Dana Clark : Alaska in 3D, June 30, 2014

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Dana Clark

Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather

June 23 – July 3, 2014

Mission: Hydrographic Survey

Geographical area of cruise: South Coast of Kodiak Island

Date: June 30, 2014

Weather Data: Latitude – 56° 34.74′ N, Longitude – 154° 02.21′ W, Sky Condition – 1/2 clouds, Present Weather – clear, Visibility – 10+ nautical miles, Wind – 15 knots, Temperature – 10° C

Science and Technology Log

I had a great day yesterday on the launch gathering more hydrographic survey data. We had a pretty, sunny day with calmer waves until the afternoon. Then the wind and waves picked up and we were tossed around a bit. It didn’t help that we had to survey an area called Whirlpool Point that is nicknamed “the washing machine”! Here is an 18 second clip as we entered the washing machine until I had to turn off the camera so I could hold on with both hands. Note that at the beginning, she says she’s stopping logging the data and you’ll see why!  

 

Dana Clark and CTD
Dana Clark getting ready to deploy the CTD

In this top picture you can see me getting ready to lower the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth) into the water. After about 5-7 minutes the CTD is raised and then connected to the launch’s onboard computer which uses special software to download the data from the cast. In the picture below you can see Pat Berube showing me how to connect it to the computer. Once we gather this along with the multi-beam sonar data, the day’s work is saved to a hard drive and turned in to the evening processing crew.

Pat Berube showing Dana Clark CTD connection
Pat Berube showing Dana Clark how to connect the CTD for data download

They take the raw data from the launches hard drive, copy it to the ship’s network, and convert it to a format that is readable by the mapping software. They apply correctors like sound velocity from the CTD, tide, and the vessel’s motion data to correct the multi-beam soundings in processing. Let me show you what some of their digital terrain models (DTM) look like. When you have a DTM of the seafloor, it shows the morphology of the seafloor in a range of colors and shows features like rocky areas, sand waves, and seismic faulting. These are statistical representations of all the multi-beam sonar soundings.

Below you will see two examples of the the seafloor generated by Pat Berube, a NOAA hydrographer, that show a 3D base surface. The first one just has the 3D multi-beam base surface. The second one is the same but it also has a chart draped over it. The chart ends up being the final product with the new soundings shown on it. Look at the bottom left model and you will see a reef in the bottom right, a green trench with rocks in it in the middle and at the top yellow area are sand ripples. The large round black spot in the middle is an island and the smaller black circle to the right of it is a small group of rocks. There is also another trench on the left in blue. The colors are added to see the features better. The numbers on the chart on the right are fathoms, which show the depth. Click on each to bring up a larger high resolution picture.

3D model of the seafloor
3D model of the seafloor, NW of Aiaktalik Island, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Pat Berube and NOAA
3D model of seafloor with chart
3D model of seafloor with chart overlay, NW of Aiaktalik Island,  Alaska. Photo courtesy of Pat Berube and NOAA

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the two pictures below it shows the actual land features of the island that is the black circle in the 3D map above and the rock outcropping that is represented by the small black circle to the right. These pictures show how what we see when surveying transfers to what we see on the charts.

Small island
Small island NW of Aiaktalik Island, Alaska

 

Rock outcropping
Rock outcropping NW of Aiaktalik Island, Alaska.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scientist of the Day

Today I would like you to meet Cathleen Barry, a Cartographer for NOAA who is currently aboard the Fairweather. Cathleen is someone who makes maps, more specifically, navigational charts. And she fell into this field of work in the most unusual way. She was a recent graduate of California State University, Northridge, with a BS in Earth Science. She has loved maps since she was a child, but little did she know then that she would end up drawing maps for a living! Working as a beginning Cartographer in the Marine Geophysics department on campus, her professor tasked her with making a poster to advertise a NOAA expedition to the Arctic.

Cathleen Barry, NOAA Cartographer
Cathleen Barry, NOAA Cartogropher aboard the Fairweather, 2012. Photo courtesy of Cathleen Barry

The Marine Geophysics department was looking for graduate students to participate in a geophysical cruise to the Bering Sea aboard the NOAA Ship Discoverer, a 100 meter oceanographic research vessel. When the poster was complete she drew ten lines on it for sign-ups, and after thinking about it, she decided to put her name on the first line. They needed a cartographer to map during this trip and a career was born!

This career has sure evolved over the years. When Cathleen started out, cartographers drew with pen and ink on drafting paper and now it’s all computer generated. Her job is to use the bathymetric and features data collected to update America’s nautical charts. Earth’s crust is very dynamic and the seafloor changes all the time! When she retires, maybe around 2020, she will say goodbye to a field she has loved for over 30 years.

Personal Log

I have to tell you, typing a blog while my body gently sways from one side to the other is very strange. My abdominal muscles, gluteus maximus, and quadriceps are getting a workout as my muscles tighten to help me to to stay put! I do need the mini workout since the cooks here keep us well fed!

The weather here is so variable. The temperature on my last blog was 21° C and today it was 10° C with cold winds. I was glad I was not out on the launches today and was interested in working with the mapping on the ship until I heard and saw video of what was in the water today. The launches saw a large pod of about 40 orca whales playing about right by their boats! I was so bummed I missed it. Maybe tomorrow?! Then again, tomorrow I will be in a launch that is going to survey a section of the seafloor that has a possible shipwreck in it. Sunken treasure anyone?

Question: Which picture do you like better, the daytime picture of Joe and me on the crest of Cape Kaguyak (note the orange Ambar boat to the left and the white ship Fairweather anchored to the right) or the nighttime picture of the sunset from the flybridge of the Fairweather? You can click on pictures in my blogs to see them full size. Vote in the poll below!

