Suzanne Acord: Underway off the Kona Coast of the Big Island, March 18, 2014

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Suzanne Acord
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
March 17 – 28, 2014

Mission: Kona Area Integrated Ecosystems Assessment Project
Geographical area of cruise: Hawaiian Islands
Date: March 18, 2014

Weather Data from the Bridge at 08:00
Wind: 20 knots
Visibility: 12 nautical miles
Weather: Clear
Depth in fathoms: 2,521
Depth in feet: 15,126
Temperature: 23.5˚ Celsius

Science and Technology Log

Kona cruise map
2014 Kona IEA Cruise Map

HARP (High-frequency Acoustic Recording Package) deployment: 06:00

Ali Bayless leads this early morning deployment of the HARP, or High-frequency Acoustic Recording Package. This is an instrument that monitors marine mammals and studies ambient ocean noise over long periods of time. Peruse the cruise course map above to find the red circle with H1. This is where the HARP was deployed. We will pick up another HARP in the location marked H2 later during the cruise. The H1 HARP will be at the bottom of the ocean for a whole year recording all acoustics in the vicinity. We are listening for various species of cetaceans in order to determine their presence near this unique oceanographic feature, the Jaggar Seamount. This is a first because a HARP has never been dropped in the area. Sixteen discs of data will ultimately provide a snap shot of what has been happening acoustically in the area. Unfortunately, we can’t take a sneak peak at the data prior to the HARP’s retrieval.

Marine Mammal Observation (MMO) training by Ali: 08:00

Ali is also our Marine Mammals Operations lead. While on the flying bridge, Ali encourages our team to keep an eye out for sperm and pilot whales. Each MMO participant will serve 45 minutes on portside and 45 minutes on starboard side in rotating shifts. We must be sure to complete the sighting form to ensure we keep track of our mammal friends. Ali provides illustrations for our team and points out a few key features of marine mammals so that we can more effectively identify them.

MMO watch
Suzanne and Beth on MMO watch in the flying bridge 

MMO begins: 09:30

Scientists rotate through the flying bridge throughout the day with handy binoculars. When we see a mammal, we radio acoustics to let them know the location. This is more fun than it sounds. Ocean + binoculars + flying bridge = awesome!

Science Party Interview with Aimee Hoover

Official title: JIMAR Research Data Specialist

Aimee Hoover
Aimee Hoover at the acoustics monitoring station

Aimee has spent the past two and a half years with JIMAR (Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research). She is technically a State of Hawaii employee who often has the opportunity to work with NOAA.

Her job is flexible. She can analyze data on a variety of projects. In addition to our IEA, Aimee has worked with swordfish and tuna long line fisheries, species composition, and the size and structure of animals. She frequently examines large oceanographic features such as transition zone chlorophyll front (TZCF). She analyzes the movements and the locations of the TZCF, which travel from the north to the south. She mentions that turtles often feed off of this mysterious matter.

Aimee’s favorite job task: Cruises.

On this cruise, Aimee is hoping to find: Squid in the acoustics.

Coolest thing Amy has ever seen at sea:  In Maui, Aimee witnessed a female humpback riding next to and under their ship to avoid potentially mating males. This lasted for two hours!

Personal Log

My first days on board have been a whirlwind. Our push off time was delayed by six hours. Despite this, the NOAA crew was sure to use every moment of our delay wisely. We practiced our abandon ship drill and fire drill in addition to receiving a ship safety and etiquette briefing by OPS Officer, Ryan Wattam. It looks like my muster point during emergencies is on the Texas deck, port side. There is so much to learn and so much to do aboard the Sette. I have eaten great food, visited the bridge, assisted with a CTD deployment, and have met countless amazing crew members and scientists. It is only day two!

Pre boarding
Prior to boarding at Ford Island
Abandon ship
Note to self: Get suit and lifejacket and head to the Texas deck when I hear seven blows of the horn

Did You Know?

What is the difference between a rope and a line? “A line is a rope with a purpose,” according to Mills Dunlap, NOAA crew member.

A Tasty Surprise

Lines were immediately cast once underway. During an intense moment, Mills Dunlap ran toward a starboard line off the stern of the ship. Excitingly, an Ono would serve as our first catch. An omen? I think so. The food aboard the Sette is delicious!

Mills catches an Ono
NOAA crew member, Mills Dunlap, with a recently caught Ono

Diane Stanitski: Day 15, August 25, 2002

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Diane Stanitski

Aboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana

August 16-30, 2002

Day 15: Sunday, August 25, 2002

The FOO’s quote of the day (I really like this one!):

“Let your dreams run wild and free and always follow where they lead.” – N.E. Foster

Weather Log:
Here are our observations at 2200 today:
Latitude: 1°31.9’N
Longitude: 140°00.5’W
Visibility: 12 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 120°
Wind speed: 12 kts
Sea wave height: 3-4′
Swell wave height: 4-5′
Sea water temperature: 27.3°C
Sea level pressure: 1011.7 mb
Cloud cover: 3/8, Cumulus

Hurricane Fausto is slightly diminishing in strength, but is still maintaining winds at 90 kts, gusting to 110 kts. It is currently located at 18°N, 125°W and is moving northwest. Another tropical depression has formed at 11.5°N, 148°W and has maximum sustained winds at 30 kts with gusts to 40 kts. It is expected to gain strength and move into the tropical storm category. We are definitely not in danger of being impacted by either storm because they require Coriolis to form or to be sustained. Coriolis is negligible at the equator so we’re safe!

