Catherine Fuller: This Was Not A Drill, July 17, 2019

Seward

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Catherine Fuller

Aboard R/V Sikuliaq

June 29 – July 18, 2019


Mission: Northern Gulf of Alaska (NGA) Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER)

Geographic Area of Cruise: Northern Gulf of Alaska

Date: July 17, 2019


Science Log

For the love of jellies 

Heidi and jelly
Heidi and the objects of her affection
Team Jelly
Team Jelly on the job!

Jellyfish (or jellies, since they’re not technically fish) are one of the “delights” of recovering instruments from the sea.  Often, the CTD returned to the surface covered in brown slimy tentacles, as did the sediment traps on occasion, which needed careful removal.  For most of us, the jellies were more of a nuisance, but for Heidi Mendoza Islas, the jellies are love. 

Heidi was on the night shift, which I didn’t get to spend as much time with as I would have liked, and her research was based on nightly Methot net drops and subsequent jelly inventories.  The Methot net is a 10-meter long net on a square metal frame (roughly 5 meters per side).  The net is dragged off the side of the ship for 20 minutes and then recovered.  Led by Dr. Ken Coyle, Heidi and the night shift team of Caitlin, Delaney and Adriana then counted the jellies, recorded their type and their volume by type.  One night, Heidi’s jelly count reached nearly 900! In the brief time I did spend with the team, I saw Heidi’s passion for jellies in her eyes and heard it in her voice as she lovingly explained the different types they had caught, often exclaiming, “Isn’t it beautiful?” Indeed, watching them swim next to the ship on our calmest days, they were.

What do you want kids to learn from your research?

Heidi: I would like to let people know that there are a ton of jellies out there in the ocean. They are very resilient to changes in the environment such as warmer temperatures, higher salinities, and low levels of oxygen, so this can allow them to easily scale up on the food chain and they might take advantage over other species like larval fish. As part of my research, I would like to determine if any correlations exist among jellyfish biomass, the environmental variables, and the early life stages of pollock.


Personal Log

This Was Not A Drill:

As on any ship, safety at sea is a top priority.  Early on in the voyage, Artie Levine, the Third Mate, gave us a safety briefing that included learning how to handle a fire extinguisher as well as how to put on our immersion suits and find our muster stations (gathering places) in case of emergency.  We were warned at that point that a drill would occur later in the trip.  Kira (my roommate) and I studied the information card on the back of our stateroom door that listed the signals for various emergencies just so we’d be prepared.  It’s a testament to how seriously everyone took the safety briefing that when the ship first started sounding fog signals a couple of nights later, many of us popped our heads out of our rooms, ready to muster! 

Near the end of the second week, we were indeed drilled, although we were kindly given advance warning on the message board in the mess hall.  In any type of emergency, each member of the science team is required to retrieve their immersion suits and PFDs from their rooms and report to their muster stations.  In addition, you must have a hat (watch cap or trucker hat) and clothing with long sleeves.  In order to reduce the stress of the event, the announcement of the drill is preceded by the statement, “This is a drill” repeated several times.

My exit from the ship was a little earlier than planned, but provided both the land and ship crew with essentially a live drill practice.  I woke up the morning of July 12th and found that I was experiencing severe vertigo from rolling over too quickly in bed overnight.  Needless to say, it’s pretty miserable when it happens on a moving ship!  Artie Levine, the Third Mate, and Christoph Gabaldo, the Chief Mate, came to take care of me and moved me to the infirmary.  After my symptoms had calmed down some, it was decided that, since we were about an hour out of Seward by small boat, and that the ship was scheduled to move on to the Kodiak Line, that it would be best to bring me ashore.  Artie took me in the next morning on the ship’s rescue boat.  Pete, having some work he needed to do ashore, plus being a genuinely nice guy, came with me as well.  Ed DeCastro, the Port Captain, met us at the dock, took me to get checked out and then found a place for me to stay.  In talking to Ed, the ship and land crews do go over procedures for evacuation in theory, and they were actually grateful to be able to practice the procedures in reality without having a serious situation on their hands.  I am grateful that they are prepared for any emergency, because I was taken care of very well.  Thank you, Artie, Christoph and Ed, for you compassion and your professionalism!

Operation Evacuation (VC: Bern Mckiernan)


Last thoughts…

I got on the ship not really knowing what to expect.  Everything was pretty new to me, from being in Alaska, to the research, to being on a big ship.  Despite my early exit, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the chance to meet a great group of people who really are unsung heroes for the research they are doing.  Whether they were adding data to years of previous research or developing new ways to track changes in the ecosystem, they are on the front lines of climate change research.  It was a privilege to be aboard the R/V Sikuliaq with them.  Speaking of…the R/V Sikuliaq is an amazing ship with capabilities I only began to learn about.  Thank you to Eric, our captain, for answering my questions about dynamic positioning and Z-drives.  My respect also goes out to the crew as well for being professional in all regards and unfailingly helpful, from launching and recovering all of our nets and traps, to fixing stuck closets and to cooking 5-star meals.

The ship is is back out now, with some of the same science team on board.  To them, and to the TAS who are out or yet to go, I wish you fair winds and calm seas!

Some memorable moments:

  • Clay conducting the music in his headphones while doing fluorescence testing
  • Heidi exclaiming, “Another beautiful girl!” whenever she found a female copepod
  • The food…it was 5-star at every meal! Doug’s midnight chocolate chip cookies were stellar
  • The night shift’s tales of how they stayed awake
  • Cribbage with Pete, Seth and Ana
  • Lunchtime talks with crew members Jim and Arnel
  • The “Grunden Girls” (Kate and Kira) on Calvet duty
  • Pete’s buoys disappearing…and then reappearing (not that we had any doubt)
  • Steffi and the “Loch Ness monster” (the sediment trap)
  • Questions of the day
  • Dan’s mealtime reports on the sea life he saw that day
  • The nightly run-down with Kira
  • The rowing machine!

Some of my favorite images:

Tropical green waters
Tropical green waters
Sun reflecting in the water
Sun reflecting in the water
Silhouette of a bird in flight
Mist obscuring the horizon
Seabird and ocean ripples
Seabird and ocean ripples
Ropes and Chains
Ropes and Chains
loops
Loops
two gulls
Two gulls
Storm clouds
Storm clouds
Seward
Seward Panorama

Hayden Roberts: Wet and Wild, July 14, 2019

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Hayden Roberts

Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II

July 8-19, 2019


Mission: Leg III of SEAMAP Summer Groundfish Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico

Date: July 14, 2019

Weather Data from the Bridge:
Latitude: 29.19° N
Longitude: 83.45° W
Wave Height: 1-2 feet
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Wind Direction: 180
Visibility: 10 nm
Air Temperature: 30.5°C
Barometric Pressure: 1019 mb
Sky: Few clouds


Science Log

NOAA Ship Oregon II includes many departments and sections of the ship. As part of the TAS program (Teacher at Sea), I spend most of my time assisting the research team in the wet lab, which occurs in 12-hour shifts. The wet lab is where each catch is brought after it is hauled aboard. The process involves bringing what we find in the trawling net on deck so that we can weigh, sort, count, and measure a subsample of what is found. Fortunately, we do not have to weigh and determine the sex of everything that comes aboard in the net; otherwise, it would take hours when the catch is large. By taking a subsample, fishery biologists can split the catch into percentages depending on the weight of the entire catch and sample size. This subsample’s diversity can then be used as a basis for the entire catch. This conserves our efforts and while still providing an accurate representation of what was caught.

Pulling in the trawling net
Pulling in the trawling net.
Sorting the catch
Opening and sorting the catch.
Wet Lab
Wet Lab aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II.
Sorted samples
Sorted samples ready to be cataloged.

In order to ensure that our leg of the groundfish survey covers the maximum area possible, NOAA uses a method called independent random sampling. A computer program randomly selects stations or research sites based on depth data and spatial area. By choosing random samples independently, fishery biologists can ensure that they have not inadvertently singled out or favored one area over another and that the data collected represents an accurate picture of the fish population in the Gulf. Previous legs of the groundfish survey this summer have focused on research stations along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf coast. Our sampling takes place along the Florida side of the Gulf. The goal is to hit 45-50 research sites during our trip.

So far, I have learned that the eastern side of Gulf can be more challenging to survey than the west. NOAA and its SEAMAP partners have covered less area in the eastern part of the Gulf. While the eastern Gulf is not exactly uncharted waters, NOAA is still perfecting its research techniques in this part of the Gulf. As early as the 1970s, NOAA has surveyed the muddy bottom of the western Gulf off the coast of Texas. In that part of the Gulf, silt from rivers (mostly the Mississippi) makes for a more uniform surface to trawl for fish samples. East of Mobile, Alabama, tends to be rocky and sandy with outcrops of coral and sponge. The craggy surface, while ideal for a host of aquatic species, can create challenges for collecting samples. With each research station we visit on our cruise, we have to be careful not to cause too much damage to the sea floor. Therefore, we have been using a torpedo-shaped probe to scan our trawling paths before we drop the net. While this doubles the time it takes to complete each research station, it does improve our odds of collecting good samples as well as protecting our trawling net from jagged objects that might tear the net.


Did You Know?

A fishery biologist is a scientist who studies fish and their habitats. As biologists, they mostly focus on the behavior of fish in their natural surroundings. Some biologists work mostly in a lab or sorting data in a research facility like NOAA’s office in Pascagoula, but many spend quite a bit of time collecting field samples in various ecological settings. To become a fishery biologist, scientists have to study botany, zoology, fishery management, and wildlife management as a prerequisite to a career in the fish and game biology field. A bachelor’s degree may be acceptable for managerial positions, but many fishery biologists have advanced degrees such as a Master’s or Doctorate.


Personal Log

At the beginning of the cruise, we conducted safety drills aboard Oregon II. Safety drills include fire, man overboard, and abandon ship. Each drill requires the crew to go to various parts of the ship. For fire, the research crew (including myself) heads to the stern (or back of the ship) to wait instructions and to be out of the way of the deck crew working the fire. For man overboard, we are instructed to keep eyes on the individual in the water, yelling for help, and throw life preservers in the water to help mark the person’s location. For abandon ship, the crew meets on the fore deck with their life jackets and “gumby” survival suits (see picture). If life rafts can be deployed, we put on our life jackets and all of us file into groups. If we have to jump into the water, we are asked to put on our red survival suits, which are a cross between a wetsuit and a personal inflatable raft.

Hayden in gumby suit
Practicing donning my survival suit.

I asked Acting Commanding Officer Andrew Ostapenko (normally the Executive Officer but is the acting “captain” of our cruise) about what we would do in the event of a storm. With a length of 170 feet and a width of 34 feet, Oregon II is large enough to handle normal summer squalls and moderate weather like the ones we have sailed through the first few days our trip, but it is important to avoid tropical storms or hurricanes (like Barry, which is gathering near the coast of Louisiana), which are just too big to contend. On the ship, the officers keep a constant watch on the weather forecast with real-time data feeds from the National Weather Service (NWS).

As part of my orientation to the ship, I took a tour of the safety features of Oregon II with the officer in charge of safety for our cruise, OPS Officer LT Ryan Belcher. He showed us what would happen in case of an emergency. There are 6 life rafts on board, and each can hold 16 people. Three rafts position on each side of the ship, and they automatically float free and inflate if that side of the ship goes underwater. An orange rescue boat can be deployed if someone falls overboard, but that craft is more It is more regularly used for man overboard drills and to support periodic dives for underwater hull inspections and maintenance.

Rescue vessel
Rescue vessel.
radio and satellite receivers
NOAA Ship Oregon II funnel with radio and satellite receivers.
Foghorn
Foghorn is a device that uses sound to warn vehicles of navigational hazards and hazards or emergencies aboard the ship.

If an emergency on the ship did occur, it would be essential to send out a call for help. First, they would try the radio, but if radio communication no longer worked, we also have a satellite phone, EPIRBS (satellite beacons), and a radar reflector (that lets ships nearby know there is an emergency). On the lower tech end, old fashion emergency flares and parachute signals can be launched into the air so other ships could locate us.

Jill Bartolotta: The Ins and Outs of Going, May 31, 2019

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Jill Bartolotta

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

May 30 – June 13, 2019

Mission:  Mapping/Exploring the U.S. Southeastern Continental Margin and Blake Plateau

Geographic Area of Cruise: U.S. Southeastern Continental Margin, Blake Plateau

Date: May 31, 2019

Weather Data:

Latitude: 28°29.0’ N

Longitude: 079°34.1’ W

Wave Height: 1-2 feet

Wind Speed: 15 knots

Wind Direction: 155

Visibility: 10 nautical miles

Air Temperature: 27.6 °C

Barometric Pressure: 1013.7

Sky: Few

Science and Technology Log

Today and tomorrow I am learning all about the who and how of making the ship go. Ric Gabona, the Acting Chief Marine Engineer, has been teaching me all about the mechanics of powering the ship, managing waste, and providing clean drinking water. Today I will focus on two aspects of making it possible to live on a ship for weeks on end. First, I will teach you about waste management. Second, I will explain how freshwater is made to support cooking, drinking, cleaning, and bathing needs. In conjunction, all of these systems contribute to our comfort on board but also our safety.

Wastewater Management

Waste on board has many forms and it all must be handled in some way or it can lead to some pretty stinky situations. The main forms of waste I will focus on include human waste and the waste that goes down the drains. The waste is broken down into two categories. Black water and gray water. Gray water is any water that goes down the drain as a result of us washing dishes, our hands, or ourselves. Gray water is allowed to be discharged once we are 3 miles from shore. The water does not need to be treated and can be let off the ship through the discharge valve. Black water is water that is contaminated with our sewage. It can be discharged when we are 12 miles from shore. Black water goes into a machine through a macerator pump and it gets hit with electricity breaking the solid materials into smaller particles that can be discharged into the ocean.

Discharge of gray or black water has its limitations. These discharge locations follow strict rules set in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and by the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). The CFR are set by the federal government and the regulations tell you where (how far from shore) you are allowed to discharge both gray and black water. However, sometimes Okeanos Explorer is in areas where black water cannot be discharged so the black water must be turned into gray water. At this point, once the black water has been mashed it will pass through a chlorine filter that will treat any contamination and then the waste can be discharged. However, there are places where nothing can be discharged such as Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawai’i. When in these no discharge areas the ship will store the gray and black water and then discharge when regulated to do so.

It is important to follow these regulations because as Ric says, “We are ocean stewards.” It is important that ships such as Okeanos Explorer be able to explore the ocean while making the smallest environmental impact as possible. The engineers and other ship and science mission personnel are dedicated to reducing our impact as much as possible when out at sea.

Making Water

Water makes up 60% of the human body and is vital for life. However, 71% of the water on earth is saltwater, not able to be taken up by humans, making it challenging to access freshwater unless you live near an inland freshwater system like where I come from up in Ohio along the Great Lakes. While out at sea, we have no access to freshwater and we cannot store freshwater from land on the ship so we must make it. On Okeanos Explorer freshwater is made using two types of systems, reverse osmosis and desalination. Reverse osmosis is used by seabirds to turn saltwater into freshwater. Saltwater passes through a semipermeable membrane allowing the smaller water particles to pass through while leaving the larger salt particles and other impurities behind. If you are seabird, you excrete this salt by spitting it out the salt glands at the top part of your bill or if you are a ship out through a separate pipe as brine, a yellow colored super salty liquid. The other method on the ship used to make water is desalination. Desalination is the process of boiling salt water, trapping the water that evaporates (freshwater), and then discharging the salty water left behind. The engineers could use a separate boiling system to heat the salt water however they have a much more inventive and practical way of heating the water. But before I can let you know of their ingenious solution we must learn how the engines run. Oops! Sorry, I need to go. Need to switch my laundry. So sorry. We will explore ship movement and the engines in the next blog. Stay tuned…

Reverse osmosis system
Reverse osmosis system on the ship.
flow meters for potable water and brine
Can you see the yellow colored brine and the clear colored potable water?
Filtered water station
Filtered water station on the ship. Look familiar? You may have one like this in your school.

 

Personal Log

I really enjoyed learning all about the mechanics of operating the ship. It takes lots of very skilled people to make the equipment work and I love the ingenuity of the machines and those who run them. Space is limited on a ship and I am just fascinated by how they deal with the challenges of managing waste and making freshwater 50 plus nautical miles from coast for up to 49 people. Today was a great learning day for me. I do not know much about engines, wastewater treatment, and water purification systems so I really learned a lot today. I now have one more puzzle piece of ship operations under my belt with many more to go.

Aside from my lesson in thermodynamics, combustion, chemistry, physics, and other sciences that I have not touched since college, I learned about the safety operations on the vessel. Today we practiced a fire drill and an abandon ship drill. We learned where we need to go on the ship should one of these events ever occur and which safety gear is needed. I donned my immersion suit and PFD (Personal Flotation Device) to make sure they fit and all the pieces/parts work. Being in the ocean would be a bad time to realize something isn’t right. Donning the safety suit was a funny situation for all movement is super restricted and you feel like a beached whale trying to perform Swan Lake on point shoes.

Jill in immersion suit
Me in my immersion suit, fondly known as the gumby suit.

However, with some help from my friends we were all able to get suited up in case an emergency should arise.

Tonight I look forward to another sunset at sea, some yoga on the deck, and seeing a spectacular star display.  

view of deck with sunset
My yoga spot

Did You Know?

Eating an apple a day while at sea can keep seasickness at bay.

Ship Words

Different terms are used to describe items, locations, or parts of the ship. As I learn new words I would like to share my new vocabulary with all of you. If there is a ship term you want to know more about let me know and I will find out!

Galley: Kitchen

Mess Deck: Space that crew eat aboard ship

Fantail: Rear deck of a ship

Pipe: Announcement on the ship via a PA system

Muster: Process of accounting for a group of people. Used in safety drills on a ship such as a fire or abandon ship drills.

Stateroom: Sleeping quarters on the ship

Abeam: On the beam, a relative bearing at right angles to the ship’s keel

Bearing: The horizontal direction of a line of sight between two objects

Animals Seen Today

1 flying fish

Whales (Too far away to tell what they were but we saw their spouts!)

Ashley Cosme: E.T. Phone Home, September 2, 2018

Satellites

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Ashley Cosme

Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II

August 31 – September 14, 2018

 

Mission: Shark/Red Snapper Longline Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico

Ship Tracker 2
Current location of NOAA Ship Oregon II (Photo courtesy of NOAA Ship Tracker)

Date: September 2nd, 2018

Weather Data from the Bridge:

  • Latitude: 27.16233N
  • Longitude: 94.45417W
  • Wind speed: 10 Knots
  • Wind direction: South
  • Sky cover: Scattered
  • Visibility: 10 miles
  • Barometric pressure: 1012.5 atm
  • Sea wave height: 3 feet
  • Sea Water Temp: 30.9 °C
  • Dry Bulb: 29.4°C
  • Wet Bulb: 26.0°C

 

 

Science and Technology Log:

When one hears that there is an ET aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II, they might imagine E.T., the extra terrestrial, wearing a sailor hat and driving the boat.  Fortunately for everyone aboard, E.T. is not driving the boat and the ET aboard the Oregon II is Lester S. Andreasen.  Lester, known as Les, is a rotational Electronic Technician (ET).  Les is responsible for the network and communication while out at sea.  He also provides support to the NOAA scientists by assisting them in maintaining shipboard scientific data collection.

Les Andreason, Electronics Technician
Les Andreason working in his ‘office’ aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II.

Prior to his career aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II, Les was in the Navy for 23 years.  His first station right out of boot camp was Key West, FL.  That is where he learned about navigational radar, and preformed corrective and preventative maintenance on electronics on the unique squadron of Patrol Hydrofoil Missiles (PHMs).  Les started in the Navy as an electronic technician seaman (E3), and worked his way to a command master chief (E9).  When he left the Navy he began his career aboard dynamic positioning ships.  When the oil field began to struggle, Les was hired by NOAA.

Les describes NOAA Ship Oregon II as a “fun ship”, as he really enjoys the people.  He finds it fascinating to see how the crew interacts with the scientists while completing the shark surveys.  Les’s advice to anyone who wants to pursue a career as an ET would be to study computer science, mathematics, or computer engineering.  I guess he is a little like E.T. the extra terrestrial, because without Les we wouldn’t be able to ‘Phone Home’ and talk to our families or anyone on shore.

Very Small Aperture Terminal
Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) used to maintain the Internet and phone connection.

Satellites
The smaller white satellite is responsible for ship to shore communication. The satellite larger white satellite connects to the VSAT inside the ship.

 

Personal Log:

We have been cruising for two days now, and won’t start fishing until tonight.  Since I have had some extra time on my hands, I got to try out the nifty workout equipment.  I did a circuit of 2 minutes on the bike, 20 kettle bell swings, and 10 dumbbell squats.  I completed 10 rounds.  Then I proceeded to the stern where I did planks, sit-ups, and stretched.  It was very relaxing to be able to look out over the water.  I didn’t even feel like I was working out because it was so peaceful.

working out
My new best friend, the stationary bike!

Nothing but water
View from the stern while working out.

 

 

abandon ship
This is what I will be wearing in case an emergency situation occurs and I have to abandon NOAA Ship Oregon II.

 

We also ran ship drills so everyone is prepared on where to go in an emergency situation.  Aboard any ship, safety is the number one goal.  I feel more comfortable knowing that I will have a suit and life jacket on if I need to abandon the ship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did You Know?:

The NOAA fishermen stated that they have seen killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the Gulf of Mexico.  Normally this species is found in colder water, but according the NOAA Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Report (2012) there were approximately 28 killer whales reported in the Gulf of Mexico in 2009.

 

Masked Booby
This Masked Booby flew beside the ship as we cruised through the Gulf of Mexico.

Animals seen:

Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra)

Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)

Flying Fish (Exocoetus peruvianus)

Kate Schafer: Setting off for Brownsville, TX, September 18, 2017

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Kate Schafer

Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II

September 17 – 30, 2017

 

Mission: Shark/Red Snapper Longline Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico

Date: September 18, 2017

 

Weather Data from the Bridge:

Latitude: 27o 02.5’ N
Longitude: 94o 32.6’ W

Scattered clouds

Visibility 14 nautical miles

Wind speed 10 knots

Sea wave height 1 foot

Temperature Seawater 29.9 o Celsius

 

Personal log

Sunday afternoon, September 17

I arrived in Pascagoula, Mississippi in the late afternoon on Saturday after a long day of travel.  Things were so quiet on the ship that evening as most of the crew had gone home during the break between legs of the survey.  It was great to be met and shown around by a friendly face, the Officer on Duty (OOD) David Reymore.  I definitely was feeling a bit like a fish out of water, even though we hadn’t even left the dock yet. As people start to arrive back on the ship, they all know their role and are busy getting ready for our departure later on today. It’s a good experience to feel like you’re out of your element every now and again and I guess a small part of why I decided to apply for a Teacher at Sea position in the first place.