Dana Clark, Cape Kaguyak, Alaska
Dana Clark and ENS Joe Brinkley atop Cape Kaguyak, Alaska
Sunset from the Fairweather
Sunset from the NOAA ship Fairweather, June 28, 2014

Kimberly Pratt, July 18, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

MAC433-AR1, OO
Photo credit: Cornelia Oedekoven

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 18, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude:  3614.084N
Longitude: 12213.868W
Visibility: <1 mile
Wind Direction: 340 Wind Speed:  22 knots
Sea Wave Height: 5-6 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1014.6
Cloud Cover: Foggy, Drizzle
Temperature:  14.8

MAC433-AR1, OO
Photo credit: Cornelia Oedekoven

Scientific Log 

Our days have been mostly foggy with the sun peaking through rarely. After not seeing the sun for days, we were all delighted when the bridge announced that there was sun and many of us ran outside right away!  Right now we’re outside of Pt. Reyes, continuing on transect lines. The animals we’ve observed lately are: a pod of Killer Whales feeding, several Humpback Whales, schools of Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and Northern Right Whale dolphins.

The Zodiac was launched and tissue samples and photo ID was taken of the Killer Whales. (photos attached) This evening two Humpbacks gave us quite a show.  They rolled next to the ship, breached, and slapped their flippers. Many times we could see their bellies as they lazily made their way by the ship rolling and diving, quite peacefully.  Video and photo was taken of these amazing animals.

MAC433-AR1, OO
Photo credit: Cornelia Oedekoven

The bird observers have been especially busy. In the past few days they’ve identified Black-footed Albatross, Common Murre, lots of Sooty Shearwaters, Pink footed Shearwaters, Ashy Storm Petrels that breed on the Farallons, and Cassini’s Auklets. Also seen are South Polar Skua’s, and Red Neck Phalaropes who are Artic breeders.  We’ve also seen Mola Mola fish, and a Mako shark with a pointy snout.  We’re continuing Bongo Net Tows and continue to collect plankton, larvae and small jellyfish.

Personal Log

Thanks to Rich Pagen being back on board, I am now focusing more on taking video, completing interviews, doing logs and e-mail correspondence. My interviews have gone well; the crew has been responsive and also forgiving when I’ve made mistakes.  For the remainder of the trip, I’ll be focusing on interviewing more of the scientists, developing curriculum and completing logs.  It’s been great meeting all the crew and finding out more about them. With less than a week to go, I’m treasuring every moment. This has been a great trip!

MAC433-AR1, OO
Photo credit: Cornelia Oedekoven

 

Until later…
Kim

Thanks to Cornelia Oedekoven for the Orca photos.

Kimberly Pratt, July 10, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 10, 2005

Orca pod
Orca pod

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude: 38,55.2 N
Longitude: 124.22.003 W
Visibility:  < 1miles
Wind Speed & Direction:  200 degrees, 8 knots
Sea Wave Height: 1-2
Sea Swell Height: 5-6 ft.
Sea Level Pressure: 1016.2
Cloud Cover: cloudy and foggy
Temperature:  21.8 Celsius

Scientific Log

Orcas found! Yesterday evening, approximately 8 Killer Whales were tracked and observed off the bow of the McARTHUR II. Scientists are right now trying to determine if they are resident, off-shore, or transient whales.  This they will do by looking at their saddles, the area just under the dorsal fin.  It has already been determined that this pod did not have a large bull as none of the whales had the very large dorsal fin.  Male bull fins can be as large at 6ft high. A southern resident Killer Whale is reported to be over 100 years old. Attached are 2 photos of the group we observed last night, and also an  older picture of a baby Orca, as evidenced by the yellow/pinkish coloring.  Thanks to Holly Fearnbach for the photos.

Orca dorsal fin
Orca dorsal fin

Today we are heading closer to the California coast, north of Bodega Bay. It has been foggy all day with no chance to do observations.

Personal Log

I had to get these out to all of you. Seeing so many wild Orcas was breathtaking. The flying bridge was full of oohs, and awes as everyone ran to get their cameras.  One of the animals spy-hopped to look around and we observed them for about 40 minutes.  I also thought you might enjoy the “baby” orca picture. Last night there were some juveniles in the group, as evidenced by the smaller dorsal fins.

Kimberly Pratt, July 7, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 7, 2005

White-sided dolphins
White-sided dolphins

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude:  44, 20, 7 N
Longitude: -126, 27, 7 W
Visibility:  10
Wind direction: 220
Wind Speed: 220
Sea Wave Height:  12
Swell Wave Height:  3-5
Sea Level pressure: 16.1
Cloud Cover: 7/8, AC, AS, CU
Temperature:  17.1

Scientific Log

Yesterday, we had the good fortune to see a school of Pacific White Sided dolphin, which swam at our bow for about 1/2 hr. A biopsy was taken of two of the animals, by Scientists, Tim O’Toole and Juan Carlos who used a crossbow with a special “grabber” attached to the arrow. A piece of skin and a piece of blubber will be analyzed.  Also swimming with the school were 2-3 baby dolphins.  Also spotted was a Humpback whale. A very busy day…

Today, we’ve spotted 2-3 Fin whales, along with a pod of Killer Whales.  The small boat was launched and tissue samples were taken from one of the Fin whales.  The Fin whale seemed rather curious as it approached the small boat at a close range.  The Killer Whales, however, were more cunning and a tissue sample could not be taken because their swimming pattern was very erratic.

As far as birds go, we spotted several Puffins, with beautiful markings on their heads; Black footed Albatrosses, Sooty Shearwaters, Leach’s Storm Petrels and lots of Seagulls.  Peter Pyle and Sophie Webb have trained me in the data entry part of their observations, so I am now helping them on the bridge when possible.  Tonight, I’ll be learning more about the CDT cast and also the Bongo Tow.

Personal Log

Yesterday was our first day out to sea, and my first experience with ocean swells.  I will admit I did develop sea sickness – or getting my sea legs as it’s called.  Chief Scientist Karen Forney, joked that may my sea legs grow quickly.  Ha! I’m now recovered, with no worse for wear. I guess it’s a rite of passage that all sea goers must experience.  So now I’m seasoned.  I’m very grateful to Chief Scientist Forney who in the middle of my sickness, came to my room and let me know about the dolphins outside.  She knew I wouldn’t want to miss it and she was right!  Another wonderful sight is the different tones of blue that can be seen when looking out over the water.  The weather has been nice, and we are now in the waters off of central Oregon.  We hope to be in central California by this weekend, depending on how things go.  The crew and scientists are extremely supportive and patient with all of my questions, and I’m learning a lot. I’ll post another log in a day or two.

