Karen Matsumoto, April 16, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea: Karen Matsumoto
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
April 19 – May 4, 2010

NOAA Ship: Oscar Elton Sette
Mission: Transit/Acoustic Cetacean Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific Ocean; transit from Guam to Oahu, Hawaii, including Wake Is.
Date: Friday, April 16, 2010

Science and Technology Log

The Oscar Elton Sette is now at the dock at the U.S. Naval Facility in Guam, preparing for our sailing on April 19th, as well as awaiting repairs to one of its generators. I am able to settle into my room and meet my “bunkmates” who are research scientists on the cruise. The science team is readying the scientific equipment for the acoustic monitoring and the visual survey. This includes routine maintenance on the “Big Eyes” (25 x 150) binoculars, checking the computer software, and readying equipment/supplies necessary for cetacean biopsy sampling. We are also preparing sonobuoys for later deployment during our transit survey. I am learning a lot about the extensive preparation necessary for these research cruises, and will explain more about the objectives of the science mission in the next log.

The Oscar Elton Sette at dock, Guam Naval Station.

Karen checking sonobuoys for later deployment.

Personal Log

Each day after taking care of research-related duties, the science team spends time together getting to know each other and the island of Guam. Morning meals are served on the boat, with evening meals in town. There are some great snorkeling spots on the Naval base, and we have opportunities to rent snorkel gear and explore the reef. The coral reefs near the base were in amazingly good shape, and the variety of reef fish was amazing. The fish that stand out in memory include several kinds of butterfly fish, many varieties of trigger fish (including my favorite, the Picasso triggerfish), parrotfish, Sergeant majors, unicornfish, Moorish idols, and bird wrasses. The field identification skills that I depend on when birding proved not to be as useful when fish watching! Too much distraction! Just as I would try to remember field marks on one fish, I would get distracted by 20 others that were just as engaging!

Karen in snorkel gear

Picasso trigger fish

Coral reef off Gab Gab Pt.

We also had a chance to go to the museum at the War in the Pacific National Historical Park run by the National Park Service. Displays on the events of “conquest and liberation” of Guam from 1941 to 1944 were presented, as well as a wealth of resources on WWII history at their small bookstore. Available maps pointed out various caves and tunnels made by the Japanese Army using forced labor for defense fortifications which are located close by. There are still hidden live explosives in many of the caves and tunnels, so exploration is dangerous. I got a small glimpse of the cultural history of the Chamorros, the aboriginal peoples of Guam, and I would like to learn more.

War in the Pacific Museum.

Trail to War Caves built during WWII.

Caves.

Question of the Day: What are those wire cages hanging everywhere on the cyclone fences all around the Naval base? (See photos next page)

These wire traps are baited with live mice to catch the brown tree snake that was accidentally introduced to Guam after World War II. With no natural predators and abundant prey, the snake population grew and spread throughout the island. As the snake dispersed, forest bird and fruit bat populations plummeted. By the late 1980s, nine species of native forest birds and the Mariana fruit bat had disappeared from Guam. There are very few birds or mammals left on the island due to predation by the brown tree snake, and it has upset the balance of the ecosystem. An increase in insect pests, as well as a shift in vegetation is occurring on Guam due to the introduction of this invasive species.

Brown tree snake trap

Close-up of mouse bait in trap

New Term/Phrase/Word of the Day: Chamorro – the indigenous peoples of Guam.

Something to Think About:

The amount of advance preparation you need to outfit a scientific expedition when you are out at sea with no place to get supplies is mind boggling! It is also awesome to think about the kind of expertise you need on your crew, which includes the following: engineer, doctor, NOAA officers, cook, technology expert, safety specialists, mechanic, plumber, carpenter, recreation specialist, and science team! Who else do you think you would need on an expedition at sea?

Animals Seen Today:

  • Pacific golden plover (we have these in Washington!)
  • Cattle egret
  • Philippine turtle dove
  • Eurasian tree sparrow
  • Black drongo
  • Coconut crab
  • Marine toad (from Central/South America and also known as the cane toad in Australia!)
  • Many, many tropical fish species and marine invertebrates (including black sea cucumbers and blue sea stars!!!!)

Coconut crab held by local Chamorro vendor at Chamorro Village.

Did you know?

…that in Guam, many introduced species such as pigs, the marine toad, and the brown tree snake have resulted in the decline and extinction of many native plants and animals. Scientists call these plant and animal invaders “invasive species.” Can you think of an example in your community where an “invasive” species has caused an imbalance to your local ecosystem?

