Kimberly Godfrey: Preparing for the Adventure! May 25, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Kimberly Godfrey

Aboard NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker

May 31 – June 11, 2018

Mission: Rockfish Recruitment and Ecosystem Assessment Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean along the California Coast

Date: May 25, 2018

Introductory Personal Log

One time, I had the chance to visit California for a conference, and I got to dip my feet into the Pacific Ocean. It was so cold! In less than a week I will be surrounded by Pacific waters as I set sail on NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker for 12 days. The anticipation has been building since I learned of my assignment, and now the time has finally come.

My name is Kimberly Godfrey, and I am the Coordinator of the Women In Natural Sciences (WINS) Program at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (yes, that it a mouthful). The Academy (1812) is the oldest natural history research institution in the Western Hemisphere, and WINS just celebrated 35 years. WINS is a science enrichment, after-school program for high school girls in public and charter schools in Philadelphia. Our goal is to provide opportunities for exposure to the natural sciences in ways the students cannot find in the classroom. Our long-term goal is that they take what they learn and turn it into a career.  Most of our participants have had little to no real-world, hands-on science in the classroom, and they share many first-time experiences with the WINS staff and other participants.

WINS Participants peforming stream studies
WINS participants collecting macroinvertebrates to determine the health of a stream in Avondale, PA
WINS 2018 Seniors
2018 WINS Senior Farewell. Of our 15 graduates, 12 are pursuing STEM majors and careers!

That’s my favorite part of being a WINS girl. I can share my experiences and my knowledge with them. I have a degree in Marine Biology, and had the opportunity to participate in marine mammal research for 2 years. I taught about environmental science and wildlife conservation for 10 years prior to working at the Academy.  And, something that is important to me, I am a Philadelphia native who, like these young ladies,  knew little about my urban ecosystem while growing up in the city (the only eagles I ever saw growing up were the Philadelphia Eagles, you know, the 2018 Superbowl LII Champions! You may have heard it a time or two). It wasn’t until I returned from college that I began to explore the world right under my nose. Now I help them explore the wildlife in their backyard, and then push them to branch out of the city, the state, and even across the globe.

Over the past few weeks, I found it difficult to refrain from talking about my upcoming trip. I shared the information I’ve learned so far with some of my girls, and each time I share something new, they become equally excited to follow my adventure at sea. I met with one of the Academy’s fisheries scientists, Paul Overbeck, to learn how to remove an otolith.  Some of my preparation stories have led to a lot of joking and humor. For example, trying on every pair of waders, boots, and waterproof gear that we have, all of which are too big for my size 5 shoe and my 5’0” height; how my freshly caught blue fish dinner turned into a dissection in my kitchen as I practiced removing the otoliths; or how I randomly had the opportunity to meet Sian Proctor, 2017 TAS participant and face of the 2018 TAS application (she happens to be friends with one of my co-workers)! All of this leads to one very anxious and excited woman ready to set sail.

Blue fish otolith
Practicing how to remove an otolith on what was supposed to be my dinner.
Blue fish
Beginning the process of removing a blue fish otolith.
TAS Participants K. Godfrey S. Proctor
Small world indeed! I had the chance to randomly meet Sian Proctor, 2017 TAS Participant.

Quite a few of our girls wish to explore Marine Science as a career, so my plan is to absorb everything I can and bring it back to them. I want them to know the importance of this research, and that this career is truly an option for any one of them. One day, I would love to see a WINS girl aboard a NOAA research vessel, dedicating their careers to the understanding and stewardship of the environment. That’s what NOAA’s mission is all about!

Did you know?

Scientists working with NOAA and the Southwest Fisheries Science Center have been conducting surveys along the California Coast since 1983. Along with rockfish (Sebastes spp.), they’ve been collecting abundance data and size information on other species including Pacific Whiting (Merluccius productus), juvenile lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus), northern anchovy (Engraulis mordax),  Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) market squid (Loligo opalescens), and krill (Euphausiacea). The information gathered from these studies is used to examine recruitment strength of these species because of their economic and ecological importance.

Visit NOAA”s website to learn more here https://swfsc.noaa.gov/textblock.aspx?Division=FED&ParentMenuId=54&id=19340

 

 

Christopher Tait: “Water, Water, Everywhere. Nor any drop to drink.” April 8, 2017

 NOAA Teacher at Sea

Christopher Tait

Aboard NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker

March 21 – April 7, 2017

Mission: Spring Coastal Pelagic Species Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean from San Diego, CA to San Francisco, CA

Date: April 8, 2017

Science and Technology Log

“Water, Water, Everywhere. Nor any drop to drink.”

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Sunrise somewhere over the Pacific Ocean

If you think about a famous quote about the ocean, this one might be one of the first you would think of.  It is from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  I don’t know the first time I heard that quote, but it gave me a view of the ocean as a foreboding place. People like to use quotes to capture a thought or a feeling or an idea that someone else said near perfect. It is a way of remembering ideas of others and being remembered. It is also a way to communicate a deep truth in a memorable fashion. If said well, the quote rings in someone’s head.

The greatest technology a scientist has is their ability to communicate to the public their science. All the measurements in the world, the most exacting procedures, and the best control of variables die on the hard drive if they are not effectively communicated and shared with others. Said well, it will ring in the head of the recipient.

Scientist Profile:

“We are what we do repeatedly. Excellence therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”

Aristotle * see footnote

                If you have a career or are retired, you can think back to the path that took you to one of the most important aspect of your life. The people, opportunities, experiences, dreams, or something else that inspired you to take the career you chose. If you are in school, you are being exposed to influential people, ideas, and values that will shape your life. I have to say, the best aspect of this fisheries expedition has been the amazing and inspirational people I have met along the way.  The group of people that were on the Reuben Lasker cover a large span of skill sets that are critical to run a long term research trip.  From the NOAA Corps, to the ship operations, to maintaining the complex systems of the ship, to deploying the scientific equipment from the deck, to the planning, conducting, and evaluating the results of the science, everyone brings to the table their invaluable contributions.  I have not thus far been associated with such an endeavor and I thank everyone for sharing their expertise with me.  I asked the scientists I worked with three simple questions to get an understanding of the events that took them down the path to their career with NOAA.  I’m sure you can relate to these stories and have stories of your own that have brought you to your career.  If you still have many big decisions ahead of you, maybe you can use this as a sign post to reflect upon as you move along your path.  Below is a picture of the scientists I had the privilege to learn from, work with, and share an amazing experience.

 Figure 1:

 

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Scientist (left to right) Dave Griffith, Kevin Stierhoff, Bev, Lenora, Bill Watson, Sue Manion, Chris Tait (Teacher at Sea) & Megan Human

Dave Griffith

How did you become a NOAA scientist?

I was working at Hubbs Marine Research as a laboratory manager prior to coming to NOAA.  A group of us had started what turned out to be a long term project combining aquaculture and natural population enhancement known as OREHAP. One of the aspects of the OREHAP project was describing the micro-habitats of Mission Bay and San Diego Bay.  Many days were spent in the field sampling the various habitats of each bay. One of the scientists that would join us on occasion was Sharon Kramer. At the time Sharon was working on her PhD from Scripps and was also an employee of NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center. Sharon alerted me of an opening at the center working for the Coastal Fisheries Resources Division headed up by Rich Charter, one of the best supervisors she had known, and I agree. The rest is history. I’ve now been with NOAA for 27 years; most of them spent at sea and have experienced sights that many people may only read about. No regrets whatsoever.

What do you like best about your career?

This is probably one of the easier questions. What I like and cherish most about my career is the people I have had the privilege to know and work with.  Not only some of the best scientists in the world but just good people. The world of marine science, especially fishery science, is a relatively small community. They become your family. Throw into the mix that I also get to do something that I have wanted to do since high school and I realize that it wasn’t a bad choice.

What advice would you give to a student who would like to follow a similar career path?

In your early academic life, keep an open mind. There are so many aspects to science that you may not realize until you begin your formal education. Take a look at everything. I spent a short time at a city college exploring various avenues before making my commitment to a four year university. If you can, volunteer. It is definitely not time wasted.  For a career in science, earn the highest degree or degrees you possibly can. And lastly, a major component of a career in science is being able to communicate. Learn to write well. I have found that an excellent way to improve your writing is to read. Read everything. Read novels, magazines, journals, newspapers, whatever you can get your hands on and never stop.               

Lanora

How did you become a NOAA scientist?

Growing up, I loved mysteries and figuring out why things worked the way they did. I was also fascinated by the marine environment.  Having learned about NOAA and its missions from relatives, I participated in a co-op program while in college where I worked at a NOAA Fisheries lab.  That work experience helped me realize that this was a field I would like to make a career.

What do you like best about your career?

I would definitely have to say the challenge of the work.  The marine environment is so dynamic and ever changing and evolving.  Working with so many amazing scientists to better understand this environment and the organisms in it is very fulfilling.

What advice would you give to a student who would like to follow a similar career path?

If this is a career path a student is interested in, I recommend looking into volunteer and internship positions.  These experiences help get an understanding of the work in this career and if it’s a right fit for you.  It also helps to build your experience and make contacts in this field.

Sue Manion

How did you become a NOAA scientist?

I graduated from Michigan State University with a BS in Fisheries Biology. After graduation, I joined Peace Corps and worked for 3 years on the aquaculture program in the Dominican Republic. Upon my return to the states, I applied for and was accepted as a sea-going technician for NOAA at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in San Diego.  I have been an employee here since 1989.

What do you like best about your career?

What I like best about my job is the variety of tasks I perform. I was looking for a career where my job was outdoors and physical.  I spend 1/3 of the year working on fisheries research vessels.  I process trawl catches and assist in oceanographic sampling.  In the past, I have been a marine mammal observer on a tuna boat, and have tagged sharks.

The rest of the time I work in an office processing data and prepping gear for our next research survey.

What advice would you give to a student who would like to follow a similar career path?

My advice for someone who would like to follow a similar career path would be to go beyond a BS and get a Master’s.  I recommend taking all the math classes, computer classes and writing classes that are available to supplement whatever field of Science one chooses.

Bill Watson

How did you become a NOAA scientist?

After receiving undergraduate degrees in oceanography and zoology from the University of Washington I went to the University of Hawaii to do a master’s degree working on distributional ecology of fish eggs and larvae. While at UH I visited the larval fish laboratory at the NMFS Southwest Fisheries Center in La Jolla, California, to meet the staff and learn what I could to improve my skill in identifying fish eggs and larvae. I subsequently stayed in touch with the SWC larval fish lab while working first at UH, then for North Carolina State University doing biological monitoring studies at a coastal nuclear power plant as well as ecological studies of fish and shrimp larvae in an estuary and adjacent salt marshes, and then in southern California for a consulting company doing a wide variety of mainly coastal biological studies. While at the consulting company I received a call from the supervisor of the SWC larval fish group letting me know that a vacancy was coming up in the group and to keep an eye out for the job announcement if I was interested. When the announcement came out I applied, and got the job. Interestingly, the person I replaced was the person I started my larval fish career with in Hawaii 20 years earlier.

What do you like best about your career?

I like fish larvae, so having the opportunity to go to sea to collect samples, and being able to spend part of my time in the laboratory looking at fish eggs and larvae through a microscope often are as much entertainment as work.  In addition to the routine sample processing that we do in support of biomass estimations for commercially important fishes, we regularly conduct analyses to look at how the California Current ecosystem functions from a fish perspective. We can do this because most fish species in our area have planktonic larval stages, so with one set of samples we can look at fish assemblages ranging from deep-sea meso- and bathypelagic fishes to rocky reef and shorefishes. In recent years we have added genetic tools to improve our taxonomic resolution, and have added squids to our repertoire. Most of the studies done in my lab are group efforts, in many cases in cooperation with universities and other NOAA Fisheries labs.

What advice would you give to a student who would like to follow a similar career path?

I always tell student interns in our lab that if they plan to be scientists, they need to pay attention in English classes. Research isn’t really done until it’s published, and if a manuscript is poorly written the likelihood is that it will be rejected by scientific journals. Writing is actually one of the more important skills to develop for someone interested in a career in science. Beyond paying attention in English classes, a postgraduate degree is almost a requirement these days to have any chance at doing independent research. Getting some real world work experience between undergrad and graduate school can be useful to help in setting a career course that you will be happy with, for example when I graduated from UW I planned to specialize in algology, but during a postgraduate internship working on the effects of tritium exposure on early development of rainbow trout, I discovered that I liked fish better and have been doing that ever since.

Megan Human

How did you become a NOAA scientist?

My career path with NOAA began during my junior year in college. I had been volunteering at the Seattle Aquarium for several years and decided to apply for an internship opportunity that was collaboration between the University of Washington and the NWFSC working with phytoplankton. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work with plankton, but I ended up loving it and was offered a contracting position when my internship was up. In 2014 I ended up moving to San Diego, and thanks to some connections I had from the NWFSC I was referred to a position working with ichthyoplankton (larval stage of fishes).

What do you like best about your career?

I love getting to work with fish and see all the diversity the ocean has to offer. I‘ve also had the opportunity to conduct an egg rearing experiment where I get to raise fish eggs to larvae at sea and in the lab. While it presents many challenges, it is such a great feeling to be able to do hands research in the field. Once you start working on one question, you realize there are so many unknowns out there and it is exciting to get to be a part of a team that is trying to find the answers.

What advice would you give to a student who would like to follow a similar career path?

The best advice I could give to someone who wants to get into a career with marine sciences is to volunteer. There are usually many opportunities associated with local aquariums, NOAA or University vessels, and research laboratories. These are a great way to experience the different avenues of marine science and provide a lot of valuable experiences and connections with individuals in the field. It is also a great way to find what areas you are most passionate about as well as discovering what fields aren’t the best fits.

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Contemplating a successful fishing voyage as we sail under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Personal Log

As the boat motors under the Golden Gate Bridge and into the port of San Francisco, I think about how this experience will impact me.  How can I take what I have learned and effectively communicate to my students the importance of researching how our planet functions? How will the planet change in the face of growing stressors from impacts of human population growth?  How can I motivate others around me to be mindful of our impacts and to work towards a more sustainable future?  Well, with any great study, you generally end up with more questions than answers.  I thank my friends from the Reuben Lasker for helping me communicate to others about the ocean, their science careers, and marine sciences in general.

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Arrival to port at the Exploratorium in San Francisco!

For hope and encouragement I turned to my students for quotes of their own.

What quote would you use to describe your perspective on the world as you finish up school?

“For me, this class helped me decide to go into environmental studies. I always cared about the environment, but I realized that the more I know, the more empowered I will be to make a difference.” Abi Brown NFHS ‘17

“I am going into the heath field so it was very interesting knowing about all of the toxins that are having consequences on our health.” Ashley Parkinson NFHS ‘17

“This class really opened my eyes to the environmental issues I wasn’t all that aware of. I knew that climate change was occurring but I didn’t know all the contributing factors in my daily life could build up and add to global warming. Just being aware has made me change my lifestyle drastically.”  Courtney Surovy NFHS ‘17

“Taking this class taught me how large of an impact humans have on the environment. It is hard to believe that just one person can make a change, but the more you know, the more you can take action to save the environment.” Emily Glueck NFHS ‘17

“After taking this class, I found myself constantly going home and sharing with my family what I learned. I wanted them to become as passionate as I became. This class has sparked my interest and motivated me to be more conscious of my actions and look at how all possible results can impact the Earth.”  Maya Scocozza NFHS ‘17

“This class has given me a newfound love for the world that I live in, inspiring me to help improve the quality of the environment for current and future generations by doing even simple things such as recycling.” Olivia Hanisch NFHS ‘17

“As an incoming freshman to UConn’s MEM program, a dual business and engineering major, this class will forever impact my actions in the product design industry. Every step I take in my career will include consideration on how to engineer a product that is both marketable as well as environmentally sustainable.” Hailey Altobelli NFHS ‘17

“Taking AP Environmental Science allowed me to evaluate the destructive choices humans, including myself, make on a daily basis and how it amounts to significant impacts on our global climate and the surrounding ecosystems. Even something as little as leaving your lights on in an empty room or leaving water running while brushing your teeth can cause negative impacts on the environment. When individuals refuse to change their smaller habits on smaller issues, it becomes difficult for widespread change to occur. The class opened my eyes to how little changes make a big impact.”                 Matt Trewartha NFHS ‘17

“I will be pursuing a Mechanical Engineering degree via Rensselaer. A successful career to me will be one in which I have assisted in progressing the world environmentally and technologically.”  Matt Sousa NFHS ‘17

“By taking this class, I have realized how much everything impacts the environment. From the cosmetics we use to the food we purchase, we greatly impact the earth’s land and its resources. By working on making sustainable choices, we can make a big impact on the earth.” Hadley Starr NFHS ‘18

“When environmentally friendly energy options become economically beneficial to large corporations and industry, global sustainability will become a tangible goal.”                Kyle Van Vlack NFHS ‘17

“One thing I learned from this class is that little thing you do has an effect. Every bottle you throw out and every shower you take does affects the environment.”                      Leah Anderson NFHS ’17

“As someone who is interested in the field of policy making, this class greatly informed me regarding the hidden dangers in our treatment of the planet. I feel like I am much better educated about the harmful consequences of climate change, pollution, and many other topics.” Matt Rossi NFHS ‘17

“By taking AP Environmental Science, I have become more aware of the destructive effect humanity has on the planet, and thus the necessity of advocating for sustainability. If we wish to preserve the environment, we all must educate ourselves about the severity of climate change and do whatever we can to minimize the negative impact of our lifestyle; even the actions of one person can help make a difference. By becoming catalysts for positive change, we as a society will be one step closer to achieving harmony between humans and the environment.” Nicole Cennamo ‘17

“This class has helped me develop an understanding of the natural world which we live in, and as I move towards studying Biology in college, I believe I have the resources necessary to be successful and have an impact in the world.” Josh Sproule NFHS ‘17

“As a future Political Science major, learning about the massive environmental destruction caused by humans has taught me that fixing the environment should not be politicized, and we should all be committed to doing what is right for the environment.” Mike DaSilva NFHS ‘17

“After this class, I have grown to be able to be more conscientious about my actions and how I affect the world. I care more for the animals and their environment and now have a passion for protecting them as much as I can.” Emily O’Toole NFHS ‘17

“This class has encouraged me to take responsibility in helping to save our planet. I learned that everyday things such as long, hot showers or leaving the lights on actually contribute to the global problems we see today. Taking this class this year has definitely inspired me to take action in helping our planet survive.” – Jackson Lathrop NFHS ’17

“I have gained a lot of knowledge through this class that has helped me to fully understand the impact humans have on the environment, and how to prevent further harm to our world. As I plan to become a business major, this knowledge I now have will impact the choices I will make and influence how I live and go about my daily life, always keeping in mind my environmental footprint.” – Noah Alviti NFHS ’17

*footnote: This quote is actually a misquote of Aristotle.  It was used by Matt Light of the New England Patriots at his retirement speech.  Will Durant deserves the actual quote from his book “Ethics and the Nature of Happiness” where he paraphrased Aristotle’s words from “Nicomachaen Ethics.” 

Mark Wolfgang: Zero is a data point, May 1, 2017

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Mark Wolfgang

Aboard NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker

April 11 – April 22, 2017

 

Mission: Spring Coastal Pelagic Species (Anchovy/Sardine) Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean

Date: May 1, 2017

Weather Data from Franklin Regional High School:

Lat: 40o 25’N  Long: 70o 40’W
Temperature: 12.8 oC (55oF)
Wind speed:  6.1 knots (NE 7 mph)
Barometer:   1013.1 mbar
Relative Humidity: 77%
Visibility: 10 mi

Scientific and Technology Log:

I returned last week from my trip on the Reuben Lasker and just wanted to take a moment to summarize what I learned and experienced onboard.  As the trip ended, I sat down and talked with some of the science team to understand what the purpose of this research.

What is the purpose of the research?   Our purpose was to take a survey of the organisms that live off the coast of California.  The research was focusing on sardines and anchovies, but on my leg we didn’t find anchovies and found only 4 sardines.  Although I was disappointed in the lack of fish, we learn something from this data.  Currently, the population of sardines are down off the coast of California.  This is part of a natural of sardine populations going up and down.  Currently, researchers don’t know why these populations oscillate at these irregular intervals.  Because of the low population numbers, there is currently a moratorium on commercial sardine fishing in this part of the Pacific Ocean.  The numbers collected on this survey help to inform the individuals who make fishing policies.  Sardines play an important role in the ocean ecosystem and food web.  Low numbers in these populations affect the other organisms that live in this ecosystem.  NOAA serves as an important bridge between environmental groups and commercial fisheries.  Many commercial fisherman say that sardine populations are higher closer to shore, but the larger NOAA research vessels (like the Reuben Lasker) can only get so close to shore.  Hopefully, the drone is able to help with some of that research.

So you didn’t see many sardines, what animals did you see?

We didn’t see a large number of fish on leg 2 of the Coastal Pelagic Species survey, but we did see some interesting animals.  Below are some pictures of the animals that we found on our survey.

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Personal Log:

I have been home for a little over a week and it is nice to return to my family and my classroom (although I am trying to catch up on my sleep and get back to my normal schedule).  I am so thankful of the crew and science team on the Reuben Lasker.  They were so welcoming and I learned so much from them.  They didn’t mind my many questions or proofreading my blogs.  I am appreciative for the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program.  It was a great opportunity for me to see and experience careers in oceanography and marine biology.  So many students are interested in marine biology and I now can give them an accurate picture of some of the careers available.  I hope my students learned from my experiences as well from reading my blogs and interacting with me on our Google Classroom.  Thank you for following along and I hope you enjoyed reading my blogs.  It was a great experience and I hope other teachers will take advantage of this opportunity – it is an experience of a lifetime.

Did you know?

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was official formed in 1970, but its roots go much further back in time.  It is the combination of United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (formed in 1807), the Weather Bureau (formed in 1870) and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries (formed in 1871).  NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems.

Mark Wolfgang: If a Fish Laughs in the Ocean and No One is There to Hear it, Does it Really Make a Sound? April 21, 2017

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Mark Wolfgang

Aboard NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker

April 11 – April 22, 2017

 

Mission: Spring Coastal Pelagic Species (Anchovy/Sardine) Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean

Date: April 21, 2017

Weather Data from the Bridge:

Lat: 38o 2.4’N        Long: 123o 6.2’W
Air Temperature: 13.9oC (57oF)
Water Temperature: 12.9oC (55oF)
Wind speed: 12 knots (13.8 mph)
Barometer:   1014.97 mbar
Conditions:  Clear skies and the seas are pretty smooth

Scientific and Technology Log:

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The Acoustics room on the Reuben Lasker

Today, I decided to learn more about the other key research part of the Coastal Pelagic Survey.  As the trawling is happening at night and the egg and larval collections during the day, acousticians are listening to what is below us.  Using this information, research scientists can assess the population of coastal pelagic species (CPS).  The acoustics room is full of stacks of computers, servers, monitors and organized wires.  NOAA researchers collect enormous amounts of data as we move down the 80 mile transects across the Pacific Ocean.  On this leg, we have not found many large schools of sardines or anchovies, but the data from acoustic-sampling did lead us to some jack mackerel.  I am going to try to explain some of the technology they use on the Reuben Lasker.reuben-lasker-acoustic-sampling

Simrad EK60 and EK80:  These are two sonar systems that use multiple frequencies to listen to the ocean right below the ship.  In the diagram, it is seen in green.  The EK80 is newer and is being tested on the Reuben Lasker.  It collects enormous amounts of data and acousticians are looking at how best to use that data.

Simrad ME70: This multibeam sonar (seen in orange in the diagram) listens to the water below and around the ship.  It would almost look like a fan.  This does not only tell us what is below, but what is beside the ship as well.

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The Simrad ME70

Simrad SX90: This is a long-range sonar (shown in gray) that looks at the surface for a good distance around the ship.  When I was there, they were analyzing 450 meter radius around the ship.  This is where the UAS would come in to use.  If a school of sardines or anchovies are seen on this sonar, they could possibly deploy the drone to fly over the school and take photographs.  Researchers could then analyze those photographs and collect appropriate data.  Researchers can also potentially use this system to see how the ship moving through the water effects the behavior of the school.

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The Simrad SX90

Simrad MS70:   The MS70 is a multibeam sonar that also analyzes the water off the side of the ship.  It almost fills in the imaging gap left by the ME70.

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The Simrad MS70
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K-SYNC

All of these sonars are linked together by a program called K-SYNC.  This program makes sure that the sonars don’t “ping” at the same time and cause interference with all of the systems.  The Reuben Lasker also a very quiet propulsion system to limit the interference of the sound of the ship moving through the water.  The ship also has 3 hydrophones that can be used to listen to marine mammals.

Together these five sonar systems give the Reuben Lasker an incredible view of what is in the water under and around the ship.  This informs the trawls at night and together gives a good picture of the CPS in the waters of coastal California.

Personal Log:

So what do we do during the time we are not working?  The ship is full of movies, an exercise room, and snacks are available all day.  I have been able to read a couple books, watch a few movies with the science team, work on my blog and talk to crewmembers, and even watch some TV (including seeing the Penguins play a couple hockey games).  When you are on shift, there will be some downtime and then a bunch of activity as the net is pulled in.  I have also tried to soak in the clean ocean air and take moments just to enjoy the experience.  My Teacher At Sea voyage has been enjoyable, but I am looking forward to arriving back in San Francisco on April 22nd and flying home that night to be with my family.

Did you know?

Sonar, an acronym for SOund Navigation And Ranging, is a technique that uses sound to navigate, communicate, or detect objects on or under the surface of the water.  American naval architect, Lewis Nixon, invented the first sonar-like device in 1906.  Because of the demands of WWI, Paul Langevin constructed the first sonar set to detect submarines in 1915.

 

Mark Wolfgang: What Does It Take? April 18, 2017

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Mark Wolfgang

Aboard NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker

April 11 – April 22, 2017

Mission: Spring Coastal Pelagic Species (Anchovy/Sardine) Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean

Date: April 18, 2017

Weather Data from the Bridge:

Lat: 36o 52.3’N         Long: 121o 53.9’ W

Temperature: 12.62oC (54.7oF)

Wind speed: 4 knots (4.6 mph)

Barometer:  1016.96 mbar

Conditions: Blue skies with a few clouds, smooth seas

Scientific and Technology Log:

I have been blessed to work with a great science team and I hope I have been helpful.  There is a mixture of talents and strengths, but a common love for the oceans.  Since there is always a need for reliable data, the entire team does their job with precision.

4.16 Otolith12
Fishery biologist Bev Macewicz teaches me to remove the otilith from an anchovy

I have enjoyed my conversations with them as we wait to get to a trawl location or for the nets to come in.  There are all possible careers available on the oceans.  From the NOAA Corps of officers, to the deckhands and fishermen, to the guys who work in the acoustic labs, to the engineers that make sure the ship is running properly, to the chief steward and second cook, to the science team, there are so many different potential careers if you love a life at sea.  I interviewed a few members of my science team.

Sue Manion, Chief Scientist:

DSC00046
Chief Scientist, Sue Manion, watches the deployment of a bongo net.

Sue has a B.S in Fisheries Biology from Michigan State University and worked with an aquaculture program with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic.  When she was in elementary school, she loved the outdoors and animals, both domestic and wild.  She
always knew she would become a wildlife biologist.  Her first position with NOAA was a temporary job as a Marine Mammal observer on a tuna fishing boat.  Sue told me that she loves the outdoor, physical work and never imagined she would get a permanent position as a sea-going fisheries biologist on the ocean.

Favorite part of the job:

“The most enjoyable part of my job is the outdoor, physical work.”

Dream job:

“I would be raising horses and running a wildlife sanctuary.”

I asked Sue, what advice would you give to a student who wanted to pursue a career in marine sciences?

“Take all the science, math, computer, and writing classes available. Learn all you can about working with hand tools and small electrical tools.”

Ed Weber, Research fisheries biologist

Ed has a B.S in Biology from the University of Michigan, M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Science from New Mexico State University, and a Ph.D. in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University.  Ed told me he knew he wanted to do some type of

DSC00164
Ed Weber preserves specimens collected from a pairovet

biology work, but never considered a career in academia and became interested in fisheries after doing a work-study position at the USGS Great Lakes Science Center.  Most
of his experience was with freshwater fisheries and he never expected to be working in oceanography.  He was hired because of his skills in statistical analysis and programming and is “still learning a lot of oceanography.”

Favorite part of the job:

“I like the days when I finish an analysis and go home feeling like I know something that I didn’t know the day before, and neither did anyone else. Most of these are very small incremental research advances that won’t change the world, but it’s still a lot of fun.”

I loved his advice for interested students:

“I think the most important and valuable skills are those that make you a good scientist in any discipline. I suggest early-career scientists focus on critical thinking, the ability to read and synthesize information from a variety of sources, and the ability to write well. Specific tools and techniques can always be learned later. A final piece of advice is something I learned by example from one of the best fisheries biologists I know. That is to approach research with a sense of humility. Never hesitate to admit what you do not know, even if you become a world expert in your area. Then go out and find the person who does know and ask that person about the problem. An honest and humble approach to science will make you a much better than you might have thought you could be.”