Jim Jenkins, April 30, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jim Jenkins
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
April 18 – 30, 2005

Mission: Pollock Survey
Geographical Area: Bering Sea
Date: April 30, 2005

Crewmembers retrieve a marine mammal listening device from the water.
Crewmembers retrieve a marine mammal listening device from the water.

Weather Data 

Latitude:  57, 37, 50 North
Longitude: 156, 02, 34
West Visibility:  8 Nautical Miles
Wind Direction: 161 Degrees
Wind Speed:  17 Knots
Sea Wave Height: 4-5 Feet
Swell Wave Height:  4-6 Feet
Sea Water Temperature:  4 Degrees C
Sea Level Pressure: 1001.5
Cloud Cover: Partly Cloudy

Science and Technology Log

Marine Mammal Listening Device

Earlier, a marine mammal listening device scheduled for recovery could not be picked up because the instrument responded to signals and released from its anchor, but it did not rise to the surface for recovery.  You may remember the theory was that it was stuck in the mud which prevented it from rising.  Well, things changed on the second effort to pick up one of these devices. This one popped to the surface and is now onboard the ship. The data and sounds recorded will be of great interest to scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Crewmembers deploy bongo nets.
Crewmembers deploy bongo nets.

A couple of days ago, I sent some photos of brittle stars, bivalves, barnacles and worms that had gathered on a mooring that had been 200 meters deep in the Bering Sea for about a year. Were you as impressed with all the life forms as I was?

I expected to see life forms on the marine mammal listening device because it had also been beneath the water for 1 year. You may be surprised to learn that there was almost nothing on the surface of the entire instrument!  Would you like to take an educated guess as to the reason for the lack of life on this mooring? You would be correct if you noted that this one was deployed at a deeper depth.  In fact, this one was 1,800 meters deep.  The role of the sun in starting the process of photosynthesis to feed all life is pretty impressive isn’t it?  I hope this example helps you even more appreciate the role of penetration of sunlight into the water as a huge factor in ocean food chains.

Bongo Tows

Four bongo shaped nets were lowered into the water this morning to catch zooplankton. Two of the nets had a 60centimeter diameter and 133micron holes in them.  This means that anything smaller than 133 microns simply passes through the net and is not collected. Lots of phytoplankton fall into this category and are not collected.

Mr. Jenkins displays a sample of zooplankton
Mr. Jenkins displays a sample of zooplankton

Two more nets had 20-centimeter diameter openings and nets which had 153-micron holes in them.  Can you see that these nets are set up to catch smaller plankton species? All nets were lowered to the bottom by a winch until they were 10 meters from the bottom.  The nets are then pulled up to the surface by a winch at a rate of 20 meters per minute.  All organisms are collected in a cylinder attached to the base of the net.  The cylinders are removed from the nets, taken into the laboratory where they are put into bottles. The bottles are then sent to a lab in Poland where technicians use microscopes to identify the species, and the number of each species, in each sample.

Today’s specimens had a lot of organisms visible to the naked eye.  I will be forwarding a photo in which you may be able to make out some specimens.  There were a few fish larva and even some squid larva.  Have you noticed that rivers around Virginia tend to have a greenish hue once algae populations begin to grow in the summer?  Well, this process also happens in the Bering Sea. The size of the mesh on bongo nets is adjusted during the summer months because a larger amount of algae growing in the water tends to be picked up.  These algae may even clog a net if too much is collected.  What can be determined by the small specimens collected in the bongo nets? For starters, finding a lot of zooplankton means that larger species are going to have more to eat.  This could mean healthier populations and better fishing.  Eggs of fish collected in the tows give an indication of the future of fish populations.  More eggs may mean more fish.

Our friend, the Walleye Pollock’s, eggs soon turn to a larval form before developing into small fish.  The larva of the Walleye Pollock have small ear bones called otoliths. These ear bones have growth rings in them which are similar to growth rings in trees.  It is possible to determine the age of Pollock larva to the number of days by examining and counting the rings in its ear! Knowing the age and number of larva in the water can be extremely helpful in predicting the number of fish that are likely to be available for harvest in the future.

Crab Classic contains “Surimi Crab.”
Crab Classic contains “Surimi Crab.”

Argos Apex Drifters

Two instruments have been dropped into the water and they are probably not going to be recovered.  In fact there will be no effort to recover them!

The first of these long yellow cylinders with satellite transmitters on the top was dropped into the water yesterday.  At first, the instrument simply sat horizontally on the surface of the sea until it picked up a signal from a satellite in orbit.  When the signal was received by the Argos Drifter, the instrument filled a bladder with water causing it to sit upright and sink into the sea. The instrument descends to depths of up to 2,800 meters.  It then rises slowly to the surface, all the time collecting data on salinity.  Upon reaching the surface, the instrument transmits all its data to the satellite.  After transmission, the instrument dives again and repeats this process of collecting data for 8 or 9 months.

Plans are to have 3,000 or more of these instruments in the water of all the world’s seas collecting data. Do you think that this is an improvement on having to actually travel to a particular site to collect salinity data?

Personal Log

E-mails from home tell me of balmy warm weather and spring plants coming out in profusion. Conditions are a little different here today.  Hands went back into pockets so that my they would not be made so inflexible by the cold that I could not use a pencil well to keep records when working on the deck this morning.  A winter coat and felt liners in my boots felt wonderful.  Do you think I may have some adjusting to do when I return to springtime in Virginia?

Several of you have asked about stars. It is getting dark rather late here, so I woke up the last couple of nights at 1:00 AM to take a walk on the deck to enjoy the stars.  The weather has been pretty cloudy, so I could only see two stars as I walked around the deck.  You would have appreciated the flat blackness of the sky, however.  I can imagine the stars being quite radiant on a clear night.  I will keep looking and let you know what I see.