Question of the Day:

What could we learn from the traditional knowledge of the Chamorros about Guam’s coral
ecosystems and how to protect them?

My Challenge:
Learning my way around the ship and getting used to the different research vessel terms such as the
head = bathroom, the mess = dining area, and “Texas deck” = large upper deck on the ship for
gathering people.

Bryan Hirschman, August 13, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Bryan Hirschman
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman (tracker)
August 1 – 17, 2009 

Mission: 2009 United States/Canada Pacific Hake Acoustic Survey
Geographical area: North Pacific Ocean; Newport, OR to Port Angeles, WA
Date: August 13, 2009

Weather Data from Bridge (0800) 
Visibility: 10 nautical miles
Wind: 6 knots
Wave Height: 1 ft
Wave Swell:  1-2 ft
Ocean temperature: 15.20C
Air Temperature: 14.20C

Science and Technology Log 

This is the net reel. The unit attaches with four bolts in each corner

This is the net reel. The unit attaches with four bolts in each corner

Life at sea can be very unpredictable. One minute everything is working great, and the next minute problems occur. Last evening a problem occurred with the net reel. The net reel is a large bull wheel that the nets roll into and out of when lowered in the water. The reel is spun by a huge engine that pulls the nets in when they are loaded with fish. This net reel is anchored to the boat with 16 huge bolts and nuts. Four of the bolts were found last night to be weakened during one of the daily inspections of ship’s mechanical instruments. The crew is constantly inspecting each piece of equipment to ensure the safest working conditions. Once this problem was seen all fish tows were canceled. We will be heading into port four days early to fix the problem.

An incorrect assembly of the bolts on the net reel

An incorrect assembly of the bolts on the net reel

A correct assembly of the bolts on the net reel

A correct assembly of the bolts on the net reel

Once in port the entire net reel will have to be lifted by crane and all the bolts will be replaced. The reel will then be lowered back in place and locked in place with nuts. Even though we are not fishing, other work on the ship is still occurring. The XBT (Expendable Bathythermograph) is deployed at regular intervals. This device sends depth and temperature data to a science laboratory to be recorded and used later (discussed in more detail in log 2).

Toxin-producing  phytoplankton pseudo-nitzschia.

Toxin-producing phytoplankton pseudo-nitzschia.

The HABS (Harmful Algal Bloom Sampling) research is also still being completed by Nick Adams, an oceanographer with NOAA. He takes water samples approximately every 10 nautical miles (1 nautical mile = 1.15 miles). After collecting the samples, he filters them for toxin and chlorophyll analysis. He also collects seawater for phytoplankton numeration and identification. His main focus is on toxin-producing genera, such as Pseudo-nitzschia and Alexandrium which are responsible for Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning and Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, respectively.  At the end of the cruise, Nick will be able to create a map of the concentrations and locations of toxin- producing phytoplankton. This will then be compared with data from years past to determine patterns and trends.

Toxin-producing  phytoplankton Alexandrium

Toxin-producing phytoplankton Alexandrium

The phytoplankton themselves are not harmful to humans, but as they accumulate in the food chain there can be human-related sickness. If we eat the organisms that are eating the plankton that produce toxins, we can become ill. Not much is known about the cause of the toxin producers, but with more research like Nick’s, scientists continually increase their understanding and ultimately hope to prevent human sickness from these phytoplankton.

Personal Log 

I am saddened to be cutting my journey earlier then expected, but I will leave the ship with fond memories of Pacific Hake, Humboldt Squid, and all the wonderful people who work on the ship. I am particularly grateful to the seven scientists who have gone out of their way to make me feel at home on the ship and have answered all of my questions. They are: the acoustic scientists: Dr. Dezhang Chu, Larry Hufnagle, and Steve de Blois; the fish biologists: Melanie Johnson and John Pohl; the oceanographers: Steve Pierce and Nick Adams. They are each extremely dedicated and passionate about their research and equally passionate about protecting our oceans and the organisms living there.

Scientists Steve de Blois, Larry Hufnagle, Dr. Dezhang Chu, and John Pohl

Scientists Steve de Blois, Larry Hufnagle, Dr. Dezhang Chu, and John Pohl

Challenge Yourself 
Volunteers play an integral role in supporting the environmental stewardship conducted every day by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Across the United States and its coastal waters, opportunities exist for volunteers to take part in research, observation and educational roles that benefit science, our citizens and our planet.

