Latitude: 26.17 Longitude: 81.34 Temperature: 89° F Wind Speeds: ESE 11 mph
Our last day on Oregon II together was filled with lots of hugs and new Facebook friends. I left Pascagoula, MS and arrived back in Naples, FL around midnight. It was nice to be back in my big bed but I really missed the rocking of the ship to put me to sleep.
The next morning I was greeted at my classroom door at 7 am by my students who had a lot of questions. They all had been following along on my blog and have seen a few pictures that were posted. I made a PowerPoint of pictures from the ship so they could see what my living and working arrangements were like. The funniest part was when I showed them my sleeping arrangements. They thought it was great that I was on the top bunk, but surprised at how small the room was and how I didn’t have a TV. (I think some thought it was more like a hotel room – boy were they wrong.) The part they were shocked the most was the size of the shower and the toilet area. I was able to organize my pictures into folders of the same species. I was then able to show them all of the wonderful pictures that the crew, scientists, volunteers and I had taken during our excursion.
The following week a reporter from the Naples Daily News and her photographer came to my classroom to interview me about my trip as well as what the students were learning in AICE Marine.
I was able to bring back with me the one of the 12 foot monofilament line and hook that is attached to the longline. I was able to explain to them how the lines are attached and the process for leaving the longline in the water for exactly an hour. We also started a lesson on random sampling. I discussed how the location for the longline deployment is chosen and why scientist make sure they are randomly chosen.
My biggest surprise was a package I received from my Uncle Tom a few days after I returned home. He is a fantastic artist that paints his own Christmas cards every year. In the package I received he painted the sunset picture I had taken of Oregon II when we were docked in Galveston. It is now hanging in my classroom.
In December I will be presenting about my experiences with
NOAA. Students, their families, and
people from the Naples community will all be welcome to attend. I will be working with fellow colleagues from
other high schools in Naples that also teach marine to spread the word to their
students. My goal is to get as many
students who are interested in a marine career to attend the presentation so
that going forward I will be able to work with them in a small group setting to
help with college preferences and contacts for marine careers.
I can’t thank NOAA enough for choosing me to participate as
the NOAA Teacher at Sea Alumnus. The
experiences I have received and the information I will be able to pass along to
my students is priceless!
Science and Technology Log
My students have been able to see and touch some of the items I was able to bring home from Oregon II that I discussed. I was able to answer so many questions and show them a lot of the pictures I took. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of a sharp-nosed shark that is being sent to us from the lab in Pascagoula, MS. For students that are interested I will be conducting a dissection after school to show the anatomy of the shark as well as let them touch and feel the shark. (An additional blog will be posted once the dissection is competed)
One hour after the last highflyer is entered into the water it is time to retrieve the longline. The ship pulls alongside the first highflyer and brings it on board. Two people carry the highflyer to the stern of the ship. The longline is then re-attached to a large reel so that the mainline can be spooled back onto the ship. As the line comes back on board one scientist takes the gangion removes the tag and coils it back into the barrel. The bait condition and/or catch are added into the computer system by a second scientist. If there is a fish on the hook then it is determined if the fish can be brought on board by hand or if the cradle needs to be lowered into the water to bring up the species.
Protective eye wear must be worn at all times, but if a shark is being brought up in the cradle we must all also put on hard hats due to the crane being used to move the cradle. Once a fish is on board two scientists are responsible for weighing and taking three measurements: pre-caudal, fork, and total length in mm. Often, a small fin clip is taken for genetics and if it is a shark, depending on the size, a dart or rototag is inserted into the shark either at the base of the dorsal fin or on the fin itself. The shark tag is recorded and the species is then put back into the ocean. Once all 100 gangions, weights and highflyers are brought on board it is time to cleanup and properly store the samples.
Fish Data: Some species of snapper, grouper and tile fish that are brought on board will have their otoliths removed for ageing, a gonad sample taken for reproduction studies and a muscle sample for feeding studies and genetics. These are stored and sent back to the lab for further processing.
It has been a busy last few days. We have caught some really cool species like king snake eels (Ophichthus rex), gulper sharks (Centrophorus granulosus), yellow edge grouper (Hyporthodus flavolimbatus) and golden tile fish (Lopholaatilus chamaeleontiiceps). There have been thousands of moon jelly fish (Aurelia aurita) the size of dinner plates and larger all around the boat when we are setting and retrieving the longline. They look so peaceful and gentle just floating along with the current. When we were by the Florida-Alabama line there were so many oil rigs out in the distant. It was very interesting learning about them and seeing their lights glowing. One of them actually had a real fire to burn off the gases. There were also a couple sharks that swam by in our ship lights last night. One of the best things we got to witness was a huge leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) that came up for a breath of air about 50 feet from the ship.