Surimi Crab sandwiches were on the menu for lunch today.  Being a big fan of the Chesapeake Blue Crab, I ordered a sandwich and found it delicious.  After lunch, I went back to the kitchen to ask Chief Steward, Russell Van Dyke, to tell me about the Surimi crab. I was surprised to find out that there is no such thing as a Surimi Crab!

Russell was good enough to go down to the freezer to get a bag of Surimi Crab so that I could look at it.  I discovered that the package contained only 20% of a crab product.

Now for the question of the day: What makes up the other 80% of Surimi Crab?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Jim Jenkins, April 26, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jim Jenkins
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
April 18 – 30, 2005

Mission: Pollock Survey
Geographical Area: Bering Sea
Date: April 26, 2005

Here you can see the heavy chain that keeps Peggy the Mooring in place.
Here you can see the heavy chain that keeps Peggy the Mooring in place.

Weather Data 

Latitude:  57, 37, 50 North
Longitude: 156, 02, 34
West Visibility:  8 Nautical Miles
Wind Direction: 161 Degrees
Wind Speed:  17 Knots
Sea Wave Height: 4-5 Feet
Swell Wave Height:  4-6 Feet
Sea Water Temperature:  4 Degrees C
Sea Level Pressure: 1001.5
Cloud Cover: Partly Cloudy

Science and Technology Log

I am going to leave out cloud cover today.  Can you look at the data above and fill in the space for cloud cover?  I think you may also be able to know what current weather conditions are for today. Did you get the photos of the mooring, chain and cable which were covered with barnacles, brittle stars, worms, starfish and bivalves?  I thought these were pretty interesting and spent some time yesterday looking carefully at the photos to see what was identifiable.

By the way, the barnacle and associated organisms I am holding up in one of the photos are now in a jar which is wrapped in bubble wrap and inserted in a zip lock bag.  I am thinking that we will put it in a mesh bag and hang it from a tree limb to dry once I get back to school.

Yesterday, after dinner, I spent a long time talking with Mr. Rick Miller a mechanical engineer who has helped to design a lot of the moorings we are deploying or recovering on this cruise. Mr. Miller has an absolute passion for his work and I think he said a lot of things that you are going to find extremely interesting.

The mooring named Peggy was partly designed by Mr. Miller.  Do you remember that the top part of the mooring weighed 5,600 pounds?  You may be surprised to learn that the anchor and the chain holding Peggy to the ocean floor also weigh 5,600 pounds.  Mr. Miller went on to say that winds in the Bering Sea can be quite ferocious.  Long ago, engineers learned that a mooring with too much weight holding it to the ocean floor is not a good thing; the wind will simply blow the mooring over and push it below the water. This would prevent transmission of data that comes from the tower which is supposed to be above the water.

The fact that the anchor and chain for Peggy is the same weight as the surface part makes it possible for the anchor to move slightly when pulled on in a gale.  This keeps the mooring above water and close to the location in which it was dropped!

A second interesting design feature was made more interesting after looking at the barnacle cover on the mooring brought up yesterday. Mr. Miller and his team looked at the history of barnacle cover on submerged instruments in the Bering Sea and calculated that a half ton of barnacles would likely cover the underside of Peggy the Mooring within a 6-month period. To counter this, they painted the bottom of the floating piece with a paint which repels barnacles and sea life that might attach to the surface. What do you think might have happened if the surface had not been treated and the expected half ton of barnacles accumulated?

Chains used by NOAA to anchor moorings are tested so that each link is capable of holding a 42,000-pound weight. This would be strong enough to pick up approximately 20 of the cars that I drive to school each day.  This seems plenty strong to counter the weight of a mooring in even the strongest wind, or current, doesn’t it?

Mr. Miller was very surprised, as were a lot of scientists and engineers, when they came out to pick up moorings anchored with this chain and found them missing.  The breakthrough came when they recovered a link of a chain that was broken!  They took the chain to a metallurgist (a scientist who studies metals).  The metallurgist discovered that the fact that NOAA chains were heat-treated tended to form a strong crystal lattice in the metal.  Hydrogen atoms had a tendency to get trapped in this lattice.  The hydrogen expanded and forced a crack in the metal.  A force much less than 42,000 pounds was then able to break the chain.

The solution: NOAA chains are still tested to be able to hold 42,000 pounds, but they are NOT heat-treated. No problems with broken chains have been noted since this change.

I think Mr. Miller summed up his thoughts about design well with this statement:  “Overall strength is not the answer to all problems.  The key to success is to design to the requirements of the project.”

You may want to spend some time discussing the above statement with your classmates.  I think that there is a lot of wisdom in these words.

A lot of time was spent today doing CTD tests. You probably already know this because all of the pictures sent today related to CTD tests.  The tests took a bit longer than usual because all of the tests were at a depth of about 1,500 meters.

Personal Log

I think that Mr. Miller is an outstanding human being, in addition to being an outstanding engineer and scientist. Let me know what you think after reading the words he spoke in response to my request for a comment to some bright fifth graders in Purcellville, Virginia:

“Encourage them to go into a field for which they have a passion.  I would urge them to go into something that makes them smile when they think about it.  I would encourage going into something with which you can have fun.  Having fun has nothing to do with being easy. Challenges are fun.

Encourage them to keep life fun, and not be too heavy with life.

Remember that there are things equally important as academic endeavors.  Remember to be good stewards of the planet.

Encourage them to think about outcomes which are up to the individual.”

I leave you now to contemplate Mr. Miller’s words.  Have a great evening.  I look forward to talking with you tomorrow.

Question of the day: An instrument descends to a depth of 1,500 Meters at a speed of 50 meters per minute.  How long does it need to travel the 1,500 meters?

