportunity with this down time to visit the bridge where the ship is commanded. The NOAA Corps officers supplied a brief history of the corp and showed me several of the instrument panels which showed the mapping of the ocean floor.
“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, known informally as the NOAA Corps, is one of seven federal uniformed services of the United States, and operates under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a scientific agency within the Office of Commerce.
“The NOAA Corps is part of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) and traces its roots to the former U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, which dates back to 1807 and President Thomas Jefferson.”(1)
During the Civil War, many surveyors of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey stayed on as surveyors to either join with the Union Army where they were enlisted into the Army, or with the Union Navy, where they remained as civilians, in which case they could be executed as spies if captured. With the approach of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson, to avoid the situation where surveyors working with the armed forces might be captured as spies, established the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Corps.
During WWI and World War II, the Corps abandoned their peacetime activities to support the war effort with their technical skills. In 1965 the Survey Corps was transferred to the United States Environmental Science Services Administration and in 1979, (ESSA) and in 1970 the ESSA was redesignated as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and so became the NOAA Corps.
“Corps officers operate NOAA’s ships, fly aircraft, manage research projects, conduct diving operations, and serve in staff positions throughout NOAA.” (1)
“The combination of commissioned service with scientific and operational expertise allows the NOAA Corps to provide a unique and indispensable service to the nation. NOAA Corps officers enable NOAA to fulfill mission requirements, meet changing environmental concerns, take advantage of emerging technologies, and serve as environmental first responders.” (1)
There are presently 321 officers, 16 ships, and 10 aircraft.
We are steaming on a course that has been previously mapped which should allow us to drop the net in a safe area when we reach the next station.
What can you do ?
When I asked “What can I tell my students who have an interest in NOAA ?”
If you have an interest in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts you might begin with investigating a Cooperative Observer Program, NOAA’s National Weather Service.
“More than 8,700 volunteers take observations on farms, in urban and suburban areas, National Parks, seashores, and mountaintops. The data are truly representative of where people live, work and play”.(2)
Did you know:
The NOAA Corps celebrates it 100 Year Anniversary this May 22, 2017!
Geographic Area of the Cruise: Sailing out of Newport, R. I. Northeast US Coast, George’s Bank – Gulf of Maine
Date: April 27, 2017
I am honored to have been selected to take part in the Teacher at Sea Program. I’ll be driving down to Newport from southern New Hampshire in a few days to begin what should prove to be an amazing adventure working along with the fishery scientists and crew on the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow (FSV 225).
Science and Technology Log
The purpose of the Spring Bottom Trawl Survey is to monitor the fish stocks and invertebrate found on the continental shelf. The scientists will study any changes in ocean conditions and the sea life to make informed decisions for conserving and managing the fishery resources and their habitat.
The Henry B. Bigelow was named in honor of the founding director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the “Father of Modern Oceanography.” Henry Bryant Bigelow (1879-1967) was an expert on the Gulf of Maine and its sea life and a member of the Harvard faculty for 62 years. The ship is a state-of-the-art 208-foot research vessel commissioned in 2007. It boasts a “quiet hull” that allows the scientists to observe the sea life using sound waves with limited disturbance to their natural state.
Fish that we expect to observe include: Monkfish, Herring, Skates, Dogfish, Atlantic Salmon, Hake, Cod, Haddock, Pollack, Flounder, Mackerel and more! I’m looking forward to viewing these specimens up close!
NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
I have been teaching middle school mathematics for 26 years at Hampstead Academy, in Hampstead, NH.
How does a mathematics teacher find her way to intensifying her interest in the sea? In 2014 I was selected to attend a week at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama along with 200+ teachers from around the globe. While there I learned of the SeaPerch program. Soon after, I received a grant from the US Navy for several SeaPerch kits, journeyed down to Newport, RI Naval Base for a day of constructing the SeaPerch ROV, and then set up a SeaPerch program at Hampstead Academy along with a co-teacher and my husband. Cutting pipe, waterproofing the engines, soldering the microcontroller, and all the tasks to complete the build of the SeaPerches was such a proud achievement for the group! We are fortunate to be near enough to UNH in Dover, so with a group of my students, we toured the Jere E Chase Ocean Engineering Laboratory and tested our SeaPerch ROV’s in their wave and deep-water tanks. What a marvelous facility, welcoming student tours and hoping to spark an interest in the oceanography field.