Personal Log:

I think I am finally “getting my sea legs.”  I am not referring to sea sickness or getting around the ship.  The last few days, I committed myself to experiencing as much as I can since my time aboard the Reuben Lasker is ending.  I have had a lot of moments where I looked around and smiled because I never thought I would experience something like this.  I hoped for a little more biodiversity in the trawls, but that is science field work.  You get the data that you get.  As I was sorting through seemingly endless pyrosomes, I had to take a moment and realize all that I have seen.  I saw fish and marine invertebrates I only have read about.  I saw a drone take off from a ship (I will share more about that later).  I saw humpback whales swimming in pods from the bridge.  I saw Pebble Beach golf course from the ocean.  How many teachers get that opportunity?  I am a lucky guy and am committed to “soaking it all in.” I am looking forward to seeing my family soon, but I will live for each day.

Did you know?

Phronima is a genus of amphipods that live throughout the world’s oceans.  These semitransparent animals attack salps.  They use their mouths and claws to eat the animal and hollow out its gelatinous shell.  The females enter this cavity and lay their eggs inside.  Phronima propels the salp through the water as the larvae develop which provides them fresh food and water.  Hollywood used this animal as the model for the queen alien in the 1979 science fiction horror film, Alien.

 

4.13 Phronima
Phronima sp.

 

Mark Wolfgang: Fish Eggs, I Will Take Mine Over Easy; April 15th, 2017

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Mark Wolfgang

Aboard NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker

April 11 – April 22, 2017

 

Mission: Spring Coastal Pelagic Species (Anchovy/Sardine) Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean

Date: April 14, 2017

Weather Data from the Bridge:

Lat: 35o 47.1’N         Long: 122o 58.8’ W

Temperature: 14.9oC (59oF)

Wind speed: 29 knots

Barometer:  1020.92 mbar

Conditions: Windy, blue skies with a few clouds, choppy seas

Scientific and Technology Log:

The research into the fish that live in this area of the Pacific Ocean investigates the entire life cycle.  The night trawls will usually catch adults or juveniles.  There are other techniques to collect eggs and larvae.  One of these techniques is a Continuous Underway Fish Egg Sampler (CUFES).

DSC00050
The Continuous Underway Fish Egg Sampler (CUFES)

There is an intake valve 3m under the surface of the water and it is collecting water (and anything living in it) all the time.  As the Reuben Lasker moves along a transect water is collected through this machine and filtered.  Every 30 minutes, the specimens that have been collected are removed, counted, and identified under the microscope.  The samples are then rinsed into small vials, preserved in formalin and are labeled and stored.  On this survey, they are looking for sardine, anchovy, jack mackerel, hake, and squid eggs.  The sample also has numerous copepods, but those are not counted and recorded.  So far, we have found mostly jack mackerel and squid eggs which are reflected in our catches during the night trawl.

A second technique involves nets dropped off the side of the ship.  The first is net called a

DSC00040
Deck hands and the chief scientist deploying the pairovet from the side station

pairovet.  A pairovet is a vertical plankton tow.  The net is dropped off the side of the ship
to a depth of 70 meters.  The net stays in place for 10 seconds and then are pulled back up.  The specimens collected are rinsed into containers.  One net’s collection is placed in formalin, a preservative, for later identification, while a second net’s collection is placed in ethanol for possible DNA analysis.  The other net is called a Bongo Net.  This net is an oblique tow and is dropped to a depth of 210 meters and is pulled in at an angle of 45o.  The contents are preserved for later identification and possible DNA testing.  The pairovet has a finer mesh to the net, so it collects smaller zooplankton and icthyoplankton.

DSC00046
The Bongo net being lowered into the waters off of Big Sur

 

The trawls on the night of the 12th had some Jack mackerels, some larger squid, a couple octopi, and a single sardine.  For the Jack mackerel and sardine, we recorded their length

DSC00035
Jack Mackerel

and mass.  We also took tissues for DNA analysis as well as the gonads for female sardines, anchovies, Jack mackerel, and Pacific mackerel.  These will be used for histology and fecundity studies.  Fecundity is the ability to produce an abundance of offspring or their fertility.  We remove a small, hard structure called the otolith.  The otolith is found in the inner ear and maybe used for balance.  The otolith can be used for aging the fish.  We had high winds on the 13th, so we were only able to one trawl.  Ironically, we watched “Finding Dory” while we waited for the bridge to say it was safe to let out the trawl nets.  We didn’t find her.

Personal Log:

It has been quite challenging changing my sleeping schedule.  Not only am I all screwed up with the 3 hour time difference from home, I am currently working the night trawls from 6 pm to 6 am, although the heavy work doesn’t begin until after sunset.  I was awake for 28 hours straight, but was able to get some sleep and relax some this afternoon.  I got a chance to call home and talk to my family.  It has been difficult being away from them and not getting a chance to talk, but I had that opportunity today.  For that I am thankful.  There were some plans to fly the drone when we arrived at the coast of Big Sur, California, but the winds were too high to do so.  I continue to be impressed with the scientists and crew.  I love watching the team work – it is quite impressive.  As we moved up the coast today, I took a few minutes to look around and soak it all in.  Big Sur was beautiful, the sky was clear with only a few clouds, and the water was a deep rich blue.  It was gorgeous.  I am so glad I took a moment to realize how lucky I am.

DSC00038
Big Sur, California

 

Did you know?

The Pacific Ocean is the biggest ocean in the world.  It contains 30% of the space in the earth and contributes half of the water to the world.  It is also the deepest ocean in world, counted at 3800 m.  I am currently traveling through the Northern Pacific Ocean.

Mark Wolfgang: Are the fish listening to us? March 22, 2017

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Mark Wolfgang

Aboard NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker

April 11 – April 22, 2017

 

Mission: Spring Coastal Pelagic Species (Anchovy/Sardine) Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean

Date: March 22, 2017

Weather Data from the Bridge:

Although I have not boarded the Reuben Lasker yet, there are 446 bridges in Pittsburgh – the most in the world.  Here is the weather, according to the National Weather Service) from the Roberto Clemente Bridge:

Lat: 40.36oN   Long: 79.92oW

Becoming Sunny

36oF, Wind speed: N 12mph, Barometer 30.31 in, Visibility 10.00 mi.

Introduction:

Greetings to everyone from the city of Latrobe, Pennsylvania (the franklin_regional_logo_2c_goldhome of Arnold Palmer and Mr. Rogers).  My name is Mark Wolfgang and I have taught biology and zoology for the past 16 years at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, a community just east of Pittsburgh.  I am excited to share with you my adventures on the Reuben Lasker as a 2017 NOAA Teacher at Sea.

NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker_Photo by Paul Hillman
NOAA ship Reuben Lasker

Personal Log:

Ever since my 4th grade class with Mrs. Kerr, I wanted to be a teacher.  I entered the teaching profession right after college, so my scientific experience outside of the classroom and in the research world is limited.  In college, I became enthralled with the world of insects and worked a summer in the department of invertebrate zoology at the Carnegie Natural History Museum where I got a small taste of scientific research.  When I had the opportunity to create a new course at my high school, my thoughts automatically went to Zoology.  I quickly discovered that although I knew a lot about the bugs crawling around us, I knew very little about the animals that live in our oceans.  Over the past years of teaching this course to our juniors and seniors, I developed an appreciation for all the animals living on our earth and a drive to learn more about them.  This is what led me to NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program – an exciting opportunity to combine my love for animals and quest for knowledge with the research opportunity and to share those experiences with my students.

I am incredibly excited to experience the oceans outside of my classroom full of videos, pictures, and preserved specimens and to help my students realize the career opportunities they have in the world of zoology.  I want my students to see the importance of caring about the health of our oceans and gain an appreciation for animals they will probably never encounter.  My interest in zoology did not start until I was in college, so it is never too late to produce this passion in my high school students.

Outside of the classroom, I am also the director of our school’s spring musical.  This March, I directed my 15th show, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.  Admittedly, it is a little odd to go from the producing a musical to researching sardines in the ocean in 6 weeks, but I love the diversity of the experiences I have as a teacher.  I have an incredible wife and two daughters (age 8 and 10) who are supporting me on this exciting adventure.  In my spare time I love experiencing the richness of life with the three of them.  I enjoy music and theater, hockey (Let’s Go Pens!), golf, kayaking, listening to podcasts, reading, and exploring our National Parks.

DSC04179
My family at Yellowstone National Park.

Scientific and Technology Log:

Our Mission:Capture

I will soon leave spring in Pittsburgh to fly 2,300 miles to the west coast where I board Reuben Lasker to begin my journey along the coast of central California.  I am excited to see the city of San Francisco since I have never been here before.  Before I return home, I hope to try some sourdough bread.

I will join the second leg of the Spring Coastal Pelagic Study, where we will be surveying the distributions and abundances of coastal pelagic fish stocks, their prey, and their biotic and abiotic environments in the California Current.  We will be using acoustic sampling and trawling to investigate the Northen Anchovy (Engraulis mordax) and the Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax).  Research will also include sampling pelagic fish eggs, plankton, and conducting unmanned aircraft surveys.

Acoustic-trawl method (ATM) is used to estimate the distribution and abundance of certain organisms.  The ATM transmits sound pulses beneath the ship and receive echoes from animals and the seabed.  The intensities of the echoes provides indications of type of organism and behavior.  I hope to share more information with you after we get underway.

Did you know?

As of March of 2015 there are 228,450 known species in the ocean, ranging from seaweeds to blue whales.  Scientists estimate that between 500,000 and 2 million more multicellular ocean organisms are still unknown.  We have quite a lot to still learn about ocean ecosystems.

Julia Harvey: The Nearest Land is 3 Miles Down, June 28, 2016

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Julia Harvey

Aboard NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai

June 25 – July 3, 2016

 

Mission: WHOI Hawaii Ocean Timeseries Station (WHOTS)

Geographical Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean, north of Hawaii

Date: June 28th, 2016

 

Weather Data from the Bridge
(June 28th at 2pm)

Wind Speed: 12 knots

Temperature: 26.2 C

Humidity: 81%

Barometric Pressure: 1016.3 mb

 

Science and Technology Log

The Aloha Station is about 100 miles north of Oahu, Hawaii and was selected because of its closeness to port but distance from land influences (temperature, precipitation etc).  The goal is to select a site that represents the north Pacific, where data can be collected on the interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Hawaii Ocean Time Series (WHOTS) has used this site for research since 2004.  You can find real time surface and meteorological data and archived data at the WHOTS website.

We are stationed in the vicinity of mooring 12 and 13 in the Aloha Station to begin intercomparison testing.  CTD (conductivity/temperature/depth) casts are conducted on a regular schedule. This data will help align the data from mooring 12 to mooring 13. If CTDs don’t match up between the two moorings then efforts will be made to determine why.

Mooring 13 is being inspected to make sure sensors are working. Photographs have been taken to determine measurement height of the instruments and where the water line is.

When I was aboard the Oscar Dyson, there were multiple studies going on besides the Walleye Pollock survey. The same is true on the Hi’ialakai. The focus is on the mooring deployment and recovery but there are a professor and graduate student from North Carolina State University who are investigating aerosol fluxes.

Professor Nicholas Meskhidze earned his first Physics degree from Tbilisi State University (Georgia).  He completed his PhD at Georgia Institute of Technology (USA).  He is now an Associate Professor at NC State University Department of Marine Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Meskhidze’s study on this cruise is looking at sea spray aerosol abundance in marine boundary layer and quantifying their flux values. Sea spray is formed from breaking waves. Sea spray analysis begins by collecting the aerosol. Using electrical current, particles of a given size (for example 100 nanometer (nm)) are selected for. This size represents the typical size of environmental climatically important particles (70-124 nm). The next step is to remove all other particles typically found in the marine boundary layer, such as ammonium sulfate, black carbon, mineral dust and any organics. The remaining particles are sea salt.

Sea spray analysis
Dr. Nicholas Meskhidze with the sea spray analysis equipment

Meskhidze is looking at the fluxes of the salt aerosols.  Sea salt aerosols are interesting.  If a salt aerosol is placed in 80% humidity, it doubles in size.  But then placed in 90% humidity, it quadruples in size. Due to their unique properties, sea salt aerosols can have considerable effect on atmospheric turbidity and cloud properties.

Aerosols are key components of our climate but little is known about them. Climate models are used to predict future climatic change, but how can one do this without understanding a key component (aerosols)?

little is known
Source: IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Summary for Policy Makers

 

Personal Log

The galley (ship’s kitchen) is a happening place three times a day.  The stewards are responsible for feeding 30-40 people.

Chief Steward Gary Allen is permanently assigned to the Hi’ialakai. He has worked for NOAA for 42 years and he has stories to tell. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida and his early work was at his father’s BBQ stand. He attended Southern University on a football scholarship and majored in food nutrition. After an injury, he finished school at Florida A & M. He worked for a few years in the hotel food industry, working his way up to executive chef. Eventually he was offered the sous chef job at Brennan’s in New Orleans. He turned it down to go to sea.

Chief Steward Allen Gary
Chief Steward Allen Gary

In 1971, he sailed for the first time with NOAA. The chief steward was a very good mentor and Gary decided to make cooking at sea his career. He took a little hiatus but was back with NOAA in 1975, where he would spend 18 years aboard the Discoverer and would become chief steward in 1984. He would sail on several other ships before finding his way to the Hi’ialakai in 2004.

In the 42 years at sea, Gary has seen many changes. Early in his career, he would only be able to call home from ports perhaps every 30 days. Now communication allows us to stay in contact more. He is married to his wife of 43 years and they raised 3 daughters in Seattle.

I asked him what he enjoys the most about being at sea. He has loved seeing new places that others don’t get to see. He has been everywhere, the arctic to Antarctica. He enjoys the serenity of being at sea. He loves cooking for all the great people he meets.

I met Ava Speights aboard the Oscar Dyson in 2013 when she was the chief steward and I was participating in the walleye pollock survey as a Teacher at Sea. She has been with NOAA for 10 years.

Ava Speights (on the right) and me
Ava Speights (on the right) and me

She and a friend decided to become seamen. Ava began working in a shipyard painting ships. In 2007, she became a GVA (general vessel assistant) and was asked to sail to the Bahamas for 2 weeks as the cook. This shifted her career pathway and through NOAA cooking classes and on the job training, she has worked her way up to chief steward.

She is not assigned to a specific ship. She augments, meaning she travels between ships as needed. She works 6 months of the year, which allows her to spend time with her 2 daughters, 1 son, 2 stepdaughters and 4 grandchildren. Her husband is an engineer with NOAA. Her niece is an AB (able bodied seaman) on deck. Her son is a chief cook for Seafarer’s.  And her daughter who just graduated high school will be attending Seafarer’s International Union to become a baker.  Sailing must run in her family.

She loves to cook and understands that food comforts people. She likes providing that comfort.  She has also enjoyed traveling the world from Africa to Belgium.

2nd Cook Nick Anderson
2nd Cook Nick Anderson

Nick is 2nd cook and this is his first cruise with NOAA. He attended cooking school in California and cooked for the Coast Guard for 6 years where he had on the job training. In 2014, he studied at the Culinary Institute of America and from there arrived on the Hi’ialakai. He also is an augmenter, so he travels from ship to ship as Ava does.

 

 

 

Did You Know?

The Hi’ialakai positioned mooring 13 in an area with a 6 mile radius known as the Aloha Station. Check out all of the research that takes place here at Station Aloha. There is a cabled observatory 4800 meters below the ocean surface. A hydrophone picks up on sounds and produces a seismograph. Check the results for the night the anchor was dropped.

Seismograph
Seismograph during Mooring Deployment

Click here to hear whales who pass through this area in February.

Pacific Sunset
Pacific Sunset

Denise Harrington: Getting Ready for an Adventure! March 28, 2014

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Denise Harrington

Almost Aboard NOAA Ship Rainier
April 6 – April 18, 2014

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical area of cruise: North Kodiak Island
Date: March 28, 2014

My name is Denise Harrington, and I am a second grade teacher at South Prairie Elementary School in Tillamook, Oregon. Our school sits at the base of the coastal mountain range in Oregon, with Coon Creek rup1000004nning past our playground toward the Pacific Ocean. South Prairie School boasts 360 entertaining, amazing second and third grade students and a great cadre of teachers who find ways to integrate science across the curriculum. We have a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) grant that allowed me to meet Teacher at Sea alumni, Katie Sard, who spoke about her adventures aboard NOAA Ship Rainier.  I dreamed about doing something similar, applied, and got accepted into the program and am even on the same ship she was!

In Tillamook, we can’t help but notice how the tidal influence, flooding and erosion affect our land and waters.  Sometimes we can’t get to school because of flood days. The mountainside slips across the road after logging, and the bay fills with silt, making navigation difficult. As a board member for the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (TEP), I am proud to see scientists at work, collecting data on the changing landscape and water quality.  They work to improve fish passage and riparian enhancement. Working with local scientists and educators, our students have also been able to study their backyard, estuary, bays and oceans.

Now that we have studied the creek by our school, the estuary and Tillamook Bay, with local scientists, it seems to be a logical progression to learn more about our larger community: the west coast of the North American Continent!  I hope the work we have done in our backyard, will prepare students to ask lots of educated questions as I make my journey north on Rainier with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) north to Alaska.

NOAA has the best and brightest scientists, cutting edge technology and access to the wildest corners of the planet we live on.  And I have got the most amazing assignment: mapping coastal waters of Alaska with the best equipment in the world!   NOAA Ship Rainier is “one of the most modern productive hydrographic survey platforms of its type in the world.”  Rainier can map immense survey areas in one season and produce 3-D charts.  These charts not only help boaters navigate safely, but also help us understand how our ocean floor is changing over time, and to better understand our ocean floor geology and resources, such as fisheries habitat.   Be sure to check out the Rainier link that tells more about the ship and its mission. http://www.moc.noaa.gov/ra

Rainier is going to be doing surveys in “some of the most rugged, wild and beautiful places Alaska has to offer,” says the ship’s Commanding Officer CDR Rick Brennan. I am so excited for this, as an educator, bird surveyor, and ocean kayaker. After departing from Newport, Oregon on April 7th, we will be travelling through the Inside Passage of British Columbia, the place many cruise ships go to see beautiful mountains and water routes. I have many more questions than I do answers. What kinds of birds will I see? Will I see whales and mountain peaks? Will the weather cooperate with our travels? Will the crew be willing to bear my insatiable questions?

Once we are through the Inside Passage, we will cross the Gulf of Alaska, which will take 2 ½ days. As we pass my brother’s home on the Kenai River, I will wave to him from the bow of Rainier. Will he see me? I think not. Sometimes I forget how big and wild Alaska is. Then we will arrive on the north side of Kodiak Island where we will prepare for a season of survey work by installing tide gauges.

I always love to listen to students’ predictions of a subject we are about to study. What do I know about tide gauges? Not a lot! Even though I can see the ocean from my kitchen window, I cannot claim to be an oceanographer or hydrographer. I had never even heard the word “hydrographer” until I embarked on this adventure! I predict I will be working with incredibly precise, expensive, complicated tools to measure not just the tide, but also the changes in sea level over time. I am excited to learn more about my neighbor, the ocean, how we measure the movement of the water, and how all that water moving around, and shifting of the earth affects the ocean floor. I am proud to be a member of the team responsible for setting up the study area where scientists will be working and collecting data for an entire season.  It will surely be one of the greatest adventures of my lifetime!

 

Here are my two favorite travelling companions and children, Martin and Elizabeth.
Here are my two favorite travelling companions and children, Martin and Elizabeth.

In my final days before I embark, I am trying to pick up the many loose ends around the Garibaldi, Oregon home where I live with my dorky, talkative 18 year old son and 16 year old daughter who take after their mother. They share my love of the ocean and adventure. When they aren’t too busy with their friends, they join me surfing, travelling around the world, hiking in the woods, or paddling in our kayaks. Right now, Elizabeth is recovering from getting her tonsils out, but Martin is brainstorming ways to sneak my bright orange 17 foot sea kayak onto Rainier next week. I moonlight as a bird surveyor, have taxes to do and a classroom to clean up before I can depart on April 6. Once Rainier leaves Newport, I will become a NOAA Teacher at Sea, leaving Martin, Elizabeth and my students in the caring hands of my supportive family and co-workers.

Here I am having fun with kayaking friends in California in December.
Here I am having fun with kayaking friends in California in December.

 

Having gone through the Teacher at Sea pre-service training, I feel more prepared to help the crew, learn about all the jobs within NOAA and develop great lesson plans to bring back to share with fellow educators. I want to bring back stories of scientists working as a team to solve some of our world’s most challenging problems. And I am looking forward to being part of that team!

 

Frank Hubacz: Our First Day at Sea, April 29, 2013

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Frank Hubacz
Aboard NOAA ship Oscar Dyson
April 29 – May 10,  2013

Mission: Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory Mooring Deployment and Recovery
Geographical Area of Cruise: Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea
Date: April 29, 2013

Weather Data from the Bridge:

Partly cloudy, Winds 10 – 15 knots
Air temperature: 4.0 C
Water temperature: 5.3 C
Barometric Pressure: 1014.14 mB
 

Science and Technology Log

The primary mission of this cruise is to deploy and recover moorings in several locations in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea.  These moorings collect data for a group of scientist under the auspices of the Ecosystems & Fisheries-Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (EcoFOCI) which is a joint venture between the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), and the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC).  Participating institutions on this cruise include NOAA-PMEL, AFSC, Penn State, the National Marine Mammal Laboratory (NMML), and the University of Alaska (UAF). This interdisciplinary study helps scientist better understand the overall marine environment of the North Pacific.  This understanding will lead to a better management of the fishery resources of the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea.

To ensure that time at sea is maximized for data collection, a day or so before leaving Seward, Alaska, the science crew begins assembling their various monitoring instruments under the directions of Chief Scientist for this project, William (Bill) Floering, PMEL.

William Floering, Chief Scientist
William Floering, Chief Scientist.
Dan Naber from University of Alaska
Dan Naber from University of Alaska.

Some of the equipment that will be deployed includes an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP), which measure speed and direction of ocean current at various depths.  This data helps physical oceanographers determine how organisms, nutrients and other biological and chemical constituents are transported throughout the ocean.  Argos Drogue drifters will also be deployed to help map ocean currents. Conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) measurements will be conducted at multiple sites providing information on temperature and salinity data.  Additionally, “Bongo” tows will also be made at multiple locations which will allow for the collection of zooplankton.  The results of this sampling will be used to characterize the netted zooplankton and help to monitor changes from previous sampling events.  In future blogs I will describe these instruments in greater detail.

The furthest extent of our mission into the Bering Sea is very much weather and ice dependent with much variation this time of the year in the North Pacific Ocean.  Current ice map conditions can be found at http://pafc.arh.noaa.gov/ice.php.

Operation Area

Cruise Area
Cruise Area

Personal Log

As I rode in the shuttle bus from Anchorage to Seward, Alaska on Friday, April 27, and then onto the pier where the Oscar Dyson was docked, I was immediately impressed by its size and overall complexity.

Traveling to Seward, Alaska.
Traveling to Seward, Alaska.
Oscar Dyson in port.
Oscar Dyson in port.

Upon arrival I was met by Bill Floering, Chief Scientist on the cruise.  He gave me a tour of the overall ship and then I settled into my room, a double.  Just like being back in college myself, and being the first to the room, I had my choice of bunks and therefore selected the lower bunk (I did not want to fall out of the top bunk if the seas turned “rough”).  Arriving early provided me time to become oriented on the vessel given that I have never been aboard such a large ship before. I also had the opportunity to walk into Seward, AK, with a member of the science team, for a dinner downtown with extraordinary views of the surrounding mountains.

My stateroom!

My stateroom!

Seward
View from Seward, Alaska.

On Saturday, April 27, the rest of the science crew arrived and my roommate, Matthew Wilson, moved in.  Matt is from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) based in Seattle, Washington.  That evening we traveled into town again for another great dining experience…halibut salad with views of Resurrection Bay.

Matt Wilson from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Matt Wilson from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center.

Sunday, April 28, was a busy day of sorting and setting up various instruments for deployment.  Winds were very strong, with snow blowing over the peaks of the mountains, glistening in the brilliant sunshine.

Scott McKeever from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Scott McKeever from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center.
Scott at work on an ADCP buoy.
Scott at work on an ADCP buoy.
Installing instruments
Here I am helping to install instrumentation.
View of Seward Harbor.
View of Seward Harbor.

Monday, April 29, our day began with a safety meeting followed by our science meeting.  At that time we were assigned to our work shift.  I will be working from 12 midnight to 12 noon each day during the cruise.  Once the ship sets sail, the science crew is working 24 hours per day!

Science team meeting with Bill and crew.
Science team meeting with Bill and Survey Tech Douglas Bravo.

At 1500 hours we set sail!  The Journey begins!

Releasing tie lines.
Releasing tie lines.
Off we go!
Off we go!
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Caitlin Thompson: Introduction, July 25, 2011

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Caitlin Thompson
Aboard NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada
August 1 — 14, 2011

Mission: Pacific Hake Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean, Off the U.S. West Coast
Date: July 24, 2011

Bell M.  Shimada
NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada

This Sunday, I’m headed off to sea! The mission of my cruise is to survey Pacific hake (also called Pacific whiting) populations. Hake is a species of fish that supports a huge fishery off the West Coast. As it states on NOAA’s Fishwatch website, “The Pacific whiting (hake) fishery is one of the largest in the United States. Pacific whiting is primarily made into surimi, a minced fish product used to make imitation crab and other products. Some whiting is also sold as fillets.” I’ll leave from Newport, Oregon, and arrive two weeks later in Port Angeles, Washington. The ship, the Bell M. Shimada, belongs to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). I get to go on the Shimada because of NOAA’s program Teacher at Sea (TAS), which sends teachers aboard research vessels so that we can increase our scientific literacy and bring our new knowledge back to the classroom. I can’t wait. I’ve never even spent a night aboard a ship, so this whole journey will be new for me.

I teach seventh and eighth grade integrated science at Floyd Light Middle School, in the David Douglas School District, in Portland, Oregon. I earned my Master’s in Education at Portland State University and my Bachelor’s of Art in Environmental Science at Mills College, in Oakland, California. In between, I taught English at a public elementary school in Curico, Chile. I love science and I love teaching. As soon as I decided to become a teacher, I made up my mind to participate in TAS, because it will help me teach my students the importance and fun of science.

Caitlin Thompson
At a dragon boat race

When I’m not teaching, I paddle with a dragon boat team, spend time with friends and family, and ride my bicycle. I’m always looking for new projects and new things to learn. I’m lucky to live in a city as great as Portland, where there are always interesting events going on around town.

Karen Matsumoto, April 25, 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 25, 2010

Science and Technology Log

The Oscar Elton Sette is making its way to Wake Island, and we hope to be there by tonight. One of the research operations is to recover a HARP (High-frequency Acoustic Recording Package) that is in place on Wake Island and replace it with a new HARP unit.

This morning, I was on “CTD duty” at 4:30 a.m. A CTD (conductivity-temperature-depth) station is deployed prior to the start of the visual survey effort, right at sunrise. The CTD data is collected using the ship’s SeaBird CTD shown below. The CTD is deployed to a depth of 1000 meters (depending on depth where we are) with a descent rate of about 30 meters per minute for the first 100 meters of the cast, then at 60 meters per minute after that. It takes three people, plus a winch driver to deploy the CTD, as well as the expert operation from the bridge to keep the ship steady and in one place during the entire operation!

Checking the CTD unit prior to launch.
Launching the CTD unit.
Background on CTDs

The CTD is a device that can reach 1,000 meters or more in depth, taking up to five water samples at different depths, and making other measurements on a continuous basis during its descent and ascent. Temperature and pressure are measured directly. Salinity is measured indirectly by measuring the conductivity of water to electricity.

Chlorophyll, a green photosynthetic pigment, is measured indirectly by a fluorometer that emits purple light and measures fluorescence in response to that light. These measurements are made continuously, providing a profile of temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll as a function of depth. The CTD unit is torpedo-shaped and is part of a larger metal water sampling array known as a rosette. Multiple water sampling bottles are often attached to the rosette to collect water at different depths. Information is sent back to the ship along a wire while the instrument is lowered to the depth specified by the scientist and then brought back to the surface.

Monitoring the CTD in the ship’s E-lab.
Data gathered from the CTD during its descent.

By analyzing information about the water’s physical parameters, scientists can make inferences about the occurrence of certain biological processes, such as the growth of algae. Knowledge like this can, in turn, lead scientists to a better understanding of such factors as species distribution and abundance in particular areas of the ocean.

I am continuing my acoustic work with the sonobuoys. Today I heard a Minke whale BOING! Below is what a Minke whale boing looks like on the computer. It sounds very much like someone blowing a low tonal whistle or a cell phone vibrating on the desk!

 

To hear an Atlantic minke whale call (which is different from those found here in the North Pacific, but really cool!) go to this website:

http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/vents/acoustics/whales/sounds/sounds_atlminke.html

Personal Log

I am making so many great friends among the Sette crew and the science team! I am getting spoiled from all the fantastic meals put together by Randy our cook, and no one ever wants to miss a meal! Our wonderful Doc Tran makes incredible Vietnamese dishes and delicious desserts. Today we had cream puffs for dinnertime dessert! Who would have ever guessed!

Marie Hill, our Chief Scientist and fearless leader was awarded the prestigious NOAA Team Member Award! We surprised her with balloons and decorations in her cabin, and Doc Tran and Lisa made a yummy cake in celebration! Congratulations Marie!!!

Marie Hill, Chief Scientist finding her cabin wildly decorated to congratulate her on her award.

We had a visitor today on the flying bridge-an exhausted juvenile red-footed booby! He sat on the mast, finding a place to rest in the middle of the ocean! It felt great to feel the warm wind hit my face and watch the sapphire blue water crash against the bow of the ship! What a great feeling!

Juvenile red-footed booby on the bridge
Deep blue Pacific ocean water!

