NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
June 6, 2018 – June 28, 2018
Mission: Eastern Bering Sea Pollock Acoustic Trawl Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Eastern Bering Sea
Date: June 4, 2018
A sign hanging in the airport when I landed in Dutch Harbor. If this is where I started and my most recent coordinates are below, which way have I been traveling?
Weather Data from the Bridge on June 7th, 2018
Latitude: N 55° 22.897
Longitude: W 164° 20.546
Sea Wave Height: 2-3 ft
Wind Speed: 13 knots
Wind Direction: 270 degrees
Visibility: 8 knots
Air Temperature: 7.5° C
Sky: Grey and Cloudy
Photo of NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson at port in Dutch Harbor, AK.
Science and Technology Log
On this leg of the Research Cruise in the Eastern Bering Sea I will be helping a team of NOAA scientists collect data about a fish species called Pollock. The datum (plural of data) that are collected will help to set the limits for how much pollock the fishing boats are allowed to catch. The data also allow scientists to track the populations of the pollock to look for patterns. For additional information on Pollock, visit the NOAA fisheries website here.
During the survey, acoustic (sound) signals will be sent into the water by transducers at different frequencies and these acoustic signals will bounce off of the objects in the ocean and bounce back to the ship where the echoes will be picked up by the transducers. The data collected from each echo is presented visually to the science team. When we reach a spot where a lot of the acoustic signals returning to the boat indicate the presence of fish, a trawl sample will be taken at that location. A trawl survey includes putting a large net into the water and scooping up a sample of all of the living things in that location. Once the trawl haul is brought onto the boat, it is taken to the fish lab where the fish are identified and measured.
Photo of the Fish Lab on NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
The area being surveyed is the Eastern Bering Sea and for this study is divided up into 28 different transects have been mapped out and are spread 20 nautical miles apart. We will start at northern point of the first transect and travel south until we reach the bottom of it. Once we reach the bottom of the first transect we will travel 20 nautical miles west to the southern tip of the second transect. We will then travel north along this second transect until we reach the top and then travel the 20 nautical miles west until we reach transect 3. This will continue throughout my time on the ship, and on the 2 other legs of this journey. On this first leg of the research cruise, the aim is to survey and sample from 16.3 of the transects which will total a journey of 2627 nautical miles on the transect lines.
According to the NOAA National Ocean Service Website, “A nautical mile is based on the circumference of the earth, and is equal to one minute of latitude. It is slightly more than a statute (land measured) mile (1 nautical mile = 1.1508 statute miles). Nautical miles are used for charting and navigating.”
Map of transect lines for NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson over the 3 legs of the Eastern Bering Sea Pollock survey. Current location is shown by the yellow boat. Can you find it? Hint: It’s near the vertical lines on the right. First transect is the farthest on the Eastern (right in this photo) side.
Photo taken on the stern of NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson. Photo Credit: Sarah Stienessen
It was a long trip getting to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, but it has already been worth it! I am on the Island of Unalaska, which is a part of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. The main port city is called Dutch Harbor, or commonly just “Dutch”. This is such a beautiful place that I probably never would have seen otherwise. There are mountains filled with grasses, berry bushes, and wild orchids as well as snow-topped peaks and natural waterfalls. There are bald eagles everywhere and foxes that are so fluffy they almost appear to be dogs from far away. Looking into the water you can see a few scattered otters floating on their backs and the occasional harbor seal.
This photo was taken from the bow of NOAA ship Oscar Dyson at port in Dutch Harbor, AK.
As soon as I landed in Dutch, I was greeted by two of the scientists that I will be working with, Matthew and Sarah. They took me to NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson to drop off my luggage before we all went out to dinner. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I actually had my own stateroom. Due to the number of female scientists and us being on the same work shift, we were both able to have our own rooms. The rooms are so much nicer than I had anticipated them to be! The mattresses are comfortable, I have a desk space, there’s a television (that I will probably never watch) and I have my own bathroom as well.
Photo of my stateroom and bathroom on NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson.
Photo of my restroom on NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
After we had dinner and returned to the ship, I went on a mini hike with one of the members of the science team and we went to view this amazing natural waterfall. You wouldn’t know it was there if you weren’t looking for it. There is so much more that you can do when the sun is up for most of the day. At 11:30pm (the latest i’ve stayed up so far) it is still light outside. There are so many clouds that the sky looks pretty grey, and there are a ton of clouds, often hiding the tops of the mountain peaks.
Photo of TAS Lacee Sherman in front of a waterfall in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
The next morning I woke up and went for a nice long walk along Captain’s Bay and sat and had coffee on the rocks and just admired the incredible view. It is so much more beautiful here than I had imagined. Later a few of us went for a drive around the island and a few people surfed in the ocean, but I wasn’t brave enough to get in the cold water this time.
Photo taken on Unalaska
Since we will be on the ship for a while (23 days) we stopped at the grocery store to bring a few things onboard that we want to have in addition to our regular meals prepared on the ship by the stewards. I decided that I wanted to bring some fresh fruit, not realizing that I would be paying way more than I expected for them! Everything is expensive here!
$26 dollars worth of fruit in Dutch Harbor, AK.
Did You Know?
Even though we think of Bears and Moose being found all over Alaska, they are not found on the Island of Unalaska at all!
6/4/18 – Bald Eagles, Fox, Otters
6/5/18 – Bald Eagles, 4 Foxes, Otters, Harbor seal, Jellyfish (3 different species)
6/6/18- Bald Eagles, Jellyfish (2 species), Humpback Whales!!
A fox spotted on 6/5/18 in Dutch Harbor
These are crab fishing “pots” that are used by Alaskan Fisherman to catch crab. How many bald eagles do you see in this photo?