NOAA

As I was preparing to depart on this adventure and was explaining that I was going to be a NOAA Teacher at Sea, I had a number of people ask me what NOAA stood for, so I thought I’d provide a bit of information about what they are and what they do.  First, NOAA stands for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the name definitely suggests the broad mission that the agency has.  Their mission involves striving to understand the oceans, atmosphere, climate, coastlines and weather and making predictions about how the interactions between these different entities might change over time.

That is a tall order, and the agency is divided up into different offices that focus on different aspects of their mission.  The National Weather Service, for example, is focused on forecasting the weather and makes predictions about things like where hurricanes will travel and how intense they will be when they get there.  The National Marine Fisheries Service is tasked with studying the ocean resources and habitats in U.S. waters and to use that understanding to create sustainable fisheries.

So far, I’ve met many people that I’ll be sharing the boat with over the next two weeks.  They have all taken time to introduce themselves and talk for a bit, even though I know that they’ve got tons to do before we sail.

Sunday evening

Well, we’re underway towards our first sampling sites off the coast of Brownsville, Texas.  The seas are really calm, and I’m sitting up on the deck enjoying the light breeze and digesting the delicious dinner of jambalaya, vegetables and blackberry cobbler.  On our way out from Pascagoula, we saw a few dolphins, beautiful white sand barrier islands and mile after mile of moon jellies, but now we’re no longer in sight of land.

P1030600
Barrier island off the coast of Mississippi

We’ve passed an occasional oil rig off in the distance but haven’t seen much else.  The sun just set behind just enough clouds to make the colors spectacular and then as I was climbing down the stairs, I saw a handful of dolphins playing in the boat’s wake.

IMG_3919
Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico

Monday, September 18

Today will be a full day of travel to reach our fishing grounds.  Assuming we continue to make steady progress, we should arrive in the late afternoon or early evening on Tuesday to begin fishing.  We will be baiting 100 hooks that, once deployed, will remain in the water for an hour before we pull them back in.  We’ll be fishing in a variety of depths while working our way back towards Pascagoula.  We practiced some drills this afternoon, including a “man overboard” simulation, using a couple of orange buoys.  They deployed a rescue boat and had retrieved the buoys in a matter of minutes.  I have to admit that watching them get out there with such speed and skill put me at ease.

IMG_3927
Rescue boat deployed during the “man overboard” drill

 

 

Lisa Battig: Of Auroras, Anemometers, Anchors and Adult-sized Exposure Suits, September 3, 2017

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Lisa Battig

Aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather

August 28 – September 8, 2017

 

Mission: Arctic Hydrographic Survey

Geographic Location: Transit from Port Clarence to Yukon River Delta with Ship Surveying on the west side of Norton Sound
Latitude: 62o 32.5 N            Longitude:  165o 48.7 W

Date: September 3, 2017

Weather on the Bridge:
48 degrees F, Winds 6-8 knots from NNE, Seas 2-3 ft increasing, 50% cloud cover


Science and Technology Log

 AURORAS: 

Manda aurora 1
A shot of the aurora taken by Lieutenant Damien Manda, Operations Officer. This was my first aurora ever, and I know I was treated to a truly spectacular display. There was a lot of ooo-ing and aaah – ing and shrieks of delight. I was definitely one of those!

So this isn’t ship science, and it certainly isn’t technology that is made or operated by anyone on the ship, but the aurora is great science and of all the things I’ve experienced out here, has one of the best ties to Chemistry. Why Chemistry? Well, because it’s dealing with electrons. As my chemistry students will learn in a month or so, energy at certain frequencies has the ability to affect the electrons in an atom by causing them to jump up one or more energy levels. That electron does not want to stay in that higher energy position (orbital) so it will shortly drop back down. When it does so, it releases the absorbed energy as a photon of light which is what our eyes see as the brilliant colors. Neon lights follow this principle.

The aurora occurs in an oval shape around the magnetic poles of the earth – both north and south. The reason for this is that the magnetic field of the earth dips closer to earth at the North and South Pole. It is in these regions that highly charged electrons and protons from the solar wind move close enough to the earth that they will interact with the electrons in elements in our lower atmosphere; nitrogen, oxygen, argon and the trace gases.

Because each element has a different emission spectrum, the color given off will vary with the elements being charged. The green that is so often associated with auroras is from atmospheric oxygen. Oxygen in the lower atmosphere is the element that is most commonly affected by the solar wind particles. When higher altitude oxygen is affected, reds will actually be present. Nitrogen will also be charged this way, but less frequently than oxygen. Nitrogen’s color scheme is blues and purples. A strong aurora, which we had the opportunity to see, will have a mix of greens, pinks, purples, whites and blues.

ANEMOMETERS: Weather is one of the more important factors in determining ship navigation. High winds bring heavy seas; heavy moisture in the air may bring low clouds or fog reducing visibility. These factors must be figured into a navigational plan. Weather on the ship is compiled both through analog and digital means. The first wind information given to a seaman standing watch during daylight hours is the wind vane on the bow of the ship. It will tell which direction the wind is from and will give that seaman a sense of how the ship may drift off course while underway.

Fairweather anemometer
Looking up at the anemometers on Fairweather set on the flying bridge. You can see the two levels reasonably well. This is where constant weather data are being gathered which are then relayed to multiple places both on the ship and off.

The ship also has two anemometers. Both are on the mast. One is above the other physically as you somewhat see in the image. They are able to pick up exact wind speed and direction and keep record of maxima. One of the two will be chosen as dominant because the wind is less influenced by obstacles as it (the wind) travels across the ship’s surface. The anemometer chosen will feed into the ship’s digital data stream.The watch also takes data on air temperature, atmospheric pressure, cloud cover, and seas. Air temperature is taken from wet and dry bulb mercury thermometers. The difference between the wet and dry bulb temperatures will give a reading of relative humidity, also, when assessed using a psychrometric chart. A standard barometer is also on the bridge. Swell height and direction are determined by the watch crew visually, as are cloud cover and type. All of these data are recorded hourly. Digital sensors on board also take many of these readings and feed them into the navigation system and the ship’s ECDIS system. The redundancy of these processes, using both digital and analog means, underscore the importance of weather to the ship.

All NOAA ships, UNOLS (university ships) and some merchant vessels also serve as weather stations for the National Weather Service. The digital data is automatically sent on the hour. Visual data on swell direction and height and the condition of the seas is shared through another program, keeping the NWS and other weather agencies more informed of local weather activity.

ANCHORS:

watching the anchor and chain
Commanding Officer Mark Van Waes and Chief Bosun Brian Glunz checking the anchor and chain to be sure it is clear of the ship. Dennis Brooks is standing by.

 

When placing the anchor, the ship will initially overshoot the anchor location and then reverse back over it. This is primarily to keep the anchor and chain from ever being underneath the ship. The anchor and chain are extremely heavy and could do serious damage to the scientific equipment underneath, the propellers and even scratch up the hull. Once the ship has reversed slowly to the location, the anchor is dropped along with 5-7 times the amount of chain as the depth of water the ship is in. As the chain is dropping, the ship will continue to slowly back up laying the chain along the seafloor. The chain will then be locked, and as the anchor finally drags back, it will catch and hold. When the anchor catches, the ship will buck slightly, pulling the chain completely taut, and then because the ship will rebound, the chain will slacken. This is done twice (or more, if necessary) to ensure the anchor has really caught. The bosun and deck hands are watching over the side of the ship communicating with the bridge when the anchor is taut and slack as well. For complete safety, fixed points of land are marked on the radar and distances to each are calculated. The bridge will take measurements from these points every 10 minutes for the first half hour confirming that the anchor is set and then every half hour while at anchor.

Heaving the anchor involves “reeling” it in (similar to sport fishing) by getting the ship closer to the anchor as it is being drawn up. The goal is keeping the chain at a 90o angle to the surface of the water. Again, this keeps the anchor and chain from being able to do damage to the ship. During this process, the bridge will continually check the location of the bow relative to the anchor to insure that the hull will never cross over the chain. Once the ship is directly over the anchor, it should pull free. Finally, during the time the anchor chain is being pulled up, it must be cleaned of all the mud and debris.

washing the anchor chain
Me. Washing down the anchor chain as it comes up with SS Dennis Brooks helping hold the fire hose (it’s pretty heavy!)

ADULT EXPOSURE SUITS: 

Exposure suit
Me trying on a VERY large adult exposure suit. Look at those legs!!

Each week, the entire crew of the ship has an emergency drill. Because there are no outside emergency personnel available for the ship (e.g. fire department) all crew must be well trained in how to handle fires, a sinking ship, and a person falling overboard. There are many crewmembers who pursued their MPIC (Medical Person in Charge), and others who are trained in Rescue Swimming, and there are also members of the Engineering crew who are trained firefighters. But regardless of training, the entire crew needs to be clear as to their responsibilities in an emergency situation and how to communicate with one another throughout the ordeal. So once a week, an unannounced drill will be run to sharpen some of these skills.

I had the chance to be involved with “man overboard” drill today. The drill consisted of me screaming as a dummy (Oscar) with a life vest was dumped over the side. After that, a man overboard was called and the ship’s alarm system was initiated. There are differing signals for each type of emergency. As all ship personnel mustered, communication began. The Commanding Officer, Mark Van Waes, was actually the first to spot the MOB (man overboard) and fixed the location for the bridge who subsequently relayed it through ship communications. At that point, two different options were available; bringing the ship to a position next to the victim and rescuing from the ship or deploying the Fast Rescue Boat mentioned in my last post to do a rescue. Although the ship was brought around, the rescue from the ship proved too difficult. The Fast Rescue boat was deployed with a coxswain, rescue diver (outfitted in an exposure suit) and a third. The MOB was found, placed on a back board, brought back to the ship, and rescue breathing was started along with warming up of the body.

It was fantastic watching all of the different pieces of the puzzle come together to be successful.


Department of the Day: The Deck Crew!

The Deck Crew
The amazing deck crew! L-R back row: Terry Ostermeyer, Dennis Brooks, Brian ____. L-R front row: Carl Coonts, Rick Ferguson, Me, Peter “Nick” Granozio

Every department is important on Fairweather, but the deck crew does a lot of difficult tasks that are often overlooked. They are the ones who keep the ship clean and stocked with supplies. They do the heavy lifting and the fixing of anything non-mechanical. They are responsible for driving the small launches – and are indispensable to the surveys since they need to drive the lines and make the call if it gets too shallow or dangerous. They are also on bridge watch and typically have the helm, meaning they are driving the big ship, too!

Deck crew launches the small boats from Fairweather and they head up the line handling to keep everyone safe. Members of the deck crew are also on watch 24 hours a day and do constant security checks throughout the entire ship every hour. They operate all of the cranes onboard. They are responsible for the flow of materials – what will be incinerated or placed in hazmat containers or stored for later disposal – and then take care of it. Finally, they also do the physical work of anchoring and heaving the anchors. The ship certainly would not run without the deck department.


Personal Log

Getting to know the different groups of people that work here has been amazing. I’ve had opportunities to work closely with the Survey team, the NOAA Corps officers, the stewards and the deck department. I’ve had a chance to see a bit of what the engineering group does, too. I’ve learned so much about the work they do and even about the lives they led before and lead now. I’ve also learned that ship life has some big ups and downs. The work is fascinating and most of the time there are new and interesting things to do. The CO, XO and Ops Officer work hard to ensure that daily duties change often and that there is a constant atmosphere of training.

But it’s difficult to be out at sea for long periods of time, and Fairweather in particular does not have a true “home port” – so it’s virtually impossible to have a place to call home. Several of the folks on this ship have family around the area of where Hurricane Irma is about to hit (Florida, the Carolinas…) and so one of the crewmembers is on his way to Florida to make sure everything is going to be okay. On the flip side, you really do get to see amazing places and events – like the aurora at the top of my post, or Russia…

Little and Big Diomede from Kyle
The islands of Little Diomede (left, foreground) and Big Diomede (right, background). Little Diomede is American land but Big Diomede is Russian. I saw Russia!

 


 Did You Know?

…that exposure (immersion) suits really do extend your life? In March 2008, up here in the Bering Sea, a fishing trawler, Alaska Ranger, went down with 47 people on it. All 47 put exposure suits on prior to abandoning ship – some of them were not properly fitted, one ended up with a gash in it – but at least they all put them on. While lifeboat deploys were attempted, at least two of the lifeboats ended up floating away with no one in them. Only 2 were properly deployed and one of those took on water immediately. So exposure suits were the primary survival tool! Although 5 members of the crew did not make it, 42 were saved through the actions of the US Coast Guard and others in the 1-7 hour window after hitting the water. Some of the crew members were floating in the water in their suits for 3 hours before they were rescued! The necessity of proper training, like the weekly drills on NOAA ships, cannot be overstated. But in these worst case scenarios, even an ill-fitting exposure suit is going to give you more time.

Susan Brown: Let’s Go Fishing, September 4, 2017

 

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Susan Brown

NOAA Ship Oregon II

September 3 – 15, 2017

Mission: Snapper/Longline Shark Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico

Date: September 4, 2017

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 29 43.931N
Longitude: 086 09.617W
Sea wave height: .5 meters
Wind Speed: 2
Wind Direction: 250 degrees
Visibility: good
Air Temperature: 28.3 degrees Celsius
Barometric Pressure: 1016 mb
Sky: partly cloudy

Science and Technology Log

Numbered tags used for each hook

Mackerel used for bait

Today was my first shift. We are using mackerel to bait the 100 hooks that will be places into the water at a specific station. Each hook is numbered so that we can collect data on which hook brought in a fish and entered into the database. There are several jobs out here from baiting the hooks, placing the buoys, flinging the baited hooks out, and recording data in the computer. My job today is the computer.

entering data on the deployment of the baited hooks

The longline is set and left to sit in the ocean for approximately one hour before we start bringing up the line to see if we have a fish on. Out of the 100 hooks we got one fish, a baby tiger shark and a larger juvenile tiger shark coming in at six feet or so. This tiger shark had several hooks in its mouth as well as a tag so when she was brought up on board, all the hooks were removed and the tag replaced with a new one.

IMG_5947
Removing hooks from the tiger shark’s mouth

The tag that was on the tiger shark was opened up to reveal a small scroll of paper with a unique number so that this shark can be tracked from where it was first picked up to when it ended up with us for the brief visit. Below is a short video of us bringing up the shark in the cradle! [no dialogue or narration.]

We will be setting another line tonight at our second station as we continue to motor southeast following the coast of Florida.

Beside recording data on the sharks, a CTD is deployed to collect data on conductivity, temperature and depth. We will use this data in the classroom to look for trends between the abiotic factors that may influence where we are finding certain shark species and the number of overall sharks at any given station.

The CTD that measure conductivity, temperature and depth

Personal Log

There are many different scientists on board researching different things. I am sharing a stateroom with Dani who is on the night shift. She is looking into how different sharks handle stress. I see very little of her since we are on opposite shifts so we get a quick visit at noon when there is a changing of the guards so of say. Brett and Carlos, as mentioned in an earlier post, are looking into parasites that inhabit the various animals we are bringing up. I will do a separate blog on those two and their research later this week to share what they are finding.

Donning the survival suit during abandon ship drill

Today we had a few drills to practice in case of an emergency. One was a fire drill and the other was an abandon ship drill where I had to don a large neoprene suit in less than two minutes. Here I am in that suit! It was quite cumbersome to put on.

Learning new words as I get acclimated to the ship. Here are a few for you:

The head = bathroom

Stateroom = room where I sleep

Muster = to assemble

Bow = the front of the ship

Stern = the back of the ship

Did You Know?

Military time is used on board this ship. See the photo of the clock below.

Question of the Day: Why use military time?

NOAA clock

Cathrine Prenot: Why Math Matters. July 29, 2016.

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cathrine Prenot
Aboard Bell M. Shimada
July 17-July 30, 2016

Mission: 2016 California Current Ecosystem: Investigations of hake survey methods, life history, and associated ecosystem

Geographical area of cruise: Pacific Coast from Newport, OR to Seattle, WA

Date: Thursday, July 29, 2016

Weather Data from the Bridge

Lat: 4901.93N (We’re in Canada!)
Lon: 12651.64W
Speed: 5.7 knots
Windspeed: 34.2 deg/knots
Barometer: 1018.10 mBars
Air Temp: 15.0 degrees Celsius
Water Temp: 13.92 degrees Celsius

Science and Technology Log

IMG_4287
Panoramic view of the back deck of the Bell M. Shimada from the wet lab.

There is a book on the bridge of most sailing vessels called “The American Practical Navigator.” Most people call it Bowditch, for short. It is a thick tome, and has an insane wealth of information in it, as Nathanial Bowditch vowed to “put down in the book nothing I can’t teach the crew.” He evidently thought his crew could learn anything, as Bowditch is an encyclopedia of information. You can find distances to nearby planets, how magnetic fields change around iron vessels, what to do if you are lost at sea, what mirages are, and rules to navigate around hurricanes. It’s been updated multiple times since Bowditch’s version in 1802, but one fact has remained. There is math—oodles and oodles of geometry and algebra and calculus—on every page. In fact, a lot of the Bell M. Shimada runs on math—even our acoustic fishing is all based on speed and wavelengths of sound.

transfer
Screenshot from the Bell M. Shimada’s Acoustics Lab showing the visual rendition (left to right) of 18,000Hz, 38,000Hz, and 120,000Hz.  The ocean floor is the rainbow wavy line 250-450meters below.  This was transect #38; we fished the red/orange splotches approx 150 meters deep.  They were all hake!

Sonar was first used in World War I to detect submarines, and began to be used to sense fish soon after the war ended, with limited success. Sonar advanced rapidly through World War II and fishermen and scientists modified surplus military sonar to specifically detect ocean life. Since sound will bounce off “anything different than water,” we can now use different frequencies and energy to determine an incredible amount of information on a fish’s life. We can “try to tell what kind of fish, where they are, map vertically what they do, and determine their density.” The chief scientist, Dr. Sandy Parker-Stetter says it best. “My job is to spy on fish.” In my opinion, Sandy seems good enough to be in the Acoustics CIA. Click on Adventures in a Blue World; Why Math Matters, to learn all about fish spying and other reasons you should pay attention in algebra class.

Adventures in a Blue World, CNP. Why Math Matters.
Adventures in a Blue World, CNP. Why Math Matters.

 

Personal Log

Life onboard continues to be interesting and fun. The wind has picked up a bit, which has translated into higher seas. I tried to film the curtains around my rack last night opening and closing of their own accord, but every time I’d pick up the camera, they’d stop. I did get a few seconds of some wave action outside the workout room; riding a bike is now much easier than running on the treadmill. Pushups are insanely easy when the ship falls into the waves, and ridiculously difficult when rising.

Porthole video.

I’ve also been involved in a chemical spill drill (that does say drill), and was lucky to be given the helm for a brief moment on the Bell Shimada.

Staging a chemical spill for the crew's spill drill
Staging a chemical spill for the crew’s spill drill

Prenot at the Helm
Prenot at the Helm

 

Did You Know?

NOAA has been around since 1970! Thanks to our great Survey Tech Kathryn Willingham for keeping our science team working so seamlessly. Well… …and making it fun too.

Kathryn
Kathryn Willingham

 

Resources: 

Ocean frequencies: explore sound in the ocean.
Check out this great TED talk about the importance of mathematics at sea.

Julia Harvey: More to a Mooring than meets the Eye, June 26, 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 26th, 2016

Weather Data from the Bridge

Wind Speed: 15 knots

Wind Direction: 100 degrees (slightly east southeast)

Temperature: 24.5 degrees C

Barometric Pressure: 1014.7 mb

Science and Technology Log

One of the primary objectives of this WHOTS project is to deploy WHOTS-13 mooring. This will be accomplished on our second day at sea.

Site of Mooring-13 courtesy of WHOTS Project Instructions
Site of Mooring-13
(courtesy of WHOTS Project Instructions)

The mooring site was chosen because it is far enough away from Hawaii so that it is not influenced by the landmasses. Mooring 13 will be located near mooring 12 in the North Pacific Ocean where the Northeast Trade Winds blow. Data collected from the moorings will be used to better understand the interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean. Instruments on the buoy record atmospheric conditions and instruments attached to the mooring line record oceanic conditions.

A look at interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean.
A look at interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean. [R. Weller, WHOI]
 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a lot more going on than just plopping a mooring in the sea. Chief Scientist Al Plueddemann from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and his team began in-port prep work on June 16th. This included loading, positioning and securing the scientific equipment on the ship.  A meteorological system needed to be installed on the Hi’ialakai to collect data critical to the mission.  And then there was the assembly of the buoy which had been shipped to Hawaii in pieces.  Once assembled, the sensors on the buoy were tested.

Meteorological Station on the Bow
Meteorological Station

As we left Oahu, we stopped to perform a CTD (conductivity/temperature/depth) cast. This allowed for the testing of the equipment and once water samples were collected, the calibration of the conductivity sensors occurred.

Sunday, June 26th, was the day of deployment. Beginning very early in the morning, equipment was arranged on deck to make deployment efficient as possible. And the science team mentally prepared for the day’s task.

Predeployment
The deck before deployment began. The buoy is the blue item on the left.

Promptly at 7:30 am, deployment began. The first stage was to deploy the top 47 meters of the mooring with sensing instruments called microcats attached at 5 meter intervals. A microcats has a memory card and will collect temperature, conductivity and pressure data about every three minutes until the mooring is removed next year.

Sensing instruments for the morring
Microcats for recording oceanic conditions

readied microcats
Microcats readied for deployment. They are lined up on the deck based on their deployment depth.

This portion of the mooring is then attached to the surface buoy, which is lifted by a crane and lowered overboard. More of the mooring with instruments is lowered over the stern.

The remainder of the mooring is composed of wire, nylon, 68 glass balls and an anchor.  At one point, the mooring wire became damaged. To solve this problem, marine technicians and crew removed the damaged portions and replaced the section with wire from a new spool. This process delayed the completion of mooring deployment but it showed how problems can be solved even when far out at sea.

After dinner, the nylon section of the rope was deployed. Amazingly, this section is more than 2000 meters long and will be hand deployed followed by a section of 1500 m colmega line. It was dark by the time this portion was in the water. 68 glass floats were then attached and moved into the water. These floats will help in the recovery of the mooring next year. The attachment to the anchor was readied.

glass floats for recovery
These glass floats will help when the mooring is recovered next year.