Visit this website to see where you can help

hirschman_log4g

Bryan Hirschman, August 10, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Bryan Hirschman
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman (tracker)
August 1 – 17, 2009 

Mission: 2009 United States/Canada Pacific Hake Acoustic Survey
Geographical area: North Pacific Ocean; Newport, OR to Port Angeles, WA
Date: August 10, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge (0800) 
Visibility: 4 nautical miles
Wind: 14 knots
Wave Height: 2 ft
Wave Swell:  5-6 ft
Ocean temperature: 14.40C
Air Temperature: 16.00C

Science and Technology Log 

Image of plankton taken with VPR

Image of plankton taken with VPR

Today, John Pohl, one of the fish biologists showed me the VPR (video plankton recorder). The camera is attached to the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth), which is operated by Steve Pierce, a physical oceanographer, and Phil White, chief survey technician, who work the night shift. The CTD is a large apparatus which has room for many additional sensors and attachments. The CTD onboard the Miller Freeman has a dissolved oxygen sensor in addition to the VPR.

Image of plankton taken with VPR

Image of plankton taken with VPR

Each night Steve sends the CTD down to the seafloor (about 7 times) to collect data. He is most interested in determining the differing densities of water at different depths (depth is based on pressure, which the CTD measures). He then calculates the densities using conductivity and temperature. By measuring conductivity (how easily electric currents pass through the water sample being tested), Steve can get a measurement of that water sample’s salinity.  Density of water is then calculated from measurements of salinity, and temperature. An equation is used which relates the measurements so that density can be found if these other two values are known. Steve records all the data each night, and will use this information to study currents and their movements.

The VPR is a camera which records video as well as still pictures as it descends to the sea floor. The data are recorded, then uploaded to an external hard drive. The file is very large, as it takes about ten minutes to transfer all the data. The pictures and video will be used by biologists (not on board presently) to identify and determine the percentage of plankton (plankton consist of any drifting organisms) floating throughout the water column. Each time before we set out the fish nets, two people go to the bridge to look for marine mammals. If any are present the nets won’t be put into the water. A few tows have been cancelled due to the presence of marine mammals. This is a great step in keeping them safe. It is always special when I see dolphins or whales.

Here I am holding a sleeper shark.

Here I am holding a sleeper shark.

The only fish tow of the day (no marine mammals present) consisted of mainly Humboldt Squid and some Pacific Hake. Today we used a load cell to get a total mass; this is a device which hooks up to the net and crane. The load cell gives a mass of the entire haul. The majority of the load was released back into the water while a smaller sample was retained. The weights of the Hake and squid were then determined using bins and a balance. The scientists can use the subsample data to determine the data for the entire load.  Bycatch, defined as living creatures that are caught unintentionally by fishing gear, are occasionally found in the net. Today a rougheye rockfish was caught, and yesterday a sleeper shark were accidently caught. The scientists do a very good job of limiting bycatch using their acoustic data.

Personal Log 

A rougheye rockfish – what a pretty fish

A rougheye rockfish – what a pretty fish

I am enjoying the long hours of work, and have gotten into quite a rhythm. I also enjoy spending time with the hardworking and intelligent staff here on board. We work together as a team, and everyone enjoys their jobs. NOAA has chosen a great group of officers who set a very positive tone and make the ship a great workplace. I would love to take a sabbatical from teaching and work on a NOAA ship. I’m having a lot of fun and learning a bunch. I will take back a lot of positive experience to share with my students, family, and friends.

I have also learned to appreciate the smells of a load of fish. As we move the fish from the holding cell, to small baskets for weighing we are constantly splashed in the arms, face, mouth, eyes, etc. I find it pretty amusing every time I get splashed, or even better, when I splash John, Melanie, or Jake. It never grows old. The hardest portion of my day is determining what movie to watch while running on the treadmill (I finally mastered the art of the treadmill on a rocking boat and can leave the elliptical trainer alone). The boat has close to 800 movies to choose from.

Animals Seen Today 
Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, Rougheye rockfish, Humboldt Squid, Pacific Hake, Albatross, Sheerwaters, and Murres.

Poem of the Day 
Squid ink, squid ink!
O! How you make me stink!
You stain my face, you stain my clothes;
I must wash you off with a fire hose!

You make me scratch, you make me itch,
You even turn Melanie into a wicked witch!
(which is a horribly difficult thing to do—
She’s as gentle as a lamb in a petting zoo!)

Why not John, allergic to your ink!
Torment HIM with your venomous stink!
But no–not ME! All I want are Hake.
So torment instead “almost” graduate Jake!

But once again, though our dinner hour,
Because of you I must shower!