My last blog left off with a late night longline
going in the water around 9:00pm on 9/23/19.
We were able to successfully tag a great hammerhead, a scalloped
hammerhead, and a tiger shark. We also
caught a blacknose shark, three gafftopsail catfish (Bagre marinus), and three red snappers.
Deploying the Longline
Today I’m going to explain to you the five jobs that we rotate through when we are deploying the longline. When there are about 15-20 minutes before deployment we grab our sunglasses, personal floatation device (pfd) and rubber boats and head to the stern of the ship. All scientists are responsible for helping to cut and bait all 100 gangions (hooks and line). The hooks are 15/0mm circle hooks and the gangion length is 3.7m long. The bait used for this is Atlantic mackerel cut into chunks to fit the hooks. We are all responsible for cleaning the deck and the table and cutting boards that were used.
The first job on the deployment is setting up the laptop computer. The scientist on computer is responsible for entering information when the high flyer, the three weights (entered after first high flyer, after gangion 50 and before final high flyer), and the 100 baited gangions entered into the water. This gives the time and the latitude and longitude of each to keep track of for comparison data.
The second job is the person actually putting the high flyer and buoy in the water. Once the ship is in position and we receive the ok from the bridge it is released into the water. The high flyer is 14ft from the weight at the bottom to the flashing light at the top. (see picture)
The third job is the “slinger”. The slinger takes each hook, one by one, off of the barrel, lowers the baited hook into the water, and then holds the end clamp so that the fourth scientist can put a tag number on each one (1-100). It is then handed to the deckhand who clamps it onto the mainline where it is lowered into the water off the stern.
The final job is the barrel cleaner. Once all the lines are in the water the barrel cleaner takes a large brush with soap and scrubs down the inside and outside of the barrel. The barrels are then taken to the well deck to get ready for the haul in. The last weight and high flyer are put into the water to complete the longline set, which will remain in the water for one hour. Everyone now helps out cleaning the stern deck and bringing any supplies to the dry lab. At this time the CTD unit is put in the water (this will be described at a later time).
Last night was so exciting, catching the three large sharks. During this station I was responsible for the data so I was able to take a few pictures once I recorded the precaudal, fork, and total length measurements as well as take a very small fin sample and place it in a vial, and record the tagging numbers.
Out: Today’s shout out goes to
my wonderful 161 students, all my former students, fellow teachers, especially
those in my hallway, my guest teachers and all the staff and administration at
Palmetto Ridge High School. I would also
like to thank Mr. Bremseth and Michelle Joyce for my letters of
couldn’t have been able to do this without all of your help and support. I have sooo much to tell you about when I get
back. Go Bears!!
Data from the Bridge (at beginning of log)
Latitude: 28.07 Longitude: 93.27.45 Temperature: 84°F Wind Speeds: ESE 13 mph large swells
Science and Technology Log
9/21/19-We left Galveston, TX late in the afternoon once the backup parts arrived. After a few changes because of boat traffic near us, were able to get to station 1 around 21:00 (9:00 pm). We baited the 100 hooks with Atlantic Mackerel. Minutes later the computers were up and running logging information as the high flyer and the 100 hooks on 1 mile of 4mm 1000# test monofilament line were placed in the Gulf of Mexico for 60 minutes. My job on this station was to enter the information from each hook into the computer when it was released and also when it was brought onboard. When the hook is brought onboard they would let me know the status: fish on hook, whole bait, damaged bait, or no bait. Our first night was a huge success. We had a total of 28 catches on our one deployed longline.
We caught 1 bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas), 2 tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier), 14 sharp nose sharks (Rhizoprionodon terraenovae), 2 black tip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus), 7 black nose sharks (Carcharhinus acronotus), and 2 red snappers (Lutjanus campechanus). There were also 3 shark suckers (remoras) that came along for the ride.
I was lucky to be asked by the Chief Scientist Kristin to tag the large tiger shark that was in the cradle. It took me about 3 tries but it eventually went in right at the bottom of his dorsal fin. He was on hook #79 and was 2300mm total length. What a great way to start our first day of fishing. After a nice warm, but “rolling” shower I made it to bed around 1:00 am. The boat was really rocking and I could hear things rolling around in cabinets. I think I finally fell asleep around 3:00.