The anchor weighs 9300 pounds on deck and will sit at a depth of 4756 meters. That is nearly 3 miles below the ocean surface. The crane is used to lift the anchor overboard. The anchor will drop at 1.6 m/s and may take about 50 minutes to reach the bottom.  As the anchor sinks, the wire, nylon and the rest of the mooring will be pulled down. Once it reaches the bottom, the mooring will be roughly vertical from the buoy to the anchor.

 

Mooring Structure
Mooring Structure

Personal Log

I sailed aboard NOAA ship Oscar Dyson in 2013 so I already had a general idea of what life aboard a ship would be. Both ships have workout areas, laundry facilities, lounges, and of course messes where we all eat. But on the Hi’ialakai, I am less likely to get lost because of the layout. A door that goes up is near a door that goes down.

On our first day aboard, we held two safety drills. The first was the abandon ship drill. As soon as we heard 6 short and 1 long whistles, we grabbed our life jacket, survival suit and a hat. We reported to our muster stations. I am assigned to lifeboat #1 and I report the starboard side of 0-3 deck ( 2 levels up from my room). Once I arrived, a NOAA officer began taking role and told us to don the survival suit. This being my first time putting the suit on, I was excited. But that didn’t last long. Getting the legs on after taking off shoes was easy as was putting one arm in. After that, it was challenging. It was about 84 F outside. The suit is made of neoprene. And my hands were the shapes of mittens so imagine trying to zip it up. I finally was successful and suffered a bit to get a few photos. This was followed by a lesson for how to release the lifeboats. There are enough lifeboats on each side of the ship, to hold 150% of the capacity on board.

Survival Suit & Julia
Abandon Ship drill with Survival Suit

Safety is an important aspect of living aboard a NOAA ship. It is critical to practice drills just like we do at school. So when something does happen, everyone knows what to do. A long whistle signals a fire. All of the scientists report to the Dry Lab for a head count and to wait for further instruction.

I am reminded of how small our world really is.  At dinner Saturday, I discovered one of the new NOAA officers was from Cottage Grove, Oregon. Cottage Grove is just a short drive south of Eugene. She had a friend of mine as her calculus teacher.  Then a research associate asked me if I knew a kid, who had graduated from South Eugene High School and swam in Virginia. I did. He had not only been in my class but also swam with my oldest son on a number of relay teams growing up. Small world indeed.

 

Did You Know?

The Hi’ialakai was once a Navy surveillance ship (USNS Vindicator) during the Cold War. NOAA acquired it in 2001 and converted it to support oceanic research.

 

 

 

Chris Henricksen: Standing My First Watch, May 8, 2014

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Chris Henricksen

Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow

April 29–May 10, 2014

Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Maine

Mission: Spring Bottom Trawl & Acoustic Survey

Date: May 7, 2014

Air Temp: 9.1°C (48.38°F)

Relative Humidity: 73%

Wind Speed: 10.83mph

Barometer: 1011.7mb

 

 

Science and Technology Log

My section stands watch from midnight to noon–twelve hours on, twelve hours off.  Today I stood my first watch, acting as one of three “recorder” on the fish sorting line.  A recorder’s role is to assist his assigned “cutter” by entering requested measurement data (e.g., length, weight, etc.) of individual fish into a computer database.  The cutter processes fish by identifying the species, then performing any number of actions (i.e., cuts, as in, with a knife) in order to retrieve information about particular fish for later use by scientists.  Such data will consist of measuring, weighing, and sexing the fish, as well as checking the contents of its stomach.  Other particular data may be gathered, such as collecting otoliths (ear bones) from the head of the fish.

photo of net prep
Preparing the net for our first trawl

After getting underway, the captain called a series of drills, one of which was abandon ship.  During this exercise, I reported to the aft deck of the ship, donned a “Gumby” survival suit, which is bright orange/red, keeps you warm while in the water, and helps you to stay afloat.  Following that, we had a collision drill.  In a disaster scenario, everyone has a muster station, so that we can be counted, and then help control the situation, if need be.

photo of abandon ship drill
Abandon Ship Drill

Today was my first of about a dozen watches I will stand.  It went smoothly, but there was considerable down time.  The first stations (the areas in which the nets are lowered and trawling begins) were about 25 nautical miles from one another, so it took a couple of hours to steam from one station to the next.  During this time, I was able to relax, grab a bite, or hang out with other members of my watch. Personal Log The food aboard ship is very good, and there is plenty of it. Between mealtimes, the cook makes sure that plenty of drinks and snacks are available, so there is no reason to go hungry aboard the Henry B. Bigelow. The ship has a huge library of DVDs with many new movies.  We can also watch TV thanks to a satellite connection (DirectTV). The only things I am not allowed to do are 1) re-enter my stateroom after going on watch, as there is always an off-watch shipmate trying to catch some shuteye, and 2) make a surprise appearance on the bridge, which is where the NOAA officers navigate and steer the ship.  That’s for safety, and I am sure they would welcome me, as long as I called ahead first. I am tired, but feeling pretty good.  I boarded the ship wearing an anti-motion sickness patch, fearing that, after twenty years of not being at sea, I might be susceptible to seasickness.  The medicine made me feel awful, so I took it off, and now feel much better!  I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy the rocking of a ship.  It’s an especially good way to fall asleep–gently rocking…

2014-05-06 deck selfie
Deck Selfie!

Louise Todd, Underway, September 16, 2013

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Louise Todd
Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
September 13 – 29, 2013

Mission: Shark and Red Snapper Bottom Longline Survey
Geographical Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: September 16, 2013

Weather Data from the Bridge:
Barometric Pressure: 1014.01mb
Sea Temperature: 28.8˚Celsius
Air Temperature: 29.9˚C
Wind speed: 19.22 knots

Science and Technology Log:

Oregon II
Oregon II (Photo Credit NOAA)

We left Galveston a little before 2pm on Sunday, September 15.  We were in transit to our first sampling location and should arrive there around 8pm tonight.  Depending on the conditions we might actually be able to do some fishing tonight!

Today we went through our abandon ship drill.  The ship’s alarm is used to alert everyone on board in the event of an emergency.  Abandon ship is indicated by 7 short rings followed by one long ring of the alarm.  When the alarm sounds with the abandon ship signal, we must carry our survival suits, personal flotation devices (PFDs), long pants, a hat and a long-sleeved shirt to the well deck, at the bow (front) of the ship.  My survival suit and personal flotation device (PFD) are kept in cabinets in my room.  The survival suit is tricky to get on and it gets very, very warm when you are wearing it!

Survival Suit
In my survival suit (Photo Credit Lisa Jones)

Personal Log:

During this initial transit, there hasn’t been much for me to do.  I spent a lot of time sleeping on Sunday.  The way the waves rock the ship back and forth makes me very sleepy!  I have taken a few short naps today in order to be ready in case we do any fishing on the later part of my shift tonight.  I am on the day shift which means I will work noon to midnight.  I think it will take me some time to get used to staying up that late but I think these naps will help!  As we start fishing the days will be much busier for me so staying awake will be easy I hope.  The views off of the ship are amazing.  I was surprised to see how blue the water gets.

View off the ship
View off the Oregon II

My stateroom is very comfortable and I have plenty of space in drawers and cabinets for everything I brought with me.  I am getting used to latching doors and drawers behind me so they do not slam back and forth as the ship rocks.  On the ship there is always someone sleeping so everyone works hard to be courteous and stay quiet.

My stateroom
My stateroom

My roommate is an officer on the ship so we are usually in the room at different times.  Officers on NOAA ships are part of the NOAA Corps.  Roommates are usually assigned based on the shifts people are working so each person has some time alone in the room.  As we start fishing more I will bring my computer and other items I might want throughout the day into one of the labs on the ship so I won’t have to go in and out of the room when my roommate might be sleeping.  The curtains are helpful in blocking out any light that might prevent you from sleeping.  The showers are right next to my room which is convenient and the common head (bathroom) is just around the corner.

There are plenty of food choices in the galley on the ship and everything has been delicious.  In the mornings you can even get eggs made to order!  I certainly don’t think I will be going hungry!

Did You Know?

Even in the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico, hypothermia is risk due to the difference in water temperature and our body temperatures.  The survival suit helps to protect our bodies from the difference in temperature.

 

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 19, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Richard Jones
Onboard NOAA Ship KAIMIMOANA
January 4 – 22, 2010

Art with the line gun
Art with the line gun

Mission: Oceanographic Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: January 19, 2010

Science Log

Safety Drills and an island on the horizon were the highlights of the day.Today we had quite the rainstorm, it came in gray sheets that pounded the deck and boiled the sea surface, like we were running the ship through a car wash back home..We also had gusts that cooled the air for the first time in several days. It was pleasant while it lasted but when the sun came out the air was steamy.

Fixing a pipe
Fixing a pipe

Safety is a big issue on a ship. We have regular weekly drills including Man Overboard, Abandon Ship and Fire Drills. In addition, today after lunch we participated in what is called a safety stand down where we observed several safety demos including using a line gun. You can see Art prepping the gun under the watchful eye of Chris the Chief Bosun and Rick firing the gun. The line gun uses 3000 psi of air pressure to shoot a small rocket with a line out to 750 feet. This tool is used when it is necessary to get a line to another ship or land facility when the ship can’t be close enough for a safe hand toss. After our time on the firing line we learned about fixing ruptured or leaking pipes and how to shore up a sagging upper deck with telescopic metal vertical braces.

When a safety drill is called, a general alarm bell (see picture) is rung notifying all of the ships’ crew, scientists and others to muster (or go) to their assigned stations. The stations are different positions on the ship such as the buoy deck (man overboard station), the top deck by the RHIB (abandon ship) and the mess – cafeteria (fire). The positions in parentheses are my stations for this cruise – they differ for other participants. When practicing the drill for abandon ship, we are shown where the inflatable life boats (see pictures for life boats) are stored and to know to bring as much water as possible from the water locker.

Fire alarm
Fire alarm

We have begun a series of video interviews of the different NOAA corps crew. We began yesterday with the three new Ensigns. Today we interviewed the oiler, Mike Robinson and the Lieutenant Commander Helen “Doc” Ballantyne (Ship’s Nurse/PA ). Our tour of the engine room was fascinating in addition to being very noisy and very warm. This area can really be considered the heart of the ship. The diesel engines, generators, propulsion mechanism, sewage disposal system, and filters for producing fresh water are all located here.  L

t.Cmdr. Ballantyne or “Doc” is not only a nurse who takes care of sick crew members but is also responsible for procedures for handling and storing hazardous materials, disaster care, and other safety related issues. NOAA is always looking for good nurse practitioners, so if you want adventure on the high seas, give NOAA a call!

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As we were on deck for the man overboard we passed Nassau a small island in the Cook Islands located close to 11 degrees 40 minutes South and 165 degrees 24 minutes West. Another day of sailing and we should be close enough to see the Samoan Islands.

Small island in the Cook Islands chain
Small island in the Cook Islands chain

Touring the engine room
Touring the engine room

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Robert Oddo, July 12, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Robert Oddo
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown 
July 11 – August 10, 2009 

Mission: PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic)
Geographical area of cruise: Tropical Atlantic
Date: July 12, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temp 27.5o C(81.5F)
Relative Humidity 76.63
Sea Temp 28.22
Barometric Pressure 1015.15 inches
Latitude 11o42.80 North Longitude 56o 07.33 West
Traveling at 10.7 knots

Setting up the lab
Setting up the lab

Science and Technology Log 

There is a lot of unpacking and setup that has to be done on a scientific cruise like this one. Researchers were busy today getting schedules setup, equipment working and orienting themselves to their workspaces. We are now steaming directly to 0o, 23oW to service a buoy in the PIRATA backbone that has not been transmitting data since 21 June 2009.

Yesterday, I wrote about PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic). Another project that is also going on simultaneously is the Aerosol and Ocean Science Expedition (AEROSE).  Saharan dust storms are estimated to inject three billion metric tons of mineral aerosols a year into the troposphere. The aerosols impact precipitation, fertilize the ocean, and change the air quality and impact ecosystems in the Caribbean and the US eastern seaboard. Red tides, increased rates of asthma and changes in precipitation in the eastern Atlantic and Caribbean have been associated with this dust from the Sahara. The data collected from this cruise will help us understand better the impact of his Saharan dust on the Caribbean and the US eastern seaboard.

Here I am out on the back deck.
Here I am out on the back deck.

One must be prepared for emergencies at sea and today we had an abandon ship drill and a fire drill. There are 49 people aboard the Ronald H. Brown and it is important to know what do in case of an emergency and make sure everyone is accounted for.

Personal Log 

We got underway from Barbados yesterday afternoon and the seas were described as being a bit “lumpy”.  I noticed little by little people seemed to disappear and was wondering what was going on and then it hit me.  Nausea, cold sweats and not being to get comfortable at all.  I got real sleepy and found a spot in the library and crashed for a couple hours. There is really no place to go. I woke up around dinner, took some seasickness medicine and hung out for the rest of the evening. Believe me, I was not the only one trying to get their sea legs.  There were very few people around. It takes time for the body to adjust to the rocking of the boat and some adjust faster than others.  This morning, I feel much better.

The course we have taken since we departed from Bridgetown
The course we have taken since we departed from Bridgetown

Sunset from the back of the ship
Sunset from the back of the ship

Ruth Meadows, June 13, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Ruth S. Meadows
Onboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow 
June 12 – July 18, 2009 

Mission: Census of Marine Life (MAR-Eco)
Geographical Area: Mid- Atlantic Ridge; Charlie- Gibbs Fracture Zone
Date: June 13, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Temperature 11.1o C
Humidity 96%
Wind 12.99 kts

Here we are during a safety drill donning our survival suits.
Here we are during a safety drill donning our survival suits.

Science and Technology 

We have just left the continental shelf off the coast of North America.  The depth of the water changed quite dramatically, from around 89 meters in depth to over 1600 meters in only a few minutes of time.  The current depth of the ocean is now 2600 meters.

Every week, a safety drill is held to make sure everyone knows how to protect themselves and others during an emergency.  Today was a fire drill and an abandon ship drill. Everyone was required to take their survival suits and life preserver to their assigned life boat positions.  Then we had to put on our suits to make sure we knew how in case of an emergency.  The survival suits are necessary because we are in the North Atlantic where the water temperature is currently 13o C. .

Personal Log 

meadows_log2aAs we travel to our location, we have a lot of free time to visit and get to know our fellow participants. Several of the people on board are students that are currently working on their PhD from various universities in the United States and abroad.  Most of the scientists have been on many cruises similar to this one to learn as much as they can about their specialty.   The weather has been really foggy both days so it has been difficult to see anything from a distance. This morning we had some common dolphins that were in the front of the boat.  After a few minutes, more dolphins joined them from both side of the boat. They traveled with us for about 15 minutes and then went on their way. I’m standing on the top deck of the ship. 

Did You Know? 

NOAA has a web page with information especially for students?  Learn more here. There are activities for elementary and middle/high school students.  Try one while you on summer vacation!!

Jeff Lawrence, June 8, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard Research Vessel Hugh R. Sharp
June 8-19, 2009 

Mission: Sea scallop survey
Geographical area of cruise: North Atlantic
Date: June 8, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
SW winds: 5-10KT
Seas: 1-2ft
Barometric pressure: 1035 mb
Air Temperature: 75˚F
Visibility: clear

Science and Technology Log 

The Research Vessel Hugh R. Sharp set sail this morning around 9AM from Lewes, DE.  There are 11 members of the scientific crew and volunteers, including two TAS participants: myself (Jeff Lawrence) from Oklahoma and Duane Sanders from Ohio.  We spent the morning introducing ourselves and watching safety videos in case of emergency on the ship.  A ship can be an exciting yet dangerous place to work.  There is no ambulance or fire department to call in case of a fire or other emergency. Each member aboard the ship is responsible for not only their own safety, but that of their shipmates also.  Above is a photo of Duane and I as we don the safety immersion suits also known as the “Gumby” suit.

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TAS Jeff Lawrence and TAS Duane Sanders don their immersion suits during a safety drill.

The suits can be difficult to don but everyone onboard is expected to know how to put the suit on effectively in case of an emergency at sea that may require us to abandon ship.  The waters off the northeast coast of the U.S. can still be quite cold even in early summer and hypothermia can set in a matter of minutes.

Bridge of R/V Hugh R. Sharp
Bridge of R/V Hugh R. Sharp

Personal Log 

The Research Vessel Hugh R. Sharp has set sail for a station about 60 miles due east of Lewes, Delaware. I have been on two other research vessels with the Sharp being the smallest.  It is a newer ship and while quarters are quite close they are well maintained and comfortable.  The day started out with sunny skies and warm winds. The further out to sea we traverse the cooler the temperature feels as the wind blows across the cooler water.  We have just run into a fog bank and there is little to see at the present time.

Skies have cleared off and it is a beautiful day out in the Atlantic.  We are sailing to the first station and the crew aboard is getting everything ready for the first tow. There is a lot to do on the ship even when sailing between stations. The crew has to make sure there are not structural, hardware, or software problems before we arrive at the first station. As mentioned earlier I also onboard with another Teacher at Sea participant, his name is Duane Sanders and he teaches at a school near Cincinnati, Ohio.  Today has been a great start to the trip with the excellent weather and smooth sailing conditions.

Questions of the Day 
What is a Sea Scallop and are there differing varieties or species?

Name three other ships that do research for NOAA.

Lisbeth Uribe, August 5, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Lisbeth Uribe
Onboard NOAA Ship Delaware II
July 28 – August 8, 2008

Mission: Surfclam and quahog survey
Geographical Area: Southern New England and Georges Bank
Date: August 5, 2008

Chief Scientist Vic Nordahl, Chief Boatswain Jon Forgione and Chief Engineer Patrick Murphy discussing the best way to reattach the pump power cable to the dredge.
Chief Scientist Vic Nordahl, Chief Boatswain Jon Forgione and Chief Engineer Patrick Murphy discussing the best way to reattach the pump power cable to the dredge.

Ship Log 

In the last 48 hours the engineers, crew and scientists have had to re-attach the power cable to the dredge (see photograph), fix the cracked face plate of the pump, replace the blade and blade assembly, change the pipe nozzles that direct the flow of water into the cage, and work on the dredge survey sensor package (SSP). Dredging is hard on the equipment, so some mechanical problems are to be expected. The main concern is for lost time and running out of critical spare parts.  So far we have had great success with making the repairs quickly and safely.

Science and Technology Log 

Collecting Tow Event and Sensor Information for the Clam Survey 
Over the weekend I was moved up to the bridge during the towing of the dredge. I was responsible for logging the events of each tow and recording information about the ship and weather in a computerized system called SCS (Scientific Computer System). I listened carefully to the radio as the lab, bridge (captain) and crane operator worked together to maneuver the dredge off the deck and into the water, turn on the pumps, tow the dredge on the seafloor bottom, haul the dredge up, turn off the pump and bring the clam-filled dredge back on deck. It is important that each step of the tow is carefully timed and recorded in order to check that the tows are as identical as possible.  The recording of the events is then matched to the sensor data that is collected during dredge deployment. As soon as the dredge is on deck I come downstairs to help clean out the cage and sort and shuck the clams.   

Lisbeth is working on the bridge logging the events of each tow into the computer system.
Lisbeth is working on the bridge logging the events of each tow into the computer system.

My next job assignment was to initialize and attach to both the inside and outside of the dredge the two mini-logger sensors before each tow. Once the dredge was back on deck I removed both mini-loggers and downloaded the sensor data into the computers. Both sensors collect pressure and temperature readings every 10 seconds during each tow. Other sensors are held in the Survey Sensor Package (SSP), a unit that communicates with onboard computers wirelessly.  Housed on the dredge, the SSP collects information about the dredge tilt, roll, both manifold and ambient pressure & temperature and power voltage every second. The manifold holds the six-inch pipe nozzles that direct the jets of water into the dredge.  Ideally the same pump pressure is provided at all depths of dredge operation. In addition to the clam survey, NOAA scientists are collecting other specimens and data during this cruise.

Two small black tubes (~3 inches long), called miniloggers, are attached to the dredge. The miniloggers measure the manifold (inside) and ambient (outside) pressure and temperature during the tow.
Two small black tubes (~3 inches long), called miniloggers, are attached to the dredge. The miniloggers measure the manifold (inside) and ambient (outside) pressure and temperature during the tow.

NOAA Plankton Diversity Study 
FDA and University of Maryland Student Intern Ben Broder-Oldasch is collecting plankton from daily tows.  The plankton tows take place at noon, when single-celled plants called phytoplankton are higher in the water column. Plankton rise and fall according to the light. Plankton is collected in a long funnel-shaped net towed slowly by the ship for 5 minutes at a depth of 20 meters. Information is collected from a flow meter suspended within the center of the top of the net to get a sense of how much water flowed through the net during the tow. Plankton is caught in the net and then falls into the collecting jar at the bottom of the net.  In the most recent tow, the bottle was filled with a large mass of clear jellied organisms called salps. Ben then filters the sample to sort the plankton by size. The samples will be brought back to the lab for study under the microscope to get a sense of plankton species diversity on the Georges Bank.

An easy way to collect plankton at home or school is to make a net out of one leg of a pair of nylons. Attach the larger end of the leg to a circular loop made from a metal clothes hanger.  Cut a small hole at the toe of the nylon and attach a plastic jar to the nylon by wrapping a rubber band tightly around the nylon and neck of the jar.  Drag the net through water and then view your sample under a microscope as soon as possible.

Biological Toxin Studies 

NOAA Scientist Amy Nau hauls the plankton net out of the water using the A-frame. (Upper insert: flow meter; lower insert: plankton in the collection bottle after the tow).
NOAA Scientist Amy Nau hauls the plankton net out of the water using the A-frame. (Upper insert: flow meter; lower insert: plankton in the collection bottle after the tow).

Scientists from NOAA and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) are working together to monitor clams for biological toxins. Clams and other bi-valves such as oysters and mussels, feed on phytoplankton. Some species of phytoplankton make biological toxins that, when ingested, are stored in the clam’s neck, gills, digestive systems, muscles and gonadal tissues.  If non-aquatic animals consume the contaminated clams, the stored toxin can be very harmful, even fatal.  The toxin affects the gastrointestinal and neurological systems. The rate at which the toxins leave the clams, also known as depuration rate, varies depending on the toxin type, level of contamination, time of year, species, and age of the bivalve. Unfortunately, freezing or cooking shellfish has no effect on the toxicity of the clam. The scientists on the Delaware II are collecting and testing specimens for the two biological toxins that cause Amnesia Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) and Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP).

