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

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.