Jim Jenkins, April 23, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jim Jenkins
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
April 18 – 30, 2005

Mission: Pollock Survey
Geographical Area: Bering Sea
Date: April 23, 2005

Mr. Jenkins helps to retrieve a Calvets net
Mr. Jenkins helps to retrieve a Calvets net

Weather Data 

Latitude:  57, 37, 50 North
Longitude: 156, 02, 34
West Visibility:  8 Nautical Miles
Wind Direction: 161 Degrees
Wind Speed:  17 Knots
Sea Wave Height: 4-5 Feet
Swell Wave Height:  4-6 Feet
Sea Water Temperature:  4 Degrees C
Sea Level Pressure: 1001.5
Cloud Cover: Partly Cloudy

Science and Technology Log

Get the microscopes ready!

Early this morning, I helped out with dropping and pulling up Calvets nets.  These nets collect fish eggs and other small life forms from the sea.  Specimens collected are put in jars, preserved with formaldehyde and sent to labs for analysis.  This is a quantitative sample, meaning that each test is designed to get a good idea of the amount of fish eggs in a specific amount of water.  In this case, the test measures eggs in a 100 cubic meter area. Specimens are filtered through a screen to eliminate most of the water.  Screens are then rinsed to make sure all the netted material goes into the specimen bottle.

You can see how big Peggy the Mooring is with Mr. Jenkins standing in front of it!
You can see how big Peggy the Mooring is with Mr. Jenkins standing in front of it!

Knowledge of the amount of fish eggs present in water can help make predictions about the health of fish populations. It can also help fishermen plan for the future.  This morning we ran an extra test and I collected the contents of the net to bring back to Mountain View Elementary.  There were a lot of copepods and some tiny worms visible to the naked eye in our specimen.  Other portions of the collected specimen were squirming with life, but I could not make them out with just my eye.  Let’s make looking at this specimen under the microscope the first activity that we do when I return to school.

The mooring named Peggy that I wrote you about earlier went into the water this morning. This was a complicated procedure. A couple of hours were spent “building” a chain with all the instruments which hang down to the bottom below this mooring,  All of the instruments needed to be bolted to specific lengths of chain with shackles.  The assembly was done according to a diagram drawn in Seattle.  The total length of all the chains and instruments joined together was 67 meters long.  Instruments used to gather data on temperature, salinity and nitrate levels at various depths were attached.

Once the chain was assembled, the whole assembly was lowered into the ocean as the times that each instrument hit the water were recorded.  One end of the chain was joined with a shackle to the mooring and it is ALMOST ready to go Peggy, the mooring, is so big that it was a complicated job to get it into the water. Two winches, several rope lines, a lot of communication and thinking were necessary to get it into the sea. About an hour after the process began, Peggy touched down lightly in the sea. A big cheer went up from everyone on the deck!

 Rusty and Mr. Jenkins
Rusty and Mr. Jenkins

Finally, the anchor needed to be attached to the bottom of the chain and dropped into the water. In this case, the anchor was not the railway wheels that you have heard about so often. This anchor resembled half of a Tootsie Roll Pop lying round side up and it was bright yellow. The exterior was made of concrete.  A big mooring needs a big anchor!  The anchor for Peggy weighed in at 5,000 pounds! (This is equivalent to 2 and one-half small cars).

How did an anchor this big get from the deck into the water?  Again, it took considerable thinking and communication between deck hands and scientists.  Communication between people on the deck and officers on the bridge was also extremely important so that the ship was in the right location. The cooperation, thinking and communicating paid off. Finally, Peggy the mooring, settled into the sea!

I took many photographs of the process of putting the mooing into the sea as well as a farewell photograph as the ship pulled away. These will be sent to you later today and will be there by Monday when you return to school.

By the way, another small mooring was put in right after lunch.  Now we have an 18hour transit before reaching the site of deployment of the marine mammal listening device brought up by Chris Garsha and Lisa Munger that we discussed earlier.

Personal Log

I hope you guys had a great weekend!

Did you receive the photo of Rusty the ship’s cat? Well, I also sent copy of the photo to my home.  My wife, Chantel, just wrote to advise that our son, Sam, climbed up in her lap when he saw the photo on the computer screen to give a big kiss to both his dad and to Rusty. Needless to say, this was a heartwarming message for me!

Question of the Day: What is at the center of the yellow concrete anchor used for the mooring named Peggy?  (Hint: Reading previous logs might help you with this answer.)  This “easy as candy” question comes to you in honor of the weekend!  (Very Big Grin!)

Jim Jenkins, April 22, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jim Jenkins
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
April 18 – 30, 2005

Mission: Pollock Survey
Geographical Area: Bering Sea
Date: April 22, 2005

Fair Visibility
Fair Visibility

Weather Data 

Latitude:  56, 28, 22 N
Longitude: 160, 35, 21 W
Cloud Cover: Cloudy
Visibility: 6 Nautical Miles
Wind Direction:  164
Wind Speed: 20 Knots
Sea Wave Height: 3-4 Feet
Swell Wave Height: 2-3 Feet
Sea Water Temperature: 2.4 Degrees C
Barometric Pressure: 1011 MB

Science and Technology Log

How is visibility determined?  This was the question I posed to Ensign Mandy Goeller. Her answer was that the distance is 10 nautical miles if the viewer can see the horizon.  Distance may also be ascertained if another vessel shows up on radar and can also be seen with the eye.  Finally, there is a degree of intuitive thought based on experience when writing visibility in a ships log.

A CTD cast was done this morning.  This involves having a winch lower a huge instrument (about the size of motorcycle) into the water until it is almost resting on the bottom.  Salinity, temperature and density readings are done on the way down for the instrument.  Readings done on the way up would involve taking readings on water which has been disturbed by the passage of the instrument.

This morning’s reading was done for the benefit of The Kodiak Crab Lab (I bet you like that name!) in Kodiak, Alaska.  One of the problems for king crab fishermen is that king crabs do not like to inhabit bands of cold water that stream through sections of the Bering Sea. Fishermen armed with knowledge of the location of these cold streams will likely not waste time, fuel and labor trying to catch crabs when the crabs are probably not going to be in the cold streams.  NOAA is trying to help by supplying knowledge.