9/22- The night shift works from midnight to noon doing exactly what we do during the day. They were able to complete two stations last night. They caught some tilefish (Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps) and a couple sandbar sharks (Carcharhinus plumbeus). My shift consists of Kristin, Christian, Taniya, and Ryan: we begin our daily shifts at noon and end around midnight. The ship arrived at our next location right at noon so the night shift had already prepared our baits for us. We didn’t have a lot on this station but we did get a Gulf smooth hound shark (Mustelus sinusmexicanus), 2 king snake eels (Ophichthus rex), and a red snapper that weighed 7.2 kg (15.87 lbs). We completed a second station around 4:00 pm where our best catch was a sandbar shark. Due to the swells, we couldn’t use the crane for the shark basket so Kristin tried to tag her from the starboard side of the ship.
We were able to complete a third station tonight at 8:45 pm. My job this time was in charge of data recording. When a “fish is on,” the following is written down: hook number, mortality status, genus and species, precaudal measurement, fork measurement, and total length measurement, weight, sex, stage, samples taken, and tag number/comments. We had total of 13 Mustelus sinusmexicanus; common name Gulf smooth-hound shark. The females are ovoviviparous, meaning the embryos feed solely on the yolk but still develop inside the mother, before being born. The sharks caught tonight ranged in length from 765mm to 1291mm. There were 10 females and 3 male, and all of the males were of mature status. We took a small tissue sample from all but two of the sharks, which are used for genetic testing. Three of the larger sharks were tagged with rototags. (Those are the orange tags you see in the picture of the dorsal fin below).
I spend most of my downtime between stations in the science dry lab. I have my laptop to work on my blog and there are 5 computers and a TV with Direct TV. We were watching Top Gun as we were waiting for our first station. I tried to watch the finale of Big Brother Sunday night but it was on just as we had to leave to pull in our longline. So I still don’t know who won. 🙂 I slept good last night until something started beeping in my room around 4:00 am. It finally stopped around 6:30. They went and checked out my desk/safe where the sound was coming from and there was nothing. Guess I’m hearing things 🙂
Shout out! – Today’s shout out goes to the Sturgeon Family – Ben and Dillon I hope you are enjoying all the pictures – love Aunt Kathy
While we are waiting to get started with our research survey that collects fisheries-independent data about sharks, I’ll tell you a little about how other NOAA scientists collect information directly from the commercial shark fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Shark Bottom Longline
Observer Program works to gather reliable data on catch, bycatch, and discards
in the Shark Bottom Longline Fishery, as well as document interactions with
protected species. Administered by the Southeast Fishery Science Center’s Panama
City Laboratory, the data collected by observers helps inform management
decisions. NOAA hires one to six observer personnel under
contractual agreements to be placed on commercial fishing vessels targeting
shark species. Program coordinators maintain data storage and retrieval,
quality control, observer support services (training, observer gear,
documents, debriefing, data entry), and administrative support.
This shark bottom longline fishery targets large coastal sharks (e.g., blacktip shark) and small coastal sharks (e.g., Atlantic sharpnose). Groupers, snappers, and tilefish are also taken. The shark bottom longline fishery is active on the southeast coast of the United States and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Vessels in this fishery average 50 feet long, with longline gear consisting of 5 to 15 miles of mainline and 500 to 1500 hooks being set. Each trip has a catch limit ranging from 3 to 45 large coastal sharks, depending on the time of year and the region (Gulf of Mexico or south Atlantic). Shark directed trips can range from 3-5 days at sea.
In 2007, NOAA Fisheries created a shark research fishery to continue collection of life history data and catch data from sandbar sharks for future stock assessment. This was created as sandbar sharks are protected due to lower population numbers that allowed for some very limited commercial take of the animals and allows for collection of scientific data on life history etc. A limited number of commercial shark vessels are selected annually and may land sandbar sharks, which are otherwise prohibited. Observer coverage is mandatory within this research fishery (compared to coverage level of 4 percent to 6 percent for the regular shark bottom longline fishery).
Well, I guess you were hoping to hear from me sooner than this. I arrived in Galveston, TX on September 15th. I boarded NOAA Ship Oregon II and got settled in my room. The 170 foot ship was tugged into port early due to a broken part. Today is Wednesday September 18th , and we are still waiting to leave. Fingers crossed it will be tomorrow morning. During this time I was able to meet with the crew members and scientists and familiarize myself with the ship. I was able to walk around Galveston and learn about its history. We were able to go out to dinner where I have had amazing oysters and a new dish “Snapper Wings” at Katie’s Seafood Restaurant. It was delicious and so tender. I would definitely recommend it!
During our time in port we were also hit with Tropical Storm Imelda. We have had lots of rain and flooding in the area.