Science and Technology Log:

This has been my favorite day of the trip so far! I awoke hurriedly at 5:50 AM and ran outside with my hard hat and life jacket. We were taking the RHIB (once again, the rigid inflatable boat) out to retrieve our first buoy. Earl, Dave, Paul, Doug and I rode toward a gorgeous sunrise, removed sensors from the buoy, and then hooked it to a line to drag it in toward the ship. What an amazing morning! It all started there. As soon as the buoy was lifted onto the dock Nadia and I began removing barnacles from the bottom of the frame. The barnacles were still alive with their legs appearing and disappearing within their hard shell. They stick to the mast, buoy, and inner flotation device in clumps. At this point, I am filthy, smelly and loving every second. The barnacles are full of sea water which occasionally bursts and runs down your arms as you work over your head. I’m sure I’ll smell like fish for the rest of the day. The retrieved buoy was then power washed to remove the salt water, algae, and remaining barnacles parts, and to prepare it to be deployed again later during the trip.

I then helped pull in the 4300 meters of nilspin and nylon cable by taking over one of the spools where I turned it around and around as the cable draped over the top. Fun, and tiring! Just as we finished with the last spool, Doug, the XO, decided to fish off the back of the ship. You should have seen the amazing fish swimming all around the fantail of the boat… mahi mahi, and every beautifully colored huge fish that you can imagine! A blow hole was spotted by the FOO earlier, sure signs of a whale nearby. I also saw a huge fish jump out of the water, but couldn’t identify it. The fish all hang out around the buoy because of the barnacles (food) and the shadow created by the buoy, thus creating a small ecosystem in the middle of the Pacific. Suddenly, Doug caught something! He had to keep reeling in the line until he pulled a wahoo on board (ono in Hawaiian, meaning sweet). It had unbelievable colors of green and blue and was shiny with stripes. It had a cigar-shaped body, pointed head, and triangular teeth, with a long dorsal fin separated into 9 segments. Nemo brought it into the shade, pierced its neck, and then returned to the fantail where he caught two beautiful yellowfin tuna – WOW! They were shaped like a football, were beautifully iridescent with yellow, gold and blue across their bodies and fins tinged with yellow. The fins were very long. We feasted on sushimi tonight at dinner, raw tuna fillets with wasabi and soy sauce – scrumptious! We also had baked ono (wahoo) with spices. YUM! Thanks, Doug and Nemo!

We then all worked to prepare the nilspin (cable closest to the buoy) for the next buoy deployment by placing fairings on the cable. Fairings are plastic sleeves that are rectangular and slide onto the cable to provide more friction with the water. This alleviates great movement of the cable that usually happens due to strong ocean currents at this latitude. We are so close to the equator that the equatorial countercurrent makes a huge difference in the movement of the subsurface line. It was like an assembly line with me lifting each fairing out of a garbage can, handing each one to Dave who opened it and slide it onto the cable. Then, Paul used a mallet to secure it on the line while Jon held the cable in place so it didn’t drift off the boat. We must have placed hundreds of them on the line while it was being pulled out to sea by the new buoy that we just deployed (see photo log for pictures of the buoy retrieval and deployment). In the end, it took about 3 hours for the nearly 5000 meters of nilspin cable and nylon cable to be unrolled and pulled by the buoy out to sea. The buoy was floating about 4 km away from the ship by the time the cable was unraveled. You could just see it on the horizon. The crew then dropped two massive anchors (old railcar wheels) into the sea, which sunk and pulled the cable down while pulling the buoy into place above. The entire procedure is a real sight to see because of the crew’s efficiency…truly impressive.

Before dinner, John and I sat down and completed the script for tomorrow’s broadcast, however, things might change because we will be starting the science on board at the same time our broadcast is supposed to air live (9:00 AM ship time). We may have to change the show’s schedule if something exciting is happening on the ship that might be of interest to all of you. Flexibility is key to it all, I’m told.

Personal Log:

After a workout, shower, and dinner, John shot some footage of me on the bridge deck summarizing my experiences thus far, and describing what’s yet to come during this next week. The sunset was outstanding again. There were many clouds and they created these streaming rays of bright yellow light from the setting sun down to the Pacific. I could easily watch this every night.

I’m going to finish my logs and head straight to bed. This was truly the most outstanding 24 hours of the entire trip. I am so lucky to be here and can’t believe that we’re heading to the equator tomorrow!

Question of the day: 

What does TAO stand for and what is the goal of the project?

My favorite day of the trip so far…