Retrieval of a mooring was scheduled for this morning.  The boat arrived at the latitude and longitude at which the mooring was dropped off.  A hydrophone (listening device attached to an electrical cord) was dropped into the water to listen for the device after a NOAA scientist sent it a signal to “wake up” and respond with a signal so that it could be located. The plan was to have an “acoustic release” sent to the mooring when it could be located. This signal would cause a metal latch located just above the anchor to open so that the mooring could rise to the surface, be spotted and be recovered.  Unfortunately, the mooring never sent a signal.  The acoustic release signal was sent but the mooring did not pop to the surface as planned.  The mooring appears to be lost! I think it would be good to remember this the next time things do not go exactly as planned in our daily lives. Sometimes in science, as in all areas of human endeavor, things just do not go as planned.

The location of the lost mooring remains on file.  Maybe it will be found in the future.  Meanwhile, a mooring scheduled to be placed within a one third mile distance from the lost mooring was deployed as planned.

A second mooring was recovered as planned later in the day. This one was covered with huge barnacles and had a few life forms holding onto its surface.  I took a few photographs of tiny crabs and worms which were found on this mooring.  I held the crabs and worm in my hand for photographing so that you would have an idea of their size.  I am thinking all the research you did on crabs before the trip may make it possible for you to identify the crab.  Identifying the worm could be fun for someone!

Speaking of photos, I sent a number of photos to you today.  Earlier, I had a problem with the size of files being too large to be sent by satellite to you.  Please let me know what you think about the photographs.

Personal Log

I had breakfast this morning with Shawn Bowman, a young man wearing a Kings Point rugby shirt. Our conversation turned to rugby and I talked about one of our neighbors, Tom Levac, who is a student at The Merchant Marine Academy and also a rugby player.  It turns out that Shawn is a graduate of the Merchant Marine Academy and played rugby with Tom.  It is indeed a small world, isn’t it?

Had some time this morning just to walk around the deck and enjoy the beauty of the snow-capped peaks gracing coastal Alaska.  This was a scene so beautiful that it was almost painful (You may not understand this at your stage in your life, but I bet that your parents will be able to tell you of a similar place.  I was surprised when the people I was talking with when I described the beauty as being almost painful indicated that this was also the way they felt about thisplace.)  I very much hope that each of you will be able to visit this sparse, pristine, rugged and eternally beautiful part of the world. Lt. Miller had his binoculars out looking for walrus on the shoreline this morning.  There were none to be seen today. Maybe tomorrow?!

Question of the day: When are you guys going to send an e-mail!!!!  (Very Big Grin!)

Jim Jenkins, April 20, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jim Jenkins
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
April 18 – 30, 2005

Mission: Pollock Survey
Geographical Area: Bering Sea
Date: April 20, 2005

The Bering Sea
The Bering Sea

Weather Data 

Latitude:  57, 37, 50 North
Longitude: 156, 02, 34
West Visibility:  8 Nautical Miles
Wind Direction: 161 Degrees
Wind Speed:  17 Knots
Sea Wave Height: 4-5 Feet
Swell Wave Height:  4-6 Feet
Sea Water Temperature:  4 Degrees C
Sea Level Pressure: 1001.5
Cloud Cover: Partly Cloudy

Science and Technology Log

You might want to begin by comparing yesterday’s barometric pressure (1002.8 millibars) to today’s pressure (1011.1 millibars).  Knowing that a rising barometric pressure is an indication of good weather would give you an idea of the weather that we are enjoying right now. It is bright, sunny and warm for this part of the world.  Last night, there was another indication that the weather today would be nice when I looked out the porthole to see a lot of pink in the sky just before I went to bed.  Do you remember the saying, “Red sky at night, sailors delight?”  Do you think this applies also to reddish shades of pink?

Sarah Thornton sits beside the instrument used to measure nitrate levels in the ocean.  (The cylindrical device in the lower right of the photo.)
Sarah Thornton sits beside the instrument used to measure nitrate levels in the ocean. (The cylindrical device in the lower right of the photo.)

Tomorrow, the phrase, “Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning,” may apply! Matt Faber, Ordinary Fisherman, on the Miller Freeman is sitting across from me reading the paper as I type. Matt advises that we are expecting a drop in the barometric pressure tomorrow of about 10 millibars to around 1000.00 millibars.  What do you think this means about tomorrow’s weather?  If you predict that the weather will change dramatically you are correct.  In fact, Matt notes that we are expecting high winds tomorrow.  Winds are projected to come from the east at 35 knots per hour.  Sea wave height will probably be 6 to 8 feet high. This is quite a change from today’s one-foot sea wave height, isn’t it?

I asked Matt about his experiences in rough weather at sea.  He told me of a trip in February of this year when the sea wave height was in the 20-30 foot range.  (This would make some waves higher than Mountain View School Elementary School!)  Matt advises that the best strategy for these conditions is to “hang on,” and “put up a rail on your bed so that you do not fall out of bed at night.”  I am taking his advice on these things as well as his advice to visit the ship’s doctor to get some medicine to prevent seasickness!

This is the operations officer Lt Miller.  He knows a lot about marine geology.  What are your questions about rocks, earthquakes, volcanoes, faults, trenches, tsunamis......?
This is the operations officer Lt Miller. He knows a lot about marine geology. What are your questions about rocks, earthquakes, volcanoes, faults, trenches, tsunamis……?

Visiting the bridge to get the data needed to start my journals to you is becoming a great opportunity. Do you remember the story of seeing a killer whale on my first trip to the bridge to collect data?  Well, today I got another surprise!  The operations officer, Lt. Mark Miller, called me over to look at a volcano that was spewing smoke. The view through the binoculars was stupendous!  Unfortunately, the distance and the conditions did not make it possible to get a good photograph.  By the way, the name of the volcano is Shishalden. It is on Unimak Island.  This may be a great topic for research for some of you. I am looking forward to having the time to research this myself when I return home.

Today, I have talked with Sarah Thornton, a scientist from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Sarah is here to deploy an instrument that measures the nutrients in seawater that feed all ocean life. In the past, sampling involved traveling to a location, taking a water sample, and then taking it back to the lab for analysis.  Sarah’s instrument collects the data as it sits beneath the surface of the ocean.  Sarah will come back in 6 months from the time she drops it off to pick it up.  The instrument will then have 6 months of data which will be available to lots of people studying food chains in the sea.