Shout Out: Today’s shout out goes to my nephews Eastwood and Austin and my sister Karen and her husband Casey in Dallas, TX. I also want to say Hi to all of my marine students at PRHS. Hope I didn’t leave you all too much work to do 🙂 Keep up with your blog ws!
Latitude: 26° 17’ 45” Longitude: 81° 34’ 40” Temperature: 91° F Wind Speeds: NNE 7 mph
I leave on my “Twice in a Lifetime Experience” I thought I’d let you know a little
more about me.
In May of 2010, I participated in the NOAA TAS program. The hardest part was leaving my 1 ½ year old son Jonah while I was gone for three weeks. At the time I was teaching science at Key Biscayne K-8 School, which was located on an island off of Miami, Florida. I wanted to have my students experience something new so I chose to go to Alaska aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson. The ship left out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska where the Deadliest Catch is filmed. We spent the days and night doing neuston and bongo tows to study the walleye pollock (imitation crab meat). I couldn’t have asked for a better experience and crew! For more information you can look up my blog in the past season 2010. I applied for the NOAA TAS Alumni position and now I’m happy to say I will be having a “Twice in a Lifetime Experience” with NOAA! This time I will be on NOAA Ship Oregon II where we will be tagging and monitoring sharks and red snappers in the Gulf of Mexico.
grew up in Louisville, KY where I spent most of my summers boating and skiing on
the Ohio River. When I was 10 years old
my parents, sister and I got scuba certified.
I guess you could say this is when my love for the ocean began! Our first trip was to Grand Cayman and we experienced
things underwater that were even more beautiful than books and videos could
ever show. I have been back numerous
times, but when I went back this past June you can obviously see the changes
that are occurring in the ocean and the beaches. I currently volunteer with Rookery Bay
Estuarine Reserve and help with turtle patrol, shark tagging, and trawls. The amount of garbage we collect is getting
out of control. Teaching the importance
of this to my students is one of my top priorities.
I currently teach AICE Marine and Marine Regular at Palmetto Ridge High School in Naples, Florida. For the past 5 years I have grown the program into a class that is not just “inside” the classroom. What better way to learn about marine species and water quality than taking care of your own aquarium? Throughout the school there are 24 aquariums. The tanks include saltwater, fresh water, and brackish water. My students are taught how to properly maintain a tank, checking the water quality and salinity, as well as feeding and caring for their organisms. In addition to the aquariums they have a quarterly enrichment grade that has them getting outside in our environment and learning about the canals, lakes, and ocean that are just miles from us. We work with Keeping Collier Beautiful to do canal cleanups twice a year and they also visit Rookery Bay and the Conservancy for educational lessons. Thanks to the science department at Collier County Public Schools we are also given the opportunity to go out into the estuaries. Rookery Bay and FGCU Vester lab work with us to get the students out on the water to experience the ecology around them. Even though we are only miles from the Gulf of Mexico some students have never been out on a boat. This day trip gives them a hands on learning experience where we complete a trawl and water sampling.
I leave this weekend I know my students will be in good hands and will be following
my blog throughout my journey. The value
of what I am going to be sharing with them far outweighs my short time
away. My goal is to show them you are
never too old to try something new and hopefully my experience will get more
students into a career in marine sciences.
Shout outs: First one goes to my son Jonah (11), my parents Bud and Diane for taking care of him while I’m off having the time of my life, my boyfriend Michael who is currently deployed with the Air Force SFS, and his two kids Andrew (17) and Mackenna (10). Thanks for your support. Love and miss you all! <(((><
Mission: Leg III of SEAMAP Summer Groundfish Survey Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico Date: July 18, 2019
Weather Data from the Bridge Latitude: 29.43° N Longitude: 86.24° W Wave Height: 1 foot Wind Speed: 7 knots Wind Direction: 220 Visibility: 10 nm Air Temperature: 31°C Barometric Pressure: 1017.5 mb Sky: Few clouds
Over the course of this research experience, I have realized that I was not entirely prepared to assist on this voyage. While I think I have pulled my weight in terms of manpower and eagerness, I quickly realized that not having a background in the biological sciences limits my capacity to identify species of fish. Not growing up in the Gulf region, I am already limited in my understanding and recognition of fish variety through their common names like shrimp, grouper, and snapper. Countless other varieties exist most of which have no commercial fishing value such as boxfish, sea robin, spadefish, and scorpionfish. Fortunately, the microbiology grad student paired with me during wet lab processing has been patient and the fishery biologists assigned to this research party have been informative showing me the basics to fish identification (or taxonomy).