NOAA Amnesia Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) Study 
A group of naturally occurring diatoms, called Pseudo-nitzschia, manufacture a biological toxin called Domoic Acid (DA) that causes Amnesia Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) in humans.  Diatoms, among the most common organisms found in the ocean, are single-celled plankton that usually float and drift near the ocean surface. NOAA scientist Amy Nau collects samples of ocean water from the surface each day at noon. By taking water samples and counting the numbers of plankton cells, in particular the Pseudo-nitzschia diatoms, scientists can better determine if a “bloom” (period of rapid growth of algae) is in progress. She filters the sample to separate the cells, places the filter paper in a test tube with water, adds a fixative to the tube and sets it aside for further study in her lab in Beaufort, NC. 

Scientist Amy Nau filters seawater for ASP causing dinoflagellates.
Scientist Amy Nau filters seawater for ASP causing dinoflagellates.

FDA Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) Study 
Scientists aboard the Delaware II are also collecting meat samples from clams for an FDA study on the toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning. When clams ingest the naturally occurring dinoflagellate called Alexandrium catenella, they accumulate the toxin in their internal organs. When ingested by humans, the toxin blocks sodium channels and causes paralysis. In the lab, testing for the toxin causing PSP is a lengthy process that involves injecting a mouse with extracts from shellfish tissue.  If the mouse dies, scientists know the toxin is present. The FDA is testing the accuracy of a new quick test for the toxin called the Jellet Test Kit. After measuring and weighing a dozen clams from each station on the Georges Bank, Ben and Amy remove and freeze the meat (internal organs and flesh) from the clams to save for further testing by scientists back on land. At the same time, they also puree a portion of the sample and test it using the Jellet strips for a quicker positive or negative PSP result.

Personal Log 

Pilot whales sighted off the bow!
Pilot whales sighted off the bow!

The problems that we have experienced with regard to the dredge over the past few days are an important reminder of the need for the scientists and crew to not only be well prepared but also flexible when engaged in fieldwork. All manner of events, including poor weather and mechanical difficulties, can and do delay the gathering of data. The Chief Scientist, Vic Nordahl, is constantly checking for inconsistencies or unusual patterns, particularly from the dredge sensor readings, that might need to be addressed in order to ensure that the survey data is consistent and accurate. The time required to repair the dredge meant I was able to do a load of laundry. Dredging is very dirty work! Good thing I am using old shirts and shorts. I also caught up on a few emails using the onboard computers. Though the Internet service can be slow at times it is such a luxury to be able to stay in touch with friends and family on land. I still have two very special experiences that I wish to share before ending my log.

Late in the evening a couple of days ago, as we steamed toward our next tow station, I was invited to peer over the bow. The turbulence in the water was causing a dinoflagellate called Noctiluca to sparkle and glow with a greenish-blue light in the ocean spray.  The ability of Noctiluca and a few other species of plankton and some deep-sea fish to emit light is called bioluminesense. A few days later we had the great fortune to see five pilot whales about 100 meters away, gliding together, their black dorsal fins slicing through the water, occasional plumes of air bursting upward through their blowholes (nostrils located on the tops of their heads).

Answers to the previous log’s questions: 

1. What is the depth and name of the deepest part of the ocean? The Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean is 10,852 meters deep, (deeper than Mount Everest is tall – 8,850 meters).  Speaking of tall mountains, the tallest mountain in the world is not Mount Everest, but the volcano Mauna Kea (Hawaii).  It reaches 4,200 meters above sea level, but its base on the sea floor is 5,800 meters below sea level.  Its total height (above base) is therefore 10, 000 meters!

2.What is the longest-lived animal on record? In 2007, an ocean quahog was dredged off the Icelandic coast.  By drilling through and counting the growth rings on its shell, scientists determined it was between 405 and 410 years old. Unfortunately it did not survive the examination, so we do not know how much longer it would have lived if left undisturbed. This ancient clam was slightly less than 6 inches in width.

Lisbeth Uribe, July 31, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Lisbeth Uribe
Onboard NOAA Ship Delaware II
July 28 – August 8, 2008

Mission: Surfclam and quahog survey
Geographical Area: Southern New England and Georges Bank
Date: July 31, 2008

“Bob” the Man Overboard Victim
“Bob” the Man Overboard Victim

Ship Log 

Man Overboard Drill 

Just as the day watch started our shift we heard three short blasts of the ship’s horn, signaling a “Man Overboard” drill.  While the crew was on deck (both on the bow (front of the ship) and stern (back), the Chief Boatswains Jon Forgione and Leno Luis put on life vests and safety helmets and were lowered into the water in a rigid haul inflatable boat (RHIB).  When those on board the ship sighted the dummy victim, we raised our arms and pointed in its direction. The rescuers then headed in the direction the crew were pointing.  At the same time, the Operations Officer and Medical Person in Charge (MPIC) Claire Surrey readied her gear to perform life saving measures once the victim was safely brought on the deck.  Rescue protocols are taken very seriously as they are designed to keep all members of the crew safe.  Once the MPIC determined the dummy victim was breathing on their own and required no further medical assistance, the drill was over and the crew returned to their stations or berths (sleeping rooms).

Scuba Divers to the Rescue! 

Not long after the man overboard drill, the dredge rolled when it was being hauled from the sea floor, wrapping the hawser (floating tow line) underneath the cage.  To make matters worse, as the dredge was being lifted up the ramp on deck, the hawser became caught in the ship’s rudder.  Our three NOAA Working Divers, Executive Officer (XO) Monty Spencer, Chief Steward (chef), MPIC Jonathan Rockwell and MPIC Claire Surrey suited up in scuba suits for a dive to untangle the rudder. NOAA Working Divers must complete a 3-week training course. They are skilled at ship husbandry, such as working on the rudder, propellers, zincs (metal zinc objects that are placed on the hull of a ship to attract corrosion), and the bow thruster (a tunnel through the ship with a propeller to help direct the bow when docking).  

Chief Steward Jonathan Rockwell preparing to dive below the ship to untangle the hawser line from the rudder.
Chief Steward Jonathan Rockwell preparing to dive below the ship to untangle the hawser line from the rudder.

The diver breathes air through a mouthpiece, called a regulator, from a scuba tank of compressed air that is strapped to the diver’s back. The regulator, connected by a hose to the tank, adjusts the air in the tank to the correct pressure that a diver can safely breathe at any given depth. Originally called the “aqua-lung”, “scuba” stands for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. Scuba gear has helped scientists explore the ocean, however, the equipment does have limitations.  The deepest dive that can be made by a NOAA scuba diver is about 40 meters, but the average depth of the ocean is about 3,800 meters.  The increased water pressure of the dive limits the depth of the descent of a scuba diver.

As Monty and Jonathan plunged into the ocean, the rigid haul inflatable boat (RHIB) was deployed with General Vessel Assistant (GVA) Adam Fishbein and Chief Boatswains, Jon Forgione at the tiller arm, to assist in diver rescue operations if needed. On standby in full scuba gear was MPIC Claire Surrey in case the divers ran into any trouble. In no time at all the divers freed the tangled hawser from the rudder and were back on board. At each step of the job, great care was taken to check all gear and ensure the safety of the crew.

Question: What is the depth and name of the deepest part of the ocean?

Mature Atlantic Surf Clam and Ocean Quahog
Mature Atlantic Surf Clam and Ocean Quahog

Science and Technology Log 

As I mentioned in my first log, we are targeting two species of clams during our survey, the Atlantic Surf clams (Spissula solidissima) and Ocean Quahogs (Arctica islandica). They are very easy to tell apart, as the surf clam is much larger (about 18 cm in width) and lighter in color. “Quahog” (pronounced “koh-hawg”) originated from the Narrangansett tribe that lived in Rhode Island and portions of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Atlantic surf clams are a productive species, in that they are faster growing, with a lifespan of about 15 years, with variable recruitment (reproductive cycles). They are much smaller and typically found in more shallow waters (<50 meters) from Cape Hatteras to Newfoundland than the ocean quahog. The Quahog lives in depths of 50-100 meters in US waters (from Cape Hatteras up to the north Atlantic (Iceland), and also in the Mediterranean). Quahogs grow slowly, and typically live for more than 100 years, with infrequent and regional recruitment.

There is a great variety of material, both organic and inorganic that is collected by the dredge providing a snapshot of the habitat below.  At times it is sandy, sometimes the sediment is the consistency of thick clay, in which case we must re-submerge the dredge for a few minutes to clean the cage. At other times large rocks and boulders are captured.

Live clams, shells and other material collected in the dredge.  All the material is sorted, weighed and measured as part of the survey.
Live clams, shells and other material collected in the dredge. All the material is sorted, weighed and measured as part of the survey.

Atlantic Surf Clams and Ocean Quahogs live in a part of the ocean called the subtidal zone. Their habitat is the sandy, muddy area that is affected by underwater turbulence but beyond heavy wave impact. In addition to clams, our dredge is capturing a variety of organisms perfectly adapted to this environment, such as sponges, marine snails and sea stars that are able to cling to hard materials to protect them from being swept away by ocean currents and waves. Marine snails and hermit crabs are also able to cling to surfaces.  Like the clam, many organisms have flattened bodies, thereby reducing their exposure to the pull of waves and currents.  We find flat fish, such as flounder and skate, which avoid turbulence and their enemies by burying themselves in the sand.  Flounder prey on sand dollars, another flat organism living in the subtidal zone.  In many hauls of the dredge, the cage is filled with sand dollars. We have collected lots of other interesting animals, such as hermit crabs, worms, sea jellies, sea mice and, less often, crabs and sea urchins. The Sea Mouse is plump, about 10 cm in length, segmented and covered in a large number of grey brown bristles that give it a furry appearance.

Question: What is the longest-lived animal on record?

Personal Log 

The main difficulty I have with writing this log is choosing what to cover. Each day is filled with new and interesting experiences. I am learning so much, not only about the science behind the clam survey, but also about the ship itself and the skills necessary to operate the ship and conduct a marine survey.  Everyone has been extremely generous with sharing his or her knowledge and experience with me.   While cleaning the inside of the dredge last night one of the wires made a small tear in the seat of my waterproof overalls. Now I know to pack a bike inner tube repair kit if I am lucky enough to be invited to join another survey cruise! One of those small rubber patches would have been the perfect for the job. I was able to find a sewing kit and in short order sewed the tear and sealed it with a layer of duct tape. Now I am ready to get back to work!

Lisbeth Uribe, July 30, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Lisbeth Uribe
Onboard NOAA Ship Delaware II
July 28 – August 8, 2008

Mission: Surfclam and quahog survey
Geographical Area: Southern New England and Georges Bank
Date: July 30, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Lisbeth Uribe, in her survival suit next to the dredge
NOAA Teacher at Sea, Lisbeth Uribe, in her survival suit next to the dredge

Science and Technology Log 

Prior to our departure on the survey, all the volunteers attended presentations by NOAA scientists about the work we would be doing. The purpose of the clam survey is to provide consistent, unbiased estimates of the relative abundance for many shellfish in the North East region. The target species for our survey are the Atlantic Surf clams (Spissula solidissima) and Ocean Quahogs (Arctica islandica). We also went to a NOAA storeroom and were outfitted with our foul weather gear (heavy waterproof boots, fluorescent yellow rain pants and rain jacket). While on board we received several briefings about safety and the expectations for behavior during the cruise.  During an emergency drill we each tried on our survival suit. I keep the suit in a bag at the foot of my bed, ready for any emergency!

We set sail at 2:00 pm on Monday, the 28th of July, and headed south towards our first tow location in the Southern New England region. The first 10 survey points or stations of our cruise are repeats of points surveyed in the last trip. This means we will be heading south toward the Long Island region before sailing for the Georges Bank region. We are conducting repeat surveys because after the last survey, the dredge’s electrical cable was replaced with a longer cable (formerly 750 feet, now 1,100 feet long). The added length in the cable results in a voltage drop that is expected to be enough to cause the dredge pump to loose pressure slightly. The pump, attached to the dredge itself, is designed to churn up sediment and shellfish as the dredge is towed along the sea floor. By rechecking the survey data collected in the last trip, the scientists will be able to calibrate the data obtained using the new cable. The scientists and crew are very concerned about accuracy of data collection during all parts of the Clam Survey.  

Problems with the Dredge 

For the first repeat survey station, our CO (Commanding Officer), Captain Wagner, warned the crew that the bottom might be rocky.  Once the dredge hit the bottom and began to be towed, we heard some loud noises indicating that there were indeed rocks on the bottom.  We pulled the dredge out of the water after the standard 5-minute tow time.  Rocks had twisted, bent and even severed various pipes and rods that make up the cage of the dredge. The row of outlet pipes (called nipples) that direct powerful jets of water towards the opening of the cage had been severed at the points in which they screw into the main pump pipe.

Though the damage was a setback in terms of lost time, it was amazing to see the engineers swing into action and make the necessary repairs over the next six hours. Out of the hold came an assortment of tools, such as metal cutters, jacks, soldering equipment, wrenches, pliers, and mesh wiring.  I was put to work extracting the broken ends of pipes and handing tools to the engineers as they either replaced or repaired broken parts.  By the end of my work shift (midnight) the dredge was fully repaired and ready for work again.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 

I am wearing my bib and overalls, boots, and a hardhat while working inside the dredge to free the clams caught in the corners and cracks of the dredge.
I am wearing my bib and overalls, boots, and a hardhat while working inside the dredge to free the clams caught in the corners and cracks of the dredge.

I am fortunate to be working with a great team on the day shift crew (noon to midnight).  My Watch Chief, Shad Mahlum, and the Chief Scientist, Vic Nordahl, are excellent teachers, patient with my mistakes and quick to offer words of encouragement. There are several work assignments during each station.  I help by turning on and off the power for the pump on the dredge, clearing out the shellfish that get caught in the cage, and weighing and measuring the clams we catch. My favorite job is cleaning out the inside of the dredge. After the dredge has been hauled up the ramp onto the deck, the back door is released and the clams and broken shells tumble onto the sorting table. My job is to climb up inside the cage of the dredge and toss down the shells and organisms that get caught along the edges. I like the challenge of climbing around up high in a small space. We have been lucky to have very calm seas over the past couple of days.  This job will get quite a bit more challenging when the deck starts to move around more.

The dredged material is sorted into different wire baskets, also known as bushels, each contain either clams, other sea life or trash to be thrown back out to sea once we have moved past the survey site. The clams are weighed and measured.  At some stations we also collect meat specimens for further analysis.  All the information goes into the computer, including data collected by the sensors on the dredge.

Personal Log 

As part of the day shift crew, I work from noon until midnight.  It may sound tough working a 12-hour shift, but in reality the time passes very quickly as we are always busy either preparing for a station, processing the clams, or cleaning up after a dredge.  We are not permitted to return to our room until the end of our shift as our roommates are on the opposite shift and are sleeping.

When sailing out in the open water it easy to lose one’s sense of direction.  On the second day of the survey I knew that we were headed south for the repeat dredges, but it was not until one of the crew members showed me the site “Ship Tracker for NOAA” that I realized we were collecting samples just off the coast of Long Island all afternoon—not far from my home town, New York City! We are so busy moving from station to station that I often lose track of where I am.

I am grateful for the clear weather we have had so far on the cruise.  Learning to work with the dredge and scientific equipment would have been much more difficult if the seas were not so calm. Each day brings something new and interesting to learn and experience.

Well, my shift is almost over.  Time to think about eating a late night snack and then getting some rest, – lulled by the gentle rocking of the waves.

Question for the Day 

What is the origin of the word “Quahog”? What is the difference between Atlantic Surf clams and Ocean Quahogs? What is a sea mouse?

Katie Turner, July 26, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Katie Turner
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
July 10 – 31, 2008

Mission: Pollock Survey
Geographical Area: Eastern Bering Sea
Date: July 26, 2008

Rescue crew retrieves a dummy man overboard. It is a maritime custom to refer to the man overboard as “Oscar." This comes from an international regulation requiring the raising of the Oscar flag when a vessel is responding to a man overboard, warning other vessels to be on the lookout
Rescue crew retrieves a dummy man overboard. It is a maritime custom to refer to the man overboard as “Oscar.” This comes from an international regulation requiring the raising of the Oscar flag when a vessel is responding to a man overboard, warning other vessels to be on the lookout

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Visibility:  3 miles
Wind Direction:  050
Wind Speed:  8 knots
Sea Wave Height:  0-1 foot
Swell Wave Height:  2-3 feet
Seawater Temperature: 7.8˚ C.
Present Weather Conditions: cloudy

Science and Technology Log 

After leaving Captain’s Bay early Friday morning, the trip to the rendezvous point with OSCAR DYSON took nearly 20 hours. During that time we had our mandatory fire, abandon ship, and man overboard drills.  For our fire drill the Captain staged a mock fire, with smoke reported from the acoustics lab.  The fire fighting team had to respond, find the point of origin of the fire and figure out how to treat it. A debriefing was held afterward so that responders could discuss strategies and learn from the experience.

The rescue boat is brought back aboard the MILLER FREEMAN
The rescue boat is brought back aboard the MILLER FREEMAN

The abandon ship drill is regularly performed so all crew are ready to respond to a severe emergency by mustering at their assigned stations and getting into survival suits to be ready to board life rafts. It’s a good way for new crew members, such as me, to make sure they know where to go and what to bring. We made our rendezvous with OSCAR DYSON late Friday evening in the Bering Sea and immediately moved into position to run the first side by side transect. We are working on a comparison study to determine whether acoustic estimates of pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) abundance made by MILLER FREEMAN and OSCAR DYSON are comparable.  Pollock may have different behavioral responses to these vessels during surveys due to the differences in the amount of noise each vessel radiates into the sea from its propeller, engines, and other equipment.  These behaviors could affect the acoustic estimates of abundance.  OSCAR DYSON is taking over the task of acoustic pollock surveys in the Bering Sea and has been built under new specifications that require a lower level of radiated noise. MILLER FREEMAN has been doing the Bering Sea pollock surveys since 1977.  This study is important because it will ensure that future biomass estimates will be continuous with those done in the past. During this cruise the two ships will continuously collect acoustic backscatter data while traveling side by side along a transect line where pollock schools are known to occur. The distance between the two ships is maintained at 0.5 nautical miles (nm), while they travel at about 12 knots. Every 50 nm along the transect, the vessels switch sides.

OSCAR DYSON from the bridge of the MILLER FREEMAN in the Bering Sea
OSCAR DYSON from the bridge of the MILLER FREEMAN in the Bering Sea

For this to happen one vessel will slow down and cross behind the stern of the other vessel, then catch back up on the other side. The beginning and end of each transect section must be carefully coordinated between the scientific team in the acoustics lab The remainder of our time on this cruise will be spent working with the OSCAR DYSON to cover as much of the study area as possible before returning to the port of Dutch Harbor.  After the study is complete, the acoustic data collected by each vessel will be carefully compared to see if there is any consistent difference between them. At the same time officers on the bridge are in constant communication to coordinate navigation and maneuvering of the ships.

The figure above shows the final transect path of MILLER FREEMAN in the Bering Sea as straight lines in red. The parallel lines running nearly north and south were traversed from the east to the farthest westerly point. The zigzag red line across the parallel lines represents the path taken as we head back to the southwest on our return. Other colored lines on the map are depth contour lines.  Red lines indicate depths from -75 to -100 meters, yellow to -130 meters, green to -155 meters, and blue greater than  -160 meters.

Ship transect
Ship transect

Personal Log 

During these few days at sea the scientists onboard have taught me a lot about acoustic studies. It’s a complex science that requires both an understanding of the physical science of acoustics and the technology involved, but also the biology, behavior, and ecology of pollock.

One of the opportunities I have especially enjoyed has been watching and photographing the seabirds. They are an important part of this ecosystem and one that can be observed without acoustics. We have seen mostly northern fulmar (Fulmaris glacialis) and black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), but also an occasional long-tailed jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus), and flocks of thick-billed murre (Uria lomvia). Northern fulmar (Fulmaris glacialis) exhibit a lot of variation in color from very light, to light, and dark versions, with gradations in between. These different color morphs all mate indiscriminately. They are gull sized birds with moderately long wings, a short, stout, pale bill, and a short rounded tail. A key characteristic is their dark eye smudge.  They are common in the Bering Sea but also in the northeast Atlantic.

Northern fulmar, light morph
Northern fulmar, light morph

Northern fulmar, dark morph
Northern fulmar, dark morph

Fulmars are well known among commercial fisherman for scavenging waste thrown off fishing boats, which explains why they have been nearly constant companions to the MILLER FREEMAN on this cruise. Fulmars are members of the family Procellariiformes, also known as the “tube-nose” birds, along with albatrosses, petrels, and shearwaters. The term comes from the tubular nostril, a structure that looks like a tube on top of their beak.  Their beak, as you can see in the photo, is made up of many plates. This specialized nostril is an adaptation that enhances their sense of smell by increasing the surface area within to detect scent. They also have enlarged brain structures that help them process those scents. Learn more at the Cornell and U.S.G.S. websites.

Laurie Degenhart, July 23, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Laurie Degenhart
Onboard NOAA Ship Delaware II 
July 14-25, 2008

Mission: Clam Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic
Date: July 23, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Winds at 170° at 23 knots
Sea temperature: 18.9° C
Air temp 22.6° C
Swells: 1
Atmosphere: Clear

Laurie and some fellow crewmembers are covered with clay and mud after climbing in the dredge
Laurie and some fellow crewmembers are covered with clay and mud after climbing in the dredge

Science and Technology Log 

The last two days have been less hectic.  The scientists have had to make several repairs.  The sensors on the dredge were having problems recording data.  Sean Lucey, Chris Pickett, and TK Arbusto, as well as other scientists have spent several hours replacing sensors and making sure that the sensors were logging accurate data.  In order for the survey to be reliable the scientists at sea and in the lab decided that the ship needed to return to previously tested sites to  insure that the sampling techniques had not changed with the changes in the sensor.

We have sampled both Quahogs and Surf Clams today.  It seems that some locations are dominated by the Quahogs, while others are mainly Surf Clams. The weather has been hot and humid.  So far in the trip, the Delaware II has been able to avoid the storms farther to the south. Tonight however, the winds are starting to pick up. We may see rain! Today I climbed up in the dredge compartment when it was full of clay.  Even though I knew that the dredge was very safe, I still worried that I might fall into the ocean.  The clay was very dense with rocks. Sean Lucey, chief scientist, used a high pressure hose to loosen the majority of the mud, but it was still a big slippery muddy job.  John, the Chief Bosun, told me that a full load of mud weighs almost 9000 pounds!  There were very few clams in the load.