Question of the Day: How can you figure out how much food to bring on a 2-week cruise? How do you keep the food fresh? What do you do with leftovers?

This is the situation that the Chief steward has to deal with on every cruise! How would you figure this out? Can you do the math?

New Term/Phrase/Word of the Day: Beaufort Sea State is an empirical measure for describing wind speed based mainly on observed sea conditions. It is also called the Beaufort Wind Force Scale. We stop conducting our visual observations when wind/sea conditions reach Beaufort 7, as wind and sea conditions are too rough to accurately make observations (and its windy out there!).

Something to Think About:

This part of the North Pacific is often described as an ocean desert. We have not seen any whales, and have had only a couple sightings of dolphins since we left Guam. We have also seen migrating sea birds, but not in huge numbers. What do you think may account for the lack of sea life in this expanse of tropical waters?

Animals Seen Today:

  • Sooty tern
  • Red-footed booby (juvenile)

Did you know?

That the team of whale visual observers never discuss the numbers of animals they see among themselves. Some people consistently count high, others count low, others are spot on! By not discussing how many animals they observed, they don’t influence each others’ observations. Back at the lab, researchers compare each observer’s counts from their written observations, and can tell which observers tend to under or overestimate numbers of animals they see. They can then make adjustments to total numbers based on everyone’s observations! This is similar to calibrating thermometers or other scientific equipment!

Today’s sunset from the Sette.

Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly, September 19, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship David Jordan Starr
September 8-22, 2008

Mission: Leatherback Use of Temperate Habitats (LUTH) Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean –San Francisco to San Diego
Date: September 19, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Latitude: 3624.8888 N Longitude: 12243.8013 W
Wind Direction: 261 (compass reading) SW
Wind Speed: 8.0 knots
Surface Temperature: 16.385

Figure indicating migration of different genetic stocks of Pacific leatherback turtles.
Figure indicating migration of different genetic stocks of Pacific leatherback turtles.

Science and Technology Log 

Turtle Genetics 
Peter Dutton is the turtle specialist on board, having studied sea turtles for 30 years.  His research has taken him all over the tropical Pacific to collect samples, study behaviors and learn more about Dermochelys coriacea, the leatherback turtle. Mitochondrial DNA (is clonal=only one copy) is only inherited maternally (from the mother), so represents mother’s genetic information (DNA), while nuclear DNA has two copies, one inherited from the mother and the other from the father .By looking at the genetic fingerprint encoded in nuclear DNA it is possible to compare hatchling “DNA fingerprints”, with their mother’s and figure out what the father’s genetic contribution was. This paternity (father’s identifying DNA) analysis has produced some intriguing results.

Peter Dutton looking for turtles with the ‘big eyes’.
Peter Dutton looking for turtles with the ‘big eyes’.

An analysis of chick embryos or hatchling DNA indicates all eggs were fertilized throughout the season from the same dad. It is thought that the female must store sperm in her reproductive system. Successively, throughout the nesting season, a female will lay several clutches, one clutch at a time.  Females come in to the beach for a brief period (leatherbacks – approx 1.5 hrs) every 9-10 days to lay eggs for the 3 or 4 month nesting season (they lay up to 12). Sometimes it is the same beach; sometimes it is a beach nearby. Research done on other sea turtles is showing some species have actually produced offspring with other species of sea turtle. One example is of a hawksbill turtle with a loggerhead turtle in Brazil. In this case, the phenotype appeared to indicate one species, while the DNA analysis indicates the animal was a hybrid, with a copy of DNA from each of the two different species. At some point geneticists may need to re-define what constitutes a “species”.

The last few eggs most of the leatherback turtles lay are infertile, yolkless eggs.  No one is certain about the function of these eggs, although several theories have been suggested. Many unknowns exist about these turtles. Scientists have not yet found a means to determine the age of individual sea turtles, so no one knows how long-lived they are. The early genetic research on leatherbacks showed some information that surprised the scientists.  It had been thought that all leatherbacks foraging off the northwestern coast of USA originated in the eastern tropical Pacific, from nesting beaches in Mexico.  Careful DNA analysis, however, found that animals at California foraging grounds are part of the western Pacific genetic stock recently identified by Dutton and colleagues. Both Peter and Scott have emphasized that there is still much to learn, and they have just begun, however, much has also been learned during the past six years, including the origin of leatherbacks that utilize California waters.

Personal Log 

Yesterday the sun came out and it was a glorious evening.  A group of us watched the sunset from the flying bridge, and then later watched the moon rise.  It was spectacular, and with the ‘big eyes’, it was possible to see many of the moon’s craters.  The stars were also magnificent!  Today has been cloudy with a layer of fog eventually drenching the boat.  This weather has made yesterdays blue skies all the sweeter.

Words of the Day 

Mitochondrial DNA: DNA found within the mitochondria – originates from the mother; Clonal: identical to the original; Clutch: a single batch of eggs, laid together; Hybrid: one gene from one species and the second gene from a second species; Species: an organism that can mate with another of its own kind and produce fertile offspring.

Animals Seen Today 

Common dolphin Delphinus delphis, Fin whale Balaenoptera physalus, Black-footed Albatross Phoebastria nigripes, Moon jellies Aurelia labiata, Sea nettle jellies Chrysaora fuscescens, and Common dolphins Delphinus delphis.

Questions of the Day 

  1. Geneticists are beginning to obtain new tools to figure out how similar animals are related to each other. What are some questions you have related to leatherback turtle genetics?
  2. Scott’s turtle map shows that leatherbacks nesting in the Western Pacific migrate across the Pacific to the coast of North America, while leatherbacks that nest in Costa Rica only migrate to waters off the South American coast.  Why might some populations stay in the same region, while others cross the Pacific Ocean?
Sunset over the port side
Sunset over the port side

Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly, September 18, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship David Jordan Starr
September 8-22, 2008

Mission: Leatherback Use of Temperate Habitats (LUTH) Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean –San Francisco to San Diego
Date: September 18, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Latitude: 3543.3896 N Longitude: 12408.3432 W
Wind Direction: 129 (compass reading) SE
Wind Speed: 7.8 knots
Surface Temperature: 17.545

Blue shark seen on 9/18
Blue shark seen on 9/18

Science and Technology Log 

Today was an exciting one scientifically. The team has been examining all of the oceanographic data so far in order to pinpoint frontal edges for further data collection. They selected a point last night that might contain a biologically rich layer and hopefully, with jellies. After closely looking over every thing they have learned on this trip so far and plotting a destination to sample, we traveled to that station. We found an ocean water ‘river’ full of kelp, moon jellies, sea nettles and pelagic birds! It was exactly where the team predicted there might be a biotic stream!! This confirmed that offshore habitats can be found using oceanographic data and satellite imaging.  There certainly were offshore areas that would give leatherbacks a chance to eat their fill.  And through that period, the sun came up!  With only a slight breeze, the flying deck was warm and relaxing. It put us all into excellent spirits.

Personal Log 

Ray Capati shows off his Turtle Cake. (photo by Karin Forney)
Ray Capati shows off his Turtle Cake.

A few days ago, the chief steward made a cake- there are daily baked goods offered in the mess hall. This cake, however, was decorated for the LUTH Survey with turtles, kelp and jellyfish!  Today would have been another good day for that treat.  It is also time to get some pictures with C.J. our school mascot.  He was pretty happy to get out and see the ship.  He even tried to help up on the flying bridge, but without thumbs, it was hard for him to enter in observation comments.

Animals Seen Today 
Moon jellies Aurelia labiata, Sea nettle jellies Chrysaora fuscescens, Salps Salpida spp., Sea gooseberries Pleurobrachia bachei, Red phalaropes Phalaropus fulicaria, Cuvier’s beaked whales Ziphius cavirostris, Common dolphins Delphinus delphis, Blue sharks Prionace glauca, and Arctic terns Sterna paradisaea.

C.J. helps out on the flying bridge.
C.J. helps out on the flying bridge.

Questions of the Day 

  1. What might be some oceanographic conditions that would create a water mass filled with kelp and jellyfish?
  2. What other organisms (than we observed) might be attracted to such a water mass?

Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly, September 17, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship David Jordan Starr
September 8-22, 2008

Mission: Leatherback Use of Temperate Habitats (LUTH) Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean –San Francisco to San Diego
Date: September 17, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Latitude: 3614.8661 W Longitude: 12402.7415 N
Wind Direction: 190 (compass reading) SW
Wind Speed: 2.1 knots
Surface Temperature: 15.230

Science and Technology Log 

Above is a spreadsheet of some of the Chrysaora fuscescens data that was collected on September 15.  The first trawl was at 4:48 pm, the second at 6:39 pm and the third at 8:20 pm.  A fourth trawl was deployed at 10:49 pm. A total of 204 jellies were sorted and measured.  Of these, the first 7jellies measured from trawl numbers’ 46, 47 and 48 are recorded above. All of the species in this data set are Chrysaora fuscescens. Using the spreadsheet, create a graph that compares mass to length for these 21 animals.  When you believe you have completed this, answer the questions listed below.

Screen shot 2013-04-20 at 1.48.14 AM

Questions:

  1. Is your graph complete?
  2. Check to see if you have included; all units-mass in kilograms, length in millimeters; a legend that includes the code of the points; title for each axis(length of jelly in millimeters, mass of jelly in kilograms); title for graph.
  3. Did you make a scatter plot, bar graph or line graph? The best choice would be a scatter plot, this may give an indication of patterns in the relationship between length and mass.
  4. Can you see any pattern?  Is there a relationship between mass and length? This would be indicated by a linear pattern in the points?
  5. Do there appear to be any points that do not fit a general pattern?  What might cause these points that do not fit the norm to exist?
  6. Compare your graph with the one shown below, generated by the computer.

Screen shot 2013-04-20 at 1.48.32 AM

These Chrysaora fuscescens were caught in “jelly lane”, in the waters near Pacifica, CA that are known to have large jelly populations.  It is also an area known for leatherback sightings because of this food source. A great deal of information is known about the oceanographic conditions in this near-shore habitat. The reason the LUTH survey is crisscrossing off the continental shelf, is that much less is known about deeper offshore waters as a potential food source for migrating leatherbacks.  The routes they travel on must have some food available, so we are working to find out where that is, and gain information about relationships to oceanographic variables so that researchers will be able to eventually estimate where that food is using satellite images that will be translated into jellyfish habitat.

Chico Gomez and Scott Benson sorting jellies.
Chico Gomez and Scott Benson sorting jellies.

Personal Log 

There was quite a bit of excitement today up on the flying bridge. Although we were traveling out beyond the continental shelf, we moved over a front of water that had an abundance of moon jellies.  It was unexpected and the scientific team became very excited. New plans were made based on this observation and a decision was made to cross back across the front and collect temperature data within the water column every 10 minutes.  Quantitative observations were made of all jellies seen port and starboard and a net trawl was deployed at one point along the zone of interest.  It was quite a day. We also spotted blue sharks, ocean sunfish, and a swordfish jumping.  It was a good day.

Animals Seen Today 

Extracting stomach contents from large C. fuscescens
Extracting stomach contents from large C. fuscescens
  • Sooty shearwater Puffinus griseus 
  • Sea nettle jellies Chrysaora fuscescens 
  • Moon jellies Aurelia aurita 
  • Northern Fur seal Callorhinus ursinus 
  • Elephant seal Mirounga angustirostris 
  • Swordfish Xiphias gladius 
  • Blue shark Prionace glauca 
  • Buller’s shearwater Puffinus bulleri 
  • Ocean sunfish Mola mola 
  • Rhinoceros auklet Cererhinca monocerata 
  • Black-footed Albatross
  • Phoebastria nigripes 

Questions of the Day 

  1. What might be possible reasons the scientific team was excited at finding jellyfish out beyond the continental shelf?
  2. The weather has been very calm and mostly overcast.  One of the officers told me he would much rather have those conditions, than windy and sunny.  What effect might wind have on a sturdy, ocean-going ship?
Ocean sunfish seen from flying bridge.
Ocean sunfish seen from flying bridge.
Sunset seen from flying bridge, the first sunset we’ve seen on this leg.
Sunset seen from flying bridge, the first sunset we’ve seen on this leg.

Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly, September 16, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship David Jordan Starr
September 8-22, 2008

Mission: Leatherback Use of Temperate Habitats (LUTH) Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean –San Francisco to San Diego
Date: September 16, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Latitude: 3720.718 N Longitude: 12230.301
Wind Direction: 69 (compass reading) NW
Wind Speed: 12.0 knots
Surface Temperature: 15.056

Scott measures a moon jelly as Amy records data.
Scott measures a moon jelly as Amy records data.

Science and Technology Log 

The LUTH Survey is a collaborative effort to gather as much oceanographic data from this small part of the Pacific Ocean as possible.  Although the primary objective is to characterize this area for its potential as leatherback habitat, it is also an opportunity for other scientists to gather data that reinforces their studies. Everyone on this cruise, aside from myself, is employed by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service.  The regional area that this group works in is the Southwest Fisheries Science Center.  There are nine scientists who have very different specializations.  The following flow chart outlines how each department is related to the others.

Crewmembers practice suction cup tagging of leatherbacks from a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB).
Crewmembers practice suction cup tagging of leatherbacks from a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB).

Every division is focused on different aspects of oceanography.  Scott Benson is our chief scientist and leatherback specialist.  Karin Forney is the research biologist on the team whose expertise is marine mammals and regulations out to the limit of United States waters.  This limit is the EEZ – Exclusive Economic Zone – and extends for 200 miles west of the coast. Peter Dutton is currently the leader of the Marine Turtle Genetics Program, here to gain additional insight into foraging habitats of the leatherback.  Liz Zele, oceanographer, and Justin Garver as oceanography intern, manage the collection and processing of oceanographic data from the CTDs and XBTs. Steven Bograd is supporting the data collection as a research oceanographer. Both George (Randy) Cutter and Juan Zwolinski collect and interpret the acoustic data.  Randy’s area of expertise is with fisheries acoustics, seafloor mapping and autonomous underwater vehicles.  Juan’s specialty is in acoustic estimation of small pelagic fish.  Amy Hapeman is aboard as a permit analyst to gain a better understanding of how the science data are collected.  Together, this dynamic group will work to put together a better picture of what habitat might be available to leatherback turtles here off the continental shelf of California. They are all excited to be here, greatly enjoy their professions, and hope to assist in leatherback turtle protection.

Justin prepares to collect head and organs for research.
Justin prepares to collect head and organs for research.

The night of September 13, a few members of the research team, with assistance from crewmembers, took advantage of the relatively warm water the Jordan was crossing and tried to fish for squid. Not really expecting much more than a short fight with a 12 inch mollusk, we were in for a surprise. Using a fluorescent lure, and a 50lb test, the line was dropped about 200m into the dark sea. Within 5 minutes, the line began to tug, and tug, AND TUG!!  The oceanographer/fisher used a tremendous amount of strength to reel in the organism on the other end of the line. Victor, crewmember and experienced squid fisher, gaffed the squid as soon as it surfaced in the water. Shock was on every face as we acknowledged we were not expecting a 65cm long, 30-40lb animal!  As soon as the tentacles that it grabbed the lure with were detached from the lure, Justin was ready to go again!  And within 5 minutes another squid was caught, easily the same size as the first.  This brought another three scientists and one crewmember out with additional reels. 

Two Humboldt squid fresh from the Pacific!
Two Humboldt squid fresh from the Pacific!

Within an hour, eight squid were aboard, plans were made for a calamari feast and measuring began. Karin Forney, after observing the commotion, quickly retrieved an email from a colleague who is conducting research on this species of squid, and who requested that we preserve the head and internal organs for later genetic analysis.  Several Ziplock bags were readied and the cleaning began. In the end there were calamari steaks for everyone and their 10 best friends, tentacles for several pots of soup and research samples collected for additional analysis. This species of squid is of concern since it had been uncommon off the central California coast until after the 1998 El Nino event, which brought warm waters up from the tropical Pacific side. Now it is much more abundant. The Humboldt squid is a voracious predator and there is great interest in understanding its potential impact on other species, especially those of commercial value.

Randy and Mary Anne cleaning Humboldt Squid.
Randy and Mary Anne cleaning Humboldt Squid.

Animals Seen Today 
Blue shark Prionace glauca, Humboldt squid Dosidicus gigas, Arctic tern Sterna paradisaea, and Common redpoll Carduelis flammea.

Words of the Day 
Gaff: hook attached to a long pole used to bring in a catch Characterize: to decide what the parts are that together create something Acoustic: sound wave information El Nino: a cyclic climate event originating in the tropical Pacific that is associated with unusually warm waters that impact the west coast of North and South America.

Joao preparing his secret calamari marinade.
Joao preparing his secret calamari marinade.

Questions of the Day 

  1. A squid is classified as a mollusk, which is a single shelled marine animal.  Where is the single shell on this animal?
  2. What are some of the reasons the study of leatherback turtles is so complex?

Screen shot 2013-04-20 at 1.46.35 AM

Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly, September 15, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship David Jordan Starr
September 8-22, 2008

Mission: Leatherback Use of Temperate Habitats (LUTH) Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean –San Francisco to San Diego
Date: September 15, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Latitude: 3720.718 N Longitude: 12230.301
Wind Direction: 69 (compass reading) NW
Wind Speed: 12.0 knots
Surface Temperature: 15.056

Computer generated images showing acoustic scattering during the day
Computer generated images showing acoustic scattering during the day

Science and Technology Log 

A lot of physical science is involved in oceanographic research.  An understanding of wave mechanics is utilized to obtain sonar readings. This means that sound waves of certain frequencies are emitted from a source.  The concepts to understand in order to utilize acoustic readings are:

  1. Sound and electromagnetic waves travel in a straight line from their source and are reflected when they contact an object they cannot pass through.
  2. Frequency is defined as the number of waves that pass a given point per second (or another set period of time).  The faster the wave travels, the greater the number of waves that go past a point in that time. Waves with a high frequency are moving faster than those with a low frequency. Those waves travel out in a straight line until they contact an object of a density that causes them to reflect back.
  3. The speed with which the waves return, along with the wavelength they were sent at, gives a ‘shadow’ of how dense the object is that reflected the wave, and gives an indication of the distance that object is from the wave source (echo sounder). As jellyfish, zooplankton and other organisms are brought up either with the bongo net or the trawl net, examinations of the acoustic readings are done to begin to match the readings with organisms in the area at the time of the readings.  On the first leg of the survey, there were acoustic patterns that appeared to match conditions that are known to be favorable to jellyfish.  Turtle researchers have, for years, observed certain characteristics of stretches of ocean water that have been associated with sea nettle, ocean sunfish and leatherbacks. Now, by combining acoustic readings, salinity, temperature and chlorophyll measurements, scientists can determine what the exact oceanographic features are that make up ‘turtle water’.
Computer generated images showing acoustic scattering at night.
Computer images of acoustic scattering at night.

Acoustic data, consisting of the returns of pulses of sound from targets in the water column, is now used routinely to determine fish distribution and abundance, for commercial fishing and scientific research. This type of data has begun to be used to quantify the biomass and distribution of zooplankton and micronekton. Sound waves are continuously emitted from the ship down to the ocean floor. Four frequencies of waves are transmitted from the echo-sounder.  The data is retrieved and converted into computerized images. Both photo 1 and photo 2 give the acoustic readings. The “Y” axis is depth down to different depths, depending on the location.  The frequencies shown are as follows for the four charts on the computer screen; top left is 38kHz, bottom left is 70 kHz, top right is 120kHz and bottom right is 200 kHz.  In general the higher frequencies will pick up the smallest particles (organisms) while the lowest reflect off the largest objects. Photo 1 shows a deep-water set of images, with small organisms near the surface. This matches the fact that zooplankton rise close to the surface at night.  Photo 2 gives a daylight reading.

A Leach’s storm petrel rests on the trawl net container.
A Leach’s storm petrel rests on the trawl net container.

It is more difficult to interpret.  The upper one-fourth is the acoustic reading and the first distinct horizontal line from the top represents the ocean floor.  Images below that line are the result of the waves bouncing back and forth, giving a shadow reading.  But the team here was very excited: for this set of images shows an abundance of organisms very near the surface. And the trawl that was deployed at that time resulted in lots and lots of jellyfish.  They matched.  Periodically, as the acoustic data is collected, samples are also collected at various depths to ‘ground truth’ the readings.  This also allows the scientists to refine their interpretations of the measurements.  The technology now can give estimates of size, movement and acoustic properties of individual planktonic organisms, along with those of fish and marine mammals.  Acoustic data is used to map the distribution of jellyfish and estimate the abundance in this region. By examining many acoustic readings and jellyfish netted, the scientists will be able to identify the acoustic pattern from jellyfish.

Karin releases a petrel from nets he flew into.
Karin releases a petrel from nets he flew into.

The sensor for the acoustic equipment is mounted into the hull, with readings taken continually.  Background noise from the ship must be accounted for, along with other types of background noise. Some events observed on board, such as a school of dolphins being sighted, can be correlated (matched) to acoustic readings aboard the ship.  Since it is assumed that only a portion of the dolphins in a pod are actually sighted, with the remaining under the surface, the acoustic correlation gives an indication of population size in the pod.  The goal of continued acoustic analysis is to be able to monitor long term changes in zooplankton or micronekton biomass. This monitoring can then lead to understanding the migration, feeding strategies and monitor changes in populations of marine species.

A Wilson’s warbler rests on the flying deck.
A Wilson’s warbler rests on the flying deck.

Personal Log 

Several small birds have stopped in over the week, taking refuge on the Jordan. Many bird species make long migrations, often at high altitude, along the Pacific flyway.  Some will die of exhaustion along the way, or starvation, and some get blown off their original course.  Most ships out at sea appear to be an island, a refuge for tired birds to land on.  They may stay for a day, a week, or longer. Their preferred food source may not be available however, and some do not survive on board.  Some die because they are just too tired, or perhaps ill, or for unknown reasons. We have had a few birds, and some have disappeared after two days.  We hope they took off to finish their trip. Since we were in site of land all day today, it could be the dark junco headed to shore. ‘Our’ common redpoll did not survive, so he was ‘buried at sea’, with a little ceremony.  About half an hour ago, a stormy petrel came aboard.  He did not seem well, but after a bit of rest, we watched him take off.  We wish him well.

Words of the Day 

Acoustic data: sound waves (sonar) of certain frequencies that are sent out and bounce off objects, with the speed of return an indication of the objects distance from the origin; Echo sounder: device that emits sonar or acoustic waves Dense or density: how highly packed an object is  measured as mass/volume; Distribution: the number and kind of organisms in an area; Biomass:  the combined mass of a sample of living organisms; Micronekton: free swimming small organisms; Zooplankton: small organisms that move with the current; Pacific flyway: a general area over and next to the Pacific ocean that some species of birds migrate along.

Animals Seen Today 
Leach’s Storm-petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa
Herring gull Larus argentatus
Heermann’s gull  Larus heermanni
Common murr  Uria aalge
Humpback whale  Megapterea novaeangliae
California sea lion Zalophus californianus
Sooty shearwater Puffinus griseus
Brown pelican Pelecanus occidentalis
Harbor seal Phoca vitulina
Sea nettle jellies Chrysaora fuscescens
Moon jellies Aurelia aurita
Egg yolk jellies Phacellophora camtschatica 

Questions of the Day 
Try this experiment to test sound waves.  Get two bricks or two, 4 inch pieces of 2 x 4 wood blocks. Stand 50 ft opposite a classroom wall, and clap the boards together. Have others stand at the wall so they can see when you clap. Listen for an echo.  Keep moving away and periodically clap again. At some distance, the sound of the clap will hit their ears after you actually finish clapping. With enough distance, the clap will actually be heard after your hands have been brought back out after coming together.

  1. Can you calculate the speed of the sound wave that you generated?
  2. Under what conditions might that speed be changed?
  3. Would weather conditions, which might change the amount of moisture in the air, change the speed? 

Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly, September 13, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship David Jordan Starr
September 8-22, 2008

Mission: Leatherback Use of Temperate Habitats (LUTH) Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean –San Francisco to San Diego
Date: September 13, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Latitude: 3645.9407 N Longitude: 12501.4783 W
Wind Direction: 344(compass reading) NE
Wind Speed: 13.5 knots
Surface Temperature: 14.197

Computer generated map of sampling area using satellite and in situ data. The satellite image on the right includes land (white) on the right edge, of the area between San Francisco and San Luis Obispo.
Computer generated map of sampling area using satellite and in situ data. The satellite image on the right includes land (white) on the right edge, of the area between San Francisco and San Luis Obispo.

Science and Technology Log 

As the scientific team conducts its research locating areas where jellyfish congregate, they have determined that samples need to be taken along both sides of a warm water/cold water boundary.  The charts below comprise a computer-generated chart of water temperature in the area we are focusing on. The chart on the right was created from remotely sensed data obtained from a satellite, and a small square of that is enlarged on the left. The chart on the left is produced from a computer model that smoothes out the lines and includes data taken continuously from the ship and integrated into the chart. Although hard to read at this resolution, the legend shows where CTD’s have been deployed, along with XBT’s, which record temperature. It also marks where upcoming deployments will take place. Net trawls were also deployed to collect samples of jellyfish that might be in the region. The quest is on for good turtle habitat.

After examining these charts above, please answer the following questions:

  1. What can you tell about the temperature of the water just off the coastline for most of that area of California?
  2. What range temperature of water does it appear that the LUTH survey is currently sampling in?
  3. Would you expect to find the same organisms in each of the samples? Why or why not?
  4. What might cause temperatures to be different in some parts of the ocean?

The Expendable Bathy Thermograph (XBT), consists of a long copper wire shot into the water down to 760 m.  When kept in the water for 2 minutes, the cable registers a signal to a dedicated computer, giving temperature readings along the wire, which are immediately plotted onto a graph.

After looking at this graph, answer the following questions:

  1. What temperature is measured at the surface?
  2. At what depth below the surface does the temperature start to drop dramatically? How many degrees Celsius is the drop?
  3. How many more degrees does the temperature drop, after the initial quick decrease? In how many meters does this gradual drop occur?

The LUTH survey is very interested in finding out whether jellyfish are found in the colder water (yellow and green), and how the distribution changes through the changing temperature of the water. Their questions surround what conditions would allow leatherbacks to travel along certain routes to and from the California coast, and how to identify areas of productivity so that commercial fishing can occur without harming protected species. Every jellyfish caught, either by the net trawls or the bongo net, and oceanographic data collected at the same time, provides more insight into where favorable conditions might exist.

Personal Log 

Computer generated graph of XBT data from 8/28/08 at 18:15:30 (6:15 pm)
Computer generated graph of XBT data from 8/28/08 at 18:15:30 (6:15 pm)

It is a very different lifestyle to have a profession that involves living for periods of time aboard a ship. Most of us land-based folks get up, wander through the house, eventually rounding up food and heading off to school or work.  For me, after a day full of movement all over Chico Junior High’s large school grounds, I may go to the store, run errands and then return home to read the paper, clean house, and prepare dinner.  My family will eventually arrive home and we will go over the day’s events.  Here, the crew spends up to 23 days in this home, office and recreational area, away from their families.  Two cooks prepare, serve buffet-style and clean up after all meals; serving at 7am, 11am and 5pm.  During off hours, I have observed T.V. or movie watching, card games in action and some gym use.

Many people have iPods and in some areas music is broadcast. Personal computers with satellite internet capabilities are used, I assume, to communicate with friends and family on land.  It is interesting that the ‘living room’, which is also the mess hall, may have 10 colleagues in it sometimes watching a show. I am used to cooking when I choose, or just making cookies if I want or heading outside to jog with my dog after school. No such activities like that happen here.  Every one in the crew seems to get along, is extremely polite to each other, and is also very pleasant.  It takes a very flexible person to enjoy living on a ship and a certainly love for the ocean.  I am enjoying this very different way of living, and will also enjoy when I can run a few miles through the park again.

Animals Seen Today 
Sea nettle jellies Chrysaora fuscescens
Comb jellies Kiyohimea spp.
Sea gooseberry Pleurobrachia bachei
Common dolphins Delphinus delphis
Jack mackerel Trachurus symmetricus
Wilson’s warbler Wilsonia citrine
Yellow-rumped warbler Dendroica coronata 

Questions for the Day 
1. What part of your regular pattern would be easiest to give up, if you were to live aboard a ship?  Which parts would be hardest?

Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly, September 11, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship David Jordan Starr
September 8-22, 2008

Mission: Leatherback Use of Temperate Habitats (LUTH) Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean –San Francisco to San Diego
Date: September 11, 2008

CTD deployment
CTD deployment

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Latitude: 3647.6130 W Longitude: 12353.1622 N
Wind Direction: 56 (compass reading) NE
Wind Speed: 25.7 knots
Surface Temperature: 15.295

Science and Technology Log 

One important piece of equipment on many NOAA research ships is the CTD (Conductivity and Temperature with Depth).  This eight chambered water collection device is attached to electronic sensors. When the CTD is deployed below the ocean’s surface, it is dropped carefully to a predetermined depth; today’s was 500 m. All water collection chambers are open for water to flow through. After the oceanographer in charge of deployment examines a computer readout of the CTD after it has been lowered to its’ maximum depth, it is decided at which depths water samples will be collected as the CTD is brought back up.At these intervals, water sample collectors (Niskin bottles) are closed and water collected.  Up to eight samples are collected as it rises to the surface.