So I beg you, O squid, to hear my plea:
In the future, stay away from me!
Does that sound good?
Do we have a deal?
If not, well then—you’re my next meal.

Answers to Last Question 
Ribbon Barracudina, Pacific Hatchetfish, Baby Humboldt Squid

Bryan Hirschman, August 6, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Bryan Hirschman
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman (tracker)
August 1 – 17, 2009 

Mission: 2009 United States/Canada Pacific Hake Acoustic Survey
Geographical area: North Pacific Ocean; Newport, OR to Port Angeles, WA
Date: August 6, 2009

Weather Data from Bridge (0800) 
Visibility: 6 nautical miles
Wind: light
Wave Height: <1
Wave Swell: 2-3 ft
Ocean temperature: 15.90C
Air Temperature: 15.50C

Science and Technology Log 

John and Melanie sexing and measuring the fish

Melanie sexing and measuring the fish

Today the day started with a fish tow at 8:00 am. The acoustic scientists, Steve, Larry, and Chu, predicted the fish would be mostly myctophids, and wanted to be certain. The fisherman sent the net out and about an hour later the net was brought back. As predicted the net was filled with mostly myctophids. This is an important step in being able to determine the fish type and numbers using acoustic data only. Scientists will then be able to acoustically count fish populations for most schooling fish (Pollock, Pacific Hake, anchovies, and mackerel to name a few), with out using nets. After the nets are brought in the fish biologists (and me) get to work. We separate all the organisms into their own piles. We then count and weigh them, and log this into a computer using their scientific names. It’s amazing how Melanie and John (the fish biologists) can identify and recall the Latin names of these organisms.

Question: Do we just fish in random locations?

Answer: No, the acoustic scientists choose to fish in locations that appear to be different from previous fishing locations. The parameters which make them different are depth, color intensity, or pattern of the markings on their computer screens. The scientists get real-time acoustic pictures as the boat travels along on a pre-determined path (called a transect).  The more they can relate the graphs on the computer screens to the actual catch in the nets the less fishing which needs to be done.

Here is an acoustic image (2 frequencies) as seen on the scientist’s screen. The bottom wavy line is the seafloor, and the colored sections above are organisms located in the water column.

Here is an acoustic image (2 frequencies) as seen on the scientist’s screen. The bottom wavy line is the seafloor, and the colored sections above are organisms located in the water column.

Here is the second tow consisting of Pacific Hake and Humboldt Squid.

Here is the second tow consisting of Pacific Hake and Humboldt Squid.

The second fish tow of the day produced Pacific Hake and Humboldt Squid. We weighed all the squid first (then quickly returned to the ocean), and 10 were randomly selected for a stomach dissection. The stomachs contained pieces of squid, Pacific Hake, and other unidentifiable fish. Another purpose of this cruise is to determine the effects of the squid on the Hake, and by looking at the stomachs the scientists will be able to determine the relationship between the squid and hake.  The third tow of the day involved an open net with a camera. The camera could record for an hour. The scientists then view the footage to estimate the size and quantity of the hake passing through the net. This is another method the scientists are using to verify their acoustic data.

Here I am holding the delightful meal of tuna.

Here I am holding the delightful meal of tuna.

I also had the chance to launch an XBT (Expendable Bathythermograph). This device is launched at the back of the boat. The sensor is released into the water and is attached by a tiny copper wire. As the sensor travels down the water column it sends the depth and temperature data to the bridge. This data is saved and used by physical oceanographers to better understand temperature profiles found in the ocean.

Personal Log 

Today was a great day. The seas were calm, I slept well last night, and the food was great. I even got to exercise for 1.5 hours. The exercise room has a television hooked up to watch movies, and it made using the elliptical trainer and stationary bike much more enjoyable. I also had a great time working with the fish biologists. We were throwing and catching squid like the professionals who work at Pike Place Market in Seattle.  Best of all was dinner, freshly caught tuna, which I got to filet.

Animals Seen Today 
Dolphin, Mola-mola, Albatross, Sheerwaters, Slender Barracudia, Ribbon Barracudina, Blackbelly Dragonfish, Pacific Hake, Lanternfish (myctophids), Salps, Sunrise Jellyfish, Purple Cone Jellyfish, Wheel Jellyfish, Humboldt Squid, Black-eyed Squid, Pacific Hatchetfish, and Spiny Dogfish shark.

Question of the Day : Can you identify the animals in the photo?

Question of the Day : Can you identify the animals in the photo?

