Caitlin Fine: Endings and beginnings, August 9, 2011

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Caitlin Fine
Aboard University of Miami Ship R/V Walton Smith
August 2 – 7, 2011

Mission: South Florida Bimonthly Regional Survey
Geographical Area: South Florida and Gulf of Mexico
Date: August 9, 2011

Personal Log

The last days of the survey cruise followed a pattern similar to the first days. Everyone got into the schedule of working 12-hour shifts and everyone accepted their role and responsibilities as a member of the team.

We all (morning and night shifts) ate dinner together and often (if there were no stations to be sampled) sat together to play board games, such as Chinese checkers.

Maria and I in the "stateroom" we shared
The scientific team plays Chinese checkers

We also all watched the sunsets together — each one was spectacular!

Science team at sunset

On the night of August 6th, we were towing the Neuston net through an area that had so many jellyfish that we could not lift the net out of the water. We had to get another net to help lift the heavy load. We all took bets to see how many jellyfish we had caught. I bet 15 jellyfish, but I was way off — there were over 50 jellyfish in the net! There were so many, that as we were counting them, they began to slide off the deck and back into the water. I have a great video that I cannot wait to share with you in September!

Moon jellies sliding off the deck!
Science equipment in the truck

The ship arrived back in Miami on Sunday night around 7:30pm. It was amazing how quickly everyone unloaded the scientific equipment and started to go their separate ways. Because the NOAA building (Atlantic Oceanographic and Meterological Laboratory, AOML) is located right across the street from where the Walton Smith docks, we loaded all of the equipment into a truck and delivered it to the AOML building.

This was great because I got a quick tour of the labs where Lindsey, Nelson and others run the samples through elaborate tests and computer programs in order to better understand the composition of the ocean water.

Lindsey in one of the NOAA labs

In reflecting upon the entire experience, I feel extremely fortunate to have been granted the opportunity of a lifetime to participate in Teacher at Sea. I was able to help with all aspects of the scientific research from optics, to chemistry, to marine biology as well as help with equipment that is usually reserved for the ship’s crew, such as lowering the CTD or tow nets into the water.

There were many moments when I felt like some of my students who are struggling to learn either English or Spanish. There are a lot of scientific terms, terms used to describe the equipment (CTD and tow net parts), and basic boat terminology that I had not been exposed to previously. I am thankful that all of the members of the cruise were patient with my constant questions (even when I would ask the same thing 3 or 4 times!) and who tried to explain complex concepts to me at a level that I would understand and be able to take back to my students.

I am using the GER 1500 spectroradiometer

It makes me reflect again on everything I learned during my MEd classes in Multicultural/Multilingual Education — a good educator empowers students to ask questions, take risks, ask more questions, helps students access information at their level, is forever patient with students who are learning language at the same time that they are learning new concepts, provides plenty of hands-on experiments and experiences so students put into practice what they are learning about instead of just reading or writing about it.

A porthole on the R/V Walton Smith

As we sailed into Miami, a bottlenose dolphin greeted us – sailing between the two hulls of the catamaran and coming up often for air. It was so close, that I could almost touch it! Even though I was sad that the survey cruise was over, it was as though the dolphin was welcoming me home and on to the next phase of my Teacher at Sea adventure: I return to the classroom in September loaded with great memories, anecdotes, first hand-experiences, and a more complete knowledge of oceanography and related marine science careers to help empower my students so that they consider becoming future scientists and engineers. Thank you Teacher at Sea!

Survey cruise complete, returning to Miami

Jane Temoshok, October 16, 2001

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jane Temoshok
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 2 – 24, 2001

Mission: Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes
Geographical Area: Eastern Pacific
Date: October 16, 2001

Latitude: 20º S
Longitude: 85º W
Air Temp. 19.8º C
Sea Temp. 18.6º C
Sea Wave: 1 – 2 ft.
Swell Wave: 3 – 4 ft.
Visibility: 8 – 10 miles
Cloud cover: 6/8

Science Log

LIDAR – Brandi McCarty & Scott Sandberg, ETL

Light and sound. LIDAR and RADAR. Both of these are used by scientists to observe the world. RADAR uses radio waves and LIDAR uses light waves. In this case, Brandi and Scott, from ETL in Colorado, use light waves, rather than sound waves, to observe clouds. They have a fully equipped van that was placed on the deck of the BROWN back in Seattle. Their major interest is observing the water vapor and wind velocity below and within stratus clouds. The instruments measure from 300 meters off the surface of the ocean up to about 4000 meters in the atmosphere.

Clouds have different functions. Depending upon how far they are away from the surface and what they are made from, clouds can act as a barrier to heat energy from the sun or as a blanket to keep heat trapped below.

Think of being in a hot desert. You would probably put on a light cloth to keep the burning sun out and keep you cooler. When the temperature drops though, you would want that cloth to keep your body heat in and not let it escape. Clouds are a lot like that. Mother Nature does a good job of keeping the planet at the right temperature. Now scientists want to figure out how she does it.

Brandi and Scott are working to collect lots of data that other scientists will use to make weather predictions. You can imagine that all the data that the ETL groups pull together from this trip could provide atmospheric scientists with lots of information to keep them busy for a long time.

Travel Log


In the evenings many of the scientific members as well as crew members enjoy playing games or cards, reading, or doing needlepoint. However the primary form of entertainment on the BROWN is watching videos. There is a big screen TV in the lounge. Crew member Mike puts out a schedule for the week of the videos that will be shown each night so you can plan ahead. He has hundreds and hundreds to choose from! Crew member Dave opens the ship store for us to buy popcorn or candy. The profits made at the store help to purchase new videos.

Temoshok 10-16-01 tvlounge
Scientists and crew members relax in the BROWN’s TV lounge.

Question of the day: Why is it important for all the “portholes” (windows) on the ship to be covered during the night?

Keep in touch,