The wet lab aboard Oregon II is the nexus of the research team’s work. While the aft deck and the computer lab adjacent to the wet lab are important for conducting research and collecting data, the wet lab is where species are sorted, identified, and entered into the computer. The lab has a faint smell of dead fish and briny water. While the lab is kept clean, it is hard to wash the salt off the surfaces of the lab entirely after every research station.
Alongside the buckets and processing equipment are textbooks, quick reference guides, and huge laminated charts of fish species. Most of the reference material has distinctive color photographs of each fish species with its scientific name listed as the caption. The books in this lab are focused on Gulf and Atlantic varieties as these are what are likely to be found during the surveys. Fishery biologists have a wealth of knowledge, and they pride themselves on knowing all the species that come through the lab. However, occasionally a variety comes through the lab they cannot identify. Some species are less common than others. Even the experts get stumped from time to time and have to rely on the books and charts for identification. To get experience in this process, the biologists have given me crustaceans to look up. I struggle to make matches against pictures, but I have gotten better at the process over the weeks.
As I have learned more about the scientific names of each species we have caught, I have also learned that scientists use a two-name system called a Binomial Nomenclature. Scientists name animals and plants using the system that describes the genus and species of the organism (often based on Latin words and meaning. The first word is the genus and the second is the species. Some species have names that align close to the common name such as scorpionfish (Scorpaena brasiliensis). Others seem almost unrelated to their common name such as scrawled cowfish (Acanthostracion quadricornis).
Fortunately for those of us who do not identify fish for a living, technology has provided resources to aid in learning about and identifying species of fish we encounter. The FishVerify app, for example, can identify a species, bring up information on its habitat and edibility, and tell you its size and bag limits in area based on your phone’s Global Positioning System (GPS). The app is trained on over a thousand different species with the beta version of the app focused on 150 species caught in the waters of Florida. On our research cruise, we have encountered over 150 species so far.
Did You Know?
The naming system for plant and animal species was invented by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in the 1700s. It is based on the science of taxonomy, and uses a hierarchical system called binomial nomenclature. It started out as a naming system for plants but was adapted to animals over time. The Linnaean system has progressed to a system of modern biological classification based on the evolutionary relationships between organisms, both living and extinct.
Nearly two weeks into this experience and the end of my time with NOAA aboard Oregon II, I find that I have settled into a routine. Being assigned to the “dayshift,” I have seen several sunsets over my shoulder as I have helped deploy research equipment or managed the bounty of a recent trawls. I have missed nearly all the sunrises as the sun comes up five hours after I have gone to bed.
However, these two features along the horizon cannot match the view I have in the morning or late at night. After breakfast and a shower midmorning, I like to spend about 30 minutes gazing at the water from one of the upper decks. The clean light low along the water accentuates its blueish-green hue. In my mind, I roll through an old pack of crayons trying to figure out what color the water most closely represents. Then I realize it’s the Green-Blue one. It is not Blue-Green, which is a lighter, brighter color. The first part of the crayon color name is an adjective describing the second color name on the crayon. Green-blue is really blue with a touch of green, while blue-green is really green with some blue pigment in the crayon. Green-Blue in the crayon world is remarkably blue with a hint of green. The water I have admired on this cruise is that color.
The Gulf in the east feels like an exotic place when cruising so far away from shore. While I have been to every Gulf state in the U.S. and visited their beaches, the blue waters off Florida seem like something more foreign than I am accustomed. When I think of beaches and seawater in the U.S., I think of algae and silt mixed with the sand creating water with a brown or greenish hue: sometimes opaque if the tide is rough such as the coast of Texas and sometimes clear like the tidal pools in Southern California. Neither place has blue water, which is okay. Each place in this world is distinct, but to experience an endless sea of blue is exotic to me.
In contrast to vibrant colors of the morning, the late evening is its own special experience. Each night I have been surprised at how few stars I can see. Unfortunately, the tropic storm earlier in the week has produced sparse, lingering clouds and a slight haze. At night the horizon shows little distinction between the water and the sky. The moon has glided in and out of cover. However, the lights atop the ship’s cranes provide a halo around the ship as it cruises across the open water. What nature fails to illuminate, the ship provides. The water under this harsh, unnatural light is dark. It churns with the movement of the boat like thick goo. Yet that goo teems with life. Every so often a crab floats by along the ships current. Flying fish leap from the water and skip along the surface. Glimpses of larger inhabitants dancing on the edge of the ship’s ring: creatures that are much larger than we work up in the wet lab but illusive enough that it can be hard to determine if they are fish or mammal. (I am hopeful they are pods of dolphins and not a frenzy of sharks).