CTD reading; salinity, oxygen, pressure, and fluorometer voltage
CTD reading: salinity, oxygen, pressure, and voltage

After the CTD has been secured on deck, each sample is carefully extracted into collection bottles. Each water sample is filtered through a vacuum system in order to extract chlorophyll from that water sample.  The extracted chlorophyll is later run through a fluorometer, which calculates the volume of chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b which indicates the intensity of photosynthetic microorganisms in that layer. Lots of chlorophyll indicates a rich biological region, which may support many types of marine life.  In addition, the CTD collects samples that will be analyzed for the amount of salts they contain in order to confirm the sensors values. Values that change to the left are decreasing. The reading on the top right shows how the temperature, in red, changes very quickly from the surface down to 500 m.  The green indicates some chlorophyll until it drops significantly below 100 m, where light no longer penetrates well. Oxygen levels are in blue, also decreasing with depth.

Questions of the Day 

  1. What is the importance of chlorophyll to marine mammals and amphibians?
  2. Why is an understanding of how pressure and depth below the ocean’s surface are related critical to marine sciences?
Water samples being filtered through a vacuum system to extract chlorophyll.
Water samples being filtered through a vacuum system to extract chlorophyll.

 

Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly, September 11, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship David Jordan Starr
September 8-22, 2008

Mission: Leatherback Use of Temperate Habitats (LUTH) Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean –San Francisco to San Diego
Date: September 11, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Latitude: 3647.6130W Longitude: 12353.1622 N
Wind Direction: 56 (compass reading) NE
Wind Speed: 25.7 knots
Surface Temperature: 15.295

Bongo net being deployed to collect specimens
Bongo net being deployed to collect specimens

Science and Technology Log 

One oceanographic phenomena of interest is the deep scattering layer (DSL). This is a zooplankton and micronekton rich layer that is found below the depth that light penetrates to in the daytime. After sunset, this DSL layer migrates up closer to the surface.  In some locations the daytime DSL may be at a depth of 225-250 m depth in this area of the California current ecosystem, and 0-100 m during the night. It is hypothesized that the organisms stay deeper down during the daytime to avoid predation, and move up toward the surface at night when it is safer from predators.  Oceanographers take advantage of this information. Every evening, two hours after sunset, bongo nets are deployed to a depth of 200m and then slowly brought to the surface to get a sample of the entire water column.  The purpose is to collect samples of those organisms that are found in the DSL. During the day these organisms would be much deeper down below the surface, but at night they are much closer.

Chart that converts wire length and angle to depth
Chart that converts wire length and angle to depth

The process begins with opening up the large plankton nets and attaching a weight in between the loops of the frame.  The frame is hooked to a cable that is maneuvered by a winch operator.  After the bongo net is swung out from the ship, a large protractor, an inclinometer, is attached. This is used to give the Officer of the Deck (OOD) driving on the bridge an indication of speed needed to deploy the net at. The OOD adjusts the speed of the ship to maintain the required angle, which allows the net to remain open for collection and reach the desired depth. Looking at the chart above, you can see that the angle the wire is deployed at, along with the amount of wire paid out, can be converted to a given depth. Trigonometry at work. There is also a flow meter attached inside each of the bongo loops. The readings from this give an indication of the volume of water that passed through the nets. When the bongo is retrieved, before the end is detached, each net is rinsed with salt water from a hose in order to retrieve as much of the sample as possible in the cod end. This end is detached and brought into the lab.  One of the samples is examined in the lab, for relative types, while the other sample is preserved in formaldehyde and sodium borate for later examination and identification.

Stateroom on the Jordan
Stateroom on the Jordan

Personal Log 

It is very interesting being rocked to sleep each night.  Being on the top bunk, I am about 2 feet from the ceiling, with several pipes suspended from the ceiling.  Once settled in bed, there is little opportunity to move around much.  But being slowly rocked from side to side is a very interesting sensation, and is relaxing.  It is becoming easier to tell how calm the water is that the ship is moving through, or a little about the weather, since sometimes we rock up and down, instead of from side to side. We were told that when it gets really rough it is a good idea to place a life jacket under the edge of the mattress to keep us from falling out.  Each bed has a dark curtain edging it, since many of the crew and scientists may have opposite shifts. Since there is no porthole in my stateroom, when the lights are out and the curtain is closed, it is very dark. It would be impossible to tell night from day, except by an internal clock or a timepiece.  It has been comfortable sleeping.  Getting up is the only difficult part, maneuvering in the small space of the bunk and being careful not to disturb my bunkmate, Liz.  Her schedule varies from mine, due to her bongo net responsibilities and CTD expertise.  So far the sleeping arrangement has worked out well.

Words of the Day 

 Stateroom dresser aboard the Jordan
Stateroom dresser aboard the Jordan

Distribution: the local species and numbers of organisms in an area; Biomass: the combined mass of a sample of living organisms; Micronekton: free swimming small organisms; Zooplankton: small organisms that move with the current; Predation: the process of organisms eating other organisms to survive; Inclinometer: protractor designed to measure altitude from the horizon.

Questions of the Day 

  1. What organisms do you know of that change their feeding strategy at different times of the day?
  2. In the local creek, river, or lake near you, are there both micronekton and zooplankton?  How could you find out?

Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly, September 10, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship David Jordan Starr
September 8-22, 2008

Mission: Leatherback Use of Temperate Habitats (LUTH) Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean –San Francisco to San Diego
Date: September 10, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Latitude: 3736.6398 N Longitude: 12336.2210 W
Wind Direction: 220 (compass reading) SW
Wind Speed: 11.3 knots
Surface Temperature: 14.638

This moon jelly was captured with the mid-water net.  Its bell was 35.5 cm wide.   The purplish pattern represents the gonads, which the turtles love to eat.
This moon jelly was captured with the mid-water net. Its bell was 35.5 cm wide. The purplish pattern represents the gonads, which the turtles love to eat.

Science and Technology Log

The mid-water net was just deployed.  This is a new net for the research team to use.  On the trip north, during the first part of this cruise, the last net became mangled during use.  A new, larger net was obtained and the crew is working out how best to deploy it.  After three tries, they seem to have determined the best way to lay it out, release it, and winch it back in. The David Starr Jordan is now heading over to the off shore area outside of Point Reyes, where the plan will be to deploy it for only one to two minutes.

The jellyfish there are usually so numerous that they will fill the net immediately.  Leatherbacks eat jellyfish of many kinds, but they love the types in the Pelagiidae family.  These are the types with long hanging arms, which the turtles snack on until they get up into the body cavity. The jellyfish are then eaten from the insides, with a soft-bodied bell left behind. The bell-shaped body of this family can be as large as 55 cm.    The favorite of leatherback, so the one we will hope to find in abundance, is the Sea nettle, Chrysaora fuscescens. These are most numerous in August and September in specific locations off the California coast, so it can be anticipated that leatherbacks will also be found there.  The predictability of this occurrence is the reason leatherbacks have evolved to travel the Pacific Ocean from Asia every year. 

Unidentified songbird, hopping a ride aboard the Jordan.
Unidentified songbird, hopping a ride aboard the Jordan.

The ship, David Starr Jordan, was built in 1965, so is among the oldest of the fleet of NOAA research ships.  The age can be found in the cabinet design, the flooring material and little features. Never the less, it has been built for sustained trips at sea for up to 23 days in length. There is a steward on board who creates elaborate lunches and dinners daily. Last night’s dinner included Filet Mignon, shrimp in butter sauce, two soups, sautéed vegetables, and at least four other hot dishes. There is always a salad bar set up and 24-hour hot beverages, cereal, toast, ice cream, yogurts and fruit. Everyone eats well.

In the crew’s lounge, drawers of over 200 current films are stored, including new releases. They have been converted to 8 mm tape to accommodate the video system on board.  There is also a small gym with a treadmill, stationary bicycle and bow-flex machine.  A laundry room completes the ‘home’ environment. At least three showers are available.  The ship has a system to desalinate water, which is a slow process, so water conservation is suggested.  This means:  wet yourself down, turn off the water, soap up and scrub, then turn the water on and rinse off.  Repeat if necessary. There are no water police, but we all have an interest in enough water being available.

Although the food has looked great, I have found that until I get my ‘sea legs’ I need to stay away from most food.  Yesterday evening, I discovered that the lunch and dinner I ate; did not look as good coming out as it did going down.  Today is better, but I will stick to yogurt, oatmeal, and tea for a bit.

Animals Sighted Today 
Sea nettle jellies Chrysaora fuscescens
Moon jellies Aurelia aurita
Egg yolk jellies Phacellophora camtschatica
Ocean sunfish Mole mole
Humpback whale Megapterea novaeangliae
Blue whale Balaenoptera musculus
Common murre Uria aalge
Black phoebe Sayornis nigricans
Red phalarope Phalaropus fulicaria
Buller’s shearwater Puffinus bulleri
Sooty shearwater Puffinus griseus
Brown pelican Pelecanus occidentalis
Brandt’s cormorant Phalacrocorax penicillatus
Dall’s porpoise Phocoenoides dalli 

Questions of the Day 

  1. What type of data is considered ‘oceanographic’ data?
  2. What types of organisms produce chlorophyll in the ocean?

Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly, September 10, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship David Jordan Starr
September 8-22, 2008

Mission: Leatherback Use of Temperate Habitats (LUTH) Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean –San Francisco to San Diego
Date: September 10, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Latitude: 3737.3158 N Longitude: 12337.1670 W
Wind Direction: 234 (compass reading) SW
Wind Speed: 9.7 knots
Surface Temperature: 14.638

Deck crew setting up the mid-water net to be deployed off the back deck.
Deck crew setting up the mid-water net to be deployed off the back deck.

Science and Technology Log 

Two consistent methods of data collection on the survey include netting and collecting oceanographic data. Up to three times a day a mid-water net is carefully dropped off the back, and towed at the surface. The last two times the net has been pulled in one or two moon jellies have been caught. Each specimen is weighed and measured, then tossed back. Every evening, two hours after sunset, a bongo net is deployed off the side of the boat. With weights added, it is designed to drop as far as 300 m below the surface. Since there are two nets collecting, the scientists are able to retrieve and preserve the contents of one, to be analyzed for species composition later, and examine the second here on the boat.  This is done two hours after sunset since many organisms come much closer to the surface after dark, when their predators are less likely to find them.

Another important tool that is used to collect oceanographic data is the CTD.  This CTD has eight chambers and can collect samples from eight different water depths.  It is carefully dropped down to 500 m (or more if needed), and then a chamber is opened at intervals determined by the scientist collecting the samples. Every waking hour the temperature of the ocean is sampled using a XBT “gun” that shoots out a 760 meter long copper wire. XBT stands for Expendable Bathy thermograph. The weighted wire is kept in the ocean until a stable reading is obtained.  This gives an indication of the temperature gradient from the surface down to 760 meters in the immediate area. 

Personal Log 

Two Dall’s porpoise gliding next to the ship.
Two Dall’s porpoise gliding next to the ship.

The first 24 hours were smooth sailing through overcast but calm seas.  We have had two visits by common dolphins who have seen the boat, told their 4 or 5 best buddies, and come over to ‘ride the bow.’ They glide under the surface, leap up through the waves and glide some more.  They are having a blast. The second time was less convenient for the research, since the mid-water net could not be deployed with marine mammals in the area. And the dolphins wouldn’t leave!! So deployments had to wait 45 minutes for the dolphins to get tired and go find another playground. Yesterday a net drop deployment was almost postponed again, for a large pod of white-sided dolphins spotted behind the boat. They swam perpendicular to the ship however, and stayed a good distance away. It was estimated that there were

180 of them! That was it for yesterday. The first afternoon, we saw one humpback whale spouting and then it showed its fluke as it went under.  Another four were seen in the distance. We are all looking forward to more sightings.  The primary job that I and another ship visitor have, is to act as observers up on the flying bridge, one half hour before the net is scheduled to be dropped, and stay until the net is retrieved.  Because of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, all activity that could put these animals at risk must not be done if any marine mammals are in the area. So I sit up on the highest deck, and watch.  There is a walkie-talkie next to me, a computer set to log any sightings of interest, including jellies that float by and high-powered binoculars to scan the surface.  With snacks and beverages always handy in the mess hall, I can be quite cozy.

Animals Seen So Far 
Humpback whale Megapterea novaeangliae
Common dolphin Delphinus delphis
Pacific white-sided dolphin Lagenorhynchus olbiquidens
California Sea lion Zalophus californianus
Moon jelly Aurelia labiata
Egg yolk jelly Phacellophora camtschatica
Sooty shearwater Puffinus griseus
Buller’s Shearwater Puffinus bulleri  

We also have a few lost, confused song birds on board-who are happily eating up insects for us Western tanager Piranga ludoviciana Townsend’s warbler Dendroica townsendi 

Questions of the Day 

  1. What is the purpose of scientific names in international research?
  2. To become a marine scientist, what fields of science are required as background?

Scott Donnelly, April 27, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
April 20-27, 2008

Mission: Assembly of Science Team and Movement of Science Gear/Equipment
Geographical Area: Coos Bay to Astoria, Oregon
Date: April 27, 2008

CTD getting a much needed rest
CTD getting a much needed rest

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Sunrise: 0620 Sunset: 2010
Wind: 10-15 kts
Seas: 2-3 ft
Light rain showers, dense fog, in port.

Science and Technology Log 

Coordinates for today’s measurements (two sampling stations) are 43O30’N, 124O23’W and 125O40’W, six and twenty miles from the coast at depths of 100m (330ft) and 400m (1,315ft) respectively in addition to measurements (three sampling stations) for coordinates 43O40’N, 124O16’W to 125O25’W, three to ten miles from the coast at depths of 80m (265ft) to 120m (395ft). Bob and I have become efficient pros at deploying and retrieving the four biological sampling nets. It takes us no more than 35 minutes to complete all the biological sampling and that includes the ten minute tow required for the Manta net to sample the surface.

Personal Log 

Today is the last day of the cruise. My final 4-hour early morning shift of the cruise went well. The last sampling station for the cruise was completed at ~0930. I spent the morning downloading data, adding information to my NOAA TAS logs, packing my personal gear, cleaning my sleeping area, and enjoying the last few hours on the open ocean from atop the flying bridge philosophically pondering its future and perhaps humanity’s future. In the meantime the NOAA crew was busy making preparations for docking in Coos Bay. For the last leg of the cruise into Coos Bay the science team assembled on the McARTHUR II flying bridge to enjoy the Oregon coastal scenery, relax, and take photos. Lots and lots of photos! I overheard one science team member say that he took 1.7 gigabits of photos during the cruise! Another took over 200 photos in one day alone. Wow! Thank goodness for digital cameras or else that would have been quite expensive to process if film had been used.

Entering the channel to Coos Bay, OR
Entering the channel to Coos Bay, OR

The cruise’s end was bittersweet. For ten days I had been away from my wife and two young children. I missed them even though I emailed them everyday from the ship. I can’t wait to see them. At the same time though the cruise was so enjoyable in so many ways it’s hard to pinpoint one or two that stand out head and shoulders above the rest. It was hard work no doubt about it and at times I thought I’d never get a decent sleep. But the science team assembled by Chief Scientist Steve Rumrill was from the beginning and to the end a well-oiled machine that understood the mission’s objectives and dealt with problems that came to light in a timely and professional manner. I’m not aware of any issues that arose during the cruise between the science team members themselves or between the science team and NOAA crew. If they existed, then they must have been dealt with and worked out immediately. To me it’s a testament to the professionalism shown by all- science team and NOAA crew- on the cruise and the leadership of those chosen to lead.

The Lorax
The Lorax

Over time I’ll likely forget most of the names of those I met on this cruise. Time and age tend to do that as I’ve already experienced even in my relatively young age. But it’s less likely that I’ll forget the faces, the natural scenes observed, and the conversations had. How could I forget the graceful albatross gliding without effort and with such skill inches above the water without ever flapping its wings? Or the bioluminescence of krill? Or the first time while on the bridge the bow of the ship sunk low in the trough of a wave, the horizon and sky disappearing.

And what’s to become of the world’s oceans? What’s for sure is that for the next twenty years humanity will continue to exert more pressure on the world’s oceans to feed its relentless population growth, satisfy its rapacious appetite for resources, and serve as the transportation conduit to keep the world’s consumer economies afloat (no pun intended). Throughout human history the marine world has always delivered but there are signs that it may be in trouble, too tired to keep up with the maddening pace that the modern world has set, too exhausted to give freely as its finite resources are an ever alarming rate.  I’m reminded of two small, unassuming but prophetic (and hence controversial) children’s books written by Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein almost forty years ago, The Lorax and The Giving Tree respectively. I’ve read them to my two children numerous times. After this cruise they make even more sense.

The Giving Tree
The Giving Tree

Without complaint the oceans have given much to humanity. In many ways the oceans are liquid gold. The history of human achievement is defined in large measure by our historical relationship with the marine world. It’s teeming with an abundance of life struggling to survive in the oceans’ harsh salt water environment. The current plight of the marine world represents a defining challenge humans must confront when planning for the future of our troubled planet. The historical narrative of the oceans is written in its sediments, water, and the genetic database of the million of organisms that call the ocean home. The future narrative is being written right now. What is its fate?

In conclusion, this cruise has given me a rarefied, first-hand look at the ocean world in which I live. To be sure our planet is misnamed. Rather than Earth, instead it should be named Oceanus, for our world is a water world that gives so much pleasure and asks for so little in return. What is its fate?

OCEANUS….what is its fate?
OCEANUS….what is its fate?

Scott Donnelly, April 26, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
April 20-27, 2008

Mission: Assembly of Science Team and Movement of Science Gear/Equipment
Geographical Area: Coos Bay to Astoria, Oregon
Date: April 26, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Sunrise: 0620 Sunset: 2010
Wind: 10-15 kts
Seas: 2 ft
Light rain showers, reduced visibility

NOAA TAS Scott Donnelly ready to deploy a bongo net
NOAA TAS Scott Donnelly ready to deploy a bongo net

Science and Technology Log 

Both the morning and afternoon shifts went off without any problems. Coordinates of the seven sites for the longitudinal sampling along the Coquille Estuary Line are 43O07’N, 124O29’W to 125O15’W extending 2 to 40 miles from shore and from depths of 44m (145ft) to 2,300m (7,550ft).  My tenth 4-hour shift was spent traveling north to the first sampling site along the Umpqua Estuary Line. Coordinates for the longitudinal measurements are 43O40’N, 124O16’W to 125O02’W extending 3 to 40 miles from shore and from depths of 80m (265ft) to 1,300m (4,265ft). See map below.

 Personal Log 

Coordinates for the longitudinal measurements of the first sampling site of my shift
Coordinates for the longitudinal measurements of the first sampling site of my shift

In preparing for Saturday’s early morning shift, I noticed when I walked onto the ship’s fantail that the night sky was clear and stars dotted the dark night heavens. I made my way to the flying bridge to observe the cloudless night sky lit up with millions of stars. All the major constellations visible in the northern hemisphere at this time of year just after midnight were easily seen in all their brilliance and mystery. The cool, crisp salty air added to the beauty of the moment. It made for a peaceful, philosophical moment. But as I have found in my brief stay in Oregon such celestial opportunities do not present themselves often and when they do it’s not for long. Clouds soon appeared, blocking the view and ending any chance to identify and name all the major constellations. After finishing the early morning shift I stayed up until after sunrise to take advantage again of photographing the sun rising above the eastern horizon through a thin layer of clouds.

Such meteorological conditions created a sky painted with various shades and hues of red, orange, and yellow. It was if a giant painter had a brush and painted the sky- his canvas- a riot of colors pleasing to the eye and emotions. The science of immaterial light from the sun interacting with the material gaseous atmosphere and clouds and the timing made for a time of quiet reflection and contemplation of the vastness of the universe and the relative insignificance of the Milky Way galaxy and our blue ocean planet. Tomorrow is the last day of the cruise. I have one more early morning shift. We are scheduled to dock in Coos Bay sometime in the early afternoon.

Sunrise off the southern Oregon coast as seen from NOAA ship McARTHUR II
Sunrise off the southern Oregon coast as seen from NOAA ship McARTHUR II

Scott Donnelly, April 25, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
April 20-27, 2008

Mission: Assembly of Science Team and Movement of Science Gear/Equipment
Geographical Area: Coos Bay to Astoria, Oregon
Date: April 25, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Sunrise: 0620 Sunset: 2010
Wind: 5-10 kts
Seas: 2 ft
Rain likely

A nautical chart of the Coos Bay area
A nautical chart of the Coos Bay area

Science and Technology Log 

Longitudinal sampling continues along the Coos Bay Line. Coordinates for all measurements (twelve sampling stations total) along Coos Bay are 43O20’N, 124O27’W to 125O27’ extending 3 to 55 miles from shore and from depths of 50m (165ft) to 2,800m (9,200ft). Today was my seventh (morning) and (afternoon) eighth 4-hour shift. All went well.

Personal Log 

After the morning shift I asked my shift mate and veteran sailboat skipper Bob Sleeth to give me some pointers on how to set a nautical heading using parallel rulers. I know all about latitude and longitude but have never sat down with a nautical chart and looked at all the interesting information found on them. As a kid I watched a lot of old World War II naval films like Midway and Iwo Jima and I remember the scenes where the captain and senior officers are studying a nautical chart of the western Pacific with obvious intensity in order to plot a heading to cut off supplies for the Japanese navy or whatever. I always thought those scenes cool.

NOAA TAS Scott Donnelly charting a marine navigational heading
NOAA TAS Scott Donnelly charting a marine navigational heading

So here I am thirty years or so later, a happily married father of two and professor of chemistry, in my mind pretending the role of ship’s navigator on the famous WWII battleship USS Missouri as I consult with Capt. Stuart Murray in setting a heading to Tokyo Harbor with General of the Army Douglas MacArthur on board, making last-minute preparations for the surrender of the Empire of Japan ending World War II. I guess I can blame all the fresh ocean air I’ve taken in the past week for such a fantasy.

About mid-morning after a deep sleep I went to the flying bridge (observation deck) located above the ship’s operations bridge to watch the true masters of the sky- the albatross- glide effortlessly just inches above the glassy, mirrored ocean surface. The albatross rarely flaps its wings when flying. Rather, the albatross conserves its energy for its long distance oceanic travels by using the uplift from the wind deflected off ocean waves. Their long, slender, aerodynamically efficient wing structure allows the albatross to stay aloft for hours at a time. They soar in long looping arcs. They indeed are a grand spectacle to observe.

View from the McARTHUR II flying bridge
View from the McARTHUR II flying bridge

 

Scott Donnelly, April 24, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
April 20-27, 2008

Mission: Assembly of Science Team and Movement of Science Gear/Equipment
Geographical Area: Coos Bay to Astoria, Oregon
Date: April 24, 2008

Water collection from Niskin bottles
Water collection from Niskin bottles

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Sunrise: 0620 Sunset: 2010
Wind: 10 kts
Seas: 2 ft
Light rain showers possible

Science and Technology Log 

As forecasted for Wednesday night the turbulent seas have calmed and the howling winds coming from all directions have subsided. On occasion a large wave smashes into the ship broadside. But, for the most part, it seems like the storm has moved onto land. Sampling operations restarted around 2000 (8pm) last night. This morning from 0100 to 0500 is my sixth 4-hour shift. Today nearshore and offshore CTD and biological sampling continues at different longitudes 124O29’W to 125O15’W but constant latitude 43O07’N. This is called a longitudinal sampling survey. The latitude and longitude coordinates align with the westward flow of water from Coos Bay estuary in Coos Bay, OR. Along these coordinates CTD deployment will reach depths as shallow as 50m (164ft) to as deep as ~2,800m (~9,200ft)! Round-trip CTD measurements will take more time due to progressively greater depths with increasing distance from the OR coast. On my morning shift we collected samples at two stations. At the second station 30 miles from the coast the CTD was deployed to a depth of 600m (1,970 feet).

Monitoring CTD data
Monitoring CTD data

During Thursday’s afternoon shift (my seventh 4-hour shift) the CTD was lowered to a  depth of ~2,700m (~8,860 feet) located 50 miles from the coast. At this distance out at  sea, the coastal landmass drops below the horizon due to the curvature of the earth and the up and down wave action. The round-trip CTD deployment and retrieval to such great depths take about two hours to complete. The dissolved oxygen (DO) probe measurements indicate a secondary DO layer in deep water.  So how are the continuous data measured by the CTD organized? What are the trends in data? In science graphs are used to organize numerical data into a visual representation that’s easier to analyze and to see trends. Below is a representative drawing of how CTD and wet lab data are organized and presented in the same visual space. Note the generous use of colors to focus the eyes and show the differences in data trends.

Screen shot 2013-04-20 at 4.55.48 AMWhat are some trends that can be inferred from the graph above? First, with increasing depth, seawater becomes colder (maroon line) until below a certain depth the water temperature is more or less at a constant or uniformly cold temperature (compared to the surface). Second, the amount of dissolved oxygen (DO) in seawater (green line) is greatest near the surface and decreases, at first slightly then abruptly, with increasing depth below the surface. Third, salinity (red line), which is directly related to conductivity, increases with increasing depth. Furthermore, in general seawater pH (blue line) becomes more acidic (and conversely, less basic) with increasing depth. Last, marine photosynthetic activity as measured by chlorophyll a in phytoplankton (purple line) is limited to the ocean’s upper water column called the photic zone. Below this depth, sunlight’s penetrating ability in seawater is significantly reduced below levels for photosynthesis to be carried out efficiently and without a great expense of energy.

The consistently low (acidic) pH measurements of deep water collected by the Niskin bottles and analyzed on deck in the wet lab are a concern since calcium carbonate (CaCO3) solubility is pH dependent. On this cruise the pH measurements between surface and deep waters show a difference of two orders of magnitude or a 100 fold difference. Roughly, pH = 8 for surface water versus pH = 6 for deep water offshore. This difference in two pH units (ΔpH = 2) is considerable as it indicates that the deep water samples are 100 times more acidic than the surface water. pH is a logarithmic base ten relationship, i.e. pH  = -log [acid] where the brackets indicate the concentration of acid present in a seawater sample. A mathematical difference in two pH units (ΔpH = 2) translates into a 100 fold (10ΔpH = 102) difference in acid concentration. Refer to the Saturday, April 19 log for a discussion concerning the importance of CaCO3 in the marine environment and the net acidification of seawater.

Personal Log 

Screen shot 2013-04-20 at 4.56.10 AMAfter the morning shift but before a hearty breakfast of eggs, hashed browns, sausage, bacon, and juice, I hung out on the ship’s port side to watch the sunrise, a memorable mix of red, yellow, and orange painting the sky. It was one of the best sunrises I remember and that’s saying a lot since I live in southern Arizona, where the sunrises and sunsets are the stuff of legends. With the low pressure system having moved over land, the sea was calm and the temperature considerably warmer with no clouds positioned between it and the ocean.  Perhaps surprisingly, I haven’t sighted a whale or a whale spout, even in shallower, more nutrient-rich coastal waters. It’s not that I haven’t looked as each day I’ve visited the flying bridge (observation deck) above the operations bridge enjoying the immensity of the vast Pacific.

A flock of albatross have begun following the ship I suspect in hopes of getting a fish meal, mistakenly thinking that the McARTHUR II is a trawler.  I saw trash, which I couldn’t identify without binoculars, floating on the surface. Sadly, even the vast, deep oceans and its inhabitants are not immune from humanity’s detritus. The history of humanity and its civilizations are intimately linked to the world’s oceans. This will not change. Humanity’s future as well is linked to its maritime heritage. The oceans have fed us well and have unselfishly given its resources without complaint.  Perhaps it’s time we return the compliment and lessen our impact.

 

Scott Donnelly, April 23, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
April 20-27, 2008

Mission: Assembly of Science Team and Movement of Science Gear/Equipment
Geographical Area: Coos Bay to Astoria, Oregon
Date: April 23, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Sunrise: 0620 Sunset: 2010
Wind: 10 kts, 30 kt gusts
Seas: 4-7 ft
Light rain showers

Low resolution radar image of the storm system that postponed cruise operations
Low resolution radar image of the storm system that postponed cruise operations

Science and Technology Log 

My fourth (0100 to 0500, 1am to 5am) and fifth (1300 to 1700, 1pm to 5pm) 4-hour shifts are postponed due to the continued inclement weather. Seas are turbulent (combined seas 16 feet) and the winds blow non-stop (30 knots with gusts near 40 knots) from all directions it seems. Standing on deck both port and starboard, the howling wind throws sharp sea spray darts at my unprotected face. For a seasoned mariner these conditions are probably routine, if not prosaic. But for a newbie like me, with a little more than 48 hours of sea time experience, they are impressive and awe-inspiring, especially so given that I’m watching

it all from in the midst of the storm and not from the relative safety of the shore as I’ve done at times in San Diego. I climb the stairs to the ship’s bridge to watch and videotape this grand spectacle. The captain is calm and seems unimpressed with the temperamental, chaotic happenings outside. As I make my way to the bridge’s front viewing window he says to me, “Crummy weather isn’t it.” Without thinking, I nod my head in agreement. Also, a gale warning remains in effect until 1400 (2pm) this afternoon. A gale force wind  has sustained surface speeds greater than 34 knots (39mph).

CTD deployment and biological sampling with the nets are postponed until the weather subsides and is more conducive to on deck activity. If the weather cooperates and the night forecast is accurate, the plan is to resume water sampling with the CTD and collection of marine organisms around 2000 (8pm) tonight. In the meantime the CTD has been securely fastened to the fantail deck. The coordinates for today’s postponed longitudinal sampling (constant latitude, changes in longitude) are 43O07’N, 124O29’W to 125O15’W.