Personal Log 

This shift has been very busy. The tows have been pretty much back to back.  All the people on my shift have formed a great team.  Though the work is hard we seem to be able to make it fun….

I continue to be impressed with the NOAA officers and scientists.  The scientists have to have knowledge of oceanography, marine biology and statistics in order to execute accurate sampling.  Another area of expertise is in trouble shooting all the scientific equipment… after all there is no running to the hardware store for spare parts. Today when the sensors broke the scientists, mechanical engineers, and the bosun had to work together to correct the problem.

Both the NOAA officers and the scientists have to be able to cope with volunteers (me included) that have no knowledge of life at sea. Each new crewmember has learn to fit in…I’m sure that this tries the patience of the seasoned crew.  Being aware of all the ins and outs of life at sea is quite a learning process. For example, I went to the bridge after dark… it seemed to be pitch black…. actually the Executive Officer was “on watch”  having the lights out made it easier for him to see both the ocean and the electronic equipment that he had  to use in order to safely captain the ship.

One of my goals for the trip is to put together a collection of photographs that depicts all the aspects of life aboard the Delaware II.  So far I have over 300 photographs.  The crew seems quite pleased…many members ask if I can take more pictures.

During this voyage I have learned a great deal about how a ship runs.  I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to work aboard the Delaware.  I will create a DVD with the images and video clips that I have gathered. I want to share my experience with students, teachers, and student teachers. NOAA offers great resources for educators and a vast selection of careers for those who wish to live a life that is rewarding and exciting.

Gary Ledbetter, July 22, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Gary Ledbetter
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 7 – 25, 2008

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Pavlov Islands, Alaska
Date: July 22, 2008

Weather from Bridge 
Winds W/NW 10-15 building to 20
Partly Sunny, High 55 F
Seas 2-4 feet

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Gary Ledbetter, helps prepare the CTD for a cast.
NOAA Teacher at Sea, Gary Ledbetter, helps prepare the CTD for a cast.

Science and Technology Log 

Navigation 

Take a close look at some of the electronic communication and navigation equipment in the picture above. Which one do you think is the most important?  Well, it’s probably not in this picture.  Depending on who you ask you will get a different answer as to which piece of equipment is the most important.  One would think with the advancements in electronics, it would be the GPS, or some other piece of high tech equipment.  Although the most important piece is related to some of the high tech equipment, the instrument itself is not even close to being on the list of the latest and greatest technological equipment – it’s the compass; more specifically the gyro compass.

History 

Unlike many things we may feel are rather mundane, the gyrocompass has an interesting history. Apparently taking a patent out for something that doesn’t work is not a new phenomenon because the gyrocompass was patented in 1885 (only about 20 years after the end of the Civil War) by Geradus van den Bos…. and yes, it didn’t work! Four years later, Captain Author Krebs designed an electronic gyroscope for use aboard a French submarine. Then, in 1903, Hermann Anschutz-Kaempfre refined the gyrocompass, applied for and also was granted a patent. Five years later, in 1908, Anschutz-Kaempfre, with the help of Elmer Ambrose Sperry did more research on the compass and was granted an additional patent in both Germany and the United States.  Then things started to heat up.  Sperry, in 1914, tried to sell this gyrocompass to the German Navy and Anschutz-Kaempfre sued Sperry for patent infringement.  As happens today, the attorneys got involved and various arguments were presented.  Now it even gets more interesting – Albert Einstein got involved.  First, Einstein agreed with Sperry and then somewhere during the proceedings, Einstein had a change of heart and jumped on the Anschutz-Kaempfre bandwagon.  The bottom line?  Anschutz-Kaempfre won in 1915.

A myriad of navigation equipment exists aboard the RAINIER.
A myriad of navigation equipment exists aboard the RAINIER.

So What? 

OK, this history is all well and good, but what does a gyrocompass do that any regular compass can’t do? In a nutshell, a gyrocompass finds true north, which is the direction of the Earths rotational axis, not magnetic north – the direction our Boy Scout compass pointed.  Another factor of the gyrocompass is that it is not affected by metal such as the ships hull.  Put your Boy Scout compass next to a large metal object and see what happens.  Also remember one thing:  When you tried to find magnetic north with a Boy Scout compass, you had to hold it very, very still. Try reading a regular compass aboard a ship that is not only moving through the water, but is being tossed about by the waves and currents of the ocean.  The gyrocompass addresses this concern also. Without going into a lot of detail (and yes there are a lot of details, even about a compass) friction causes torque, which makes the axis of the compass to remain perpendicular.  In other words as the ship rolls and pitches, torque makes the axis of the compass to remain perpendicular to the earth. You then have an instrument that can read true north in nearly all weather conditions.

The electronic gyrocompass aboard the RAINIER
The electronic gyrocompass aboard the RAINIER

Definition 

Torque: A turning or twisting force

Personal Log 

I was a victim!  I was a victim of NOAA!  In fact, I was a very, very willing victim!  NOAA’s safety record is very high and they conduct numerous safety drills to maintain that record and to insure the safety of all aboard. On July 20th I was asked if I wanted to play the “victim” in an upcoming safety drill.  Of course I jumped at the chance. I was to play an unconscious fire victim with broken bones. After I staged the “accident” the various medical and fire suppression teams came to my rescue. These drills are very serious part of NOAA’s operation and are taken seriously by the crew – but that didn’t mean I didn’t have fun in the process!!

Gary plays the part of the “victim” during a safety drill on the RAINIER.
Gary plays the part of the “victim” during a safety drill on the RAINIER.

Laurie Degenhart, July 20, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Laurie Degenhart
Onboard NOAA Ship Delaware II 
July 14-25, 2008

Mission: Clam Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic
Date: July 20, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Winds at 200° at 23 knots
Sea temperature: 24.2° C
Air temp 24.6° C
Swells: 0
Atmosphere: Clear

Science and Technology Log 

Scientists and volunteers sort dredge materials.
Scientists and volunteers sort dredge materials.

We are now into day 7 of our clam survey.  Everyone on the ship pulls together as a team to make each tow a success.  Each location for a dredge site is called a station.  The NOAA crew in charge of the ship must not only be at exactly the correct longitude and latitude, but the depth of the water, the speed of the tow, and the condition of the sea (waves and swells) must also be considered. There are three separate places on the ship where these decisions are made.  The bridge controls the location of the ship and notes the conditions of the sea.  The chief bosun controls the dredge towing. He manages the cables, depth, and length of the tow. The scientist in the lab choose the exact location of the tow and the depth.  The scientists use sensors attached to the dredge to log data about the tow. The bosun reels the cable back to the ship and onto the platform.  After the tow has been made the deck hands secure the dredge compartment where the catch is.

The scientific crew then measures and counts the clams.  A scientist from the FDA, Stacey Etheridge, has the science crew shuck a certain number of clams.  She then homogenizes them in a food processor to take back to the laboratory to test for possible toxins.  The NOAA scientists collect data on the different types of clams as well as the size and weight.  They are also trying to determine the age of the clam given the rings on the shell. In addition to the scientist on the Delaware II, there is an entire NOAA crew.  There are engineers, ship’s officers, and fishermen.  Everyone has specific assignments.  The NOAA officers are at sea approximately 244 days a year.  The NOAA careers website here.

Personal Log 

The scientists must have many skills in order to keep the study going.  Not only do they have to know about the clams, but also how to fix problems with the computer program and its sensors, as well as the mechanical operation of the dredge equipment.

The weather at sea has been very hot and humid.  The hours are long. We do approximately 10 tows on a twelve-hour shift.  Think about this… each tow gathers around 4 thousand pounds of material off the ocean floor.  That makes 40,000 pounds.  There are 7 people on our shift. That means each of us sorts and moves around 5700 pounds in a shift…. that’s as much as a small car!  I guess I can have dessert with lunch today.  The work is enjoyable.

Tina and I have shucked over 500 clams.  We ROCK, or should I say CLAM, at shelling Quahogs.  The Captain told me that we may feel the effects of tropical storm, Cristobol.  I sure hope I don’t get seasick.  I learned a new skill…swabbing the deck.  It is amazing the range of tasks each crewmember has to have to keep the ship running smoothly.

Our Chief Scientist, Sean Lucey, oversees all of the roles of the scientists and volunteers.  It’s a big job and he sets the tone for the rest of us.  Everyone is positive and willing to do whatever is needed. Jakub, the Watch Chief, oversees the general operation of sorting and measuring the clams.  Both Sean and Jakub are great at teaching me the ropes so that I can do my best.  One time as I was on my way to my “station” Sean remarked,  “I know you’ll be ready.”  I thought that was great, sometimes I get anxious about doing the exact right thing at the right time.

I am starting to think about the lesson plans that I am going to write.  I want to make a simulation of a clam survey for elementary students using Oreo Cookies to gather data.  Sean is going to give me data from the trip to use in my lesson plans.  One of my goals for my presentations is to go to various Vocational Classes to talk about all the facets of NOAA as a career path. I also want to develop a presentation about the roles of a scientist, showing the different aspects of the skills that they have.

Once again the meals have been great.  I was told that the Stewards, John and Walter, have a reputation for providing the best food of all the NOAA ships.  Sure seems right to me!  We have had great meals. One night we had Sea Bass, another night we had lamb chops.  There is always an abundance of vegetables and fruit. Then there is dessert… apple pie!

Laurie Degenhart, July 15, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Laurie Degenhart
Onboard NOAA Ship Delaware II 
July 14-25, 2008

Mission: Clam Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic
Date: July 15, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Winds at 200° at 7 knots
Sea temperature: 20.7° C
Air temp 24.4° C
Swells: 160 4’ 12 sec.
Atmosphere: Clear

Science and Technology Log (Monday, July 14 – Thursday, July 17) 

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Laurie Degenhart, gets ready to set sail on the DELAWARE II.
NOAA Teacher at Sea, Laurie Degenhart, gets ready to set sail on the DELAWARE II.

We set sail midday on Tuesday, July 15, 2008. Monday was spent with repairs. We heard a presentation by Dr.Larry Jacobson, the head of the Clam Survey Project.  He explained that there was a general shift in the populations of Surf Clams and Ocean Quahogs.

This study is collecting data for his team to use in determining the changes and possible causes of the change.  NOAA and the clam fishing industry enjoy a good relationship, working handin-hand to protect the clam population and promote clam fishing. We were taken to the NOAA storeroom and outfitted with our “foul weather gear.” We wear the gear on board to sort and shuck clams. We each were issued boots, yellow bib overalls, and an orange rain slicker….I look quite dashing.

Laurie dons a survival suit during a ship safety briefing.
Laurie dons a survival suit during a ship safety briefing.

Chief scientist, Sean Lucey, gave us a general description of the work that we would be doing.  Sean stressed how important accuracy is in all the facets of the Clam Survey.  There are several assignments.  Each person is assigned a shift.  My shift is from Noon until midnight.  That’s 12 hours! We are not to return to our room until our shift is over, because the other women I share the room are on the opposite shift and will be sleeping. I am on a team with Jakub Kircun, as the Watch Chief.  He is very patient and kind, even when I make a mistake.  There are seven people on our team: four NOAA scientists, one graduate student who is studying plankton, one volunteer, and me, the Teacher at Sea.

General Description of a Clam Dredge 

The back of the Delaware II has a large metal dredge (it looks like a giant square shifter-See photo.) The cage is lowered to the sea floor at pre-determined random locations and dragged by a special cable called a hauser for exactly 5 minutes.  Then the dredge is hauled back to the boat and its contents are dumped on a platform.  We all sort through the dredged material sorting out clams and other sea life, throwing the rest back out to sea. The clams are measured, weighed, and some meat specimens are taken for examination.  Computers record a vast array of information for the scientists.  Sean Lucey (Chief Scientist) is always making decisions where we go and provides the lab and other scientists information about the catch.  The team does around 10 or so tows in a twelve hour shift.

First Assignment 

I was assigned by, Jakub Kircun, Watch Chief, to record information about the tow a using computerized data collection system called SCS (Scientific Computer Systems). I go into a room on the bridge and listen to the deck department communicating with the bridge and I record when the dredge is on the bottom, towing, and back on deck.  The information is tracked in SCS with button pushers. I also log information about wave height, swell direction, and swell height, which I receive from the officer on watch.  I also need to record depth, time, and speed of the boat during a dredge tow. This provides accurate data for the scientists back on land to analyze. As soon as that part of my job is finished, I come down stairs to help sort and shuck the clams..

The clam dredge aboard the DELAWARE II
The clam dredge aboard the DELAWARE II

Personal Log 

Holy Cow, a 12 hour shift….from noon until mid-night!  I was worried, but the shift seems to fly by. There is always something that needs to be done.  I was assigned by Jakub Kircun, Watch Chief, to record the sensors for the dredge itself.  What a responsibility!!! Talk about pressure.  Sean, Chief Scientist, has been really great. His sense of humor has helped ease my stress.  I never realized how much computers are used aboard a ship to monitor experimental data.  Not to mention the general running of the ship….. There are 31 computers in all. For each tow which Sean and Jakub call a station, I do the recording for the dredge then come down stairs…put on my boots and bib overalls and head out to sort the clams with the others on my team.  It’s a big job…good thing I am used to working in the woods of Wyoming… otherwise, I don’t think I could keep up!!!

Laurie sorts clam on the fantail of the ship.
Laurie sorts clam on the fantail of the ship.

After we sort the clams, Tina, a graduate student from University of Connecticut, and I measure and weigh the clams using a special computerized machine called a Limnoterra Fish Measuring Board. Tina and I are becoming great clam shuckers. We need to weigh the clams both with and without the shell. Joe, the other volunteer, also helps weigh and shuck the clams.  Sometimes they are sweet smelling… but sometimes not!  They look nothing like Howard Johnson’s Clam Strips!

I have started a shell collection to bring back to my school.  I will be working with the Science Coordinator to design science experiments that use data from our trip.  The Chief Scientist, Sean Lucey, is working with me to develop lesson plans that use the data being collected. Just learning to find my way around the ship has been a challenge.  I’ve learned to find the galley…. great food. Walt and John, the ship’s stewards, are fantastic chefs.  Today we had crab cakes with lemon sauce, vegetables, and peach cobbler with whipped cream for dessert.  I am telling myself that as much physical work as I am doing I can eat what I want….that’s my story and I am sticking to it!

All the crew has been welcoming and accepting.  Richie and Adam, NOAA crewmembers, take care of securing the dredge. It looks like a dangerous job to me!  They both have a great sense of humor.

Allison Schaffer, September 27, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Allison Schaffer
Onboard NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter
September 14 – 27, 2007

Mission: Ichthyoplankton Survey
Geographical Area: Gulf of Mexico
Date: September 27, 2007

A beautiful sunset on the Gulf of Mexico
A beautiful sunset on the Gulf of Mexico

Science and Technology Log 

The past few days have been kind of crazy on the ship.  Two days ago we did a fire drill and an abandon ship drill. We did these drills the within the first few days of our cruise and I got lost trying to get to my correct area for the abandon ship drill. But this time, not a problem. First we did a fire drill.  They sounded the horn and let us know it’s a drill and all the scientists report to the same area where wait for word from the bridge to release us from our drill.  While we were waiting, the crew suited up in the gear they would need for a real fire and the Executive Officer, or XO, Nathan Hancock, picked me and one of the other scientists to help out with the fire hose. I was up front and held the nozzle while the other scientist supported the hose. That was my very first fire hose experience!  Next we did an abandon ship drill. Everyone on board is assigned a specific area to report to and you must bring with you few items: your survival suit for cold water, a long sleeve shirt, long pants and a hat. Once everyone has reported to their area, we wait for word from the crew to let us know we can head back to the lab.  Then yesterday, we did a man overboard drill. To simulate a real man overboard situation, the crew threw a dummy into the water, sounded the man overboard alarm and alerted everyone that there was a man overboard on the port (left) side.

The scientists all report to the same area and have the important job of being the eyes for the crew while they ready the rescue boat.  For this drill, we stood up on deck and pointed in the direction of the man overboard as the crew deployed the rescue boat and headed in the direction we were pointing.  We did that until the rescue boat was in view of the man overboard.  I liked watching the crew in action and seeing how well they worked together.   Last night I was able to visit the bridge to see how they run everything up there.  My shift was over and the night shift was getting set up to do their first station of the night.  I asked if I could stick around and watch them do a station so I would know what it’s like from the perspective of the officers.  It was very cool. And then we had our last full station today.  I finished my last bongo, Neuston and CTD tonight. We will be doing some more methot samples as we head home for me and some other teachers to bring to their classrooms.  So we aren’t completely done with everything, but the cruise is definitely winding down.

Personal Log 

Last day of stations was today!  This is exciting because it means that we successfully finished the leg of our cruise. But at the same time it’s sad because that means I will be going home soon.  And I just figured out how to get everywhere on the ship.  As educational and fun as this has been, I am excited to get home.  I have so many stories that I can’t wait to share with everyone and hopefully inspire some of my co-workers to get involved with experiences like this.

Addendum: Glossary of Terms 

  • Visibility is how far ahead you can see from the ship.  On a very foggy day you may only have a visibility of 10 ft whereas on a clear day you can see all the way to the horizon, or 12 nautical miles.
  • Wind direction tells you which way the wind is blowing from: 0° is north, 90° is east, 180° is south, and 270° is west.
  • Sea wave height is the height of the smaller ripples
  • Swell height is the estimates larger waves
  • Sea level pressure (or Barometric Pressure) indicates what the trend of the weather has been. High barometric pressure usually means sunny weather and rain can not build up in clouds if they are being squeezed together by high pressure.  Low barometric pressure means rainy or stormy weather is on the way.
  • Present Weather is a description of what the day’s weather is.

– Courtesy of Thomas Nassif, NOAA Teacher at Sea, 2005 Field Season

  • Field Party Chief or FPC is in charge of the team of scientists on board the ship. This person oversees all activities having to do with collection of samples and is the go to person in case anything goes wrong that the scientists can’t handle.  They also act as an extra set of hands when needed.
  • Bongo Net is two circular frames 60 cm in diameter sitting side by side with two 333 micron nets and a weight in the center to help it sink.  At the base of each net is a plastic container used to collect all the plankton that can be easily removed so we can retrieve the samples
  • Lab Scientist is the scientist that stays in the lab to work the computers recording the data on sample time, sample depth and is the one that relays information to the deck
  • personnel about when the nets have hit maximum depth.  They keep watch in case anything goes wrong underwater.
  • Deck Scientist is the scientist out on deck getting the nets ready, rinsing the nets, collecting and preserving samples.  They are the eyes on deck in case anything goes wrong at the surface or on deck.
  • Neuston Net is one net 1 X 2 meters with a 947 micron net.  Neuston samples are done only at the surface and placed in the water for ten minutes.
  • The Bridge is the navigational hub of the ship. This is where the officers steer and navigate the ship and where all the equipment is located to help them to do so.  It is usually the top deck on ships to give the crew the best visual of the water.
  • XO or Executive Officer is the second in command to the CO.  The XO is responsible for the administration of the ship, supervising department chiefs as well as all officers.  They are also responsible for the budget.

Adrienne Heim, August 27, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Adrienne Heim
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 7 – September 2, 2007

The CTD, recording information at depth
The CTD, recording information at depth

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 27, 2007

Science and Technology Log: CTD Casts
Immediately following the fire and abandon ship drills, we proceeded to have a debriefing regarding appropriate and professional behaviors, as well as, receiving information regarding shift schedules, meals, work expectations, etc. Our Chief Scientist, Victor Nordahl, informed us of the various duties and responsibilities each of us would have during the Sea Scallop Survey. I was paired with another volunteer, Shawn, to help with the measuring of the sea scallops once they were sorted and weighed. I was also assigned the role of performing CTD casts and collecting data from the inclinometer.CTD casts are performed at every third station. The acronym stands for conductivity, temperature, and depth. It is a hefty contraption that is hooked onto a cable and sent down, a vertical cast, into the water. Basically, while the CTD is sent down vertically, it records the temperature, depth, salinity, and pressure. The saltier the water, the more conductivity is generated. The cast first soaks for about one-two minutes at the surface of the water to record the salinity. It is then sent down, stops about 5-10 meters before reaching the bottom of the ocean floor and then is hauled back. Recording this data is essential for scientists, especially while conducting a Sea Scallop Survey; because the CTD casts helps to associate water temperature and salinity with sea scallop abundance. Scientists record the data to view it later and assess the casts with the other data collected from the work stations.

Computers and cameras recording information from the CTD
Computers and cameras recording information from the CTD

The winch at the back of the ship
The winch at the back of the ship

Communicating with the winch operator
Communicating with the winch operator

Chuck Gregory, August 21, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Chuck Gregory
Onboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
August 12 – 24, 2007

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: New York Harbor
Date: August 21, 2007

“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” ~Thomas Jefferson

Here’s the Plan of the Day (POD):
Sunrise = 0612h Sunset = 1947h
0000h Ship at Sandy Hook, NJ anchorage
0730h Take first Dramamine
0745h Launch safety brief (Survey)
0800h Deploy Launches
1130h Take second Dramamine
TBD Commence underway checkoff; Light off Main Engine; Ship underway/anchor
1745h Retrieve launches

Tides for Sandy Hook High @ 0205h (3.8 ft.) & 1438h (4.6 ft.); Low @ 0759h (1.3 ft.) & 2122h (1.4 ft.); Currents in Sandy Hook Channel Ebb: 0548h (1.1 kts.), 1840h (1.2 kts.); Flood: 1149h (1.7 kts.) & 0018h (1.0 kts.); weather from Sandy Hook to Fire Island AM: E winds 10-15 kts., seas 4-6 ft., PM: NE winds 10-15 kts., seas 4-6 feet. AM/PM Showers & Drizzle.

One of the life rings on the TJ
One of the life rings on the TJ

As expected, we were greeted this morning with more wind and rain.  For now the launches are delayed two hours, but, from the looks of the sea, we’re assuming they will be canceled. While waiting for the final word I responded to a few e-mails.  My TAS log is up on the NOAA TAS website, and the pictures Eric and I sent look great thanks to Liz McMahon in the TAS office. At 0945h we heard that launch operations were canceled for the day.  So, I went down to exercise and found the room “crowded” – two others were using the equipment.  Since the stationary bike was in use I spent 20 minutes on the elliptical.