Answer to the last question: Lancetfish

Bryan Hirschman, August 4, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Bryan Hirschman
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman (tracker)
August 1 – 17, 2009 

Mission: 2009 United States/Canada Pacific Hake Acoustic Survey
Geographical area: North Pacific Ocean; Newport, OR to Port Angeles, WA
Date: August 4, 2009

hirschman_log1Weather Data from the Bridge (0800) 
Visibility: 10 miles
Wind: 2 knots
Wave Height: <1 ft
Wave Swell: 3 ft
Ocean temperature: 15.50C
Air Temperature: 15.50C

Science and Technology Log 

Here I am holding a Pacific Hake.

Here I am holding a Pacific Hake.

We will be conducting several types of oceanographic sampling during our cruise: 2-3 Pacific hake tows per day (weather permitting), an open net tow where fish are viewed through a camera, XBTs: Expendable Bathythermograph (take temperatures at various depths), HABS: Harmful Algal Bloom Sampling, CTD: Conductivity, Temperature, and Density (also at various depths), and a Multiple Opening Plankton Net (collects living organisms at various depths). We will also release a Surface Drifter: floats with currents and sends information about currents via satellite.

The tows, XBTs and HABS are done from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm, while the CTD and plankton net are used during nighttime hours. By working in daytime and nighttime shifts the scientists are maximizing the boat’s usage. I was fortunate enough to help with the plankton net last night. Five samples were collected while I observed. Each sample was labeled and preserved for later use in a laboratory. Observed were amphipods, copepods, shrimp, and crab larvae.

Can you identify the animal I’m holding?

Can you identify the animal I’m holding?

Our first Pacific hake tow came at approximately 8:00 am. The acoustic scientists use four transducers that are attached to the bottom of the boat.  Each transducer sends out pulses of sound at a different frequency toward the bottom of the sea floor. The sound pulse then travels back to the boat and is recorded onto graphs. Fish and other biological organisms also reflect sound pulses. Each type of fish gives off a different signal depending on its size, shape, and orientation. The fish are then identified on a computer using acoustic analysis software. The strength of the sonar signal helps determine the biomass and number of fish. When the chief scientist see an interesting aggregation of fish to tow on, he calls the bridge (the brains of the boat–this is where the boat is controlled) and reports the latitude and longitude of where he wishes to fish. The ship then turns about and the deck hands work to lower the tow net and prepare to collect fish at the depth the scientists observed the fish.

Here, I’ve got a Humboldt Squid.

Here, I’ve got a Humboldt Squid.

After the fish are collected, the Pacific hake are weighed and counted.  A sub-sample of about 300 Pacific hake is sexed and lengthed. Another sub-sample of about 50 Pacific hake is weighed, sexed, and lengthed; sexual maturity is determined by observation of the gonads, and ear bones are removed – this will enable scientists to determine the age of the fish.  About 10 Pacific hake have their stomach contents sampled as well. All this information is collected and used by Fishery Biologists to determine the population dynamics of the overall Pacific hake stock. The acoustic scientists also save all their data in an acoustic library. This will help scientists to analyze the Pacific hake biomass (population) while minimizing how many live specimens they need to collect. In total we completed three tows today. That’s a lot of Pacific hake to measure, weigh, and sex.

Personal Log 

The ship is loud. Sleep was hard to come by last night. Living in quiet Vermont has made me a light sleeper. I need to work on adjusting to the constant noise. The food and staff are great. Everyone takes pride in their ship and the work which is done on the ship.

Question of the Day 
Can you identify the beast in the picture to the picture?

Animals Seen Today 
Pacific Hake, Humboldt Squid, Myctophids, Breaching Whale (too far away to identify; most likely a Humpback)

Jennifer Fry, July 29, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jennifer Fry
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman (tracker)
July 14 – 29, 2009 

Mission: 2009 United States/Canada Pacific Hake Acoustic Survey
Geographical area of cruise: North Pacific Ocean from Monterey, CA to British Columbia, CA.
Date: July 29, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge (0800) 
Wind speed: 10 knots
Wind direction: 345° from the north
Visibility: fog
Temperature: 14.1°C (dry bulb); 13.8°C (wet bulb)
Sea water temperature: 10.6°C
Wave height: 1 ft.
Swell direction: 320°
Swell height: 3-5 ft.
Air pressure: 1011.0 mb
Weather note: There are two temperature readings taken on the Miller Freeman. The dry bulb measures the current temperature of the air. The wet bulb measures the absolute humidity of the air; uses a thermometer wrapped in a wet cloth. The dry and wet temperatures together give the dew point and help to determine humidity.