With the postponement in work activity in today’s log I’ll discuss a number of topics. In the following paragraphs I’ll discuss some of the nautical terms used in marine weather conditions as found in today’s forecast (see beginning of log, top) and what a low pressure system is. In yesterday’s log I described what a bongo net is and how it works. Today I’ll talk about the marine organisms that a bongo net collects and also describe the other three zooplankton nets used on this cruise- the Manta, ring, and HAB nets. Let’s begin with nautical terms used in marine weather forecasts.

Winds are identified with respect to the direction from which the wind originates. Surface water currents on the other hand are identified with respect to the direction they are flowing. So for example, today’s morning forecasted southeast (SE) winds originate from the southeast and blow toward the northwest (NW) since in general winds travel in a straight line path when not disrupted. Conversely, today’s forecasted morning southwest (SW) swells are traveling in the southwest direction. Marine wind and ship speeds are measured in terms of knots (kts). One knot (one nautical mile per hour, nm/hr) equals 1.15 statuary (or land) miles per hour, mph. Today’s forecasted morning wind speed of 25kts then equals 29mph, with morning gusts (G) forecasted at 30kts or 35mph and subsiding by mid-afternoon.

A change in winds from the SE to the E and then NW as forecasted from AM to PM indicates that the storm system is moving in a northeast direction onto land.
A change in winds from the SE to the E and then NW as forecasted from AM to PM indicates that the storm system is moving in a northeast direction onto land.

What is a swell? A swell is a mature wind wave of a given wavelength (distance between successive wave crests, i.e. the highest point of a wave) that forms orderly undulations seen on the ocean surface. Swells are described with respect to their height and period. Wave height is self-explanatory. What about wave period? Notice in the weather forecast that a wave period is defined in terms of time (typically seconds). Let’s use a hypothetical situation to explain a wave period. Suppose you are standing on deck, looking out across the vast sea, and a wave passes across your line of sight. Seven seconds later another wave crosses your line of sight, which remains unchanged. Seven seconds later another wave passes; your line of sight is still unchanged. The wave period then is the time elapsed for successive waves to pass a fixed point. In general, the longer the period, the calmer the sea.

Dense krill “soup”
Dense krill “soup”

Since my arrival in Oregon on Friday, April 18 a low pressure system has been positioned off the Oregon coast bringing clouds and precipitation. Today’s stormy seas are a result of a low pressure system. The winds and clouds in a low pressure system rotate in a counter-clockwise direction when viewed from satellites above. So if the winds blow from the southeast (SE) and are sustained, this indicates that the northern region of the low pressure system is south of the observer. In yesterday’s log I wrote briefly about how a bongo net is deployed and its function. So what marine organisms are collected in a bongo net? On this cruise at the depths the bongo net is deployed, it’s mostly a thumb-sized, shrimplike crustacean called krill. Krill are an important and central component of the oceans’ food chains and webs. In the northeastern Pacific the predominant species of krill is Euphausia pacifica. They are prolific consumers of microscopic marine organisms too small to see with the naked eye. But they too are consumed in enormous quantities by seabirds, squid, fishes, whales, and more recently, humans.    

As seen in the upper right photo Euphausia pacifica krill have red “spots” along the entire length of their transparent, tubular bodies. These “spots” are photophores (light emitting organs) that emit blue light when a krill is agitated. During the 0100 to 0500 shift when it’s relatively dark on deck, one can see the blue emitted light from individual krill (but not all simultaneously) when the detached cod end of the bongo net is shaken. The emission of light from living organisms is called bioluminescence.  Remember the scene in the 2003 Academy Award winning, computer-animated family film Finding Nemo when Nemo’s iconic clownfish father, Marlin, and his absent-minded blue tang friend Dory descend into the pitch-black deep water to find the scuba mask dropped when Marlin’s colorful, curious son Nemo was captured by the scuba diver. Dory is mesmerized by a glowing light that suddenly appears. Both eventually escape becoming a meal for a deep water fish that uses bioluminescence to attract and then eat unsuspecting prey.

Euphausia pacifica
Euphausia pacifica

A sub-category of bioluminescence is chemiluminescence, which refers to the emission of visible light on account of a chemical reaction. In the krill’s photophores is a creatively named molecule called luciferin, which combines with its complementary enzyme called luciferase, to emit blue light. Of all the known bioluminescence in the natural, biological world, an overwhelming majority is found in marine organisms, especially those found in deep water where light from the sun does not penetrate.

In yesterday’s log I wrote briefly about the function of a bongo net in collecting marine organisms (zooplankton) in a horizontal water column below the ocean’s surface. How are the nearly weightless, free-floating zooplankton found at the ocean’s surface and a few inches below collected? In the following paragraphs I’ll answer this question and also describe the nets used to collect marine organisms in a water column vertical (or perpendicular) to the surface.

Manta net in action
Manta net in action

A Manta net (also called a Neuston net) collects zooplankton at and a few inches below the ocean’s surface. Like a bongo net it too collects marine organisms found in a horizontal column of seawater. This requires the ship to be moving forward. Since a Manta net collects marine organisms at the surface and a few inches below, weights are not attached to the Manta net’s metal rectangular frame which also serves as its mouth. Floats are permanently attached to the right and left of the net’s mouth. A rotary flowmeter is suspended in the net’s mouth so the water volume can be determined. Like a bongo net the biomass density (number of organisms per volume water) then can be estimated. For our cruise the Manta net was deployed starboard once every shift for a total of ten minutes for each cast.

NOAA TAS Scott Donnelly (green helmet)  retrieving a Manta net
Scott Donnelly (green helmet) retrieving a Manta net

Two other nets used on this cruise are a ring net and a HAB (Harmful Algal Bloom) net, both of which are used to collect samples in a column of water vertical or perpendicular to the ocean surface. Consequently, the ship must not be moving and the net weighted for vertical sampling of a water column to occur since the nets themselves are not dense enough to sink. Deployment and retrieval of both nets are simple enough. Basically, the net is attached to a winch cable and a weight, is slowly lowered into the water to the desired depth and kept there for the desired time before it’s slowly lifted upward through the water, brought alongside the ship and suspended, washed with seawater, lifted onto the ship’s deck, and the collected sample removed from the cod end. The organisms collected represent those found in the vertical column of water through which the net ascended. On account of their small, compact size and weight, both the ring and HAB nets can be managed with one person, thereby freeing the other to take care of other sampling tasks.

Manta net skimming the surface for zooplankton
Manta net skimming the surface for zooplankton

What is Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB)? HAB is caused by the elevated levels of toxins produced by certain marine algae that proliferate when seawater conditions are favorable for increased rates of reproduction. The microscopic algae are consumed by the ocean’s voracious eaters called phytoplankton. One of the toxins released by these certain marine algae is domoic acid, which accumulates in the phytoplankton that consume the algae. The phytoplankton are eaten by shellfish and fish such as anchovies and sardines. Domoic acid is poisonous to the shellfish and other fish thereby increasing mortality rates. If the toxin levels are elevated, massive die-offs occur, beaches are closed, and the sale and human consumption of shellfish, etc. are prohibited. The biological, social, and economic impacts are painful.

Personal Log 

In spite of the ship’s constant pitching and rolling in these unsettled, stormy seas, I slept well Tuesday night, taking two hour catnaps, waking for ten minutes or so, and then falling back to sleep for another two hours or so before waking after midnight to get ready for the 1am shift. About mid-morning I made a visit to the bridge where ship operations are carried out. According to ship’s radar the low pressure system and local squalls causing the inclement weather shows signs of letting up.

HAB net deployment as seen from above Ring net deployment
HAB net deployment as seen from above

Almost three full days on the ship and I have shown no indications or symptoms of sea sickness in spite of the constantly changing seas. According to the NOAA crew I’ve earned my sea legs and it’s not likely that I’ll get sea sick. So much for all the tablets of Dramamine I brought.  I took some memorable video from the bridge (both inside and outside) of the ship’s bow rising and falling between waves, some of them smashing violently into the McARTHUR’s bow on both the port (left) and starboard (right) sides, sending seawater spray up to the bridge window and all about the bow’s deck. I felt like a true mariner. Still no sightings of whales, orca, or the Black Pearl of Pirates of the Caribbean film fame.

 

Scott Donnelly, April 22, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
April 20-27, 2008

Mission: Assembly of Science Team and Movement of Science Gear/Equipment
Geographical Area: Coos Bay to Astoria, Oregon
Date: April 22, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Sunrise: 0620 Sunset: 2010
Wind: 10 kts, 25 kts gusts
Seas: 4-7 ft
Rain showers possible

Open Niskin bottles on CTD platform
Open Niskin bottles on CTD platform

Science and Technology Log 

What’s the significance of the NH Line (Newport Hydrographic, 44O39’N)? Water and biotic data acquisition at the NH Line began over 40 years ago. The NH Line then is significant on account of the long-term historical sample collection and data sets that it provides. Consequently, temporal (time) comparisons involving water and biotic data can be made over decades as opposed to shorter lengths of time such as years or months. It’s my understanding that nearshore and offshore sampling along the Oregon Continental Shelf (OCS) always includes the NH Line. My second 4-hour shift began at 0100 and ended shortly after 0500. Regardless of time of day each shift sets up and collects water samples from each of the twelve Niskin bottles on the CTD rosette. Typically, three water samples are collected at a particular depth. How does remote sub-surface water sampling work? When the CTD is deployed from the ship’s fantail, initially the top and bottom lids on all twelve Niskin bottles are open as shown in the photo below.

The CTD is lowered into the water and once the desired depth is reached the requisite number of Niskin bottles are closed electronically from the ship by whoever is in the control room. For my shift it’s team leader Ali Helms. After that is done, the CTD then is lowered or raised to another depth where another “firing” takes place and more water samples at a different depth are collected. When sampling is complete, the CTD is raised to the surface and onto the ship where it is secured to the fantail deck. The water in each Niskin bottle is collected and taken to the ship’s wet lab where each water sample collected at a particular depth is analyzed for other water quality parameters not measured by the CTD.

YSI datalogger
YSI datalogger

Other water parameters measured on this cruise in the wet lab include: total dissolved solids (TDS), pH, and turbidity (how transparent, or conversely cloudy, is the water). A YSI 6600 datalogger interfaced with a multi-sensor water quality probe (sonde) is used to measure the aforementioned water parameters. See photos below. The CTD and Niskin bottles then are hosed down with freshwater and reset for the next sampling site.  After the CTD is reset for the next sampling site, then it’s time to collect biotic samples from the surface and at different depths. Biological sampling always follows a CTD cast. On this cruise biological sampling is carried out on the ship’s starboard side just fore of the fantail. Collection of marine invertebrate (boneless) organisms uses nets that vary in size, shape, density of net mesh (number of threads per inch), and volume of detachable sample collection container (called a cod end). Sampling nets are conical in shape and typically are made from Dacron or nylon threads that are woven in a consistent, interlocking pattern. Each specifically designed net is attached to a wire cable and deployed from the starboard side. If collection/sampling is done below the water’s surface (also called sub-surface), a weight is attached to the net’s metal frame.  A bongo net is an example of a net used for the collection of invertebrate marine organisms at some defined depth below the surface (see photos below).

Multi-sensor water sonde
Multi-sensor water sonde

A bongo net collects organisms by water flowing into the net, which is parallel or horizontal to the water surface at some depth below the surface. Consequently, use of a bongo net requires that the ship moves forward. Deployment of a bongo net requires the use of trigonometry, a favorite math course of mine in high school a long time ago. The length of cable let out by the NOAA deckhand operating the winch with cable does not equal the depth that the bongo net is lowered below the surface. (This would be true if the net was simply dropped straight down over the side of the ship.) Let’s use the drawing below to illustrate this.

Suppose sample collection is to be done at 100m (328 feet) below the water’s surface. More than 100m of cable needs to be let out in order to lower the bongo net to 100m below the water’s surface. How much cable beyond 100m is let out (x) depends on the angle (θ) of the net (and hence cable) to the water’s surface. The angle θ is measured by a protractor attached to the cable and pulley at the position identified with the blue star in the drawing. The angle θ in turn depends on the ship’s forward speed. To calculate the length of cable that needs to be let out, the following trigonometric formula involving right triangles is used: sin θ = cos-1θ = 100mx. The calculated value x is communicated to the NOAA deckhand, who controls the winch that lets out the desired length of cable. When this cable length is reached, retrieval of the bongo net begins.

Duel sampling bongo nets ready for retrieval
Duel sampling bongo nets ready for retrieval

The volume of water that contains the marine organisms and that flows through the bongo net is recorded by a torpedo-shaped rotary flowmeter (left photo below), which is suspended by wires or thick fishing line in the middle of the net’s mouth. As water moves past the meter’s end, it smacks into and transfers its momentum to the flowmeter’s propeller, which rotates or spins. The propeller’s shaft in turn is linked to a mechanical counter inside the meter’s body (right photo below). A complete revolution of the propeller equates to a certain number of counts and that is related to a certain volume of water that has flowed past the meter.  The mathematical difference between the two numbers recorded before the net’s deployment and after the net’s retrieval is plugged into a mathematical formula to obtain the estimated total volume of water that flowed through the net’s mouth during the time of collection. Consequently, the weight or number of biomass collected by the net can be related to the volume of water in which the biomass was found. This gives an idea about the density of biomass (weight or number of biomass units per volume seawater, g/m3) in a horizontal column of seawater at a given depth and site. In tomorrow’s log I’ll talk about what marine organisms a bongo net collects (including photos) and also discuss and describe the three other nets used on this cruise to collect marine invertebrates.

Mechanical counter in flowmeter
Mechanical counter in flowmeter

Personal Log 

So far after one full day at sea, I haven’t experienced any indications of sea sickness in spite of rough seas (see weather forecast at beginning of log). Four other science team members haven’t been as fortunate. I didn’t witness any visible bioluminescent surface events on the early morning shift (0100 to 0500). I walked to the ship’s bow since this would likely be the best place to witness bioluminescence given all the agitation of seawater there. I left a bit disappointed but there are still five days remaining. The CTD and both the DO and chlorophyll probes (sensors) operated without any problems.

Bob and I communicate well and have similar personalities and intellectual interests. Before carrying out a task we discuss how it’s to be done and then agree to do it as discussed and in the order discussed. Communication is critical because when sampling for biological organisms for example, the nets have large, heavy weights attached so once the net is lifted from the ship’s deck for deployment the weight is airborne so to speak and free to move without resistance. Getting clobbered in the head or chest obviously would not be pleasant. The bongo net uses a 75 pound weight and the net’s solid metal frame must weigh another 25 pounds. Caution and paying attention are paramount once 100 pounds are lifted from the deck, suspended from a cable free to move about with the rolling and pitching of the ship with only air providing any sort of resistance against its movement.

 Rotary flowmeter
Rotary flowmeter

Bob and I have delegated certain tasks between us. We agreed that when a net is deployed, he will always control the net’s upper halve where the net’s “mouth” and weight are located; I in turn will control the net’s bottom halve where the netting and sample containers or cod ends are located. When the net is ready to be lifted from the sea and returned to the ship’s deck, the tasks for retrieval are the same as for deployment, though in reverse order from deployment. Before the net is lifted shipboard, it’s washed or rinsed top to bottom with seawater from a garden hose that gets seawater pumped directly from the Pacific. Washing is necessary because the collected marine organisms adhere to the net’s mesh so in order to get them into the sample container (cod end) at net’s end they must be “forced” down into the cod end. Once the net is shipboard, the cod end and collected organisms are emptied into a sample jar, sample preservative is added, and the container is labeled appropriately.

Screen shot 2013-04-20 at 4.51.18 AM

Scott Donnelly, April 21, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
April 20-27, 2008

Mission: Assembly of Science Team and Movement of Science Gear/Equipment
Geographical Area: Coos Bay to Astoria, Oregon
Date: April 21, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Sunrise: 0620 Sunset: 2010
Wind: 10 kts
Seas: 4-7 ft
Rain showers

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse where the mighty Columbia River collides with the Pacific Ocean
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse where the mighty Columbia River collides with the Pacific Ocean

Science and Technology Log

With childlike anticipation and excitement I waited for the McARTHUR II to be freed from its berth and be given the freedom to sail towards the ocean world ruled by Neptune, the god of water and sea in Roman mythology. The time had finally arrived and with the captain’s decision we pulled away from the dock, turned 180O, and set “sail” due west to where the water worlds of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean collide. After exiting the Columbia and entering the Pacific, the McARTHUR II would turn south and set a heading toward the first sampling station located about nine miles offshore due west of Cape Falcon. ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) is early afternoon. In the meantime I enjoyed the rugged, coastal scenery of the far southwestern tip of the state of Washington on the northern shore of the Columbia River. Before long I was officially an ocean mariner. An important question was soon to be answered: How long would it take for me to obtain my sea legs? 

It was time to get to work. Before reaching the first sampling site the science team met in the lounge to try on thermal survival suits to determine if they fit properly. It was cumbersome putting on the heavy red suit; I looked liked the cartoon character Gumby (but red rather than green) but it gave me a bit of peace of mind. Hopefully, that’s the last I’ll see of that suit. Next, we met on the ship’s fantail (back lower working deck of the ship). The Chief Bos’n discussed shipboard operations that are carried out on and safety issues associated with the fantail, the working section of the ship. Hardhats and a working vest are mandatory. We then learned how to operate the “A” frame that aids in deployment and retrieval of the heavy, bulky CTD platform, how to properly attach the Niskin bottles’ cables to the triggering latch at the top of the CTD, and lastly how to correctly deliver the water collected inside the Niskin bottles to a sample container for analysis in the ship’s wet lab.

From the fantail we moved to the main deck on the starboard side aft of the ship’s middle section to learn how to deploy, retrieve, and collect samples from the four types of zooplankton nets, each of which also requires recording certain kinds of data about the cast. I’ll discuss biological sampling in more detail later. Admittedly, when it was all done I was a bit overwhelmed but figured that after a station or two when I developed a rhythm and familiarity with the equipment and time scale for collecting samples, I would get the hang of it.

It was 1500 (3pm) and the McARTHUR II had rendezvoused with the first nearshore sampling site about 10 miles west of Cape Falcon (45O46’N, 124O10’W). Preparations were complete and now it was time to begin 24 hour non-stop operations. I put on rain gear and rubber boots, found some dry gloves, and adjusted my hardhat and workvest. With that, Bob Sleeth and I made our way to the “A” frame to prepare for the first CTD deployment.

Personal Log 

Winch (foreground left) and “A” frame (background) used to deploy and retrieve the CTD platform
Winch (foreground left) and “A” frame (background) used to deploy and retrieve the CTD platform

My first full day at sea. We departed early morning on schedule from the Astoria dock. As expected we met rough waters where the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean meet. The day was overcast as is typical for this region of the U.S. this time of year, and cold. It snowed during the trip out to sea. Along the Columbia I was treated to the gorgeous coastal cliffs of Cape Disappointment to the north and the snow capped mountains south of Astoria. The swells subsided once the McARTHUR II reached water depths >200 feet. I’ve been out to sea for over twelve hours now and I’ve experienced no signs of sea sickness though the waters have been relatively calm. I am still earning my “sea legs” but I suppose by cruise’s end I won’t run into the hallway walls, the hallway water fountain, or my bed as often.

The overcast, gray skies ruined any chance in witnessing a marine sunset. I was still energized and excited like a kid on a “candy high” when I crawled into my lower bunk bed at 1900 (7pm). With my first shift complete I looked forward to my second shift at 0100 (1am). I figured though that I wouldn’t sleep with it being a new environment, new sounds, new smells, and the ship pitching and rolling. For the next five hours I went back and forth between sleep and semi-sleep where you’re relaxed but at the same time fully aware of the surroundings. Half past midnight I rolled out of bed, got dressed, and went to the dry lab to prepare for the 0100 to 0500 shift. 

Scott Donnelly, April 20, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
April 20-27, 2008

Mission: Assembly of Science Team and Movement of Science Gear/Equipment
Geographical Area: Coos Bay to Astoria, Oregon
Date: April 20, 2008

NOAA TAS Scott Donnelly (green helmet) and fellow science team member Bob Sleeth collecting zooplankton
NOAA TAS Scott Donnelly (green helmet) and fellow science team member Bob Sleeth collecting zooplankton

Science and Technology Log 

The start of the cruise has been delayed one day due to the rough, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous waters where the mighty eastward flowing Columbia River and its massive volume of freshwater collides head on with the cold, salty water of the vast Pacific Ocean. Where this water slugfest happens, sands bars shift repeatedly this way and that way as the pushing and shoving between the massive volumes of sea and freshwater continues without interruption. At low tide the sand bars are easily seen; they are numerous and of great area and irregular in shape.

On account of the delay, most of the day was spent making sure instruments worked properly and non-instrument equipment was organized to maximize efficiency. Perhaps though more importantly, the delay gave the eleven science team members— most of them complete strangers to one another—extra time to get to know one another. This is important because all of us will be shipboard for eight days confined to quaint sleeping quarters, working, eating, relaxing, playing, and interacting with each other. There’s no escaping once the ship moves away from the dock and goes out to sea. It also gave science team members time to get to know the ship’s crew, who themselves play a key role in the overall success of the mission.

Science team meeting in the dry lab aboard NOAA ship McARTHUR II
Science team meeting in the dry lab aboard NOAA ship McARTHUR II

Communication is a two-way street. From the science team perspective we have to communicate with each other and also with the crew in order to be productive and minimize mistakes. Ocean science truly is an interdisciplinary endeavor that relies on the talents and work ethic of the people involved. This brings me to my next topic. Science is a uniquely human pursuit; good science relies on people. Modern scientific inquiry is all about assembling the best minds and talent possible into a highly productive team. It’s not just about brains though. Personalities and people skills matter too. In fact, they matter a lot. They can make or break a scientific mission. All it takes is an individual with a 60-grit sandpaper personality to upset the ebb and flow of human group dynamics.

Ocean science is all about teamwork!  

In a few hours I’ll see how such dynamics work out on this cruise with this assemblage of people, the youngest being an undergraduate science major and the oldest a retired Silicon Valley engineer. Four of the eleven science team members (myself included) have never been at sea. We don’t know what to expect or, for that matter, think about with respect to what lies ahead this next full week.

After lunch we met as a group with the NOAA Corps officers and reviewed the ship’s rules and regulations. We then had a science team meeting whereby the cruise’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Steven Rumrill, gave a brief overview of the cruise’s scientific mission, discussed shipboard operations, the cruise’s plans and objectives, and the itinerary and the logistics associated with sample collection and data acquisition.

In summary, the science team will measure a number of salient water quality parameters (see my log April 19, 2008) and collect samples of marine invertebrates (boneless organisms) along the Oregon Continental Shelf (OCS) at varying depths and distances from the coast over the period of 20-27 April 2008. This time of year was chosen because it precedes the development of an upwelling/hypoxia event that is anticipated to develop later in the summer of 2008. (The oceanographic terms upwelling and hypoxia will be discussed later in this log.) Water and biological sampling will continue non-stop for 24hrs per day, every day of the cruise except the last day when preparations are made for eventual docking.

Each work shift is four hours in length and is followed by an eight hour rest & relaxation (R&R) period. My assigned shift mate is Bob Sleeth and the team leader Ali Helms, a research cruise veteran who works full-time under Chief Scientist Steve Rumrill at South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (SSNERR). Ali will work the CTD controls in the dry lab while Bob and I will collect water samples from the CTD Niskin bottles and also zooplankton and phytoplankton using specially designed nets deployed starboard (right side of ship) to various depths and eventually retrieved after a certain length of time. Our daily shift schedule is from 0100 to 0500 (1am to 5am) and 1300 to 1700 (1pm to 5pm) with an eight hour R&R period in between each shift. Once started operations will continue on a 24-hour basis without interruption unless for inclement weather or seas.

The map to the right shows the major geographical regions where sampling will occur along the continental shelf of Oregon between Astoria (46O10’N, 123O50’W) and Cape Blanco (42O51’N, 124O41’W). At each sampling site biological (phytoplankton and zooplankton) samples will be collected at varying depths using special collection nets of varying mesh and design.

The operating area for this cruise is the nearshore region of the Oregon Continental Shelf (OCS), between Astoria (Cape Falcon 45o46’N, 124o40’W) and Cape Blanco (42o51’N, 124o41’W) at sites or stations ranging from 3 to 55 miles off the coast. Multiple sampling stations are scheduled along the Newport Hydrographic (NH) Line (maroon line), the Umpqua Estuary Line (green line), the Coos Bay Line (blue line), and the Coquille Estuary Line (orange line). The number of sampling stations is indicated by the number adjacent each colored line. Sampling also will take place at multiple sites (26 total) south of the Columbia River-Pacific Ocean interface and north of the NH Line as indicated by the purple circle on the map at right. Weather permitting, in total there are 59 sites where chemical and biological characterization of the water column will be carried out.

Previously I mentioned the oceanographic terms upwelling. So what is upwelling? A short definition is that upwelling is a vertical water circulation pattern in which deep, cold and typically nutrient- rich seawater moves upward to the ocean surface. Upwelling occurs in a number of places around the world on the western side of continents. It is caused either by strong, consistent winds blowing parallel to the shore as is the case on the Oregon coast in the summer months, or by deep, cold ocean currents smashing into the continental landmass and having no where to go but up as is the case in the southern hemisphere off southern Chile (South America) and Namibia (southwestern Africa). During summer in the northeastern Pacific, a clockwise rotating, high-pressure air system is positioned off the Washington-Oregon coast. Strong northerly winds blow south parallel to the Washington-Oregon coasts pushing the surface water towards the equator. At the southernmost region of the high pressure air system the water is pushed out to sea, away from the Oregon coast. As the surface water is pushed south toward the equator, deep, cold water from below upwells and thereby replaces the warmer, less dense surface water displaced to the south by winds of the high-pressure air system.

Hypoxia describes seawater that is low in dissolved oxygen gas (DO). Generally, the accepted concentration value for waters deemed hypoxic is less than (<) 1.5mg O2/L seawater. Marine organisms vary in their oxygen demand. The more active and larger swimming marine organisms such as tuna and mackerel typically require more oxygen per body weight in order to generate the metabolic activity necessary to supply their dense muscles with the requisite energy to slice through the water oftentimes counter to the current. So an active fish that moves into hypoxic waters decreases its chance of survival.

Oregon coast
Oregon coast

Personal Log 

As expected I didn’t sleep well last night, the first night on the ship. It wasn’t because of the ship’s movement either. It hardly moved as the Columbia River was calm with the wind blowing weakly. It’s a given that more often than not I sleep poorly in a new environment whether it’s a hotel, my in-laws home, or camping. Even if dead tired at best I’ll catnap for 1.5 hour intervals at the most, if lucky.

I was assigned to share living-sleeping quarters with three other science team members. The cabin contained two bunk bed units (top and bottom) separated by a wall, two small desks in the corners, ample storage space below each lower bunk bed and all along three of the four walls of the room, a (very) small lavatory with a hot/cold water shower and toilet, and a sink with hot/cold water to freshen up in the morning or before bed. In spite of the room’s relatively small size (~12ft x ~12ft), the storage capacity was more than enough to accommodate the personal gear of four people for simple, Spartan living. Every square inch of wall space was utilized for storage or some other useful, practical function. Basically, no space was wasted. Wall hooks were everywhere to hang jackets. Each bed had its own reading light, a full-length curtain for privacy (relatively speaking), and a side bumper so that when the ship rolled one didn’t roll out of bed onto the floor. Overall, it was a good example of efficient use of space for simple, practical, but productive living.

The mission delay provided more time for me to talk to and get to know members of science team, particularly my assigned shift mate Bob Sleeth, a retired Silicon Valley electronics engineer. After a hearty breakfast we spent Sunday morning exploring the quiet Astoria waterfront. Bob and a friend sailed in a 35 foot yacht from San Diego to French Polynesia in the South Pacific, spending a year sailing to and from the small islands that constitute the vast archipelago of beautiful islands including Bora Bora and Tahiti.

Cargo ship arriving at Astoria port
Cargo ship arriving at Astoria port

After lunch I spent a considerable amount of time studying the wrestling match between the ebb and flow of the high and low tides of the Columbia River. Salt water vs. fresh water. Bob gave me a few pointers on how wave structure gives a clue about the subtle changes in wind direction and speed at the water’s surface. This led to a lengthy conversation about how the nameless but intrepid mariners of ancient times, the Vikings, and those of the Age of Maritime Discovery of the European Renaissance (Ferdinand Magellan, Christopher Columbus, James Cook and many more) used their observational powers to chart the vast oceans without the aid of longitudinal coordinates. For example, the appearance of a certain bird over water, marine organism, or the change in surface water color or texture possibly meant that land or an island, yet unseen over the curvature of the earth’s surface, lay just below the horizon.

Throughout the day a number of cargo ships loaded with goods made their way slowly into port. That led to a discussion about how a seemingly small decrease in water volume translates into cargo ships having to shed weight else they run aground. Early tomorrow morning we start the mission and head out to the intimidating, deep waters of the Pacific Ocean. 

Scott Donnelly, April 19, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
April 20-27, 2008

Mission: Assembly of Science Team and Movement of Science Gear/Equipment
Geographical Area: Coos Bay to Astoria, Oregon
Date: April 19, 2008

Loading gear onto the McARTHUR II in the snow and rain
Loading gear onto the McARTHUR II in the snow and rain

Science and Technology Log 

The long, winding drive along US Highway 101 from Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston to Astoria was well worth it. For the most part every turn opened to a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean to the west. To the east, lush, verdant open meadows, some inundated with small ponds and bordered by thick coniferous forests, pleased our eyes. We stopped in Newport, OR to pick up a science team member and had lunch at a local restaurant with a microbrewery. I feasted on Kobe Chili.