Since I have the time, I’d like to add a little note about life at sea and working on a NOAA ship. Many of the crew I spoke with love their jobs, but cite distance from home as the #1 downer of their NOAA job.  I can see why.  Phone calls and e-mails at the only real contact points with loved ones.  And if you think the dial up internet connection is slow, try sending a snail mail letter when the ship won’t be able to deliver your note to the post office for days. It takes the right attitude to stay on the ship for weeks, and you do need to keep your mind and body busy.  Like anything else, the work is hard but the rewards are great! Each night, when I go out on deck to phone Roxann, it’s common to see four or five crew members at some corner of the main deck phoning their families.  A sweet time to catch up with the folks at home, and informing the family that we are well and miss them.  I am on the THOMAS JEFFERSON for 12 days and really miss my beautiful wife.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to stay on the ship for three or four weeks!  Sometimes I wonder if even NOAA’s seasoned veterans get used to the time away?

While I’m at it, and on a lighter note, there is another item I sadly miss – a beer!  Roxann and I are so use to coming home after work and having a drink.  However, drinking aboard NOAA ships is forbidden (as it should be).  Maybe this is why some of the “boys” have a little toooo much when they go on leave. Feast or famine. So, when asked, “What is the first thing I will do when I get home?”  The answer is drink a beer. This rainy afternoon everyone on the ship went through two drills: fire & emergency (one long bell), and abandon ship (seven short bells followed by a long one). The CO and FOO coordinate these activities to keep us on our safety toes, and Bob Schwartz was filming both exercises.

For the fire & emergency drill my assignment is to muster (assemble) at the 02 Deck, port side. [That’s two floors above the main deck on the left side of the ship.] I was in my stateroom at the time and was able to grab my raincoat on my way out the door. It was a good thing as the 02 Deck was being lashed with wind and rain.  We stayed there about ten minutes – long enough for the fire team to put on their gear and respond to the mock fire. Immediately afterward, the abandon ship drill was held in the main deck hallway.  Most ship’s personal gathered with immersion (survival) suits and life jackets.  Those without suits acted as inspectors and waxed the zippers for ease of use. All in all, two good exercises.

When the drills were done we all assembled in the Mess for a debriefing – what went right and what could be improved.  Safety is paramount on a ship like the THOMAS JEFFERSON. As was stated during the debriefing, we are responsible for each other on the THOMAS JEFFERSON and we can’t rely on the local fire department to help us out.  The CO and FOO lead a brief discussion, and we soon returned to our task at hand. Dinner was ribs and duck. Good stuff. There are always potatoes or rice and a veggie to add to the meat.  And there is a salad bar for the “roughage”, plus dessert.  No one goes hungry on the THOMAS JEFFERSON.

After dinner Helen gave me a CD of four of NOAA’s sonar Power Point presentations.  While most of the sonar theory is over my head, I really wanted the cool pictures that make up most of the presentations.  I am sure to use these back at SMCC.  Thanks Helen! Another phone call to Roxann – all is well but cold at home – and I am ready to enjoy the evening. With only two plus days to go I need to be sure I have seen and experienced as much as possible. If only the weather would improve!

Tomorrow I am scheduled to be on launch 3101 – a first for me.  Good night!

Elizabeth Martz, August 8, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Martz
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 5 – 16, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: August 8, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Visibility = <1 nautical miles
Cloud cover = fog
Wind direction = 200 degrees
Wind speed = 21 knots (kts.)
Sea wave height = 2-3 feet
Swell wave height = 2 feet
Seawater temperature = 15.1 degrees Celsius
Sea level pressure = 1004.2 mb

I love finding the sea scallops in the pile of all items from one dredge tow. I am having a remarkable time on the ALBATROSS IV
I love finding the sea scallops in the pile of all items from one dredge tow. I am having a remarkable time on the ALBATROSS IV

Science and Technology Log 

12:00 midnight—Today my 12 hour shifts began.  This is an amazing experience.  I am loving my time onboard the ALBATROSS IV.  It is quite exciting.  Today was outstanding. I am experiencing being a researcher at sea. The ALBATROSS IV has 12-hour shifts. The researchers are organized into two different shifts which are each 12 hours. I am on the midnight to noon shift.  It is very different than my “teacher hours”. I usually work from 7:30 to 5:00 at school. I am only required to be at school from 7:45- 3:15, but I can never accomplish all of my responsibilities in that brief of a time.  I love school and I love being prepared. To work on the ALBATROSS IV, you need to be prepared and ready for a hard day’s work! I am loving the work and at this time it is not too hard. 

My Responsibilities 

Steve is assisting with sending the dredge into the water.  It is about 2 am and we are 2 hours into our watch shift.  The dredge is over 1,600 lbs. and there are many pieces of equipment that help the dredge function properly!
Steve is assisting with sending the dredge into the water. It is about 2 am and we are 2 hours into our watch shift. The dredge is over 1,600 lbs. and there are many pieces of equipment that help the dredge function properly!

I am a working member onboard the ALBATROSS IV.  I am making every moment count and I am learning so much. The dredge haul experience is unbelievable. There are two fishermen that help to release and the dredge.  The two fishermen on my watch are Steve and Mike.  They are amazing at fixing the net, loading the dredge, releasing the dredge, retrieving the dredge, cleaning the deck, helping to sort the organisms in the  tow, and so much more.  These fishermen have the expertise of sending the dredge into the water and helping it return back after a 15-minute tow.  The Chief Boatswain (head fisherman), Tony, controls the mechanical devices that assist the fishermen in sending the dredge to sea.  Tony is so talented. He has the ability to communicate and accomplish any task onboard the ALBATROSS IV!  The fisherman and all the scientists on my watch observe the dredge coming onboard the ship. Once the dredge is on deck there is so much to do!!! When the dredge returns from being in the water for 15 minutes, there is so much to do.  First, the fishermen need to bring the dredge up on deck. There are strong metal wires that bring the dredge up on deck. There are metal pulleys that help move the wire.  There are mechanically parts that are controlled so that the dredge lands on deck without damaging anything… including the dredge. The entire process is so awesome and neat.

The scientists are all so excited to discover new things in this pile.  Every dredge tow is full of biotic (living) and abiotic (non –living) items.  It is so wonderful to discover new things.
The scientists are all so excited to discover new things in this pile. Every dredge tow is full of biotic and abiotic items. It is so wonderful to discover new things.

After the dredge is placed on deck, the fun begins. First, a scientist checks the dredge to see if it laid correctly on the ocean floor.  The equipment that records the behavior of the tow is called an inclinometer. The inclinometer is placed inside the top of the dredge and the information is recorded.  The scientist then needs to go to a different room to read the information from the inclinometer.  It is an interesting piece of scientific equipment.  The next experience is the best!!  After a quick photo of what materials are found in the dredge, all the scientists gather around the dredge materials.  We all marvel at what we dredged and then sort the items.  We place all fish in one bucket and all skates in another.  The scallops are all collected.  The scallops are even organized by size. (Very small scallops are placed in a different bucket.)  All the extra items go in a different bucket. When all biotic items have been discovered, then we shovel all the “habitat” (rocks and sand) into baskets.  Every object that lands on deck is counted and documented.

I love all the amazing things I have found from this experience

Elizabeth Martz, August 6, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elizabeth Martz
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 5 – 16, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: August 6, 2007

Wood’s Hole is an amazing place of nature, water, and other environmental benefits.  Notice how many boats & people benefit from the water.
Wood’s Hole is an amazing place of nature, water, and other environmental benefits. Notice how many boats & people benefit from the water.

Science and Technology Log

7:15 a.m.—Breakfast.  I met many scientists, crew, teachers, officers, & more… details about Sea Scallop Leg III will occur at 10 am.  Awesome food for breakfast.

8:30 a.m.—Free time in the town.  I saw the countryside, the marina, & visited the town of Wood’s Hole. We had a scientist’s meeting for all watch shifts.  (I am on the 12 a.m. (midnight) -12 p.m. (noon) watch.) We discussed expectations, responsibilities, and ideas about this adventure/experience. We were informed of sexual harassment, drug possession rules, and other NOAA policies.  I clearly understood my expectations and responsibilities.  The ALBATROSS IV is 187 feet in length, 38 feet in width. The major reason that the ALBATROSS IV is out to sea is to learn more about the sea scallop population. We sample for sea scallops from Virginia to Eastern Georges Bank (off the coast of Nova Scotia). This is the Leg III of the Sea Scallop study.  We will be surveying sea scallops from Northern part of Georges Bank that borders on the Gulf of Maine to the Great South Channel east of Massachusetts.  The dredge is towed for 15 minutes at a speed of 3.8 knots.  The dredge covers about 1.0 nautical miles of ocean bottom.  A nautical mile is compared to 1.15 land mile.

Questions for the Day (I am always thinking about how my students can benefit from my experiences!)

  1. How many students in my class have been to the ocean?
  2. How many students in my class have touched an aquatic or marine organism?
  3. How many students can name 10 different aquatic organisms?
  4. How many students have been on a large ship or cruise ship?

This sea a scallop was collected during a night dredge onboard the ALBATROSS IV on 8/9/07.
This sea a scallop was collected during a night dredge onboard

Details about sorting the dredge haul:

Sea scallops are collected, measured, and weighed. This scallop is upside down. The top of a scallop is more convex (curves out) and the bottom of a scallop is more flat.  Do you see how the convex side (the top of the sea scallop) fits nicely in your hand? The white area you see is the male gonad of the sea scallop. The fleshy, white section that a customer eats is found deeper inside the sea scallop. All the diverse organisms we find in the dredge are collected in blue buckets. Each organism is sorted by type and measured individually by a researcher.  Many studies are being conducted onboard the ALBATROSS IV.  Some of the studies include: sea scallop shell analysis for age, sea scallop size analysis, sea scallop health analysis, human health when consuming sea scallops, skate analysis, populations of starfish and crabs, water characteristics are analyzed, and so much more.  The focus of the ALBATROSS IV’s voyage is to count the number of sea scallops from each dredge.  The scientists also collect fish, skates, and other unique organisms at each station.

Shawn McPhee & Adrienne Heim are measuring scallops.  Over 350 scallops were collected on one dredge haul.
Shawn McPhee & Adrienne Heim are measuring scallops. Over 350 scallops were collected on one dredge haul.

The fish include American plaice flounder, Atlantic Hagfish, fourspot flounder, goosefish, longhorn sculpin, northern sand lance, ocean pout, red hake, sea raven, windowpane flounder, winter flounder, yellowtail flounder, and more. The skates include  barndoor skate, little skate, winter skate, smooth skate, and more.  Unique organisms include octopus, squid, and lobsters. If there are more scallops than we can sort or measure, we conduct a subsample.  A subsample is when you choose a smaller amount to measure and expand by volume.

For example, if you have 10 baskets of scallops, you choose 5 to measure and your expansion is two.

  •  Orange baskets hold “habitat”. Abiotic habitat items include rocks, boulders, gravel, sand, and shells. Biotic habitat items include: brittle stars, shrimp, sand dollars, clams, and spider crabs.  All of these biotic and abiotic items are counted and documented for each station.

The number of crabs and starfish is calculated every third station. The CTD shows the details of the water column and helps determine where scallops are found.

The dredge is equipped with an inclinometer.  This equipment is a sensor that measures dredge angle relative to the bottom of the ocean floor.  The sensor has an internal clock that allows us to determine the amount of time that the dredge is on the bottom and in fishing position.

We collected this many sea scallops from one dredge.  It is outstanding how many scallops live in one area of the Atlantic Ocean.  I counted and learned details about scallops.
We collected this many sea scallops from one dredge. It is outstanding how many scallops live in one area of the Atlantic Ocean. I counted and learned details about scallops.

Good Questions for My Students 

  1. If you know the average speed (V) of the vessel during that time (T) you can calculate the distance that the dredge travelled. The students can use the equation : Distance = Velocity x Time
  2. Would you be a researcher out at sea(on the ocean)? If you had the chance to investigate the number of sea scallops in an area of the Atlantic Ocean, would you go?
  3. Why are research vessels, like the ALBATROSS IV, so important for the study of science?

ALBATROSS IV Topics of Investigation 

  1.  Sea Scallop study and investigation.
  2.  FDA sea scallop study. The FDA is dissecting and analyzing the health of the sea scallops. The sea scallop gonads and viscera are being tested for hazardous toxins: a marine biotoxin called saxitoxin.  It causes PSP:  Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning. The sea scallop is unharmed because saxitoxin is part of their diet.  The sea scallops are filter-feeders. The saxitoxin is produced by a dinoflagellate called Alexandrium Species.   Saxitoxin is a neuron toxin that affects your nervous system.  It specifically causes concerns in the nervous system where your breathing and muscle movement is controlled. If saxitoxin is consumed by a person, the affected person can be incubated (a tube is placed down your throat and air is forced into your lungs), then you will be fine.  If you do not seek medical attention, you will have major difficulty breathing and the person will have concerns with their nervous system (all other functions).  Not good!!

A Tour of the ALBATROSS IV 

There are 3 outside wet work stations, inside dry station, CTD station, Watch Chief station, and more! There is a galley, Researcher work areas, hurricane deck, computer room, Officer’s staterooms, our living quarters, exercise room, “the bridge”, and other areas that I will discover throughout the boat. There are 14 scientists onboard this vessel.  I am one of those scientists.  It has been stated that the research collected would not be possible without the help of volunteers.   Very cool. I feel like I am an important part of this journey out to sea.

Important fact:  When I am on watch:  It is so important to take everything with me! Do not go back to the room.  Be sure to have your computer, notes, change of clothes, and more. Be prepared.

All stations (randomly picked sites) give scientists about the sea scallop population and details about their survival. Victor has a map posted in the dry lab.  It is awesome.  It is really, really cool and neat.

Victor stated over and over again!!!!  ASK QUESTIONS!

Questions I Have 

  1. What is the basic sea scallop population in the Atlantic Ocean?
  2. How do the populations change from one site to another?  The distribution is relative to depth, latitude, bottom type, and temperature/ salinity!  If we go to an area more shallow we will not locate as many sea scallops.
  3. Why does the population change over several years in the same area? Recruitment is a factor. This means that baby scallops larvae will settle  in an area and they will grow.
  4. In what water depth can you find the most sea scallops?  Why?
  5. What environmental conditions are best for sea scallop survival?
  6. In what other areas of the world are sea scallops present and prevalent?
  7. What helps the sea scallops survive?

Drills 

Fire/ collision drill:  bring life vest and emergence suit; go to the wet lab and listen for announcements Abandon ship drill: 7 short sounds and one long sound ;  bring life vest, emergent suit, long sleeve shirt, long pants, and go to raft #6 Man overboard: go to lookout area and point the entire time!

This is the standard dredge used on the ALBATROSS IV. This dredge is extremely important in collecting sea scallops from the ocean.
This is the standard dredge that is extremely important in collecting sea scallops from the ocean.

Other Announcements 

Always report concerns! Be vocal when you have a problem and let’s solve it.  Please don’t keep it inside and cause you concern… share what you feel.

This Sea Scallop survey has viewed, documented, and calculated organism counts in over 500 stations. The Sea Scallop survey is analyzing information about the location of sea scallops, the growth of sea scallops, and so much more.  The Chief Scientist, Victor Nordahl, would love to use this information about sea scallops to begin more studies about the ecosystem.  He stated “The sea scallop information is an excellent start to understanding the entire make-up of the ecosystem where the scallops are found.  If we discover more about where we find the sea scallops, then we can help the sea scallops and more organisms survive.  The ALBATROSS IV may be retired soon.  The boat has experienced and investigated numerous events.  The vessel is beginning to show wear and tear.  It has equipment that shows age and needs repair. Each boat needs to stay in compliance with NOAA standards and the ALBATROSS IV continues to make repairs to keep up with those standards.

The major goal of a research vessel is to collect accurate and reliable data.  When an old ship is retired (no longer used to collect scientific information), then scientists need to compare the equipment on the old ship with the equipment on the new ship.  This is called calibration. The new ship will use information from the old ship for at least one year. The data needs to be compared and analyzed because all data is used for long-term studies. If one ship makes scientific conclusions and another ship makes conclusions that are totally different from the first ship, then the data is not valid.  The data could not be used and the scientists work would be a waste.  So, NOAA and other research companies who collect scientific data need to make sure that their research procedures are accurate and reliable.

We will actually collect information about the sea scallop population using 2 different nets. The information will be analyzed and conclusions will be calculated about the reliability of the different dredges.  The research outcomes will allow scientists to determine how the dredges and nets are different.  The scientists will calculate the differences between the equipment and make a calibration.  Neat stuff.

10:45 a.m.—Tour of Marine Biological Lab.  Bill Kramer, an information technology scientist for NOAA, gave us a tour MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory).  We learned about the marine environment and observed animals in the aquariums.

12:20 p.m.—Lunch.  Excellent selection and many healthy choices.  Great food.

1:20 p.m.-12:30 a.m.—ALBATROSS IV needs a special type of fuel/oil.  We had free time.  I explored Wood’s Hole on 8/6/06, so I took the ferry to Oak Bluff!  It was outstanding. I did get caught in an enormous rain storm, but I made it safely to Wood’s Hole. I am so honored to be a part of the NOAA crew and I look forward to my adventure! I had the chance that night to speak to many other volunteers.  We stayed up and talked all evening about our ideas and hopes for this trip.  We are all excited and motivated to be a part of the crew of the ALBATROSS IV!!

I am very enthusiastically anticipating what I am going to do and what I will learn.

  1. Will I personally collect sea scallops? I think so!
  2. Will I see other marine organisms? Whales?  Dolphins?  Fish?  Birds? I hope!!
  3. How can I share with my students what I learned from this experience? Pictures, lessons, stories, and interviews
  4. How will I organize all the information I learn so that my students have a better understanding about being a researcher?  Computer documents and more
  5. How can I document everything I see and do using my digital camera? Take 1,000 pictures
  6. How can I motivate my students to be life-long learners?   Smile and share stories of my adventures at sea!
  7. How many of my students participate in fun summer activities involving science? I do hope that many students get involved in science camps and more.  After I return, I plan to share stories and I hope this motivates them to attend science events!!
  8. Why should students want to be scientists and researchers? I think it is obvious!! Science rules!!!
  9. How will I help the marine organisms survive or how will I make a difference in the lives of others who study marine life?  Be happy!
  10. I am so excited and I am ready!

Claude Larson, July 26, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Claude Larson
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 26, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 21.9º C
Water Temperature: 22.6 º C
Relative Humidity: 91%
Wind Speed: 8 knots
Wind Direction: S

Melissa Ellwanger (left) and Stacey Etheridge (right)check the results from the test strips for PSPs.
Melissa Ellwanger (left) and Stacey Etheridge check the results for PSPs.

Science and Technology Log 

The ALBATROSS IV is well underway with the second leg of its Sea Scallop Survey for this year. After several tows we have collected, counted, weighed and measured not only sea scallops but, several types of fish, crabs and starfish.  As a teacher, I would like to focus on the application of some the science that is going on here on the ship. Specifically, I want to explain the work of two scientists on board Stacey Etheridge and Melissa Ellwanger who work at the FDA, Food and Drug Administration.

Sea scallops are studied by NOAA because of their importance commercially.  People enjoy them baked, fried, sautéed and served up hot. In other parts of the world, Europe and Asia, certain parts of the scallops are valued commercially as a food source. These parts are the gonads and viscera, or internal organs and membranes.  Last year the FDA had to close certain fishing areas were closed to bivalve molluscan harvesting because PSPs, paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins were too high for human consumption.  These toxins accumulate in filter feeders and thus harvesting was closed to organisms such as surfclams, mussels and quahogs. Sea scallops could still be harvested for the adductor muscle only. Toxins in scallops, however, build up in the gonads and viscera. If a person were to eat these affected seafoods they could actually become paralyzed and it could be fatal unless the victim receives respiratory support.

The toxins are produced by certain algae that are found in the environment with the scallops. The toxins vary in potency and can actually become stronger after the scallops eat them by interacting with the digestive processes of the sea scallop.  This leads us to Stacey and Melissa’s experiment. At each collection of sea scallops, they collect twelve random sea scallops to test.  They dissect the scallop and separate the gonad and viscera and test them separately.  They puree the organs, add extraction chemicals, filter them and then test the liquid that they filter from the organs on little test plates that look like test strips people use when they are trying to find out if they are pregnant.

The preliminary results from some of the samples they have collected have been positive for PSPs. This raises the question about whether or not those collected scallops can be sold for all of their parts or just the meaty section.  The work Stacey and Melissa are doing with NOAA and the FDA is an excellent example of applied science that benefits people and helps improve one of their food sources.

Claude Larson, July 25, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Claude Larson
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 25, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temperature: 21.7° C
Water Temperature: 22.9
Relative Humidity 93%
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Wind Direction: SE 120

Jakub Kircun teaches Claude Larson how to insert the probe that measures inclination in the top of the dredge equipment.
Jakub Kircun teaches Claude Larson how to insert the probe that measures inclination in the top of the dredge equipment.

Science and Technology Log 

Today was the beginning of our first 12 hour watches. The tows were relatively well spaced which allowed for ample clean up time between tows and even for a little down time as we steamed for over an hour and I have a few minutes to write this log entry.

As I learn the skills needed to be useful on the Scallop Survey, I want to give you an idea of how a tow is carried out. The bridge generally gives us a ten minute alert before a tow over the all call system.  From that point we can finish up what we are doing and prepare for the tow. A crew member operates a huge winch and block and tackle that moves a thick metal cable. The cable is attached to a large metal hook that is attached to an 8 foot wide dredge net. The net is raised from the aft deck of the ship and put in the water.  The dredge net is then towed for fifteen minutes and then lifted onto the deck.  At this time, a probe that measures inclination is inserted in the dredge rigging and information about the collection of the tow is recorded and loaded onto another computer for later use.

While the probe is being read, someone takes a picture of the pile of organisms on deck with a small whiteboard with important information.  This information includes the station number, stratum and tow number, as well as whether this area is open or closed to commercial fishing.

The watch crew then brings baskets and buckets over to the edges of the pile and kneels on cushions to sift through the collected material.  We sort the collection into sea scallops, fish and, on each third tow, we also collect crabs. After a few minutes we shift areas and continue to look for certain animals, this helps us to make sure we have found all of the organisms we are looking for.  The fish are then further sorted by species.  The watch chief weighs each separate species and records that information on the FSCS, Fisheries Scientific Computer System. There are three FSCS stations and we all get to work at one of them.  The computer allows you to take the scallop or fish and lay it on a long board. The organism is held along the front panel of the system and a magnet is placed at the other end. The magnet causes the computer to automatically record the length of the scallop or fish. From there some of the scallop shells are cleaned for a scientist back in Woods Hole, Dvora Hart, and carefully labeled and placed in a cloth bag. Some of the scallops are also dissected for an FDA study on PSPs, paralytic shellfish poisoning. When ever we catch a monkfish, also known as a goosefish, one of the scientists on the watch crew dissects it for vertebrae for a study they are doing on aging the fish and its reproductive stage.