I hope to inspire my students to consider a career in STEM professions, to open their eyes to the possibilities in the field of marine sciences where the work they do can impact the present and future generation.
Thanks you to the Hampstead Academy administration, fellow teachers that are taking over my classes for these two weeks, and for the support of the school community and my family and friends.
Thank you to the dog sitter for Clover!
Thank you to NOAA Teacher at Sea program for this enriching opportunity.
Did You Know?
The Henry B. Bigelow was the first NOAA ship to be named through a ship-naming contest by the winning team from Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, N.H.
Below is a picture of Clover at North Hampton Beach last week when we had some welcoming warm weather for a short spell.
NOAA Teacher at Sea Tom Savage (Almost) On Board NOAA ShipHenry B. Bigelow June 10 – 19, 2015
Mission: Cetacean and Turtle Research Geographic area of Cruise: North Atlantic Date: June 2, 2015
Greetings from Western NC. My name is Tom Savage, and I am a Science teacher at the Henderson County Early College in Flat Rock, NC. I currently teach Chemistry, Earth Science, Biology and Physical Science. In a few days I will be flying to Rhode Island and boarding NOAA ship Henry B. Bigelow, a research vessel. We will be traveling in the North Atlantic region, mostly in Georges Bank which is located east of Cape Cod and the Islands. The research mission will focus on two types of whales: Sei and Beaked Whales. Our primary goals will be photo-ID and biopsy collection, acoustic recording, and prey sampling. I am looking forward to learning about the marine life and ocean ecosystem, and I look forward to sharing this knowledge with my students.
This will not be the first time that I have been out to sea. A few years ago, I spent a week with eighteen other science teachers from across the county, scuba diving within the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. This week long program was sponsored by the Gulf of Mexico Foundation and NOAA. This exceptional professional development provided an opportunity to explore, photograph and develop lesson plans with a focus on coral reefs. I also learned about how important the Gulf of Mexico is to the oil industry. I had the opportunity to dive under an abandoned oil platform and discovered the rich, abundant animal life and how these structures improve the fish population.
Prior to becoming a teacher, I worked as a park ranger at many national parks including the Grand Canyon, Glacier and Acadia. Working at these national treasures was wonderful and very beneficial to my teaching.
Providing young adults with as many experiences and career possibilities is the hallmark of my teaching. During the year, I arrange a “Discover SCUBA” at the local YMCA. Students who have participated in this have gone on to become certified. In the fall I have offered “Discover Flying” at a local airport, sponsored by the “Young Eagles” program. Here students fly around our school and community witnessing their home from the air. A few students have gone on to study various aviation careers.
I am very excited in learning about the many career opportunities that are available on NOAA research vessels. It would be very rewarding to see a few of my students become employed with the NOAA Corps or follow a career in science due to this voyage.
Geographical area of cruise: Georges Bank & Gulf of Maine
Mission: Spring Bottom Trawl & Acoustic Survey
Date: May 14, 2014
Air Temp: 9.7°C (49.46°F)
Relative Humidity: 81%
Wind Speed: 10.76mph
Science and Technology Log
The abundance and diversity of marine life in these waters is amazing. Depending on the ship’s location, and the depth of a trawl, one may see any number of different species on the sorting table. Bony fish, such as haddock, cod, red fish, dory, ocean pout, silver and red hake, winter flounder, four-spot flounder, longhorn sculpin and on and on. In deeper waters (around 200 meters), one is likely to see crustaceans such as lobsters, which can get really big! We also haul in scallops, shrimp, octopi, small sharks, such as dogfin and chain dog, a variety of sea stars, and squid.
Scientists who may not be aboard the Henry B. Bigelow make requests for different data regarding any of the species mentioned above. Sometimes, a scientist needs a whole organism preserved, or just a part of its anatomy, such as the gonads, or the otoliths (ear bones that are used to determine age of a bony fish). Often, all a scientist needs are measurements, which the ship’s science team input into a computer database, and which the scientist may access later as part of his or her research.