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Scott Donnelly, next to a CTD with Niskin bottles in port at Astoria, OR
NOAA Teacher at Sea, Scott Donnelly, next to a CTD with Niskin bottles in port at Astoria, OR

After arriving at the Astoria dock (45O12’N, 124O50’W) late afternoon and loading all the gear, equipment, and supplies aboard the McARTHUR II, we spent the evening moving personal gear into our assigned shipboard cabins, setting up and troubleshooting the computer and data collection systems, organizing the ship’s wet lab, installing dissolved oxygen (DO) and chlorophyll fluorometer sensors onto the shipboard Conductivity-Temperature-Depth (CTD) platform, and calibrating the instruments in preparation for the cruise.  The scientific instrumentation that will be used on the cruise is impressive and worth mentioning since in science data are only as good and believable as the tools used to collect it. The cruise’s instrument workhorse will be the CTD as it will be used at every sample site. The following physical-chemical water quality parameters will be measured continuously as the CTD descends and then ascends through the water column: conductivity, temperature, depth, dissolved oxygen (DO), and chlorophyll a fluorescence. Attached to the CTD are twelve cylindrical Niskin bottles, each with a volume capacity of 2.5 liters (0.66gal). Water collected in the Niskin bottles at various depths will be collected and taken to the ship’s wet lab where the following water quality parameters will be measured using a multi-sensor sonde or probe: salinity, pH, and turbidity. The photo below shows the CTD with Niskin bottles.

Let’s begin by talking about a CTD, which measures seawater’s conductivity (more or less the amount of dissolved ions in a given mass or volume of seawater), its temperature, and depth of the surrounding water column at the time a measurement is made. The latter two parameters are self-explanatory so let’s focus on conductivity. Seawater conducts electrical current because seawater contains dissolved ions, i.e. charged particles, either positive or negative. The major ions in seawater contributing to its conductivity are predominately sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl) but other ions in varying amounts, depending on location and depth, are present as well. Examples include magnesium (Mg+2), calcium (Ca+2), carbonate (CO3-2), bicarbonate (HCO3), and sulfate (SO4-2). Other important elements found in trace or very small amounts in seawater are lithium (Li+), iodine (I), zinc (Zn+2), iron (Fe+2 and Fe+3), and aluminum (Al+3). This list is not exhaustive by any means.

Conductivity is related to salinity. In general, the greater seawater’s conductivity, the greater its salinity. Salinity of seawater though is not constant; it depends on a number of factors, two of the more important being depth and temperature.  Atmospheric gases, namely molecular nitrogen (N2), oxygen (O2), and carbon dioxide (CO2), readily dissolve in seawater, particularly so at the ocean’s surface where wave action facilitates this process. A dissolved oxygen (DO) probe (or sensor, typically the two words mean the same thing) measures the mass (or weight) of O2 dissolved in a given mass or volume of water. The units associated with a measured value then would be either mg O2(g)/kg seawater or mg O2(g)/L seawater. The symbol mg means milligrams, kg means kilograms (1kg = 1,000g = 2.2 pounds), and L means liter. Why is the denominator in the ratio either kg or L? The unit kg is a unit for mass, which does not depend on temperature. The mass (or weight) of a substance does not change simply because it gets warmer or cooler because mass measures the quantity of matter of the substance. The mass of any substance then is independent of temperature. If a book weighs one pound, it weighs one pound regardless if it’s placed in the sun or in the freezer. The unit L (liter) is a unit for volume, the value of which does depend on temperature. An object of some mass occupies a greater volume when warm than when cool.

Also attached to the CTD platform is a chlorophyll a fluorescence sensor, which measures the mass of chlorophyll (typically in micrograms, mcg or μg) per volume (typically one liter, L) seawater (overall units mcg/L). Small biological organisms called phytoplankton contain chlorophyll and hence carry out photosynthesis. Like the photosynthesis carried out by terrestrial vegetation, phytoplankton utilize the red and blue light-absorbing molecule called chlorophyll and the carbon dioxide (CO2) dissolved in seawater to produce biomass and molecular oxygen gas (O2). The famous equation for photosynthesis is:

CO2 + red and/blue light + H2O Ö biomass + O2 Photosynthesis though doesn’t work unless sufficient red and/or blue light from the sun is available at the depths phytoplankton are found. The zone in the ocean near the surface where marine photosynthesis takes place is called the photic zone.

The amount of chlorophyll measured by the sensor is in direct proportion to the amount of photosynthesizing phytoplankton found in seawater. Chlorophyll then can be counted so to speak by making the chlorophyll molecule in phytoplankton fluoresce, i.e. emit light. A chlorophyll fluorescence sensor (CFS) shoots a pulse of blue light into the surrounding seawater. A chlorophyll molecule absorbs the blue light which causes it to emit (give off) red light. The CFS sensor measures the red light emitted. Basically, the more red light that’s emitted means the more chlorophyll-containing phytoplankton present in the surrounding seawater at the depth where the measurement occurs.

Pelagic snail collected off the southern Oregon coast near Coos Bay
Pelagic snail collected off the southern Oregon coast

A CO2 probe interfaced with a computer for continuous real-time data collection measures the amount of gaseous CO2 (in milligrams, mg) dissolved in a given volume of water (typically one liter). Measuring CO2 in seawater is done to gauge the extent of CO2 gas the ocean “cleans” or “scrubs” (not the television show) from the atmosphere. The world’s oceans are huge CO2 sinks because they absorb enormous amounts of gaseous CO2 from the atmosphere annually, a good amount of which is converted into biomass by the photosynthetic activity of phytoplankton.

The “unused” dissolved CO2 forms carbonic acid, H2CO3, which in turn drops the seawater pH, thereby eventually making seawater more acidic. This added acidity (drop in pH) is countered or buffered by the ocean’s natural basic pH, resulting in essentially no net change in pH. But this buffering capacity has limits. If the buffering capacity is exceeded by the addition of too much CO2 in a given time period or the reduction in phytoplankton photosynthesis, then the net result is a drop in pH, making the seawater more acidic. This change in seawater chemistry, in turn, can have deleterious effects on the biology of marine organisms, especially those organisms that live and reproduce in a limited pH range.

One marine organism that is expected to succumb to the predicted net acidification of the oceans over the next decade or so, if not sooner, is the pelagic snail (see photo below). The term pelagic means open so a pelagic snail is found in the open ocean away from the coast.

Why is the pelagic snail threatened? Acidification of the ocean increases the solubility of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), the major constituent of the shells of marine organisms. Solubility is a chemistry term that relates the amount of substance (CaCO3) dissolved in a liquid, in this instance seawater. Essentially a drop in pH (acidification) increases the amount of calcium carbonate in the exoskeleton or shells of marine organisms dissolved, thereby producing thinner shells. Ultimately the shell becomes too thin and any major wave action will break the shell and the organism dies. To show this process, place an egg in a glass of vinegar overnight. The egg shell’s chemical composition is CaCO3. Vinegar is acidic. Over time the shell becomes progressively thinner. Eventually the egg shell dissolves away completely if the egg remains in the vinegar long enough. The yolk inside the egg then is no longer protected by the shell.

Personal Log 

NOAA vessel McARTHUR II in port in Astoria, OR
NOAA vessel McARTHUR II in port in Astoria, OR

I awoke Saturday morning to the music of song birds and a slight drizzle. I couldn’t identify which type of song bird but it didn’t matter; it was a good start to what would be a great day. Early Saturday morning we packed the scientific gear and sensitive equipment/instruments for the seven-hour vehicular transport along US Highway 101 to Astoria, Oregon (45O12’N, 124O50’W), where the NOAA research ship and crew of the McARTHUR II (see photo left) were docked and awaiting our arrival. The south-north drive along US Highway 101 is long and winding but is replete with breathtaking scenery at every turn. It’s highly recommended when visiting Oregon.

The seven-hour drive in the minivan from Coos Bay to Astoria was a good chance to interact with and talk to some of the other science team members, all of whom I had never met nor talked to previous to today. We all would be shipboard with each other for nine straight days. I had better get to know them and get an idea what makes them tick. I’m sure they thought the same.

In addition, over the past year or so I have developed a keen interest in how ships work and as I came to find out during the seven-hour drive so too did a fellow science team member, Bob Sleeth, who sat adjacent to me during the drive to Astoria. The NOAA crew was most welcoming and eager to talk about their ship. Bob and I were treated to an immensely educational tour of the McARTHUR’s navigational systems capabilities from Ensign Andrew Colegrove, a NOAA junior officer who obviously is passionate about both his job and maritime history; he also has a wealth and breadth of knowledge about the practical, engineering ins-andouts of modern ship technology and operational systems. I lost track of time but I’m sure the personal tour lasted more than two hours.

Elizabeth Eubanks, August 3, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Eubanks
Onboard NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan
July 22 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Relative Shark Abundance Survey and J vs. Circle Hook Comparison
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean, West of San Diego
Date: August 3, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge taken at 1300 (5am)  
Visibility: 10+ miles
Air temperature: 18.7 degrees C
Sea Temperature at surface: 21.9 degrees C
Wind Direction: 010N
Wind Speed: 5 kts
Cloud cover: partially cloudy– stratus
Sea Level Pressure: 1014.2 MB
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 ft
Swell Wave Height: <1 ft

Science and Technology Log 

Cleaning – Cleaning – Cleaning. We fuel for 4+ hours – Amazing! We will be in port by 2pm today.

Screen shot 2013-04-18 at 7.23.31 AM

Personal Log 

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been honored to be selected to participate in NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program. This has been a life-changing adventure. I am wiser and have so much to share with my students and community.

A huge thanks to all of the scientist for being so nice and so helpful. I feel honored to have worked with Dr. Suzi Kohin, Dr. Russ Vetter and Dr. Jeff Graham as well as grad students Lyndsay Field, Heather Marshall, Dovi Kavec (thanks for being my on board conscience!), Noah Ben Aderet, Alfonsia “Keena” Romo-Curiel, South West Fisheries staff (including Suzi and Russ), Anne Allen (thanks for taking me to the bow chamber), Eric Lynn, Monterey Bay Aquarium staff, Ann Coleman (thanks for teaching me how to set and haul and collect data), and my roommate Leanne Laughlin from California Department of Fish and Game.  The crew has been awesome. I give you many, many thanks and wish you the best at sea. Chico – I am happy and I know it – so my face surely shows it! Jose – “any minute now” and you will catch a fish.

Peter good luck at the Maritime Academy and with the guitar.

LCDR Keith Roberts, thanks for your command. XO Kelley Stroud, thanks for your help with kids’ supplies. I am going to stop here, in case I forget someone, but please know I appreciate all of the folks on the deck, bridge, engine room (Great tour John!) and the galley (the food was amazing) so much. Thanks for your interviews – you will be famous. This trip has been amazing!

Screen shot 2013-04-18 at 7.23.46 AM

Questions of the Day 

What sounds most interesting about the adventure at sea? Would you like to go to see to study sharks? 

Question of the trip: Which hook, the J or Circle, will catch more sharks? 

Please make a hypothesis. Utilize resources to justify your hypothesis. ———Yes, you get extra credit for this. 

Elizabeth Eubanks, August 2, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Eubanks
Onboard NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan
July 22 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Relative Shark Abundance Survey and J vs. Circle Hook Comparison
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean, West of San Diego
Date: August 2, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Visibility: 10+ miles
Air temperature: 20.3 degrees C
Sea Temperature at 500 m:
Sea Temperature at surface: 19.8 degrees C
Wind Direction: 280 W
Wind Speed:  17 kts
Cloud cover: partially cloudy–alto cumulus
Sea Level Pressure: 1015.7 MB
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 ft
Swell Wave Height: 2 ft

Bow Chamber
Bow Chamber

Science and Technology Log 

The Bow Chamber! Wow! The Bow Chamber is in the bulbous bow. It is located in the very front of boat where the V hull is. Basically this area breaks up the water pressure to create less drag. The chamber is actually a little room about 20 feet down below the main deck. It has port holes/windows so you can see aquatic life. Currently the windows have a lot of algae on them so it is hard to see out of them during the day. A group of us went down after dark and we could see bioluminescent creatures zipping by. We were seeing things such as dinoflagelletes/ plankton and jelly fish. It was so beautiful to watch.

Personal Log 

Doctoral student Dovi Kacev and NOAA Teacher at Sea Elizabeth Eubanks look down into the bow chamber.
Doctoral student Dovi Kacev and NOAA Teacher at Sea Elizabeth Eubanks look down into the bow chamber.

Great day. I got up at 5:30am to watch and learn a little more about the CTD, which I wrote about yesterday. We completed our 2 final sets and I gathered goodies to bring back to school. We had the perfect ending to our last set. One of the very last hooks we pulled in possessed a huge, enormous Blue Shark. He was the biggest that we had caught so far, in length (229 cm) and girth. He gave a huge fight while in the water and even threw up a little (but thankfully not his stomach) before they got him onto the cradle. The best part of this was that the rest of the scientists could watch the people on the platform work with the shark, because the long line hauling was finished. It was truly the perfect ending to the perfect adventure.

Question of the Day 

How do bioluminescent creatures shine? 

Question of the trip: Which hook, the J or Circle, will catch more sharks? 

Please make a hypothesis. Utilize resources to justify your hypothesis. ———Yes, you get extra credit for this. 

A big Blue Shark.  Graduate student Heather Marshall holds the tail while Dr. Jeff Graham helps Dr. Suzi Kohin with the bolt cutters as Dr. Russ Vetter retains the head.
A big Blue Shark. Graduate student Heather Marshall holds the tail while Dr. Jeff Graham helps Dr. Suzi Kohin with the bolt cutters as Dr. Russ Vetter retains the head.

Elizabeth Eubanks, August 1, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Eubanks
Onboard NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan
July 22 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Relative Shark Abundance Survey and J vs. Circle Hook Comparison
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean, West of San Diego
Date: August 1, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge  
Visibility: 10 miles
Air temperature: 17.4.0 degrees C
Sea Temperature at 500 m: 4 degrees C
Sea Temperature at surface: 15.2 degrees C
Wind Direction: 300 W
Wind Speed:  13 kts
Cloud cover: cloudy–stratus
Sea Level Pressure: 1014.7 MB
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 ft
Swell Wave Height: 3-4 ft

Science and Technology Log 

Make use of all or your resources! Yes, this ship is charted to study sharks, but as mentioned previously there are many other research projects going on. Dr. Russ Vetter and Eric Lynn are administering a CTD apparatus twice daily in the proximity of where the long lines are set: every night at 2000 (8pm) and every morning at 0500 (5am). CTD stands for Conductivity, Temperature and Depth. This machine costs approximately $15,000 and helps give scientist data to evaluate. The apparatus is dropped from a J Frame, a crane-like structure, from the ship into the ocean, while being guided by E. Lynn and R. Vetter who are strapped to the ship. See photos above and below. The apparatus contains two bottles, similar to a large thermos. Both bottles are open all the way down, depending at what depth the CTD drops to. On this trip it has ranged between 250m and 1,000m down. Once it gets to its destination the scientist pushes a button on their computer that is connected to the bottles and tells them to fire. This action shuts the bottles trapping water samples inside. One bottle is used for maximum depth water collection and the other is used for water sample collections at 10m. They have boxes filled with water samples that will be taken back to San Diego for testing by other scientists.

NOAA scientists, Eric Lynn and Dr. Russ Vetter prepare to lower the CTD. Notice the green cylinders on the left side of the CTD – they are bottles for water samples.
NOAA scientists, Eric Lynn and Dr. Russ Vetter prepare to lower the CTD. Notice the green cylinders on the left side of the CTD – they are bottles for water samples.

There are many other structures on the CTD that measure, salinity, temperature, depth, oxygen levels and fluorescence. Fluorescence measures how much chlorophyll is in the ocean and can be compared to the oxygen levels. Chemical Scientists who work for NOAA have put CO2 detection equipment on board many of the NOAA ships including the NOAA ship DAVID STARR JORDAN. The scientists do not travel with the ship, but come and check the data quite often. Global warming and CO2 levels in the atmosphere have been a hot topic. Many, many years ago when scientists were determining what to do with all the extra CO2, they had thought about pumping into the ocean. Thinking has changed a lot since then. Now scientists realize that the extra CO2 in the ocean is just as detrimental to the ocean as it is to the atmosphere. We’re all connected, we’re all affected. 

A very simple way to think about this is to think of the age-old science experiment of when you put a tooth in a bottle of soda and after a short time the tooth dissolves.  When CO2 is added to ocean water it creates a carbonic acid. Our bones are made of the mineral calcium (Ca) which keeps them hard and allows them to support our bodies.  Sea creatures that have bones or a shell count on Ca as well. Can you imagine what would happen to a clam that didn’t have enough Ca to make a shell? Or could you imagine a clam that had a shell and the acidic ocean water ate it up? These are things we need to imagine. Because of the increase in CO2, our average ocean Ph has dropped from ~ 8.1 down to 7.8, thus making the ocean more acidic. What I write here is only a first stepping stone to so many various things that are occurring with an increase of CO 2 levels on our planet.

The CTD being lowered from the J Frame on the NOAA ship DAVID STARR JORDAN
The CTD being lowered from the J Frame on the NOAA ship DAVID STARR JORDAN

Personal Log 

I can recall sitting in my classroom sometime in March or April. Maggie, a student, was in the room and it was well over an hour after school. I checked my email as I do routinely and there it was, the long awaited message from NOAA. I was a little nervous opening it, but did rather quickly. I was so excited to find out that I had been chosen to participate and immediately shared the news with Maggie, Rob and Dr. Finely the principal of my school. Anticipation filled my life until I got my assignment which was to board the NOAA Ship ALBATROSS IV in July, out of Woodshole, Mass to do a sea scallop survey. Of course I started reading all of the logs teachers had written. I prepared myself for working 12-hour shifts and measuring scallops. In May, when the staff at NOAA realized I would be in San Diego and that there was an opening on the NOAA Ship DAVID STARR JORDAN, they called and asked if I wanted to work with sharks.

It only took me 24 hours to accept that position and then I had new logs to read and new things to anticipate. I was extremely excited and equally as nervous. Would I get sick? Would people be nice? Would I feel safe and comfortable? Would I like the jobs I needed to do? Was I capable of doing the jobs? Oh no – I am not so great with the metric system, will people think I am stupid if I have to think and research before making a conversion? How much will I miss Rob? Will I like boat life? Then my questions even got more specific. Will have enough food? Which snacks should I bring? What does closed-toed shoes mean– can I wear Keens? Do I bring a towel? How many hobby supplies or books should I bring? How many girls will be there? Do we have to share a room with a guy (really I didn’t know)? You can imagine all of the questions I had and they didn’t stop until I had spent 24 hours on the ship and then I understood.

Here I am 11 days into this amazing adventure that has far surpassed anything I imagined. I have 2 more nights to get a giant “rock” (from the ocean waves) to sleep and 3 days to live on the Pacific Ocean. We only have 2.5 sets left to do.  Amazing. – I am going to enjoy every bit – starting right now – I am going to enjoy some of the great folks on board.  

Question of the Day 

What are some things YOU can do to further prevent the ocean from becoming more acidic?

What is a terapod?

What are some things that you anticipate about the upcoming school year?

Question of the trip: Which hook, the J or Circle, will catch more sharks? 

Please make a hypothesis. Utilize resources to justify your hypothesis. ———Yes, you get extra credit for this.  

Elizabeth Eubanks, July 31, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Eubanks
Onboard NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan
July 22 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Relative Shark Abundance Survey and J vs. Circle Hook Comparison
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean, West of San Diego
Date: July 31, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Visibility: 10 miles
Air temperature: 16.0 degrees C
Sea Temperature at 700m: 5 degrees C
Sea Temperature at surface: 19.2 degrees C
Wind Direction: 300 W
Wind Speed:  15 kts
Cloud cover: Clear –stratus
Sea Level Pressure: 1013.9 MB
Sea Wave Height: 4-5 ft
Swell Wave Height: 2 ft

Science and Technology Log 

Salt, Sodium, NaCl, Salinity. How much salt is in the ocean? How much salt is in me and you? Is there a difference between the amount of salt in from the Pacific to the Atlantic ocean? How much salt is in a fish or shark? Lots of questions about salt. I spent some time again with Dr. Jeff Graham and he showed me some nice diagrams to help me understand.

Percent of average salt content – salinity. ***The top of the box marks only 10%   scale subject to revision (due to lack of resources on board ship)
Percent of average salt content – salinity. The top of the box marks only 10% scale subject to revision (due to lack of resources on board ship)

Personal Log 

Yeah I added a new species to my list and yesterday I was able to get a photo of the Black Footed Albatross. While we were hauling our line he kept circling. He seemed to be very interested in the line. Some of the scientists were tossing bait to him from the hooks they were debating, but he didn’t seem that interested our old Mackerel.  Albatross are beautiful birds. They are the largest of seabirds and spend most of their time on the water. They have long, narrow wings as you can see from the photo below. One of the scientists on board was telling me that she read studies, indicating that they can travel 3,000 miles across the ocean, before they need to touch land.  Rarely does a person have the opportunity to view them from shore unless you are on some remote island when they are breading and nesting.

Black-footed albatross, tagged.
Black-footed albatross, tagged.

Look at the photo I took. You will notice a yellow band on left leg and a white one oh his right. I am told that to band these birds, you go to a remote island and just band them. They aren’t really afraid of people. – I would love to do that…. When is that cruise?  Nobody likes it when this happens, especially the sea lions. This is the only we caught this trip. They put up a huge fight and this one actually got off of the line. Hopefully, he will be fine. It is such a treat to see them out here. During this set we had a lot of half eaten bait, so we believe he was having a feast!

Steller sea lion hooked in the mouth
Steller sea lion hooked in the mouth

Question of the Day 

Salt is essential for all life. However too much salt can be toxic. Animals have special ways of regulating the salt in their bodies. How does the shark regulate its salt? Define these terms associated with salinity and adaptations an animal makes to an environment: Isosmotic,  Hypoosmotic, and  Hyperosmotic.

Question of the trip: Which hook, the J or Circle, will catch more sharks?

Please make a hypothesis. Utilize resources to justify your hypothesis. ———Yes, you get extra credit for this.  

Elizabeth Eubanks, July 30, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Eubanks
Onboard NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan
July 22 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Relative Shark Abundance Survey and J vs. Circle Hook Comparison
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean, West of San Diego
Date: July 30, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge  
Visibility: 10 miles
Air temperature: 20.0 degrees C
Sea Temperature at 1,000m: -No CTD test tonight
Sea Temperature at surface: 19.8 degrees C
Wind Direction: 270 W
Wind Speed:  11 kts
Cloud cover: Clear –very cloudy, stratus, cumulus
Sea Level Pressure: 1011.9 MB
Sea Wave Height: 2 ft
Swell Wave Height: <1 ft

Science and Technology Log 

Today as my early shift which means I was up and on deck by 5:45 am. The morning was beautiful. I got to clip the gangion with line, hook and bait onto the long line. This has the potential to be a very stressful job, if it is really windy or there are large waves. I have avoided this job, for fear I would get tangled and go over board or miss the long line and drop the baited line, miss the space to clip my gangion or get the alternating Circles and J’s messed up.  Lots to remember. But when Dr. Kohin asked me to do it, of course I said “sure”. And guess what nothing bad really happened. I didn’t wreck the whole survey or anything! The long line has little bolt like things on it with a space between where you are supposed to clip the gangion. It can be tricky to clip them on, because the long line is moving out past you to the sea. I did miss two, but it wasn’t a huge disaster. The circles got a little knotted in the basket so there was nothing that could be done about keeping those in order, it was more important to get bait on the hooks, but later we added a few extra circles to keep the data on target and even.

Gangion clip attached to 20 foot line with hook (Circle or J) and Pacific Mackerel bait.
Gangion clip attached to 20 foot line with hook (Circle or J) and Pacific Mackerel bait.

Funny, I actually found it to be my favorite job. It was exciting and challenging and keeps your attention. Of course it was a calm day so it wasn’t as stressful as it could’ve been. The hardest thing about clipping this morning was to resist running to get my camera. The sun magnificently peaked through the clouds as a bright pinkish red ball at 6:30 am . The ocean was alive with visible life as sea gulls circled, and dolphins and seals splashed in the water. I worked on de-meating shark jaws for a while, which is tedious but fun. Their teeth are so plentiful and sharp. Fours hours later we hauled the line and had four Mako Sharks. Not the best set, but not the worst either!

Heather Marshall, grad student from U Mass. of Dartmouth on the phone with her mother. Too bad she couldn’t talk to her boyfriend, but he had just boarded a research vessel studying northern shrimp out of Maine for Massachusetts.
Heather Marshall, grad student from U Mass. of Dartmouth on the phone with her mother. Too bad she couldn’t talk to her boyfriend, but he had just boarded a research vessel studying northern shrimp out of Maine

Personal Log 

We arrived near Avalon, which is on Santa Catalina Island, California at 3:30pm. As soon as we got close to it people started to pull out their cell phones. I have to admit that as wonderful and adorable that Avalon was the best part was talking to Rob, my mom, Jim, Bob and Sue.  Telephones are not a luxury that we have on this ship. I am sure I wasn’t the only one that felt this way, because every time I turned around either on the ship or on Avalon, people were on their phones. In fact even down to the last minute while the ship was pulling away from civilization, people were still making one last call to their loved ones.

“26 miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a waiting for me” – old tune from the 50’s – Who is the artist? 

Santa Catalina Island is about 25 miles long and 26 miles off of the west coast of California. To get there from the mainland you take a Ferry from Long Beach, which is south west of Los Angeles. You need special permission to bring a car.  We were in a town called Avalon, it is located in the south eastern part of the island. The Wrigley’s, as in Wrigley’s gum family use to own a lot of the Island, but some years ago donated most of it to the state, the Nature Conservancy and to the University of Southern California. Many organizations such as the Boy Scouts use some of the areas and are allowed to continue providing they take care of it. Avalon was very popular back in the day. During the big band swing era in the 50’s musicians like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey would come place at the Casino which is really a Ballroom. It is a quaint little town with electric cars, buses and golf carts driving all about. Rarely do you see a typical car. There are lots of shops and cute places to eat.

Harbor at Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California. The former Wrigley house is the one that sits highest on the mountain in the photo.
Harbor at Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California. The former Wrigley house is the one that sits highest on the mountain in the photo.

We were brought over to the island on Zodiacs, a small rubber watercraft and stayed for 2 or so hours. A group of us wandered around, while some swam and others ate. It was such an unexpected bonus and so nice to be in a town. About an hour or so after we arrived I was interviewing Charlie with my camcorder and as I looked at the screen I noticed I was rocking – okay so I felt like I was rocking! I didn’t expect this. When I told Ann Coleman who was an experienced scientist at sea, she said it was common and said the strangest would be when I get home and take a shower, especially when I close my eyes and when I go to bed.  I will see how that goes.

Question of the Day 

Why do you think it is important to throw the fish and the line overboard before you clip the gangion onto the long line?

Question of the trip: Which hook, the J or Circle, will catch more sharks? 

Please make a hypothesis. Utilize resources to justify your hypothesis.  ———Yes, you get extra credit for this. 

Elizabeth Eubanks, July 28, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Eubanks
Onboard NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan
July 22 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Relative Shark Abundance Survey and J vs. Circle Hook Comparison
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean, West of San Diego
Date: July 28, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge   
Visibility: 10 miles
Air temperature: 19.0 degrees C
Sea Temperature at 5000m: 6 degrees C; Sea Temperature at surface: 20.3 degrees C
Wind Direction: 270 W
Wind Speed:  16 kts
Cloud cover: clear –some cumulus, cirrus
Sea Level Pressure: 1013.7 mb
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 ft
Swell Wave Height: 2 ft

Blue Shark with an evertted stomach.
Blue Shark with an evertted stomach.

Science and Technology Log 

The mortality (death) rate has spiked a little – very sad. We brought in a Blue shark last night that had evertted (thrown up) its stomach. Sometimes sharks do this when they eat something bad, like a hook. Most times they just suck it back up. It isn’t a common thing to happen and obviously it is a last extreme measure to feel better. It is probably dangerous to throw up your stomach when you have all of those teeth it needs to get passed to leave your mouth. When the scientists first saw the shark, they said it would be okay. We were all hopeful, but by the time it got on the ship it had died. Of course as always when there is a mortality, paper work is filled out and researchers use so much of the shark, so that is the good part.

Bedrooms on board the DAVID STARR JORDAN -mine is the bottom bunk
Bedrooms on board the DAVID STARR JORDAN -mine is the bottom bunk

Personal Log 

Simplify, Simplify. -Henry David Thoreau 

One “simplify” would have sufficed. Ralph Waldo Emerson, in response 

Life on this ship is simple. I have not looked in full length mirror since I boarded. Actually I haven’t seen myself too much below my chest even. Well, a couple of times in a photograph I saw my full body. Makeup, jewelry, matching clothing, high fashion, hats, they just aren’t important out here. In fact I did boycott the hats for a few days, because ever since I shaved my head I felt like I looked funny in a hat – like a boy. Oh well, too bad. It is so sunny out here so I need to wear my floppy hat to protect my skin. I need to wear Rob’s knit hat, because it gets equally as cold. My shirt sleeves smell fishy some of the time. But instead of washing the whole shirt, I was the sleeves. Quite often I sleep in the clothes – hat and all I wore all day if they aren’t dirty, because for some reason it is so chilly in my room. I live in the same clothes day after day if they don’t smell fishy. We eat what we are fed and get called to eat by an extremely loud bell. We sleep in small, simple bed. I washed a batch of clothes yesterday – sheets included. It all went in one load and took me about 5 minutes to put away.