Once all the organisms are measured, weighed, dissected or cleaned, the remainder of the pile is shoveled in large baskets and thrown back into the ocean.  Each basket and bucket is rinsed as is each FSCS station.  If another tow is arriving shortly, the watch crew prepares for repeating this process. The steps happen in relatively that order, however they also occur in a sort of unison and the watch crew starts to form a rhythm.  The watch chief and veteran crew members help any of the new folks on board, which is great since we are sometimes unsure what to do next or how to do a new task.  The old saying of many hands make light work definitely applies here. With each tow there are surprises to dig for. Sometimes you get to see large egg cases or beautiful shellfish and unusual fish.

With all of this said, the all call has just given us a ten minute to station call.  I must get ready for whatever treasures will be brought up with this collection.

Claude Larson, July 24, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Claude Larson
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 23 – August 3, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 24, 2007

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Wind speed: 13 knots SW
Atmospheric Pressure: 1019 mB
Cloud cover: 4/8 cirrus, stratus and cumulous
Air temperature: 18.3º C 65º F
Water temperature: 18.9 º C 66 º F

Teacher at Sea, Claude Larson, waves hello from the aft deck of the Albatross IV as she dons her immersion suit during an abandon ship drill.
Claude Larson waves hello from the aft deck as she dons her immersion suit during an abandon ship drill.

Science and Technology Log 

Although our departure date was delayed by one day due to some problems with the air conditioning system that cools the staterooms, we are glad that the problem has been resolved and we are underway on Tuesday, July 24. We left from the dock at approximately 9:00 AM under partially cloudy skies and with a light breeze. Just as I was standing on the hurricane deck enjoying the view of the diminishing landscape, there is an all call onboard and we are asked to muster in our stations for a fire drill.

We gathered all of our emergency gear and met in the wet lab area of the ship. In a few minutes, an abandon ship drill is announced and we head out to our life raft assignments and don our bright red immersion suits.  They are a bit of a task to put on, but provide ample protection should we ever actually abandon ship. They are known as the “Gumby Suits” and I have made that my first image in my log of this cruise.

A few minutes after we put away our emergency gear, the Chief Scientist, Stacy Rowe asks the crew for a test tow to ensure that all of the equipment we will need to survey the scallops is in working order. This is a great opportunity for those of us who are new on board to see how the procedure works. The deck hands skillfully direct the large dredge net over the back of the boat and release a specific length of cable based on depth of the water.  Unfortunately, during the first attempt the net flips and does not collect any specimens.  However, the second tow is more successful and allows us to get a collection of organisms large enough to sample.

Those of us who have never been on a scallop survey before get to work.  While kneeling on mats we sort through the pile for any living organisms.  These are put in blue buckets. The organisms are then sorted by species and we get a hands-on lesson from Larry Brady, our Watch Chief on how to identify certain organisms.  Once all the species are identified and sorted, we weigh them, count them and measure the length of a few using FSCS, the Fisheries Scientific Computer System. The deck, baskets and buckets are cleaned and put back until the next tow. Our next tow is south of Long Island, approximately 87 nautical miles away, so we take the opportunity to enjoy a quick lunch break and some down time until we are on our modified watch schedule from 6 PM to Midnight.

I am looking forward to our first official tow and the treasures we will find there.  Hopefully my body will have made some adjustments to the rocking and rolling of the ship as we steam through the Atlantic.  In the meantime, I will leave you with my question of the day.

Why would scientists who are studying the overall health of an ocean environment collect and study organisms from the bottom of the ocean? 

Mary Ann Penning, July 14, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Ann Penning
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 9 – 20, 2007

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic Ocean
Date: July 14, 2007

An example of a “Gumby” suit.
An example of a “Gumby” suit.

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 006 degrees
Wind speed: 16 knots (kts)
Sea wave height: 2-3 feet
Swell wave height: 4 feet
Seawater temperature: 22.8 degrees C
Sea level pressure: 1010.9 millibars (mb)
Air Temperature: 22.3 degrees C
Cloud cover: cloudy

Science and Technology Log 

Our ship has been rocking and rolling – literally and figuratively.  I think I have my sea legs now, for the most part, but I still sometimes take a zig-zag route over the deck getting from one point to another.  The weather has been varied. There have been some cloudy days where the fog can creep in unexpectedly. The sunny days are great, but that promotes very sweaty working conditions. I’ve seen two beautiful sunsets; I want to get in at least one sunrise before I leave the ship. As I begin to write this, our room is rolling gently from one side to another. Is this how a baby might feel rocked in their cradle? 

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Mary Ann Penning, measures a fish.
NOAA Teacher at Sea, Mary Ann Penning, measures a fish.

After we left the dock Tuesday afternoon, the staff gradually got us into the routine of shipboard life.  We had a disaster drill and tried on the famous, heavy foam – like, bright orange survival suits. They come rolled up in their own little sleeping bag.  Remember Gumby?  Think of him and imagine all of us on deck getting ready to go trick or treating on Halloween!

Not far from Martha’s Vineyard, we did two trial dredge deployments.  The Chief Scientist tested the equipment and the exercise gave the volunteer scientists a chance to run through the exercises of sorting, weighing, and measuring the catch.  We donned our foul weather gear – boots and slickers.  We did a modified twelve hour work schedule that evening. While the night shift tried to sleep, we went on duty from 6:00 to midnight.  Since there was really nothing to do, it was fun watching a movie in the lounge, but I found it hard to stay awake. I was glad to crawl into my bottom bunk and finally drift off to sleep.

Crew of the ALBATROSS prepare the dredge.
Crew of the ALBATROSS prepare the dredge.

With a twelve hour work schedule, I’ve been trying to get into a routine of work, writing my logs, answering e-mail, doing some light reading and, oh yes, squeezing in time for eating.  I’m still adjusting and find myself tired at various points throughout the day.  I’m finally delving into the Harry Potter series.  I need to keep up with my fifth graders who are enthralled with the books and movies. I brought the first three books with me.  Reading is a good way to spend the 20 minutes we might have between the scallop collecting duties. It just feels good to sit down after the physical labor of collecting specimens from the dredge.

Our dredge, designed by NOAA fisheries staff, drags along the surface layer of the marine habitat for scallops and other benthic organisms.  Benthic means animals that live on the sea floor. The dredge is eight feet wide and about 20 feet long.  It is made of heavy steel and metal rings that are linked together to create the bag behind the dredge frame.  There is an inside liner of netting which allows us to catch the smaller scallops, too.  Our Chief scientist , Victor Nordahl, is responsible for the standardization of the gear.  He describes it like dragging a butterfly net along the bottom of the Atlantic.  This envelope of rings and netting comprise about ten feet of the total length.  (It is similar to what commercial scallop fisherman use except that they can’t use the inside liner.  Their nets are bigger too -two fifteen foot dredges with 4” rings.) The ALBATROSS IV tows the dredge for one nautical mile for 15 minutes while traveling at 3.8 knots.  It takes a heavy duty winch below the decking to recover the dredge back on deck.  A typical dredge haul weighs about 2,000 lbs and the dredge itself weighs 1,500 lbs.  Its catch is what we’re after.

A small fishing ship as seen from the ALBATROSS.
A small fishing ship as seen from the ALBATROSS.

Personal Log 

Our state rooms are small, yet big enough for three people to sleep.  There is a bunk bed and one single bed on the opposite wall. Both are metal and are built into the wall.  One built in desk with six drawers for clothes sits between the beds.  There is one freestanding chair. Underneath the beds are three drawers for extra storage.  Surprisingly we have two closets which are great for storing luggage. There is a small sink with a mirror and medicine cabinet across from the dresser/desk. A bathroom with toilet and shower sits between our room and the room next door.  Two of us are on the day watch and one is on at night.

Questions of the Day 

Can you estimate how many square meters we cover during that time? Can you guess the number of scallops we catch in one haul, depending on the station?  Or the astropecten, a type of starfish that love to feast on baby scallops? Over the course of one day, after visiting about fourteen different stations during each shift, while using various sampling techniques, the answers are astounding. Look for these amazing statistics in my next log. 

Elsa Stuber, June 4, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Elsa Stuber
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
June 4 – 9, 2007

Mission: Collecting Time Series of physical, chemical and biological data to document spatial and temporal pattern in the California Current System
Geographical Area: U.S. West Coast
Date: June 4, 2007

Weather DAY 2: San Francisco to sea 
Visibility: Some fog before 12:00, which later cleared
Wind direction: 282.14
Wind Speed: 9 knots
Sea wave height: 1 foot
Seawater temperature: 14.159 C.
Sea level pressure: 1017.15
Air temperature: 14.1 C
Cloud cover: 100% stratus

Science and Technology Log 

Awoke 06:00 and did journal work until 07:15 breakfast.  Studied cruise information.   As suggested by CS Tim, I took a Dramamine II last evening and one this morning.  I don’t want to have seasick problems.  I don’t feel any side effects from the medication.

Safety meeting 09:00 with FOO Middlemiss. It is important to close the heavy doors when going and coming on the ship. We reviewed procedures for Man Overboard, Fire, and Abandon Ship.

Fire: signal = 10-second continuous bringing of the General Alarm bell and a 10-second continuous sounding of the ship’s whistle. Proceed to fantail of ship.

Abandon ship: signal =seven or more short blasts on the ship’s whistle followed by one long blast. Bring survival clothing and PFD to life raft location on the bridge.  We practiced putting on survival clothing:  feet and legs in then hood on your head before putting arms in sleeves and zipping up.  Difficult to do getting arms in by yourself; this is not a quick maneuver.  Mine was the smallest size; feet and arm-hand portion pretty big on me, but I would survive. I brought my mustang survival jacket along on the cruise as well.

Man Overboard: If witnessed throw life ring buoy into the water and call for assistance immediately. After one minute throw a second life ring buoy in the water.  Try to keep visual surveillance of the person in the water. Signal = three short blasts on the ship’s whistle.

For safety drills, dismissal from drill signal = three shorts blasts on the ship’s whistle. Mess hall information, store information, medicine location given.

Ship departed San Francisco approximately 10:15 with very foggy weather, foghorn blowing. It is very loud. If wearing plugs, the hearing of anyone working close to foghorn such as the wildlife observer on the flying bridge would be affected over time.  Special ear protection is needed for persons at that observational post.  Kathryn Whitaker is the wildlife observer on this cruise. She is stationed on the bridge with a lap top computer to record type and quantity of all birds and sea life she observes.  Kathryn is observing from daylight to sundown except going down for meals.  She uses powerful binoculars and camera to photograph whatever she sees.  On some cruises she has two or more staff working with her, one of whom is typing in the computer all that the observers are calling out that they are seeing which is often a great deal if the ship is nearer shore than we will be for most of this cruise.  As we leave SF Bay we see a dead gray whale floating, Kathryn points out the grease trail from the decaying whale blubber floating out on the water. There are cormorants and seagulls in large numbers flying in the area of the ship for the first three and a half hours of our trip. Then we only observe some seagulls.

The overall survey plan is to proceed offshore along CalCOFI (California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigation) Line 60, occupying stations each 10-20 nMi (nautical miles) to ~175 nMi offshore.  Then proceed to stations each 20nMi northeast to station 67-90 at the offshore terminus of Line 67, and work back into shore along Line 67 with stations 10-20 nMi apart. After the station work is completed, the ship will return to San Francisco and offload gear and personnel.  I will include the CalCOGI station information in Table 1 and Figure 1 of this report.

Operations at the stations are to collect physical, chemical, and biological data by CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) and its rosette bottles, net tows, and underway surface measurements.  All CTD casts at the stations are to the bottom or 1000 dbars whichever is shallowest. At stations #12 and #16 two deep casts (4500m) are planned conditions and time permitting. Secchi disk cast will be made at daytime stations.  HyperPro optical sensor casts are to be made at midday stations.  Oblique bongo net tows will be to 200m depths.

CalCOFI survey continuous operations while underway will include logging meteorological and sea surface property, a pCO2 measuring system in the wet lab, the incubators for chlorophyll seawater samples on the fantail, and the marine mammal observer.

Cast 1 @ 13:51 Station 60-50, Latitude 37.948N & Longitude -122.888W, Cast depth 40m, Bottom depth 48m, CTD cylinders tripped at 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 1.5, 0 meters   Data for cast is Table 2 and accompanying data graph including percent beam transmission, depth, temperature, and fluorescence at end of my report. Participants: Tim and Erich from MBARI, USN Charlotte, TAS Elsa  This was good hands on practice for the sampling work.  Charlotte and I received a lot of help, tips for technique.  Tim is very patient with our learning curve.

  1.  We check stopper at bottom of rosette cylinder to determine that it didn’t leak.  Pull out stopper and should only be a couple of milliliters squirting out.  Then open valve at top of rosette to take the sample.
  2.  Open stopper by lining up black circle drawn on stopper with peg on stopper and pull out. Rinse 280ml sample bottle three times with @ 15ml of sea water from rosette and then fill sample bottle to overflowing, close stopper.  Rinse small nutrient sample bottle 3 times and then fill it half to two-thirds full. Tim and Erich were filling other bottles for C14, N15, POC, QP, HPLC, FCM, and A* tests which are described below.
  3.  In wet lab, nutrients numbered sequentially are put in cartons and then promptly put into the freezer.  These will be processed later at the MBARI lab.
  4.  Funnels with filters for the twelve samples were set up prior to reaching the station.  Turn on aspirator pump.  Filter solutions through flasks.  Suction for all samples is improved if you turn off valve on those that have already filtered through.  You can’t get paper filter off the filter piece if suction is still operating.  Be careful at all times to check that sample number matches its numbered filter apparatus, and glass vial the filter is stored in when filtration complete.
  5.  Put particular filter for the fractionated 5 micron and 1 micron filtering.  Sample is labeled “F” collected by MBARI scientist. Pour 100ml of sample into each funnel for these samples.
  6.  Add the 10ml. measured amount of 90% acetone to each glass vial with its filter to “fix” the phytoplankton on the filter.  Place these in the carton in sequential order to be placed in the freezer. These remain there in the dark for at least 24 hours before we can test for chlorophyll levels with the flurometer.
  7. Label samples for casts read for example S307c#2, #5.  Meaning June 3-9 Cruise S307 cast #2 sample #5
  8. Three other filtrations were done which are color labeled: green POC organic carbon, how much carbon is in the water other than the plankton detritus; red A* filter will be evaluated in spectrophotometer to get all wave lengths of life, not just chlorophyll; and blue, HPLC -high performance liquid chromatography which will show 23 pigment types commonly associated with different algae so they may be qualified and quantified for the level the sample was taken.
  9.  The MBARI scientists take the C14 and N15 radioactive samples.
  10.  Set empty bottles in rack and carrying case and put out on back deck to be ready for the next cast. Put new filters in the 12 funnels in the wet lab to be ready for the next cast.

Chief Scientist Tim Pennington sent a DVD with demonstrations on how different sampling and testing of the samples are handled.  It was very helpful to see this walk through ahead, with emphasis on the problems that can arise with the techniques and suggestions on what to do about them.

Cast 2 @ 15:35 Station 60-52.5 , Latitude 37.864N  Longitude -123.065W, Cast depth to 80m, bottom depth 90m; CTD cylinders tripped at 80, 60, 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 0  meters Data for cast is Table 3 and accompanying data graph at end of report.

CTD goes down and is monitored by observer in dry lab, CTD technician Doug or Dr. Collins. The observer communicates with the bridge and crew to raise the CTD, stop at each specified depth, and to trip open the particular rosette flask at this depth.

I worked on Cast 2 and became a little more efficient.  I’m continuing to try to observe all very carefully so as not to make any mistakes.  Procedures are very precise for accuracy.

Casts 3, 4 were not on my watch.  During that time I went to the flying bridge to do wildlife observation with Kathryn. There were numbers of cormorants and seagulls.  She had seen four dolphins @ half a mile away earlier in the day.

Cast 5 at station 60-57.5 at 21:42 Latitude 36.86N Longitude -123.3612W  Cast depth to 1000m; CTD cylinders tripped at 1000, 200, 150, 100, 80 ,60, 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 0 meters Data for cast is Table 4 and accompanying graph at end of report. The water from 1000 meters is very cold, 3.843 C compared to 12.144 C at the surface.

The seas are pretty calm so collecting water samples, working with the equipment,  walking around is not a problem.  I have no hint of seasickness so I won’t continue to take Dramamine unless I begin to feel queasy.

Spigot on rosette #12 black circle marker has faded and needs to be remarked.

Go to bed @ 00.30 6/5/07. I’m sharing quarters with three others and my bed is a top bunk. Bunks are not very big, but I’m only 5′ tall so size of bunk is not a problem.  I can just barely sit up though and it is tricky to make it up in the morning.  Plenty of blankets and linens supplied.

 

Karolyn Braun, October 22, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 22, 2006

The crew of the KA’IMIMOANA conduct an abandon-ship drill.
The crew conduct an abandon-ship drill.

Science and Technology Log 

We are still a little behind schedule this morning.  We’re preparing the next TAO buoy for deployment later on in the week, and I’m getting ready for my busy schedule of CTD profiles. After our 930 CTD was up and secure on deck, we had an abandon-ship drill.  Those are always fun. Mike and Joe, the ET guys instructed us on the use of the emergency VHF radio, the EPIRB, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons the PEPIRB, Personal Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons and the SARTS, Search and Rescue Transponder System.  Our drill was over in time to enjoy a nice lunch, after which we were back outside getting ready to clean one of the lockers when we had a scenario fire drill.  The scenario was that a fire broke out in the paint locker.  We all had to report to muster to be accounted for.  Once we did that, I assisted by bringing out the hose to the grated deck and made sure certain vents were closed.  The drill was definitely adrenaline pumping, but I am glad we haven’t had a real one onboard.

After the drill was said and done, I had to conduct a CTD profile.  It was supposed to be short and sweet but turned out to be a little longer than expected due to something wrong with the winch speed and another fuse blowing.  I don’t think the computer likes me.   The CTD was finally finished and we steamed off towards the next buoy to conduct a dive operation to repair some fittings on the TAO buoy.  I got in a work out and a nap before my late CTD at 2300.  What a day.

Brett Hoyt, October 11, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 11, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  10nm (nautical miles)
Wind direction:  220º
Wind speed:  12 knots
Sea wave height: 3-4ft
Swell wave height: 3-5 ft
Sea level pressure: 1012.9 millibars
Sea temperature:  25.5ºC or 77.9ºF
Cloud type: cumulus, stratocumulus

The Commanding Officer of the RONALD H.BROWN, CAPT. Gary Petrae
The Commanding Officer of the RONALD H.BROWN, CAPT. Gary Petrae

The Ship and Crew 

I am presently on board the NOAA ship RONALD H. BROWN.  This ship was commissioned in 1997 and is 274 feet in length (just 16 feet shorter than a football field) and 52 feet wide. The ship displaces 3,250 tons and has a maximum speed of 15 knots.  Captain of the RONALD H. BROWN (RHB) is Gary Petrae.  Captain Petrae has just celebrated his 28th year serving in the NOAA Officer Corps. The RHB is the fifth ship Captain Petrae has served on and the second ship he has commanded in his tenure with NOAA. We are truly lucky to have such an experienced captain at the helm.  When you are thousands of miles out to sea, you entrust your life to the captain and crew. One of the interesting facts about a ship at sea is that someone must be at the helm 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Now the captain cannot be there all the time so he turns over the job of “driving” the ship to one of his other officers. 

They take “watches” which in this case are four hours in duration.  During a recent trip to the bridge (this is what they call the command center for the ship) I was fortunate enough to visit with the Officer Of the Deck (OOD for short) Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Lt (JG). Jackie Almeida.  She stands approximately 5’0” with reddish/brown hair and a confidence that fills the bridge. Her bright eyes and effervescent personality quickly put me at ease. She earned her degree in meteorology and joined the NOAA Officer Corps. When she finishes her assignment with the RHB she will join the NOAA hurricane hunters and be advancing our knowledge of these deadly storms.

Ltjg. Jackie Almeida On the bridge of the RONALD H. BROWN
Ltjg. Jackie Almeida on the bridge

The Scientists 

The scientists are spending the day checking and rechecking their equipment making sure that when the crucial time comes all will go well.

The Teacher 

I spent the day observing the scientist preparing equipment and rechecking systems.  I am trying to remember all the safety information that was delivered on the first day. Just like in school, we have safety drills so that in the event something goes wrong everyone knows what to do. We practice fire drills just as you do in school. We also have abandon ship drills.  Below you can see me modeling the latest fashion in survival suits.  The crew calls them “Gumby suits.” 

Classroom Activities 

Mr. Hoyt “looking good” in his survival suit.  Hey kids, wouldn’t your teacher look good in this suit?
Mr. Hoyt “looking good” in his survival suit. Hey kids, wouldn’t your teacher look good in this suit?

Elememtary K-6 

Today’s activity is to give the students an idea of the ship that I’m on.  The teacher will need at least 650 ft of string (you can tie shorter rolls together) and as long a tape measure as you can find (a 100ft one works best).  This activity would be best done on the playground or any other large open space.  Have student-A hold one end of the string and measure out 274 feet in a straight line.  Then have student-B hold the string loosely and run the string back 274 feet to a different student-C but even with student-A. Now have students A and C move 52 feet apart and finish up with student A holding both the beginning and end of the length of string-Do not cut the string as you will need to keep letting out more string as you complete the next part.  Now have the rest of your class hold the string 52 feet apart between the two long lengths of string working your way up to student B remembering that the ship comes to a point (the bow). Go to this website for complete drawings.

Middle School  

At the beginning of this log, I mentioned that the Ronald H. Brown displaces 3,250 tons. What does this mean?  Can you use the concept of water displacement to measure other objects? Hint.

High School 

The ship travels at a maximum speed of 15 knots.  Approximately how long would it take for the ship to sail at maximum speed from Panama City to 25 degrees south latitude and 90 degrees west longitude off the coast of Chile?  How many nautical miles would be traveled?  How many land miles would that be? Hint.

Here, a scientist is checking an acoustic release mechanism.  They lowered it to 1,500 m or approximately 4,500 feet to test it. It will eventually be located 4,000 m beneath the surface or approximately 12,000 ft!
A scientist is checking an acoustic release mechanism. They lowered it to 1,500 m to test it. It will eventually be located 4,000 m beneath the surface!