Science and Technology Log 

Those aboard the Miller Freeman: including NOAA Corps, crew, and scientists were randomly selected to answer the following question.

How are science and the environment important to the work you do? 

Here are some of their responses:

Lisa Bonacci, Chief Scientist/Research Fish Biologist, M.S. Marine Biology   “As a Fisheries Biologist at NOAA I work in applied science. Our research provides information that managers and policy makers use to make important decisions at a national level. These decisions help the United States keep our fisheries sustainable and at the same time protect our ocean ecosystems.”

Lisa Bonacci, Chief Scientist/Research Fish Biologist, M.S. Marine Biology
“As a Fisheries Biologist at NOAA I work in applied science. Our research provides information that managers and policy makers use to make important decisions at a national level. These decisions help the United States keep our fisheries sustainable and at the same time protect our ocean ecosystems.”

Pat Maulden, Wiper, Engineering Department   “I like being part of the solution.  If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

Pat Maulden, Wiper, Engineering Department
“I like being part of the solution. If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

John Pohl, NOAA Oceanographer, B.S. Oceanography   “Every action has a consequence.  Science improves our understanding of the world around us and consequences of our actions in the natural world.  We are not separate from the environment in which we live. We can’t hold ourselves out of the natural world, or we will affect the balance.”

John Pohl, NOAA Oceanographer, B.S. Oceanography
“Every action has a consequence. Science improves our understanding of the world around us and consequences of our actions in the natural world. We are not separate from the environment in which we live. We can’t hold ourselves out of the natural world, or we will affect the balance.”

Steve DeBlois, NOAA Research Fish Biologist   “Science is a methodology by which we understand the natural world.”

Steve DeBlois, NOAA Research Fish Biologist
“Science is a methodology by which we understand the natural world.”

Jose Coito, Lead Fisherman   “I try to help the scientific research on the ship whenever I can. I enjoy my job.”

Jose Coito, Lead Fisherman
“I try to help the scientific research on the ship whenever I can. I enjoy my job.”

LTjg Jennifer King, NOAA Corps Officer, B.S. Marine Biology   “Science helps understand natural processes: how things grow, and how nature works. We need to help protect it. Science shows how in an ecosystem, everything depends on one another.”

LTjg Jennifer King, NOAA Corps Officer, B.S. Marine Biology
“Science helps understand natural processes: how things grow, and how nature works. We need to help protect it. Science shows how in an ecosystem, everything depends on one another.”

Steve Pierce, Physical Oceanographer, Oregon State University, Ph.D. Physical Oceanography “None of this research is possible without math.  My study is a cool application of math.”

Steve Pierce, Physical Oceanographer, Oregon State University, Ph.D. Physical Oceanography “None of this research is possible without math. My study is a cool application of math.”

John Adams, Ordinary Fisherman   “Science helps you understand why things go. The environment is really important to protect because it’s the only one we’ve got.”

John Adams, Ordinary Fisherman
“Science helps you understand why things go. The environment is really important to protect because it’s the only one we’ve got.”

LTjg Oliver Brown, NOAA Corps Navigation Officer, B.S. Geology   “Understanding the processes of today to predict and sustain the systems of tomorrow.  Anything you can study: fisheries, atmospheric or any “ology”, the ocean plays a part in it.”

LTjg Oliver Brown, NOAA Corps Navigation Officer, B.S. Geology
“Understanding the processes of today to predict and sustain the systems of tomorrow. Anything you can study: fisheries, atmospheric or any “ology”, the ocean plays a part in it.”

Adam Staiger, Second Cook   “Remember to clean up after yourself.”

Adam Staiger, Second Cook
“Remember to clean up after yourself.”

Francis Loziere, Able Seaman, B.S. Chemistry/Engineering   “Studying science can help foster original thinking.  We need original thinking to save the planet.”

Francis Loziere, Able Seaman, B.S. Chemistry/Engineering
“Studying science can help foster original thinking. We need original thinking to save the planet.”

Julia Clemons, Oceanographer, M.S. Geology   “Science helps us to better understand the world we live in so we are not ignorant and live in a more responsible and aware manner.”

Julia Clemons, Oceanographer, M.S. Geology
“Science helps us to better understand the world we live in so we are not ignorant and live in a more responsible and aware manner.”

Chris Grandin, DFO, Canadian Fisheries, Biologist, M.S. Earth & Ocean Sciences   “We’re here to keep tabs on the fish resources of our planet, to ensure that there will be fish for the future generations, and to sustain our ecology.  We all need to take responsibility.”