Below are some of the astonishing critters I have seen on this cruise. Enjoy!
I am so impressed by the people I have met aboard the Henry B. Bigelow. Everyone is courteous and helpful and, above all, professional. These folks take great pride in their work, and they enjoy doing it. I visited the bridge yesterday, where the Commanding Officer (CO) and the Officer of the Deck (OOD) both welcomed me and were more than happy to answer my questions and to explain what they were doing at any given time. The same can be said of the deckhands. They don’t mind my questions, and they are amazing at what they do, which includes near constant physical labor. The scientists and techs I am working with are dedicated and do an outstanding job of teaching volunteers, such as myself, the ins and outs of processing a haul, and collecting the resultant data. These folks come from all walks of life, but one thing they have in common is a love for their job and it shows.
On another personal note, I did laundry yesterday. As one can imagine, working with marine life can be a seriously smelly endeavor, and keeping yourself and your clothing clean and fresh is a must. The ship has a laundry room stocked with everything you need to wash and dry your clothes. It’s a nice feeling to know that I will not leave the ship smelling like the creatures that inhabit deep blue sea.
Geographical area of cruise: Georges Bank Mission: Spring Bottom Trawl & Acoustic Survey Date: May 11, 2014 Air Temp: 11.2°C (52.16°F) Relative Humidity: 100% Wind Speed: 21.9mph Barometer: 1010.5mb
Science and Technology Log
Here’s what a typical watch aboard the Henry B. Bigelow looks like. Upon assuming the watch, which in my case means beginning work at midnight, the science team gets a rundown of what happened during the previous watch. When the ship nears its next station (where it will drop the net and begin trawling), the area is surveyed to ensure that it is clear of lobster traps and large rocks before readying the nets for trawling. Think of the trawl nets in terms of really large butterfly nets, except these nets also contain a set of sensors that tell the science team and the Officer of the Deck (the officer in charge of driving the ship) information about how deep the net is, how fast it’s traveling, etc.. The ship’s deckhands lower the nets from the aft (rear) deck of the ship into the water and then closely monitor them until reaching a specified depth. With the trawl nets in place, the ship steams at 3 knots for about twenty minutes, pulling the nets along and catching fish and other marine life. Once the trawl is complete, the net is hauled aboard and it’s time for the scientists to get involved.
Using a crane, the net is swung over a large stainless steel hopper called the checker. A scientist working the checker, then pushes the captured organisms onto a conveyor belt, which moves them inside the ship to the wet lab. In the wet lab, scientists and volunteers (like me) stand along a long conveyor, sorting the catch by species and, sometimes, by sex or size, into a set of buckets. After the catch is sorted, the buckets are consolidated and placed on another conveyor belt, which moves the buckets to the Watch Chief’s station. The Watch Chief scans a barcode on the side of each bucket, and uses a computer to assign a species to that barcode. The barcoded buckets are each filled with a different organism then moved to any one of three cutter stations for processing. The Cutter scans the barcode of an available bucket, which tells the computer at his or her station some basic information about the organism, such as its scientific and common names, and how much the bucket weighs. The computer also tells the Cutter what sorts of protocols need to occur on that organisms (weighing, measuring, checking stomach contents, determining sex). As the Cutter processes the organism, the Recorder, standing at a computer screen next to the Cutter, assists the Cutter by inputting measurement and other data into the computer system. Often, extra instructions pop up on the screen, instructing the Cutter that a scientist has requested that we collect specimens from an organism. Otoliths (ear bones from fish) are collected frequently, but sometimes a request is made to freeze or preserve an organism. Some organisms even go in a live holding tank so the scientist can have a living specimen when the ship returns to port. This entire process can take anywhere from one hour to several, depending on the amount fish and the types of processing required.
Well, yesterday (Saturday) was a rough one for yours truly. We ran into some higher seas, and the ship’s rocking and rolling made me sick as a dog. So much for that Navy experience helping me in this regard… Oh, well, that’s part of life at sea. Everyone was very kind about it. one of my watchmates even fetched some crackers for me, which helped. Feeling much better today. Here are a few pictures representing life aboard the Henry B. Bigelow (at least as I live it):