This is the library where most of the logs to you are typed. The computer is put away right now so that it does not fall off the table with rolls of the ship.  I am writing from "Data Plot" where computers are bolted down.
This is the library where most of the logs to you are typed. The computer is put away so that it does not fall with rolls of the ship. I am writing from “Data Plot” where computers are bolted down.

Sarah’s instrument will be placed below the large yellow doughnut centered mooring that I described on day one.  ISUS is the name for Sarah’s instrument.  The letters stand for In-Situ (Latin for “In Place) Spectrophotometric Underwater Sensor.  The words are complicated, but the idea is not as complicated. Put simply, an ultraviolet light is sent through sea water.  Different substances in the water absorb light at very specific frequencies.  Nitrate, the primary food for phytoplankton, also absorbs light at a very specific wavelength.  This enables data on nitrate level to be recorded.  As noted earlier, Sarah will be able to take six months of nitrate level testing back to labs for analysis when she comes back to pick up her instrument next September or October.  Scientists can then look at the nitrate levels to see how well fish populations will be fed in the future.  Good nitrate levels mean that the fish will be well fed and plentiful.  Lower nitrate levels may mean problems for fish and for fishermen.

I assumed that ISUS would be placed close to the surface where the sun’s rays were able to penetrate to start photosynthesis. I was a little surprised to learn that the instruments are typically placed at a depth of only thirteen meters.  Can you think of a reason for this depth?  If you guessed that they placed at this depth to avoid problems with ice, boat traffic and weather, you are exactly right.

Light penetration in the Bering Sea may be common at 40 meter depths under some conditions. Sediment in the water or a lot of phytoplankton in the water may lessen light penetration, however. And there is measurable amount of light at 100 meters in some parts of the Bering Sea. Do you think the 13 meter depth of the instrument is logical in light of all you know?

Personal Log

I am going to send a photo of my stateroom today.  It occurs to me that you might find this interesting. The room is about 12 feet X 12 feet.  It is divided diagonally into two smaller rooms.  Each room has a bunk bed and two lockers.  A shower and bathroom are in one corner of the room. I am lucky to have a good roommate.

Later today, I am going to go down to the gymnasium for a run.  I have had little physical  exercise since I got on the ship. I do not want to come home and have you guys run circles around me on our Tuesday runs.

Remember to let me know what you want to learn about, while I am on the ship.  This is a great opportunity for you to impact your own education.  Please take advantage of this.  Question for the day: A major tsunami, or seismic wave, hit the coast of the United States more that forty years ago. Can you find the exact year and place?

Jim Jenkins, April 19, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jim Jenkins
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
April 18 – 30, 2005

Mission: Pollock Survey
Geographical Area: Bering Sea
Date: April 19, 2005

Mr. Jenkins holding a temperature sensor.
Mr. Jenkins holding a temperature sensor.

Weather Data 

Latitude:  55, 36, 50 North
Longitude: 155, 51, 00 West
Visibility: 10 Nautical Miles
Wind Direction:  164
Wind Speed: 18 Knots
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 Feet
Sea Swell Height: 2-3 Feet
Sea Water Temperature:  5 Degrees C
Sea Level Pressure: 1002.8
Cloud Cover: Cloudy

Science and Technology Log

The better part of the morning was spent putting temperature and pressure sensors in metal cages. I will send a photo with the subject line, “Metal Cages” so that you will have a good idea of the construction of these devices. The sensors mounted in metal cages are suspended from moorings at 3 feet intervals to give scientists a good indication of the temperatures at various depths in the ocean.  Data collected from similar sensors has been collected for a long time and will continue to be collected well into the future. Scientists can look at the data collected over the years to draw conclusions about the patterns noted. For example, should temperatures continue to rise over the years, scientists might look for a reason for this rise in temperature.  You have heard of the idea of “Global Warming.”  Data collected in this project can be used to monitor the severity of this problem.

Today has been mainly a day of transit, the term used by NOAA folks to refer to travel to a work location. The down time gave me the opportunity to interview my roommate, Chris Garsha, an engineer with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. Chris and Lisa Munger, a doctoral student from the University of California at San Diego, are here to place instruments in the sea which will monitor whale calls. Chris and Lisa are great people. They provided a lot of good information which I will share with you now. Also, they volunteered to e-mail you with more information about whales when they return home to California.  I gave them my card so that they would have your school address. First, I will give you the address of a web site that both Chris and Lisa recommended.

The site has sounds of whales which have been recorded by the instruments that Chris and Lisa are here to deploy. I know that you will enjoy this.

Do you remember studying sound waves in class?  I think that you will remember that a wavelength is measured from crest to crest, or from trough to trough. Chris and Lisa use this idea when recording sounds of whales. They measure the frequency of whale sounds in Hertz (Hz). 1 Hertz (Hz) would be 1 wavelength per second.  40 Hz would be 40 wavelengths per second. 1 Kilohertz (kHz) would be 1,000 wavelengths per second.  40 kHz would be 40,000 cycles, or wavelengths per second.  I hope that I have explained this clearly, please let me know if this is not the case.

Chris and Lisa are going to put an instrument in the water which will be attached the top to a huge yellow ball which will float just beneath the surface of the sea.  The bottom of their instrument will be attached to one of the railway wheels we mentioned yesterday so that it will be in the same place when they come back to pick up their instrument in 6 months.

The instrument that Chris and Lisa are going to put into the sea has three tubes.  One of the tubes is for power.  The power is provided by the same D cell batteries that you use in your flashlight at home.  Only in this case, the power is provided by 192 batteries!!!

A second tube contains a data logger to record whale sounds and associated electronics.  This tube contains sixteen 80-gigabyte discs.  This represents the computing power of sixteen lap top computers.