We work at certain hours and relax or help out, read or wander about the ship, watching the ocean for creatures. We aren’t at the grocery store choosing what food to buy or shopping at a mall. We aren’t talking on the phone or watching a whole lot of TV, we do have to pick movies sometimes though (500 choices – now that is complicated).  Dovi, one of the Doctoral students did not take a shower or change his clothes until yesterday (mid trip). I didn’t get too close to him, but didn’t notice him smelling from a distance. Simple life. I imagine the most extravagant thing about living on this ship is the fancy food we get to eat and the huge choice of movies—and the no-brainer—being in contact with sharks. Of course I am definitely putting some time into my hobby – photography and boy have I got thousands of interesting shots. I like it. I can easily see how people make this life style a permanent one. The hardest thing about it is missing your family and I do miss Rob and Hooch! Now my goal is to bring parts of this life style with me when I return to land, that will be the challenge and goal!  How is your life simple and how is complicated?

Question of the Day 

Make a list of things that complicate your life. Make a list of things that simplify your life.

Question of the trip: Which hook, the J or Circle, will catch more sharks? 

Please make a hypothesis. Utilize resources to justify your hypothesis.  ———Yes, you get extra credit for this. 

Elizabeth Eubanks, July 27, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Eubanks
Onboard NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan
July 22 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Relative Shark Abundance Survey and J vs. Circle Hook Comparison
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean, West of San Diego
Date: July 27, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge  
Visibility: 8-10 miles
Air temperature: 17.0 degrees C
Sea Temperature at 350m: 7 degrees C
Sea Temperature at surface: 19.0 degrees C
Wind Direction: 290 W Wind Speed:  18 kts
Cloud cover: clear –some cumulus, cirrus
Sea Level Pressure: 1013.2 mb
Sea Wave Height: 2-3 ft
Swell Wave Height: 2-3 ft

Science and Technology Log 

“First, do no harm.” –Michael J. Zoghby RPT 

Today was so exciting. We caught a Mola mola, Ocean Sunfish, and 22 sharks.  Many of them were baby Blue sharks and although this team tries very hard to keep all of the sharks alive, some of them are so badly thrashed by the hook and/or line that they don’t make it. Yesterday was the first day that we had our first mortality (dead shark).  It was a baby Blue and the gills were just ripped out by the hook.  Sad, no one likes to see a dead shark. Everyone is out here to preserve them and keep them safe.

We caught many average size sharks and a few really large ones.  Watching the scientist work on the large animals has got to be one of the most thrilling things to see, especially when they have the extra challenge of wave swells coming across the platform, soaking them and giving the shark a chance to do what it does best… swim. As one of the grad students put it, the pictures and videos we have taken during these events are not ones you would want your mom to see, the mix of slippery platform, scalpel in hand, swell water pouring in and of course a HUGE SHARK, could be a deadly mixture. But safety comes first. They probably had the shark on the platform for a good 3-5 minutes. The Blue was using every bit of what it had to get off of the platform. It was so exciting that I had to video and take still shots. This shark would’ve been a great choice for the satellite tag because of its size, but they didn’t get a chance to that. They removed what they could of the hook, identified him as a male and struggled to hold him down. The Blue shark was estimated at 220cm. We never did get an actual measurement, because for one thing it appeared to be longer than the platform measuring tape and for another Dr. Kohin made a decision to “just let it go” and that is a direct quote. Safety comes first for shark and for people.

Dr. Suzy Kohin surrounded by a big Blue Shark – notice the eye, the nictitating membrane covers the eye.
Dr. Suzy Kohin surrounded by a big Blue Shark – notice the eye, the nictitating membrane covers the eye.

More safety notes: Late night we found out that there was a problem with one of the engine fans. So tomorrow morning our set is canceled. We will have to wait to see if they can fix it and if they can’t we go back to San Diego and the trip is over. Why? Because they follow the rule, the only rule you really ever need– First Do No Harm. Extra note: The Ocean Sunfish is an amazing fish. You will see them in the Pacific and at first think that they are sharks, because of their dorsal fin that sticks out of the water. They have been described as one of the most evolved fish and look like a super sized Frisbee.- A great fish to do a little personal research on, if you are into fish. (Sean Maloney – check it out!)

Personal Log 

Bet ya goin’ fishn’ all the time, I’mma goin’ fishin’ too. I bet your life, your lovin’ wife is gonna catch more fish than you, so many fish bite if ya got good bait, here’s a little tip that I would like to relate, I’mma goin’ fish, yes I’m goin’ fishn’ and my babies goin’ fishin too!” 

– Not sure who sang or wrote this little diddy first, so I can’t give credit right now – but I didn’t write this “catchy” tune. 

I am working/ living on a fishing boat. Dah! It’s a goofy realization that just hit me today. Since I got accepted for this project, I have been in a narrow mindset that I am on a shark research vessel, which I am. I broaden my mindset and hit me that I am also on a fishing vessel. Fishing is what we do when we set and haul the long line. Fishing is what we can do in our spare time. We have bait, we have hooks and we have line. We catch fish. Oh and we cook and eat fish too. We are fishing.  Funny, but now it makes my experience even cooler. I have always wanted to work on a fishing vessel.

Right out of high school my girl friend and I had done a heap of research and were planning on moving to Ocean City, MD for the summer. We had spent hours investigating different job possibilities. We had heard that sometimes you spend all your summer working to pay your bills and don’t really get to enjoy the beach, but we didn’t care. She was interested in a job as a waitress and I had sent in a ••• dozen applications to fishing vessels. That is what I really wanted to do. That was my glamour job! I dreamed that I could be the one who baits the hooks and cleans the deck. I figured if I had to spend most of my time working, it should be on the water with fish and people who liked to fish. Anyway, that dream ended with a car crash – no one was killed, just minor injuries but it sure shook up my folks enough to keep me in PA for the summer.  So after all these years – I am working and living on a fishing ship. Super cool, huh!

Scientists Suzy Kohin and Russ Vetter tag the Mola mola, Ocean Sunfish
Scientists Suzy Kohin and Russ Vetter tag the Mola mola, Ocean Sunfish

Question of the Day 

If you had to pick a research science career, what would you study? What would your problem be?

Question of the trip: Which hook, the J or Circle, will catch more sharks? 

Please make a hypothesis. Utilize resources to justify your hypothesis.  ———Yes, you get extra credit for this. 

Elizabeth Eubanks, July 26, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Eubanks
Onboard NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan
July 22 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Relative Shark Abundance Survey and J vs. Circle Hook Comparison
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean, West of San Diego
Date: July 26, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge
Visibility: 8-10 miles
Air temperature: 18.2 degrees C
Sea Temperature at 404m: 6.8 degrees C
Sea Temperature at surface: 21.3 degrees C
Wind Direction: 300 W
Wind Speed:  18 kts
Cloud cover: clear –cumulus
Sea Level Pressure: 1013.2 mb
Sea Wave Height: 2 ft
Swell Wave Height: 3-4 ft

Science and Technology Log 

Being careful, paying attention. Do you know what an assembly line is? It is when a group of people comes together with many individual specific tasks to achieve an overall goal. If you have ever seen the Laverne and Shirley TV show, they work on an assembly line at Shotz Brewery. Here there is an assembly line system too. There is one style when we set the lines with bait and another when we haul. Everyone has a very specific job and if you don’t do your job or pay attention, it can wreck the whole affair. The thing I couldn’t imagine would be to do something like this or have the exact same job everyday and all day. But the way it is done on the ship is easy and pleasant and only lasts for about an hour at a time, which is the perfect time limit. If it were too much longer I would get bored and my mind would wander.

Even though the job is relatively easy, it is so important to be careful and to stay focused.  For instance one of the jobs I had today required that I put the bait on the hook. No big deal really- right? – Except that the bait needed to be put on a specific hook type, which someone handed to me, in my case I was baiting the J hooks. The hook was attached to a 50-foot multi-strand steal cable, which is attached to a gangion clip. Still no biggie right? Well, when you are baiting over 100 hooks and there is someone in front of you waiting to grab the hook, because there is 2 nautical mile line that is being pulled or hauled and they have to put the baited line in a specific place it becomes a big deal. We have to move at a steady pace because the line is being hauled out into the ocean at a certain rate. The person who is attaching the ganglions to line really needs to stay focused and be careful as well. Also for this study since we are testing hook effectiveness we need to alternate the J and Circle hook to eliminate variables. In other words we don’t want to be able to say – well all the sharks were caught on the J hooks because we set all of the J hooks first and they got to a longer soak (time in the water) time. Does that make sense? We have to pay attention to the “hooker” and help make certain that they are alternating hooks.

Setting a long line: Ann Coleman from the Monterey Bay Aquarium at the front of the set line waits to put the ganglion on the line, while someone else attaches a buoy. Beyond Ann, the crew is baiting the lines; beyond them, the crew prepares the hook and beyond them the deck crew extends the long line.
Setting a long line: Ann Coleman from the Monterey Bay Aquarium at the front of the set line waits to put the ganglion on the line, while someone else attaches a buoy. Beyond Ann, the crew is baiting the lines; beyond them, the crew prepares the hook and beyond them the deck crew extends the long line.

Things that could go wrong with baiting the hook: -not putting the bait on well enough -getting your lines tangled with one another -getting your line tangled on yourself or someone else or a part of the ship -not giving the person the correct J or circle hook -not having your hooks baited in a timely manner. Preventatives: Say the word out loud J hook or Circle – helps everyone stay focused -to avoid tangles, don’t bait too many hooks ahead time -have one or two hooks baited ahead of time, incase you get a little behind for some reason -keep an eye on your 50 ft line and straighten it out Is there any job that you are particularly interested in? If so please let me know.

Personal Log 

Today I had the early shift, which meant that I woke up at 0530 and started working at 0600. Last night the ship was rockier than it has been and hasn’t let up much all day. When I went outside it was gray, chilly and slightly windy. After the set I went upstairs to read and fell asleep, it was the perfect morning for a good book and a nap. I hibernated a little more after lunch and watched a movie by myself in the crew lounge. Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. – Cute movie!

I still feel a little rocky in my tummy on and off, but soda crackers, ginger gum and doing things help take the edge off. Sometimes I wish the boat would just stop rocking for a few minutes! Several folks were fishing for a few hours and pulled in some beautiful Rockfish – several different varieties (species). They caught a species that is on the protected list, which is called a Cowcod Rockfish. They took DNA samples from it. Check it out above. They also caught a large Pacific Mackerel and two flat fish, which they call Sand Daps.  I had fun because I got to fillet a few of the Rockfish – something I haven’t done for several years and yeah I can still do it – thanks Dad!

Dr. Russ Vetter holding a Cowcod Rockfish which he took DNA samples from.  This fish could be at least 40 years old.
Dr. Russ Vetter holding a Cowcod Rockfish that could be at least 40 years old.

Question of the Day 

While we are setting and hauling lines we like to talk and to sing songs. Using a song you already know change the words so that the song has to do with fishing for sharks. Here are some words you might want to use; shark, ray, seal, sea lion, ship, deck, line, haul, set or some others you may think of. Please include the name of the song you are writing the new lyrics to. If you don’t know any songs, write a poem.

Question of the trip: Which hook, the J or Circle, will catch more sharks?

Please make a hypothesis. Utilize resources to justify your hypothesis.  ———Yes, you get extra credit for this. 

 

Elizabeth Eubanks, July 25, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Eubanks
Onboard NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan
July 22 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Relative Shark Abundance Survey and J vs. Circle Hook Comparison
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean, West of San Diego
Date: July 25, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge   
Visibility: 10 miles
Air temperature: 20.4 degrees C
Sea Temperature at 500m: 6.3 degrees C
Sea Temperature at surface: 21.3 degrees C
Wind Direction: 280 W
Wind Speed:  18 kts
Cloud cover: clear – high cumulus
Sea Level Pressure: 1012.5 mb
Sea Wave Height : 2 ft
Swell Wave Height : 2 ft

NOAA Teacher at Sea Elizabeth Eubanks (right) on the platform taking a DNA sample from a Mako shark.
NOAA Teacher at Sea Elizabeth Eubanks (right) on the platform taking a DNA sample from a Mako shark.

Science and Technology Log 

Today was so exciting. Dr. Suzi Kohin asked me to the join crew down on the platform of the stern of the boat. At the end of the platform is a specially designed cradle in which the shark is placed to record data and issue tags. It was so very, very cool to be that close to sharks. I also got to put two of the tags in the shark.  I first used a scalpel blade to make a small incision just below the dorsal fin. Then I place the tag in with a quick jab. The tag is called a spaghetti tag because it is a thin piece of wire with numbers and contact information on it. You can get a reward for calling it in. The other tag is called a Roto tag and it goes on the dorsal fin. This tag states that we have injected oxytetracycline into the shark. When someone turns this tag in with a couple of vertebrate they get $100.00. Next I am handed a pair of forceps and a scalpel blade, I cut a little junk of the dorsal fin and then hand it over to go into a solution for DNA testing. Then the Suzy calls out the estimated weight and we get the Oxytetracycline and I got to inject it into the shark on the belly or ventral side. Oxytetracycline is pretty cool, it is what teens use for acne. But the really great thing about it is that it also stains your bones when you use it. It shows up similar to how you would see the rings on a stump of a tree. So it is a great way for scientist to do bone growth investigation.

Risso's dolphin
Risso’s dolphin

Personal Log 

Wildlife- Forever I have been tracking all of the birds that I have seen. I don’t particularly keep a count, but I do check them off and write little notes about them in my National Geographic bird book. When I was in wild life biology classes at Penn State Dubois I use to keep track of everything I saw in various books and lists. One huge surprise of this entire summer has been how many new species of birds I have logged. It is amazing. My guess it that I have logged at least 20 new species, which is a lot for me, for one summer. But I really wish I had kept up with my wildlife list as a whole. If I had, I could add a couple species more today. The Common Dolphin (which I actually saw days ago as well), two Blue Whales and a pod of Risso Dolphins – they are beautiful as I am sure you can see from the photo above. Of course now I have an extra challenge with my species list. I like to make sure I get a photo as well – just so that there is no mistake to what I am seeing! If you are into wildlife like I am, I highly recommend you start a list now, it is fun to list where, when and what it was doing when you saw it.

Common dolphin off Catalina Island
Common dolphin off Catalina Island

Question of the Day

If I tell you to lie on your ventral side, which side of your body would you lay on? Suppose I told to lie on your dorsal side, what side would you lay on? 

Question of the trip: Which hook, the J or Circle, will catch more sharks?

Please make a hypothesis. Utilize resources to justify your hypothesis.  ———Yes, you get extra credit for this. 

Elizabeth Eubanks, July 24, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Eubanks
Onboard NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan
July 22 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Relative Shark Abundance Survey and J vs. Circle Hook Comparison
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean, West of San Diego
Date: July 24, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Visibility: 10nm
Air temperature: 19.8 degrees C
Sea Temperature at surface: 20.6 degrees C
Wind Direction: 250 W
Wind Speed:  09 kts
Cloud cover: partial Alto cumulus
Sea Level Pressure: 1011.4 mb
Sea Wave Height : 1 ft
Swell Wave Height : 2-3 ft

NOAA scientist Dr. Suzy Kohin (center places) two different satellite tags on a 197cm Mako shark.
NOAA scientist Dr. Suzy Kohin (center places) two different satellite tags on a 197cm Mako shark.

Science and Technology Log 

Today was absolutely beautiful, the sun was shining all day. We caught 3 sharks 2 Mako and 1 Blue in the first set and 1 Mako in the second set.  This isn’t a whole lot of sharks but for me, even one shark is great! The really cool thing about the day was that we got a Mako large enough to put satellite tags on. The tags are very expensive ~ $5,000, so they want make sure it is a big enough shark to wear the gear. One of the tags is called a P.A.T. and this stands for Pop Off Archival Tag. This tag collects data such as depth, temperature, light measurement, how far it is from the equator and rates of change. It can be set to record information during certain time periods. They only last up to 8 months and then they pop off. Dr. Kohin set this one to pop off in 6 months. The data is stored in the device so data cannot be retrieved until it comes off of the shark. It pops off of the shark floats to the top of the ocean surface and then transmits basic data to a central location. Hopefully someone will find the tag and mail it back to NOAA – Dr. Kohin and she will receive a more complete data report.  The other tag S.P.O.T. – Satellite Position Only Tag goes on the dorsal fin and as it implies, it only tracks satellites just like a GPS does allowing scientists to know the exact location of the shark.

P.A.T. (black tag) and S.P.O.T. (satellite tags)
P.A.T. (black tag) and S.P.O.T. (satellite tags)

Lauren Miko wanted to know what the Circular hook looked like, so here is a photo comparing the two. The circle is believed to cause less damage on the shark. The way that it is curved makes it harder for the shark to swallow, thus reducing the potential amount of internal damage. Also because of the curve sharks are most likely to get this type of hook stuck in its lip/jaw. These shark studies tag and release the shark and are conducted for the overall betterment of the shark, so they need to be kept healthy. Sharks are more likely swallow a J hook and could be damaged in ways that the scientist can’t view even if they remove the hook. Regardless if the shark appears to be in great condition it is possible that it has suffered internally and isn’t showing effects at the time. Does this make sense? Let me know if it doesn’t. FYI- the circular hook is harder to bait, so it is curved up just slightly to make it easier and not flat if you lay it on a table.

Circular Hook and J Hook size 16/0
Circular Hook and J Hook size 16/0

Personal Log 

This ship is so huge. We basically have about 5 hours a day we have to be on deck working. Besides that time I am free and just so you know I spend a lot of time on this log for my students and all who read. I also read, send out emails, take dog naps in the sun and wander around from deck to deck , it is amazing how you could go for hours on this large vessel and not cross paths with anyone and then all of sudden you will go to the top deck and run into two people relaxing. It is like walking through a maze. There are more likely places where you will find folks such as the Mess decks where you eat, snack, relax, watch the tube and of course make scientifically created milkshakes. You also may find people in the crew deck. This is where they have a huge TV, tons of books and lets see, about 500 movies to choose from. The more I think of it, the more I realize that most middle school kids would love this ship. Sean Maloney, it has your name written all over it! Of course although we have amazing food we don’t have your mom’s great banana bread – at least not yet! Lauren was my first student to send an email, then followed Karissa and Sean.

Thank you so much for reading and sending a note and questions. Lauren I believe I answered your question – do you now know what a circle hook looks like?

Question of the Day 

You will notice that at the top of my weather data I list visibility in nm that stands for nautical mile. I also use the term when I say that we put out 2 nautical miles of long line to fish from. What is the difference between a mile and a nautical mile? 

Question of the trip: Which hook, the J or Circle, will catch more sharks?

Please make a hypothesis. Utilize resources to justify your hypothesis.  ———Yes, you get extra credit for this.   

Grad students, Dovi Kacev, Heather Marshall and Lyndsay testing their ability to make the best milkshake – should you add brownies or Oreo cookies?
Grad students, Dovi Kacev, Heather Marshall and Lyndsay testing their ability to make the best milkshake – should you add brownies or Oreo cookies?

Elizabeth Eubanks, July 23, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Eubanks
Onboard NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan
July 22 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Relative Shark Abundance Survey and J vs. Circle Hook Comparison
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean, West of San Diego
Date: July 23, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge
Air temperature: 19.7 degrees C
Sea Temperature at 300m 7.9 degrees C
Sea Temperature at surface: 19.1 degrees C
Wind Direction: 350 (NW)
Wind Speed:  5.2 kts
Cloud cover: Partial – Alto cirrus
Sea Level Pressure: 1011.5 mb
Sea Wave Height 2
Swell Wave Height <1

NOAA Teacher at Sea Elizabeth Eubanks models the abandon ship suit, also known as a “Gumby” suit.
NOAA Teacher at Sea Elizabeth Eubanks models the abandon ship suit, also known as a “Gumby” suit.

Science and Technology Log 

Today has been beautiful. The lines were set at 0600 and then hauled at 1000. We only caught 3 sharks this morning, 2 Blue and 1 Mako.  We set lines again 1330 ( Do you know what time that is? – 1:30pm) While we were having a break we noticed a huge pod of Common Dolphins. They appeared to be having so much fun flying up into the air. There were at least 30+ it was so cool to see so many. Our haul this evening was a skunk – no sharks, but that is okay tomorrow is a new day. We had drills today, fire and abandon ship. The fire drill required us to move to the dry science lab, where I already happened to be. The abandon ship drill required that we put on long pants, long sleeve shirt, a hat and our “gumby” suit, as it is called. It is a dry suit, much like some divers would wear. It is big and bulky and funny looking.

I had mentioned yesterday that although the main focus of this trip is to test the J and Circle hooks, many other studies are being supported. Last night after dark some of us fished for Rockfish. Russ Vetter a NOAA scientist who is Head of Fish Ecology within the South West Fisheries Center and heads 4 teams of scientists. Those teams study small pelagics such as anchovies, egg and larvae- ichthyo-plankton, pelagic sharks which we are studying now and his personal group is molecular ecology which has been studying Rockfish for years. I got an earful last night. The Rockfish that we were fishing for were about 200 feet below the surface. So they live in very deep water, which means that they are benthic fish. There are some that are pelagic, but I will get to them later.

Various species of Benthic Rockfish
Various species of Benthic Rockfish

Dr. Vetter was telling me that there are about 130 different species of Rockfish in the Pacific, 70 of which are in the region he studies. They are one of the most sought after for commercial fishing. These fish bare live young, which is very unusual for a fish. These fish also live very long, well past 60 years and some in the tub shown above could be over 40. Scientists have a theory that the older the mother is, then the better mother she is to her live-born babies. Scientist are still learning a lot about them, but like many other fish they are becoming over fished in certain areas and greatly depleting (making vanish) populations of these fish. There are two ways to fish for Rockfish, one is to create a long line that is geared to benthic fish and the other is to simply fish the way we did last night, with deep sea rigs. We were catching them pretty quickly and probably caught 14 or so within 45 minutes.  We used rigs that had 2 hooks on them and it was common to pull up two at a time.

NOAA Teacher at Sea Elizabeth Eubanks holds a Rosie Rockfish.
NOAA Teacher at Sea Elizabeth Eubanks holds a Rosie Rockfish.

When you pull up most of these fish, their bodies and eyes are all bulged out and sometime their swim bladder is coming out of their mouth and if you notice in the photo above they are all floating although many are not dead yet. Why is this? What happens to them?  — If you can answer this question you are half way to figuring out the answer to my question of the day.  The fisheries management has now set a limit to how many fish the commercial fisherman are allowed to bring per outing and they have set a limit of only 2 hooks per rod, whereas prior to this some commercial fishermen would use up to 10 hooks. There is no size limit because once you catch these fish you can’t or have no reason to toss them back (referring to question of the day). 

The commercial fishermen are pretty easy to monitor when they fish these benthic, fish. Management can go to their boat or meet them at the docks to check on them.  Managing pelagic Rockfish is more difficult, because these fish hang out in the kelp and are easier to catch from a smaller craft, which allows for potential deception of total catch.

We catch the fish, fillet the fish, eat the fish and then Dr. Vetter will take the carcasses (bones) to his lab to study the DNA. The more you learn about a fish, the more you can protect it from being depleted (vanishing) from an area. This is good, because so many fishermen count on this fish for their lively hood. If scientist learn more about the fish and protect the fish, then we will always have that fish around. Also we know that golden rule “we are all connected – we are all affected.” So if we deplete the Rockfish, in some way we too are affected. Right? –Right!

Personal Log 

I was so excited to have the opportunity to fish last night. But I did hate that my catch was so small and I couldn’t just toss it back into the ocean, because it wouldn’t survive. So that made me feel bad, it was still alive when I caught it and it looked at me with it’s big beautiful eyes. I am getting into the groove of things here.  I was so happy to have slept well last night. I got up early even though I could’ve slept in.  It is just so nice to be here. Of course I miss Rob and Hooch. I really miss Rob, because I know he would be so interested in all that we are doing on this ship.

Now, I am in terrible trouble. I just went into the galley to get a Fig Newton and I was told to open the cooler, that there was something better in there… I really thought they could be wrong, because I am not a huge ice cream fan. I am selective about what types really suck me in….. and OH NO! Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia has that capability! The have a huge carton of it. I am still amazed at all the food and well prepared meals on board.  Today, for lunch, I had black eyed pees, rice, mixed veggies and a great salad with hearts of palm and that was only the veggie stuff they offered!

Oh happy day, Elizabeth Eubanks

Question of the Day 

Why would the Rosie Rockfish not survive if I put it back into the ocean, right after I caught it and realized that it was still alive, but very small?

Why is this (the inability of the rockfish to survive after being caught) a major problem for commercial fishing industries and the population of the Rockfish?

One more for fun- What is the difference between an ice cream float and ice cream soda?

Question of the trip: Which hook, the J or Circle, will catch more sharks?

Please make a hypothesis. Utilize resources to justify your hypothesis.  ———Yes, you get extra credit for this. 

Vocabulary 

Taken from the Sea, State, Wind and Clouds- US Department of Commerce Sea Waves are generated by the wind blowing at the time of observation, or in the recent past, in your local area. Sea waves change after they move under the wind that has created them.

Sea Swell Waves – have traveled into your area of observation, after having been generated by winds in other areas (sometimes thousands of miles away). Swell waves remain symmetrical and uniform.

Elizabeth Eubanks, July 22, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Eubanks
Onboard NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan
July 22 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Relative Shark Abundance Survey and J vs. Circle Hook Comparison
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean, West of San Diego
Date: July 22, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge  
Air temperature: 18 degrees C
Sea Temperature at 250 m below: 8.6 degrees C
Sea Temperature at surface: 20 degrees C
Wind Direction: 240 (W)
Wind Speed:  7 kts
Cloud cover: Full cloud cover – Stratus
Sea Level Pressure: 1013.8 mb
Sea Wave Height 1’
Swell Wave Height 2’

Scientists Suzanne Kohin and Russ Vetter stabilize this 160cm Mako shark, while Grad student Heather Marshall brings tools to collect data.
Scientists Suzanne Kohin and Russ Vetter stabilize this 160cm Mako shark, while Grad student Heather Marshall brings tools to collect data.

Science and Technology Log 

I boarded the NOAA ship David Starr Jordan at 0800 (everything is in Military time here). Rob, my husband, was with me and he was permitted to board the ship to look around and help carry my bags into my room, so that was a nice start. We departed at 0900 and I watched the dock where Rob was, until he became a little dot. As we were leaving we passed the Naval base where they train the seals and then an area where there tons of submarines. I got a kick out of the seal lions as they relaxed on buoys. After ~ an hour at sea, I couldn’t see land anymore – very strange! We had a meeting at 10:30am, we got instructions for safety, rules and regulations and a tour of the ship. One rule is that you cannot wear open toed shoes.  We ate lunch and then set lines at 1:30pm to try to catch sharks.

Background info: NOAA Ship DAVID STARR JORDAN is on its 3rd leg of travel this summer. The first 2 legs involved study of Shark Abundance (how many sharks there are). The study that we are doing now is designed to enhance the Abundance study. The scientists are trying to determine which type of hook will catch the most sharks, the J hook or the Circle hook. – Hint a great PROBLEM for this “lab” would be: Which hook, the J hook or the Circle hook will catch more sharks? What is your hypothesis?  Although this is the main point of the experiment, they are recording other data as well, which I will list later. I mentioned earlier that we were setting lines. Setting the lines, involves as very long line – 2 nautical miles long and every 50 ft a hook is attached. And after 5 hooks are attached a buoy is attached. Can you picture this? So once all the lines are set, there are approximately 200 + hooks attached. To make this test a good one reducing variables, every other hook is J hook and then the next hook is a Circle hook. I will talk more about line setting and hook attachment later.

Tonight was so exciting. When we pulled in our lines at 5:30pm, we got 4 sharks: 2 Blue and 2 Mako and 1 pelagic Stingray. It was so thrilling to hear the crew screaming “Shark!” And instead of the traditional running or swimming to get away from the shark, the shark is pulled in and touched. Scientist Russ Vetter had his head so close to the shark’s head, it made me shiver. When I asked him how many times he had been bit, he stated that you only get bit once. The Blue sharks were absolutely beautiful and for those of you know me well, it isn’t just because they are blue! But the blue color of these sharks is absolutely spectacular—it takes your breath away. The other thing that took my breath away this evening was the 160cm Mako shark.  It got hooked in the fin, so it was harder to pull the shark in for data and boy did it give an impressive fight. Although, this part of the work is finished there is still a lot going on. We have to prep tags and lines and scientist are all around me now recording data about the ocean. Right now it is 8.6 degrees C at 250 m down. But on the water surface the temp is 20 degrees C. The surface (at the top) of the water is actually a little warmer than the air temperature right now. I also hear talk of late night fishing for rock fish and squid. 

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Elizabeth Eubanks, standing in front of the majestic NOAA ship DAVID STARR JORDAN in the San Diego Harbor.
NOAA Teacher at Sea, Elizabeth Eubanks, standing in front of the majestic NOAA ship DAVID STARR JORDAN in the San Diego Harbor.

Personal Log 

I have been at sea for a grand total of 12 hours now and so far so great! Everyone has been extremely kind and helpful. I am sure many of you are wondering if I have gotten sea sick and the answer is NO and I don’t plan on it. I took Dramamine and chewed some ginger gum before the ship left. After about an hour on the ocean I started to feel tired and little like I was floating on my legs. I am not sure if this was due to the ocean waves or the drugs! After lunch I went up to the very top of the ship and took a long snooze. One of the emails I had received prior to the cruise said to bring snacks, so I wasn’t sure what the food situation would be, but I can tell you this- I won’t go hungry! They serve buffet style with many choices and snacks in between. You will also be happy to know that they have lots of veggies on board!