Chris Grandin, DFO, Canadian Fisheries, Biologist, M.S. Earth & Ocean Sciences
“We’re here to keep tabs on the fish resources of our planet, to ensure that there will be fish for the future generations, and to sustain our ecology. We all need to take responsibility.”

Dezhang Chu, NOAA fisheries, Physical Scientist, PhD Geophysics   “To study science you need devotion and dedication.  It’s not something you make a lot of money at, but you can contribute good things to human society.”

Dezhang Chu, NOAA fisheries, Physical Scientist, PhD Geophysics
“To study science you need devotion and dedication. It’s not something you make a lot of money at, but you can contribute good things to human society.”

Gary Cooper, Skilled Fisherman,   “I’ve always loved the sea. You get out of a job, what you put into it. Set your goals high and you’ll be successful.”

Gary Cooper, Skilled Fisherman,
“I’ve always loved the sea. You get out of a job, what you put into it. Set your goals high and you’ll be successful.”

Melanie Johnson, NOAA Fishery Biologist   “Taking care of our environment, it’s the right thing to do. We need to live responsibility and sustainably; we can’t over fish or litter our world. If you don’t want it in your backyard, don’t put it in the ocean.”

Melanie Johnson, NOAA Fishery Biologist
“Taking care of our environment, it’s the right thing to do. We need to live responsibility and sustainably; we can’t over fish or litter our world. If you don’t want it in your backyard, don’t put it in the ocean.”

Mark Watson, Wiper, Engineering Department   “Life and science go hand in hand; you can’t have one other the other.”

Mark Watson, Wiper, Engineering Department
“Life and science go hand in hand; you can’t have one other the other.”

Ed Schmidt, First Assistant Engineer, Relief Chief   “In my field of engineering, science and math go hand in hand. You have to have both. n the science side, there are relationships between different fluids, gases, and the theories behind what make the equipment work. You need to use math to find combustion rates, horsepower, electricity produced/consumed, and the list goes on and on. Without math and science I wouldn’t have a job.”

Ed Schmidt, First Assistant Engineer, Relief Chief
“In my field of engineering, science and math go hand in hand. You have to have both. On the science side, there are relationships between different fluids, gases, and the theories behind what make the equipment work. You need to use math to find combustion rates, horsepower, electricity produced/consumed, and the list goes on and on. Without math and science I wouldn’t have a job.”

The engineers aboard the Miller Freeman are a group of hard working people. There are always engineers on duty 24 hours/ day to ensure the ship is running properly. Jake DeMello, 2nd engineer, gave me a tour of the Miller Freeman’s engine room.  Jake attended California Maritime Academy where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Engineering. He has a 12-4 shift which means that he works from noon to 4:00 p.m. and then again from midnight to 4:00 a.m.

Jake DeMello stands by the desalination machine in the Miller Freeman’s engine room.

Jake DeMello stands by the desalination machine in the Miller Freeman’s engine room.

Before taking the job aboard NOAA’s Miller Freeman, Jake worked on a Mississippi River paddle boat traveling from New Orleans north past St. Louis through the rivers’ many dams and locks.  He reminisced on one memorable moment aboard the paddleboat; the day he saw Jimmy Dean, the famous singer and sausage maker.  Jake and the other engineers do many jobs around the ship including checking the fuel and water levels throughout the day and fixing anything that needs repairing.  The Miller Freeman is equipped with a machine shop, including lathe and welding equipment.

Among the jobs of the engineer is reporting daily fuel levels including:

  • Hydraulic oil used for daily fish trawls, CTD, gantry, and winch operations.
  • Gasoline used for the “Fast Recovery Boat.”
  • Diesel fuel used for the main engine.
  • Lube oil used for main engines and generators.
We say good-bye to the hake both big and small.

We say good-bye to the hake both big and small.

Fresh water production: The ship’s water desalination machine transforms 2,000 gallons of sea water into fresh drinking water daily. The ship’s water tanks hold a total of 7,350 gallons of fresh water. Another job of the engineer is taking soundings throughout the day/night. Taking soundings means measuring the levels of liquid in the tanks.  There are tanks on both the starboard and port sides of the ship. The engineer needs to be sure that fuel levels are evenly distributed so that the ship will be evenly balanced in the ocean.

Vocabulary: Starboard: right side of the ship. Port: left side of the ship.