The third tube contains a hydrophone. This is a device that initially picks up the pressure caused in the water by whale’s sound. The pressure of the sound causes oil inside the hydrophone to move.  This movement or pressure is picked up by electronics inside the tube and recorded.

As I noted earlier, Chris and Lisa are coming back in 6 months to pick up their instrument and analyze the sounds. Some of the sounds will be converted to spectrograms so that they can analyze the sounds visually.  Loud sounds will show up on the computer screen in shades of red. Softer sounds will show in shades of blue.

Human hearing is in the 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz range.  This will give meaning to some of the things I am about to tell you.  For example, Baleen whales (Right Whales or Fin Whales) make lower frequency sounds in the 10 Hz to 10 kHz range.  Would you be able to hear a Fin Whale making a sound at its lowest frequency? I look forward to your answer to this question.

Toothed whales (Dolphins, Porpoises, Killer Whales, Sperm Whales and Beaked Whales) make sounds at higher frequencies.  This helps Chris and Lisa to tell a toothed whale from a baleen whale just by listening to their sound.

Did you know some whales make different sounds for different reasons?  For example, a Killer Whale whistles at a lower frequency for social reasons of communication.  Higher frequency clicks are used for echolocation, just like the Little Brown Bats which live in caves there in Virginia.

Chris and Lisa are scheduled to put their instrument into the water shortly.  Please let me know if you would like an update on its deployment?

Personal Log

Your teacher had an old man’s day, retiring at noon for a two-hour nap.  Some seasickness had persisted so I decided to see it I could sleep it off.  Well it worked!  After not eating all day, I had a delicious dinner that ended with my all time comfort food, banana cream pie. I feel great!

I must confess that a dose of Dramamine taken just after getting up may have helped the situation. You may find humor in the fact that I chose the Less Drowsy Formula because I did not want to waste time sleeping while I was here!

Question for the day

Today’s seawater temperature is 5 degrees Celsius.  Can you convert this to degrees Fahrenheit?

Jim Jenkins, April 18, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jim Jenkins
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
April 18 – 30, 2005

Mission: Pollock Survey
Geographical Area: Bering Sea
Date: April 18, 2005

Mr. Jenkins with NOAA Ship MILLER FREEMAN in the background.
Mr. Jenkins with NOAA Ship MILLER FREEMAN in the background.

Weather Data 

Latitude:  57, 37, 50 North
Longitude: 156, 02, 34
West Visibility:  8 Nautical Miles
Wind Direction: 161 Degrees
Wind Speed:  17 Knots
Sea Wave Height: 4-5 Feet
Swell Wave Height:  4-6 Feet
Sea Water Temperature:  4 Degrees C
Sea Level Pressure: 1001.5
Cloud Cover: Partly Cloudy

Science and Technology Log

I arrived in Kodiak on the afternoon of April 15.  The first few days in Kodiak were spent helping scientists and deck hands load equipment and assemble moorings.  The sensors are used to gather information about currents, salinity (saltiness), water temperature, weather, and ocean organism populations.  Some of the moorings are so large that a crane needed to move them about the deck for assembly.

One of these moorings will ride on the surface of the ocean on a doughnut shaped center about the size of a monster truck tire.  A 12-foot high triangular tower made of metal is  attached to the top of doughnut like piece with bolts.  This part of the mooring collects weather data. A second triangular metal tower is bolted to the bottom of the center piece. This section is made of different types of metal which enables collection of data  on salinity. Three 110-pound metal triangles attached in the center of this section hold the  mooring down in the water. The whole apparatus is anchored to the bottom of the ocean using old railway wheels. What do you think of this form of recycling?  I am sending  photos of the mooring as well as the wheels used to anchor the mooring.  Please take a careful look at the photos.  I know that you will have excellent questions as usual. Be certain that I will post replies to your questions quickly.

Above is the mooring.  Ms. Thornton’s instrument to determine nitrate level will be placed beneath this.
Above is the mooring. Ms. Thornton’s instrument to determine nitrate level will be placed beneath this.

Most of this cruise will be involved with the study of conditions above a relatively shallow shelf in the Bering Sea. Water depths in this section of the sea are less than 100 meters.  Your knowledge of the food chain will enable you to see that study of this  productive zone is not an accident.  The relative shallowness of the water enables the sun’s rays to penetrate to provide food for plant plankton or, phytoplankton, which make their food by photosynthesis.  Animal plankton, or zooplankton, eat the phytoplankton starting the food chain which provides nutrition for all ocean organisms as well as you and me!

Walleye Pollock are the most harvested fish in the Bering Sea.  Each year, about 1,000,000 metric tons of this fish are caught and sent to food processing factories.  Can you tell me how many pounds make up a metric ton?  This may require a little research as  well as your math skills, but I am sure that you can do this.  I look forward to your answer.

You may have eaten Walleye Pollok and not known it!  Much of the fish caught is processed into fish filets or fish sticks.  You probably have eaten Walleye Pollock if you  have had a fish sandwich at a restaurant.  Some of the walleye harvest is made into a paste. This paste is added to crab products in the artificial crab that you may have  enjoyed. Does this make you want to look at food packages and do other research  regarding the source of your food?  Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed your taste of the bounty of the Bering Sea!

I needed to go up to the bridge yesterday to get the data which begins this journal.  A Killer Whale came to the surface right in front of the ship while I was recording the data. Awesome!

Personal Log

Kodiak was one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.  I particularly enjoyed hikes along the beaches, through the spruce forests and on the hillsides.  A box of rocks was put into the mail to all of you on Saturday.  The rocks came from a gorgeous cobble beach called Mayflower Beach.  I think you will enjoy the way the sea smoothed your rock to leave the wonderfully sculpted pieces which you will soon have. I hope you enjoy these treasures of nature!

A sculpin was one of the fish caught on a fishing trip yesterday.  I remember how interested all of you were in the report on sculpin done by Alison.  A photo was taken before releasing the fish. I am sending a copy of the photo.

I have proven that it is possible for a human being to become seasick on a 215 boat in 4-foot seas (Very Big Grin)! Anyway, I am peachy now and look forward to your replies. I miss you guys!