Please direct your emails (questions for me and answers to my questions) to my yahoo account (so I can keep track of your questions) AND to the email address listed below. I will NOT be checking my yahoo email account until I return to land! I love being around all of these scientists and research, it reminds me of college and why I have always loved science so much. I hope everyone is having a great summer and I appreciate you spending time with me on this adventure.

Question of the Day 

What does the word pelagic mean?

Question of the trip: Which hook, the J or Circle, will catch more sharks?

Please make a hypothesis. Utilize resources to justify your hypothesis.  ———Yes, you get extra credit for this. 

Maggie Flanagan, July 10, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Maggie Flanagan
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
June 12 – July 12, 2007

Mission: Lobster Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean; Necker Island
Date: July 10, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea Maggie Flanagan measures a lobster carapace.
Maggie Flanagan measures a lobster carapace.

Science and Technology Log – Lobster Lessons 

We’ve hauled back our last string of traps and have begun the transit back to Pearl Harbor. Our Northwestern Hawaiian Island (NWHI) lobster survey has provided the 2007 data for a record that goes back 30 years. Our Chief Scientist, Bob Moffitt, is a biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service within NOAA. Bob completed his first lobster survey in 1977, and has been continually involved with the project. The model we still use was established in 1985-86, and there has been survey data nearly every year since then.  The two sites we monitor are Necker Island (Mokumanamana, in Hawaiian) and Maro Reef (Nalukakala, in Hawaiian).  Necker Island is closer to the Main Hawaiian Islands, 430 miles from Honolulu.  Maro Reef is farther out the NWHI, 850 miles from Honolulu.  Target species are spiny lobsters (Panulirus marginatus) and slipper lobsters (Scyllarides squammosus).

Initial analysis of the data includes computing our catch per unit effort (CPUE), which is the total number of lobsters in traps divided by the number of traps.  The data are separated by site, by species – spiny or slipper lobster, and by number of traps in the string, – 8 or 20. (Strings of 20 are often set in deeper water.)  The mean for all strings of a type in a year is used for comparisons.  Bob works up the numbers each evening to keep us posted.  

You can’t draw conclusions from just a few numbers, but a sample of CPUE information is below.

In 2007, Necker Island sampling was suspended for several days and the data may be biased towards historically less productive quadrants.
In 2007, Necker Island sampling was suspended for several days and the data may be biased towards historically less productive quadrants.

Graphing the entire data set reveals that Necker Island experienced a sharp decline in the presence of both types of lobsters during the mid to late 1990’s, and the numbers have remained low.  Graphs of Maro Reef data show a more complex story.  There, spiny lobsters dropped dramatically in 1989. Spiny lobster numbers remained low, as slipper lobster numbers increased. It’s proposed that as spiny lobsters were decreasing, slipper lobsters could access more resources, such as food and habitat, which expanded their numbers.  The spiny lobster has had more commercial value because it looks prettier, and so was probably targeted more by fisherman.

Teacher at Sea Maggie Flanagan holds spiny lobsters while “cracking” – recovering lobsters from traps.
Maggie Flanagan holds spiny lobsters while “cracking” – recovering lobsters from traps.

Commercial fishing for lobsters in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands began with multi-purpose vessels which would keep the lobsters live for market. About 1981, fisherman started landing only the lobster tail, which was frozen at sea.  This greatly increased the capacity for the taking of lobsters. Data showed decline, fisheries scientists became concerned, and the fishery was closed in 1993, then opened with very low quotas.  By 1997, research data still showed decline and the NWHI commercial lobster fishery was closed again in 2000.  Models at that time showed that NWHI lobster overfishing (meaning the size and take of the fleet) wasn’t problematic and research that focused on the lobsters themselves would be needed.

When lobsters are tiny, in the phylosome stage, they are transported by currents.  Spiny lobsters spend 12 months in this stage and have been caught in plankton tows 60 miles out at sea.  So, lobsters can settle in sites far away from their parents.  This recruitment may or may not influence the population numbers of lobsters in the NWHI, but as a real possibility, is a topic for research. Bob Moffitt’s data, with that of other NWHI scientists, could contribute to a metapopulation model that could estimate the density of lobsters throughout all the NWHI over time.  This could be designed to scientifically predict the affects of fishing and recruitment.  DNA analysis could also reveal information on the transportation of lobsters when juvenile.

In 2006, all the NWHI were included in the creation of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which will be closed to all fishing.  The Monument is the largest marine protected area in the U.S., but the research questions on what will help Hawaiian lobster populations still remain to be answered.  Ocean currents in the area generally run to the west and south, and if juvenile lobsters are transported, they would be traveling those currents. But the marine protected area is already west of the Main Hawaiian Islands, so recruitment out to restore other areas seems unlikely, though not yet tested.    There is reason to celebrate our new Marine National Monument, but there is no conclusive scientific evidence that it will help lobster populations recover.

A slipper lobster as compared to a pencil.
A slipper lobster as compared to a pencil.

Personal Log 

With all fisheries closed in the NWHI, what will happen to the fisheries research that has  contributed much to the understanding of marine populations?  Will scientists be allowed to continue pursuing research questions, or will they be considered irrelevant?  Approval for access to the NWHI under the Monument status now involves an arduous permit process, even for scientists.  Bob Moffitt’s work has provided an extensive time series of data, and is considered worth continuing as ecosystem monitoring.  Hopefully in the future, scientific work will continue and guide policy making for protected areas.  

Maggie Flanagan, July 9, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Maggie Flanagan
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
June 12 – July 12, 2007

Mission: Lobster Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean; Necker Island
Date: July 9, 2007

Meaghan Darcy with a 70.2cm opakapaka (Pristopimoides filamentosus).
Meaghan Darcy with a 70.2cm opakapaka (Pristopimoides filamentosus).

Science and Technology Log – Interview with Meaghan Darcy, scientist 

Meaghan Darcy, from Rhode Island, is a research technician for our lobster survey.  We spend our days helping with lobster traps, but in the evenings our science work includes sampling the many species of bottomfish in the Hawaiian Islands.  Meaghan is a Ph.D. candidate working with the Fisheries Center and Department of Zoology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, specializing in Hawaiian bottomfish.  Meaghan has always been interested in biology, but a semester of study in the Caribbean  included research with fisherman and inspired her to pursue the science of fisheries.

What is the focus of your current research? 
Meaghan is working on a management strategy evaluation for the Hawaiian bottomfish fishery.  The bottomfish fishery targets about 13 different species across 3 designated zones, which are fished at depths of 50 to 600+ feet using hydraulic hand lines with up to 10 hooks per line. The targeted bottomfish include several snappers (ehu, opakapaka, onaga, kalekale, gindai, and lehi), grouper (hapu`upu`u), and jacks (kahala, butaguchi, and ulua). One reason bottomfish are popular as a commercial product is that they don’t feed much on reefs, and so are less likely to carry ciguatera poisoning, however, kahala has been associated with ciguatera and is no longer highly sought after. The first step in evaluation is to use a simulation model to simulate the data gathering process (i.e., simulate catch and effort data that would be similarly collected for the commercial fishery). Meaghan will then use an estimation model to estimate bottomfish abundance relative to a target abundance using the simulated catch and effort data.  Based on the results from the assessment model, a management policy is set and applied to the simulation and estimation models to determine the policies impact.  Using this approach, the potential success of a variety of different possible fishery management strategies can be evaluated.  Meaghan will also apply this approach using the Hawaiian bottomfish commercial fishery data and her conclusions will offer insight on best management practices for the Hawaiian bottomfish fishery. 

Teacher at Sea Maggie Flanagan with a 71.2cm hapu`upu`u (Epinephelus quernus)
Teacher at Sea Maggie Flanagan with a 71.2cm hapu`upu`u (Epinephelus quernus)

What are the challenges in your research? 
The Hawaiian bottomfish is a multi-species fishery, where several different species may come up on the same line. This simultaneous capture makes scientific evaluation of the fishery more difficult.  The reported catch per unit effort (CPUE) data is not species specific, and this grouping ignores differences in the life histories and catchabilities of different species. Different habitats preferred by juveniles and different ages of maturity and breeding lumped together in management may influence decline of one bottomfish species, while not another.

Some of the management strategies have drawbacks along with potential benefits. Currently in the Main Hawaiian Islands, the bottomfish fishery is being managed under a seasonal closure policy during peak spawning periods (May 15, 2007 – October 1, 2007) to maximize the number of fish breeding. Over the next couple of years Hawaii is moving towards a quota system where a total allowable catch (TAC) will be set. Under a quota system when the TAC is reached, the fishery is closed for the remainder of the year.  In practice, TAC can produce a “race for the fish” which encourages competition at the expense of conservation while fishing. Quotas can be effective, but require the infrastructure for widespread monitoring in real time and making annual assessments.  Size limits are another possible strategy, which could be complicated by the multi-species nature of the fishery.

Another possible strategy would be to establish marine protected areas,where commercial fishing isn’t allowed.  This may lead to increased pressure on other marine areas, if fishing effort isn’t reduced, but just forced to relocate.  Now that the North West Hawaiian Islands have become part of the Marine National Monument, commercial fishing is being phased out of those waters and the management strategies evaluated in Meaghan’s thesis will be mainly relevant to the Main Hawaiian Islands, which already suffer from overfishing. Through acknowledging these challenges in her research, Meaghan is developing novel approaches to management strategy evaluation.  Her objectives include modeling the fishermen’s behavior to better understand how they will respond to different management strategies, and identifying effective management tactics for the multi-species nature of this fishery.

What inspires you about your work? 
Meaghan is excited to be working on real issues in fisheries, where her efforts are applied to real situations. She’s interested in quantitative expertise and population dynamics as tools for her work. Hawaii has recently begun expanding management of the bottomfish fishery, and recommendations through Meaghan’s evaluation will be very relevant for developing policy.

Personal Log 
Besides teaching me about the Hawaiian bottomfish fishery, Meaghan also taught me how to work the fishing gear. She is a wonderful role model for women in science, and a great crewmate!

Maggie Flanagan, July 7, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Maggie Flanagan
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
June 12 – July 12, 2007

Mission: Lobster Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean; Necker Island
Date: July 7, 2007

A turkeyfish and white spotted toby found in lobster traps.
A turkeyfish and white spotted toby found in lobster traps.

Science and Technology Log – Bycatch 

Though spiny and slipper lobsters are our target species for sampling, many other interesting creatures are interested in our bait, and wind up in our traps.  Some of the smaller creatures spend a little time in our on board aquarium for observation and acclimation.  These fish are upside down because their swim bladders, which regulate buoyancy in the ocean, have not yet adjusted to the surface (barotrauma).  They wouldn’t survive if they were immediately released. The turkeyfish, aka Hawaiian lionfish, Dendrochirus barberi, is red/orange with large fins. It has venomous spines in its dorsal (back) fin, and will lunge pointing them at a threat.  We used a net instead of gloves to observe this one. This fish in known to enjoy a meaty diet, eating other smaller fish. The Hawaiian white spotted toby, Canthigaster jactator, is a sharp nose puffer, brown with white spots. This toby is endemic to Hawaii, found naturally only in Hawaii.  These fish can make themselves swell in size to ward off predators by filling their stomachs with water. They carry a toxin in their skin, which can harm other aquarium creatures if released.

Swimming crab (Charybdis paucideutis?) and hermit crab (Dardanus brachyops)
Swimming crab (Charybdis paucideutis) and hermit crab (Dardanus brachyops)

The red figure in the background of the above photo is a sea hare, Aplysioidea, aka sea slug. These invertebrates are hermaphroditic, carrying both male and female sex organs. We also encounter a variety of crabs with a variety of adaptations.  Hermit Crabs, Dardanus,  have been the most numerous in our traps, and there are reported to be up to 2000 species of hermit crabs world-wide.  They take over the shells of marine snails and keep their soft abdomens tucked inside. Many of the hermit crabs we’ve found in the North West Hawaiian Islands take protection even one step further – they keep anemones on their shells. The anemones eject bubble-gum-pink stinging threads called acontia when threatened. We wear gloves when handling the crabs to protect ourselves. Scientists have discovered that the anemones don’t live on the shells when the snail is alive, and that hermit crabs will actually move their anemones from shell to shell as they move to new shell homes.  They figure that the anemones benefit from mobility with the crab and from food particles spread by the hermit crabs as they rip and shred.

Swimming Crabs, Charybdis, are the most aggressive crab in the trap.  In both body and behavior they’re similar to the blue claw crabs of my home waters, so I was prepared for their quick attempts to pinch and slice my fingers.  Their last pair of legs is oval like a paddle – perfect for swimming. On board, we call the box crab, Calappa calappa, the Vader crab. Its claws fold perfectly into its oval body, making it look like the face mask of that notorious space villain. These crabs can be mean too; those wide claws are powerful and help the crab eat mollusks.  Imagine how well camouflaged it is folded up down in the sand.

A box crab (Calappa calappa), a.k.a., the Vader crab
A box crab (Calappa calappa), a.k.a., the Vader crab

Personal Log 

During our lobster survey work, we catalogue the other animals that also get in the traps, and release them as healthy as possible. The creatures that you catch unintentionally are generally called bycatch. A current issue in commercial fishing is animals killed and wasted because they’re caught as bycatch, and not sold or eaten.  Many times they’re dumped back in the sea dead.  It’s a complicated issue on a global scale considering the definitions of what makes bycatch, all the different kinds of fishing gear, the variety of marine ecosystems, applications of technology, and the multiple political and economic groups involved.  There are many figures being reported, from 30% to over 50% of the take winding up as wasted bycatch, or perhaps 28 million metric tons world-wide. But, statistics on this topic are difficult to determine, which makes solving the problem even more difficult.  Technology has innovated some fishing gear which particularly reduces the bycatch of sea turtles and marine mammals, and recent focus on bycatch by type of fish and type of gear may inspire more solutions to this serious problem.

Maggie Flanagan, June 30, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Maggie Flanagan
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
June 12 – July 12, 2007

Mission: Lobster Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean; Northwest Hawaiian Islands
Date: June 30, 2007

Science and Technology Log – Setting and Hauling Traps 

Maggie Flanagan, scientists, and ship’s crew work together to set lobster traps
Maggie Flanagan, scientists, and ship’s crew work together to set lobster traps

We’ve worked a lot with lobster traps by now, and I’ve had the chance to try every part of the job. The science crew works closely with the experienced fisherman of the ship’s crew – it takes teamwork!  We take turns preparing bait in the early morning.  Thawed mackerel are sliced twice through the middle – be sure to expose the guts which release fluids and oils that are especially attractive to our targets. Later, the traps are set in strings of 8 or 20. Historic data is based on strings of 8, which is why they’re still used even though experience has shown labor is more effective with strings of 20. The traps are all clipped to a gangion, a short line that is spliced (woven) into the length of the ground line (main line of the string) at 20 fathoms (120 feet) apart.  Buoys are clipped in at one end for strings of 8 and at both ends for strings of 20.  A little entertainment comes from the fun names on our buoys which are called out over the radio – Big Momma, 8-ball, Spifferino, Easy Target.  Sadly, we lost the 8-ball float, which is the only gear we’ve lost so far.  Setting baited traps happens from the fantail, or aft working deck, of the ship.  The stackers (scientists on trap duty) lift and shuffle the traps up to the diamond plate (steel non-slip) at the very stern of the ship. A large pallet tub of our line waits there, with eye splices (loops) for attaching gear carefully stacked on a small pipe, keeping the loops ready, in order, and clear from the many coils of line in the tub.   The crew clips a buoy or a trap to a gangion and carefully sends it off the stern.  After beginning the string, the traps slide off on their own with the momentum of the line paying out.

Hauling back lobster traps in the pit aboard OSCAR ELTON SETTE
Hauling back lobster traps in the pit aboard OSCAR ELTON SETTE

Everyone has to be careful to not accidentally step in a loop of line and get dragged off too.  While the traps are going over another crew member, the heaver, manages the tension on the line by guiding it off the stern with a stick in great sweeping arcs.  All the while the Chief Bosun, or supervisor, is in radio communication with the bridge to ensure strings are set at the prescribed depth and location. For our data standards, the traps soak overnight. Hauling back the traps happens in the pit, the low open area along the port side of the ship. The officer at the sticks (steering) operates from a side wing of the bridge, and the Chief Bosun operates the pot hauler, a wheel at the top of a tall J frame that helps pull in the line. As the bridge maneuvers close up to the buoy, a crew member throws the messenger (a 4 pronged type hook) to catch the buoy warp (rope). Once the crew pulls in and unclips the buoy, the ground line is led through the pot hauler, and with a steady hiss the traps are brought up. The pot hauler pauses briefly for each trap to be unclipped, and they’re slid down a table to the crackers (members of the science party) to open. Pretty quickly you open, remove creatures to a bucket, remove old bait, fill new bait, and close the trap. Everything and everyone in the pit gets wet and splashed with mackerel juice.  A bucketeer keeps order of the specimens collected and helps with sharks and eels.  A runner brings the specimens and trap out of the pit. Traps are re-stacked on the fantail and specimens go to the Wet Lab, where the intermediary, assistant, and measurer (more members of the science party) work to catalog them. Overhead, the ground line runs through fair leads (hanging metal circles) back to the pallet tubs on the fantail, where another crew member coils the line back in and stacks the gangion eyes in order.  

The lobsters can surprise you with powerful snaps of their tails.  The assistant has to hold them firmly while the measurer uses a digital caliper to find the length of the carapace (back of the shell) in millimeters. On certain females, we also measure the exopod part of the first left pleopod (appendages under the tail), which can indicate level of maturity.  Females with eggs, spongy masses of tiny round orange or brown specks under the tail, are said to be berried. We also check the lobsters for PIT tags by waving them in front of a scanner – like electronic checkout at the supermarket.  These tags are the same type implanted in pets and if sensed, the scanner shows that lobster’s unique number.  After all the specimens have been recorded, or when a tagged lobster needs to go back in the same quadrant, the intermediary does a dump, releasing them.  Lobsters are dumped through a special cage lowered on the pot hauler, which is designed to deliver them back to the bottom without exposing them to sharks.

Personal Log 

It’s hard to say which job in the lobster survey is my favorite.  Cracking open the traps is certainly the center of the action, but quite a wet, messy job.  Being the measurer makes you feel closely involved with the scientific process, but keeps you working inside.  Stacking empty traps is not as interesting, but happens out in the sun while talking and listening to music. I guess I’m enjoying all the jobs, and certainly learning a lot. Since I began writing, we had to stop our lobster survey for a few days to offer medical assistance to another scientist camping on one of the islands.  It wasn’t life threatening, thank goodness, and we’re back to work soon.

Maggie Flanagan, June 26, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Maggie Flanagan
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
June 12 – July 12, 2007

Mission: Lobster Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean; Necker Island
Date: June 26, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Maggie Flanagan, repairs a trap aboard NOAA Ship OSCAR ELTON SETTE.
NOAA Teacher at Sea, Maggie Flanagan, repairs a trap aboard NOAA Ship OSCAR ELTON SETTE.

Science and Technology Log 

We just spent an exciting week setting lobster traps at Maro Reef. Sliced mackerel is our preferred bait, and we scrub the bloody patches that drip to deck every day. We hauled back many lobsters, as well as eels, crabs, urchins, and fish. Shark and Octopus can really break up the traps, and ocean conditions can be hard on the gear, so we make repairs as needed. I was proud to put my sailor skills to work helping to splice new bridles on traps.  (Splicing is weaving a line back into itself to create a loop, which is used to attach the trap to a fishing line).  In the past week our Commanding Officer, Karl F. Mangels, shared a little history on The Marine National Monument area created out of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.  This status is the most protected, but also complex to initiate.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, and the State of Hawaii, among others, have targeted this area for preservation for many years.  Recently President Bush moved quickly to legalize the Monument status, but it is taking time to work out the details of regulations and procedures, considering the multiple jurisdictions involved.

Regulations indicate all activities must be approved by permit, including scientific research, and all ships must have vessel monitoring systems.  But, access for native Hawaiian cultural activities is preserved as several of the islands are ancient holy sites.  Midway Atoll retains special status and will be open to more public visitation. All commercial fishing in the Monument waters will be phased out by 2011, and oil and gas exploration and extraction is prohibited. Having been part of a research crew in the Monument for a week now, I appreciate all these efforts at conservation. There is little dry land surfacing out of the Pacific here, but the bird life and sea life are precious, including rare seals, sea turtles, and albatrosses.

Watch out when there’s an eel in your trap!  Most of the local species have sharp teeth, and are quick and eager to use them to gain their freedom.
Watch out when there’s an eel in your trap! Most of the local species have sharp teeth, and are quick and eager to use them to gain their freedom.

Personal Log

Working at sea makes me think often of the legacy of sailors before me.  Though he was a global voyager, Captain James Cook’s influence is heavily felt in the Pacific.  He honed his seamanship skills in the coasting collier (coal cargo) trade in Britain and honed his surveying skills in Canada, helping the British Navy fight the French.  He charted the St. Lawrence River and the coast of Newfoundland, but was a surprise choice among his contemporaries for the Pacific voyages due to his lack of noble title and lack of Royal Navy training. His first command aboard Endeavour in 1768 was to observe the transit of Venus viewable from Tahiti.  A replica of Endeavour now sails out of Australia, and for $1,000 Aussie you can too! The mission of Cook’s second voyage to the Pacific in 1772 was to “complete the discovery of the Southern Hemisphere.”  He took command of Resolution and penetrated the Antarctic circle several times.

Both Endeavour and Resolution were converted North Sea colliers, sturdy vessels familiar to Cook from his merchant marine experience. For the third voyage, Resolution also carried the latest equipment, including a Gregory Azimuth Compass, apparatus for distilling fresh water from seawater, and a new five inch marine chronometer, the K1, by Larcum Kendall.  The chronometer provided for even better chart making as it was easier to use than lunar measurements and proved more accurate for finding longitude.  In 1778, sailing to find a northwest passage between the Atlantic and Pacific, Cook encountered the Hawaiian Islands. Natives were friendly to the Captain and his crew, and when Resolution’s foremast cracked badly in February 1779, they returned to Kealakekua Bay on the big island of Hawaii to down rig the mast and float it to the beach for repairs.  Misunderstandings developed as from both sides, resources were taken and tempers flared.

When Cook went ashore with marines to seek settlement, a crowd gathered and became aggressive. Cook shot a Hawaiian, and in the retreat to the bay, Cook was clubbed and stabbed from behind, dying in the surf.  Two other important figures were also witnesses that day in Kealakekua Bay.  William Bligh of Bounty infamy was one of the ship’s officers, and Kamehameha, who unified the islands to become the first King of Hawaii, was nobility of the village ashore. Cook left quite a legacy of knowledge with his charts and logs, and a legacy of British influence around the globe.  He accomplished surveys of the Pacific from Australia to Alaska.  Resolution’s officers demanded Cook’s body be returned, but it came back as pieces of bone and flesh, which were buried at sea.  There is a monument to Captain Cook in the form of an obelisk on Kealakekua Bay, and it’s curious to think that perhaps missing parts of his remains are buried there.  Interestingly, that little part of Hawaii is technically British soil even to this day.  Now, Kealakekua Bay is also a Marine Life Conservation District filled with coral, schools of tropical fish, and even spinner dolphins – another legacy this historic site can offer for the future.

Maggie Flanagan, June 15, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Maggie Flanagan
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
June 12 – July 12, 2007

Mission: Lobster Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Ocean; French Frigate Shoals
Date: June 15, 2007

An anuenue (Hawaiian for rainbow) at sea
An anuenue (Hawaiian for rainbow) at sea

Project Log 
NOAA Ship OSCAR ELTON SETTE  Call Sign: WTEE
Length: 224 ft.; Beam (width): 43 ft.
Draft (hull depth beneath the water line): 15 ft.
Cruising speed: 10.5 kts.
Displacement tonnage: 2,301 tons

From the ship’s web site – “Dr. Oscar Elton Sette (is regarded) as the father of modern fisheries oceanography in the U.S. He formulated the concept that the “changing ocean” rather than “average ocean conditions” plays key roles in the natural fluctuations of fish stocks and their vulnerability to harvesting. He originated the importance of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, including the interrelationships between fisheries, oceanography, and meteorology, to understanding and solving marine fisheries problems. Although he was a man with big ideas and many strengths and capabilities to implement them, Elton was a relatively small-built man who spoke softly. Whatever Elton sought out to do, he did so with vigor, dedication, and determination. Yet, he was notably inclusive, rather than exclusive, and was a firm believer of the power of teamwork to accomplish goals.  Dr. Sette was a gifted oral and written communicator. He possessed the wonderful ability to explain complex ideas, concepts, and scientific findings in a pragmatic, concise, straightforward, understandable, and clear manner.”

What a great model for our work!

Our ship was originally designed for another kind of ocean monitoring.  She was built for the Navy in Gulfport, MS as a submarine hunter and launched in 1987 as USNS ADVENTUROUS.  In 2002 she was transferred to NOAA and commissioned as NOAA Ship OSCAR ELTON SETTE the following year.  The vessel was recently homeported at historic Ford Island at the Pearl Harbor Naval Station.

Our mission – marine research by permit in one of our country’s newest preserves, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.  This area incorporates the North West Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) sanctuary, and is a state/federal partnership.  Our activities are part of a yearly effort by NOAA scientists and their University of Hawaii colleagues to record data on spiny and slipper lobster populations.  These creatures don’t have the famous claws of the New England lobsters I’m used to, but I understand their tails make for great surf and turf. As other stocks dwindled, lobster taking in the NWHI  increased. Around 1989 lobster populations collapsed, and despite restrictions on that fishery, have not recovered well. The scientists aboard are trying to understand and improve this situation.

We’re steaming northwest on our way to our first research area at Maro Reef.  Coils of yellow line and stacks of black traps fill the fantail or aft deck.  Inside the wet lab, a freezer full of whole mackerel wait to be prepared as bait.  Original plans were to collect data from Necker Island first, but this changed as the crew is also delivering fuel and supplies to the Fish and Wildlife Service on Tern Island at French Frigate Shoals.  When the time does come, it will be exciting to get the gear wet!

Susan Carty, March 18, 2001

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Susan Carty
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
March 14 – April 20, 2001

Mission: Asian-Pacific Regional Aerosol Characterization Experiment (ACE-ASIA)
Geographical Area: Western Pacific
Date: March 18, 2001

Today I thought it would be helpful to discuss why a ship is being used for the aerosol experiments. As you know, our planet is approx. 70% water which logically indicates that particles would be moving over water even more than land. The atmosphere over water, particularly remote waters, provides ideal conditions for sampling. The slower speed at which the ship moves permits the scientists to conduct testing at a manageable pace as compared to samplings taken from airplanes.

The ship can take the scientists to locations on the planet only accessible by water. It becomes a floating platform for data collection and experimentation.  The ship can also follow the wind patterns across the seas (ie:  tradewinds/westerlies). These winds carry particles from one continent to another.

The testing of air samples on board focuses on many aspects of aerosols. For example, some equipment may focus on how light energy and particles interact in the air as well as in the water, while another type of equipment focuses on size distribution of particles in the atmosphere. Understanding what types of organic and inorganic particles are collected is significant in terms of determining origin and interactive behaviors.

This is just a small sampling of the types of experiments taking place on the ship. The testing and collection of aerosols is a daily activity. At times the scientists must work under difficult and awkward conditions that are directly influenced by weather, seas and swells. They also conduct their testing at all hours of the day. It may look like a “cruise” but it is definitely a “working cruise”. It calls for committed scientists with a sense of adventure and endurance.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What is the difference between a “sea” and a “swell”?

Talk to you tomorrow. The albatross are still with us!
Susan

Susan Carty, March 17, 2001

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Susan Carty
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
March 14 – April 20, 2001

Mission: Asian-Pacific Regional Aerosol Characterization Experiment (ACE-ASIA)
Geographical Area: Western Pacific
Date: March 17, 2001

Today is officially day 3 at sea. We just finished our 8:00 am organization meeting. Each day we post the actual location of the ship. Yesterday we were 26N,161W. Today we will be 34N nd 164 W. Time zone change will occur at around 23:00 hrs. Then we will be 6 hours earlier than the east coast time. We change from zone #10 to zone #11 at 160 W. You can see how just this information alone would be good for an interdisciplinary study with social studies or geography.

We have left the Tradewinds and are now in the Westerlies. Ocean is rougher and
air temp. is much cooler. They expect a period of sun this afternoon and then we could be heading into a rainy front. Last night the rocking of the ship was much more pronounced. I could feel myself rolling around in the bunk. I will try to tape record the sounds at night. They would be perfect for a horror movie. Lots of clanking, groaning, crashing of metal on metal and then water sloshing around. Cool!!!

Today, I had a tour of the bridge. WOW what an awesome sight that is! The technology involved with running this ship is amazing. That will be a place to visit when seas become higher.

The albatross are still following (remember the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner?)
We had better treat them well.

Today’s testing off the stern was similar to yesterdays. Only today the measurements were not just practice. I learned that the phytoplankton are considered to be “particles” in the sea since they too have influence on the behavior of light in the waters and above the waters. They would definitely be considered to be some of the larger particles. Non the less, they have an impact.

Questions for today: What is a fetch? Why are they different in the Pacific compared to the Atlantic? When sailing, which sea would you prefer to experience and why?

Talk to you tomorrow,
Susan