Personal Log 

I write this off the coast of Oregon in the North Pacific Ocean.  It has been an amazing 17 days aboard the Miller Freeman. I feel honored to have participated in NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program.  It has truly changed the way I look at science in the classroom and has given be a better understanding of how scientists conduct research on a day to day basis in the field. I am excited to have made so many learning connections between the real world of scientific study and the elementary school science classroom.  I thank NOAA, the Teacher at Sea program and the entire crew, NOAA Corps, and scientists aboard the Miller Freeman for this opportunity.

My profound gratitude goes out to the dedicated science team aboard the Miller Freeman for all they have taught me.

My profound gratitude goes out to the dedicated science team aboard the Miller Freeman for all they have taught me.

Ginger Redlinger, July 29–31, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Ginger Redlinger
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 15 – August 1, 2007

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Baranof Island, Alaska
Date: July 29–31, 2007

Weather log on the RAINIER.  Data is gathered, then entered into a database.

Weather log on the RAINIER. Data is gathered, then entered into a database.

The RAINIER started its work in South East Alaska in April of this year. Four months and hundreds of nautical miles later it was time to leave: Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, Baranof Island, and the Gulf of Esquibel. Three or four research boats were in the water everyday rain or shine, calm or rough water, gathering data. At night, crews’ maintained watch, reviewed data, and planned for the next day’s work. Equipment was checked to ensure everyone’s health and safety.  Quality control ensured that the data gathered met NOAA’s expectations. Now it is time to end the Alaskan part of their work and move to their next working location.

While traveling from South Each Alaska to Washington I reflected on the most memorable parts of the journey.  I immediately remembered the compliments from pleasure boaters and fishermen about NOAA’s work. Next I thought about the ease at which the crew safely delivered and returned their equipment and crew to and from the ship each day.  Then I thought about the NOAA resources I learned about as I studied information about hydrography, technology, satellites, weather, and tides.  And how could I not mention the food – it was great. Good food compensates for the sacrifice of being away from home for such a long time.

Water from the Fraser River (green) and the southern end of  Georgia Strait waters.

Water from the Fraser River (green) and the southern end of Georgia Strait waters.

There would be a short break between the end of this voyage and the start of the next, some would remain on the ship, and for others it meant being “at home” for the first time since April. This is part of the sacrifice that mariners, and those who explore the oceans make.  As we traveled closer to home many off-duty crewmembers gathered on the fly deck to see home slowly approaching from the distance.  They shared stories from the last four months and recalled the moments of laughter on “the big white ship.” After traveling through Canadian waters, around Vancouver Island and into Puget Sound, people began to gather in earnest of the desk. At first I thought it was because we were taking a picture for a “NOAA 200th Anniversary Postcard from the Field,” but many remained on deck. Many were anxious for the first glimpse of their families and their homes.  Many of their family members arrived at the Ballard Locks – waving and communicating their excitement about the reunions that would happen in a few short hours.

Mt. Rainier and Seattle in the distance.

Mt. Rainier and Seattle in the distance.

The sun is setting as we traveled past the many marinas for all types of marine vessels, houseboats, and dry-docks. As we passed through crewmembers neighborhoods the fading sunlight was replaced with light shining in their eyes as they talked about the view from their windows, their favorite neighborhood haunts, and local treats that mean “home.” As we turn toward the waters that lead to downtown Seattle the crew on the fly deck is silent. The last embers of sunlight are reflecting on the downtown Skyline, it is spectacular.  We turn away from downtown and travel through the Fremont Cut.  Thank goodness for the navigational skills of this young and talented team – the water traffic from Seattle’s SeaFair was busy. Once we arrived at the NOAA Western Regional Center in Sand Point, CO Noll’s work was done.  He had trained his crew to successfully navigate the ship and complete the mission.  We are all home; the final navigational command is given.

Rear Admiral De Bow handing the Command Coin to Commander Noll

Rear Admiral De Bow handing the Command Coin to Commander Noll

“All Engines Stop” “All Engines Stop, Aye. – All Engines Stopped” “Very Well.” Rear Admiral De Bow was on board to congratulate him, and pass the time-honored command coin.

I hate to admit it, but like a kid at camp leaving a new set of friends knowing that I most likely will not see many of them again, I feel sadness. The memories and lessons will remain.  What a great adventure for a teacher, what a great experience for those who work on the ship, and what a great service provided to those who depend on navigation for commerce, recreation, and those who seek a greater scientific understanding of the earth and how it changes. I can’t wait to share it all with my students and colleagues!!!!

The Seattle skyline at night

The Seattle skyline at night