On my next few postings we will be visiting with some of the scientist and finding out more on what experiments are being conducted and why.

Karolyn Braun, October 7, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 7, 2006

NOAA Ship KA’IMIMOANA docked in Honolulu.
NOAA Ship KA’IMIMOANA docked in Honolulu.

Monday, October 2, 2006 – Wednesday, October 4, 2006 

After a long red-eye flight from American Samoa, NOAA Officer Rebecca Waddington greeted me at the Honolulu International Airport.  As the sun came up, we drove to pier 45. As I made my way onto the ship, I was introduced to the crew: The NOAA officers, the deck crew, the engineer crew, the scientists, and the doctor. The next few days were filled with walking around Honolulu and getting used to ship life.

Thursday, October 5, 2006 

The sun was just above the horizon and already the KA’IMIMOANA was buzzing with movement as the crew was getting ready for an on-time departure. The horn sounded as we sailed out of the harbor. The plan of the day was to conduct a helicopter emergency drill and then return to the fueling dock for a six-hour fueling session. Half way through with fueling, we were informed that our departure was going to be delayed till Friday morning due to some electrical difficultly with the alarm systems.

A helicopter emergency drill.
A helicopter emergency drill.

Friday, October 6, 2006 

All systems were go as we headed out of the fueling harbor at noon. The ocean was calm but there was an uneasiness in some of the crew as it is believed to bad luck to sail on a Friday.

All new hands onboard attended a safety lecture where we learned what to do in case of: man-overboard, fire and collision, or abandoned ship emergency.  A while later an abandoned ship drill was conducted. All hands had to grab their assigned gear and meet at their designated safety boat. Our “gumby suits” had to be put on and whistles checked, after which we were able to dress down without PFDs (Personal Floatation Device) on to await further instructions. As the sunset an amazing full moon rose to fill the night sky. What a wonderful night!

Saturday, October 7, 2006 

The morning started with my assisting one of the researchers with fixing a CTD.  The Conductivity, Temperature & Depth instrument measures the conductivity and temperature of water, which will assist in obtaining the amount of salinity.  Using the salinity and the temperature, the density of the water can be determined.  In turn, knowing the densities of the ocean, scientists can determine currents.  The main CTD instrument is surrounded by 14 or so Niskin Bottles.  These bottles collect water at a certain depth to be used in a variety of other tests on ship or on land. All new hands onboard watched a “HAZMAT: Your Right to Know” video and then the ship’s familiarization video. That afternoon we had a fire drill. All scientists meet in the galley unless the fire is in the galley, and then we meet on the boat deck and act as runners for the ship’s crew; if any vents need to be closed or boundaries need to be checked, it’s all part of a team.

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Karolyn Braun, tries on her “gumby suit.”
NOAA Teacher at Sea, Karolyn Braun, tries on her “Gumby suit.”

Dr. Braun assists in repairing a CTD instrument.
Dr. Braun assists in repairing a CTD instrument.

Barney Peterson, August 18, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Barney Peterson
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
August 12 – September 1, 2006

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Shumagin Islands, Alaska
Date: August 18, 2006

wet and dry bulb thermometer
Wet and dry bulb thermometer

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility: 10 nm
Wind direction:  220˚
Wind speed:  light 0 – 2 knots
Sea wave height: 0 – 1’
Seawater temperature: 9.4 ˚C
Sea level pressure:  1017 mb
Cloud cover: cloudy (8/8)

Science and Technology Log 

Wednesday I spent time on the bridge, observing what happens when the ship is traveling at sea. My classes at James Monroe Elementary have participated in the GLOBE program, acquiring and sending weather data daily to be used to form a picture of conditions around the world.  It was particularly interesting to me to learn that the crew of NOAA ships take much the same readings hourly and report them every 4 – 6 hours to the National Weather Service to help develop the predictions that help us all guide our day to day lives.  I was especially impressed that the readings I saw were made using traditional instruments, not an automated electronic weather device.

One of the people in the pilot house logs weather every hour on the hour. There is an outside station on the starboard wall of the pilot house.  This gives a temperature reading and allows them to calculate relative humidity.  That is the difference between how much moisture is in the air, and how much total moisture the air is capable of holding.  It may be expressed as a percentage, or decimal number. For hourly reporting, the relative humidity is not recorded and it is calculated automatically by when the “Big Weather” is submitted to National Weather Service.  Both temperature of the air and sea water are read in ˚Fahrenheit and converted to ˚Celsius for reporting.

An anemometer  measures wind speed.
An anemometer measures wind speed.

Wind speed is read from an anemometer mounted on the ship’s mast.  This reading is a bit trickier if we are under way. When the ship is moving, the ship’s speed is subtracted from the anemometer reading to give a corrected wind speed.  (Otherwise, the reading is like what you would get running while holding a pinwheel in front of you…much faster air movement than what is actually happening.) There is a wind vane mounted on the front of the ship and also an electronic gauge for reading wind direction.

The barometer (at left) is used for reading air pressure. It is located on the back wall of the pilot house and always gets a gentle tap before a reading is taken. This measurement is important because trends up or down in air pressure give clues to developing weather systems.  The pressure is recorded in milibars.  The ship’s barometer is shown at left. Some measurements involve using experience and personal judgment as well as instruments.  These are the ones for wave height, swell height, cloud cover amount, cloud height, and visibility. The accuracy of these readings depends upon the experience and care of the person making them.  The sea wave and swell can be estimated by careful observation, which seems to become second nature to the crew because they are exposed to them all the time.  They are recorded in feet.  The direction of the swell is always shown as the direction in which the swell is going. It can be measured using a device mounted on the deck outside the pilot house.

A barometer reads air pressure.
A barometer reads air pressure.

Cloud cover is measured in eighths.  The observer divides the sky, calculates by observation how many eighths of the sky are covered by clouds, and reports that fraction. Likewise, a person must be a careful observer to note the kind of clouds they are seeing and where they mostly appear in the sky. There is a cloud chart available that shows pictures of cloud types and tells the altitudes at which they are commonly formed.  This is a great help. (The cloud chart is shown at the right.) When there are low clouds, and there is land nearby, the observer can check the elevation of a point of land and judge the elevation of the lowest clouds as they appear against that point. Another measurement that may sometimes have to be an experienced estimate is visibility.  Again, if land is visible, the observer tells how far away she/he can clearly see according to landmarks and the distances on charts or the ship’s radar screens.  It is a lot harder to make this judgment when the ship is at sea, with no landmarks to help.  That is when experience is especially important.  One aid in this case is that the known distance to the horizon, due to the curvature of the earth, is eight nautical miles.  That means that if the observer can see clear to the horizon, visibility is at least 8nm.

This day I watched Able Bodied Seaman (AB) Jodi Edmond take weather readings and report “Big Weather” to the National Weather Service using the internet.

A cloud chart on the NOAA’s National Weather Service Web site.
A cloud chart on the NOAA’s National Weather Service Web site.

Personal Log 

I am running about a day behind writing and submitting my logs.  There is so much to do and see that I forget to spend enough time writing.  I am using the personal journals that my students gave me at the end of the school year to record my impressions and thoughts every evening.  Those act as memory-joggers when I sit down at the computer to do my formal writing.

Everyone aboard the RAINIER is very friendly and helpful.  I am still making a few wrongs turns or selecting the wrong stairs to get to where I need to go. The officers and crew are great about pointing me in the right direction and giving me clues to help me remember how to find where I need to be when.

Every afternoon the orders for the next day are posted in several spots throughout the ship.  These list the survey boats that will be going out, and their crews and assignments.  The list also tells about responsibilities on board ship…both for the officers and the crew.  These are called the Plan of the Day (POD) and are important for everyone to read when they are posted.

Question of the Day 

How is wind direction normally reported: do we tell the direction from which the wind comes, or the direction toward which it is blowing?

Barney Peterson, August 16, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Barney Peterson
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
August 12 – September 1, 2006

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Shumagin Islands, Alaska
Date: August 16, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility: 12 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 234˚
Wind speed: 0 – 3 knots
Sea wave height: 1’
Seawater temperature: 11.7˚C
Sea level pressure: 1011.8 mb
Cloud cover: 8/8 Height: 2000 -3000’ Type: Stratus

My first view of the NOAA ship RAINIER at the dock in Seward, AK.
My first view of the NOAA ship RAINIER at the dock in Seward, AK.

Science and Technology Log 

Yesterday I spent time in the Plot Room learning about the technology used to survey the surface of the earth underneath the ocean (bathymetry).  For each survey the computers must  have accurate, real-time information about the behavior of the ship on the sea surface (pitch, roll, speed) because all of this can affect the accuracy of sonar readings.  The sonar (sound waves) is beamed from the bottom of the survey vessel and spreads out in a cone shape to the undersea surface. Bottom features that stick up closer to the sea surface reflect sonar waves and return echoes sooner so they show up as more shallow spots.  Echoes from deeper places take longer to return, showing that the bottom is farther away at those places.

The data from each day’s survey is downloaded into computers in the Plot Room.  Survey technicians review the data line by line to be sure it all fits together and to “clean up” any information that is questionable.  They use information about the temperature and conductivity of the water where the survey was taken to understand how fast the sonar waves should be expected to travel. (This information is critical for accuracy and is collected every 4 to 6 hours by a device called the CTD.  The CTD is lowered from the ship and takes readings at specified depths on its way down through the water.)

Ensign Megan McGovern and crew partner in full firefighting bunker gear for our first Fire/Emergency Drill.
Ensign Megan McGovern and crew partner in full firefighting bunker gear for our first Fire/Emergency Drill.

When survey work is in deep water, it is done from the ship using equipment that can cover a wider area in less detail.  The launches are used for shallow water work where it is more important to navigation to have finer detail information on water depths and underwater features of the earth surface. Bonnie Johnston, a survey technician, spent about an hour explaining how the system works and showing me how they clean up data before it is sent off for the next stage of review, on its way to becoming part of a navigational chart.  Computers used have two screens so survey technicians can see a whole survey line of data and look closely at information on tiny spots at the same time without losing their place on the big screen.  This helps to judge whether changes of depth are accurate according to trends on the sea bottom, or spikes that show an error in the echoes received by the sonar. The software also allows them to see data as 2-D, 3-D, color models, and to layer information to give more complete pictures.

Tomorrow we are scheduled to begin our actual survey work in the Shumagin Islands.  In between making new surveys the technicians are kept very busy working with the data they have on hand. There are many steps to go through to insure accuracy before data is ready to use for charts.

This is the 4.5 foot dogfish shark caught by a crewmember.  This shark has no teeth even though it looked ferocious.  released it after taking pictures.
This is the 4.5 foot dogfish shark caught by a crewmember. This shark has no teeth even though it looked ferocious. released it after taking pictures.

Personal Log 

My first two days aboard the RAINIER have been a swirl of new faces and places.  The only name I knew for sure before I arrived was Lt. Ben Evans who had exchanged email with me about the gear I would need. I was met at the Seward RR station by and welcomed onto the ship by Ensign Megan McGovern.  She gave me a quick tour of the ship, including where to put my gear. I felt like a mouse in a maze: up and down steps, around blind corners, and through doorways. It has been much easier so far to find my way than I thought it would be.  Reading books that use nautical terms has helped give me a background to understand port, starboard, fore, aft, head, galley, bridge, fantail, and flying bridge. Now I just need to remember where they all are.

Monday was taken up with a safety briefing, checking out equipment such as my flotation coat, personal flotation device (life jacket) for use in survey boats, hard hat, and immersion suit.  I spent several hours reading Standing Orders that all persons aboard must read before being allowed to stay. I talked with the medical officer, and discovered where to eat and the times meals are served. Tuesday we had a Fire/Emergency Drill at about 1030 (10:30 am) for which I reported as fast as I could to my assigned station on the fantail.  We were checked off on a list and some crew members practiced with fire fighting equipment.

Just as we finished that drill, the Executive Officer called an Abandon Ship Drill.  Everyone rushed to quarters to get immersion suits, hats and any assigned emergency gear before reporting to muster stations.  Again we were checked off and all accounted for before anyone could return to what they were doing before. These drills are an important part of shipboard life. They are required once a week and always within 24 hours of the ship sailing from port.

I am sleeping and eating well.  The food is like camp and so are the bunk beds.  So far I have seen lots of salmon: the stream in Seward was full of migrating Coho (silvers); the sea at Twin Bays was alive with jumping Pinks. Monday night one crew member, fishing from the fantail while we were anchored, caught and released a 4.5’ dogfish (shark).  The next day someone caught an 8 lb. silver.  There are sea lions, otters, gulls, eagles, puffins and dolphins to watch. I hate to close my eyes to sleep because I know I will miss seeing something wonderful.

Question of the Day 

What is the speed of sound through air?  Does sound travel faster or slower through water?

David Babich, July 7, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
David Babich
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 5 -14, 2006

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date: July 7, 2006

Physical Scientist Martha Herzog monitors data being received from the survey launch’s sonar.
Physical Scientist Martha Herzog monitors data being received from the survey launch’s sonar.

Weather Report 
WX some rain, patchy fog
Wind NW 15kt
Sea 2-4 ft
Temp low 60’s

Science and Technology Log

Today was yet another exciting experience out at sea.  I was aboard one of two survey launches sent out to survey designated areas around Andronica Island in the Shumagin Islands.  These 30-foot boats weigh a substantial 6-7 tons, making it a comfortable ride in and out of the waters around the island. Each boat is equipped with the latest sonar equipment to accurately map the ocean bottom. Surprisingly, most of the area was last surveyed in 1953, and some areas weren’t surveyed since the 1920’s! Once we arrived at our starting point, we sent down a CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) device. This device tells the survey technicians the conditions of the water, to accurately interpret the sonar.

A raft of Steller Sea Lions sunning themselves off the Shumagin Islands.
A raft of Steller Sea Lions sunning themselves off the Shumagin Islands.

We ended up taking several CTD readings throughout the day, to make sure the conditions in the water haven’t changed.  Once the CTD readings were done, the survey launch proceeded to conduct the survey of the designated areas. Before we left the FAIRWEATHER, we were given small areas around the island to survey. The survey launch goes back and forth over these areas, generally parallel to shore. It is much like mowing your lawn. As the launch goes over the area, it sends out sonar beams down to the ocean floor.  By recording how quickly the beams bounce off the ocean floor and return to the launch, the computers can determine how deep it is.  It will clearly identify any places where shallow rocks or other obstacles may be a hazard.  This survey will make it safe for other boats to navigate around the area without any surprises.

Teacher at Sea Dave Babich sits on Survey launch with Steller Sea Lions in background.
Teacher at Sea Dave Babich sits on Survey launch with Steller Sea Lions in background.

Personal Log 

Throughout the day, I marveled at the beauty of the lush, but rocky islands surrounding us.  These islands are home to millions of birds, the most entertaining being the puffin.  Often the survey launch will startle some puffins floating on the water, sending them in all directions. Unfortunately with their fat, little bodies, it can be quite a chore for them to get airborne. When the water is choppy, many times they fly right into waves, unable to rise above them!  However, once in the air they are quite maneuverable. The highlight of the day, however, was passing a low, flat, rocky outcrop with a raft of Steller Sea Lions sunning themselves in the late afternoon. The size of some of the male sea lions was extraordinary. They didn’t seem to mind us driving past at first, but something evidently spooked them.  About half the sea lions jumped into the ocean with amazing speed. It is hard to imagine animals that large moving so quickly!

After a day on the water, I had new appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the scientists and survey technicians that collect and analyze all the data. It is challenging work and a tribute to the dedication of the NOAA personnel aboard the FAIRWEATHER.

David Babich, July 6, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
David Babich
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 5 -14, 2006

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date: July 6, 2006

Weather Report 
WX some rain, patchy fog
Wind NW 15kt
Sea 2-4 ft
Temp low 60’s

The FAIRWEATHER officers listen to a briefing about the helicopter rescue drill planned for later in the day.
The FAIRWEATHER officers listen to a briefing about the helicopter rescue drill planned for later in the day.

Science and Technology Log 

Yesterday, the crew was excited about a planned safety drill with the U.S. Coast Guard. We were going to have a Coast Guard helicopter meet us out at sea and conduct some drills raising and lowering the emergency rescue basket. Very few crewmembers had experienced the excitement of the helicopter hovering over the ship simulating rescue missions.  The ships officers attended a briefing in the morning to discuss plans for later in the afternoon. Unfortunately, due to some mechanical problems aboard ship, the drill was forced to be cancelled. The FAIRWEATHER finally headed out to sea around 1:00 pm, towards the Shumagin Islands.  It would take about 36 hours to reach the Shumagins, which gave me a chance to adjust to time at sea. The next morning, the FAIRWEATHER survey technicians began data collection. Even though we hadn’t reached our starting point yet, data on the profile of the ocean bottom is still being collected. One instrument the survey technicians need to send out periodically is called the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth) device. This device is sent down to the bottom of the ocean to collect data about the current conditions of the ocean.  This data is then used to help develop the profile of the ocean bottom.

The FAIRWEATHER crew getting ready to lower the CTD device into the ocean
The FAIRWEATHER crew getting ready to lower the CTD device into the ocean

Later in the afternoon, the crew went through both fire and abandon ship drills. The drills were both thorough and precise. Everyone on ship has a role to carry out and they are expected to be in the right place at the right time. It was comforting to see such a commitment to boat safety being emphasized.  The crew was very well prepared and professional throughout the drills.

FAIRWEATHER Profile: Ensign Michael Gonzalves Mike was the first member of the FAIRWEATHER crew I met.  As one of the junior officers, he welcomed me aboard ship and gave me a brief orientation and tour of the ship. Mike’s main duty is as a navigational officer. As a navigational officer, his duties might include things like laying out all tracks for the ship, keeping charts up to date, and overseeing the navigational duties of others aboard ship. In addition, all officers are scientists, so they do everything the survey technicians do as well!

Teacher at Sea Dave Babich trying on the survival (or “Gumby”) suit during an abandon ship drill.
Teacher at Sea Dave Babich trying on the survival (or “Gumby”) suit during an abandon ship drill.

Mike is a graduate of Florida Tech with B.S. degrees in both Applied Mathematics and Oceanography. His Masters degree in Applied Mathematics allowed him to teach for three years at Florida Tech before pursuing his career at NOAA. He greatly enjoys the ongoing challenges that his job provides.  In addition, NOAA personnel rotate every two years from posts on ship to posts on land.  So every few years, Mike will experience a new location, a new job position, and new challenges!  He may be in Alaska today, but then in Mississippi, Hawaii or Antarctica two years from now. NOAA offers a wide range of opportunities for students interested in a science field.  Mike’s advice to students who might be interested in a science career is that “You can do anything that you want. There is so much out there.  Don’t limit your options.  Keep an open mind”.

ENS Michael Gonzalves reviewing data during a recent hydrography run.
ENS Michael Gonzalves reviewing data during a recent hydrography run.

Nancy McClintock, June 9, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy McClintock and Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006

Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 9, 2006

The camera array secures four digital video cameras in waterproof containers to a frame that is tethered and lowered to the ocean floor.
The camera array secures four digital video cameras in waterproof containers tethered and lowered to the ocean floor.

Weather Data from Bridge

Visibility:  good with a little haze
Wind direction:  SW/W
Average wind speed: 20 knots
Wave height: 8-10’
Air temperature: 72oF
Cloud cover: 70%
Barometric pressure:  1010 mb

Science and Technology Log 

The FREEDOM STAR traveled approximately 134 miles north toward the coast of South Carolina during the night of June 8. Due to increased winds, the waves reached a height of 8-10 feet. Operations for the morning were cancelled until conditions improved.  At approximately 1300, the fish trap was deployed with 450 feet of Amsteel Blue line 7/16 inches in diameter and a breaking strength of 27,000 pounds tethered to high-flyer floats as markers for a later retrieval.  Upon recovery after 90 minutes, the fish trap contained 7 porgies and 1 triggerfish.   Three measurements were recorded for the fish – standard length (mouth to the beginning of the tail), fork length (mouth to the fork or middle of the tail), and total length (mouth  to end of tail). The camera array was readied and deployed as waves soaked the back deck. The CTD was deployed and rested in the water for 1 minute to let the water flow through the instrument and acclimate it.

Upon retrieval by NOAA scientists and FREEDOM STAR crew, containers are rinsed several times in freshwater and wiped down to remove the saltwater.  Tapes are removed, logged, and can be viewed on a small digital player.  Data is meticulously analyzed later in the NOAA Lab.
Upon retrieval, containers are rinsed several times in freshwater and wiped down to remove the saltwater. Tapes are removed, logged, and can be viewed on a small digital player. Data is meticulously analyzed later.

It was lowered to the ocean floor for 15 seconds during which time conductivity, temperature, and other data were collected. The ROV (Hela) was successfully deployed.  However, after reaching the ocean floor, one of the  cameras was not functioning and the ROV operation was terminated.  The camera was repaired, the vehicle was launched, and the ROV dive was successfully completed at 1930 at a depth of 222 feet.  This was the first of the dives during which the strobe functioned and images were excellent.  The bottom consisted of hard compacted sand called pavement, crevices, and relief rocky outcrops. Some of the species identified included a sea cucumber (an invertebrate), razor fish, porgies, groupers, hogfish, a school of amberjack, and 2 lionfish. Lionfish is an introduced species in this area and appears to adversely impact the biodiversity of native species. In spite of early morning weather conditions and the late start, all planned operations were concluded by the end of the day.

Cece Linder, NOAA scientist, records the full-length measurement of a porgy caught in the fish trap. This is one of three measurements recorded for each fish caught
Cece Linder, NOAA scientist, records the full-length measurement of a porgy caught in the fish trap. This is one of three measurements recorded for each fish caught

Personal Log 

Little did I know that the “flight simulator” from the night before was only to be an introduction to 8-10’ waves. I experienced the effect of anti-gravity as I was bounced around in my bunk.  After trying to get out of my bunk several times, I was successful only to find that I was overtaken by motion sickness.  Weather conditions cancelled the morning operations and I was very content to spend the morning in my bunk trying to recover. The afternoon arrived, weather conditions improved, and a light lunch made everything better. On rocky days it helps to keep your eyes on the horizon at the rear of the ship, just like our field investigations to Shaw Nature Reserve.  I always teach on the way to the Reserve and keep an eye on the rear of the bus – it really does help with motion sickness. This afternoon was a full-gear day and I donned my lifejacket and hardhat to help with the deployment of the fish trap and camera array.  This gear is always necessary when the crane is in operation.  Safety of everyone on board is first while conducting the operations.  It feels great to be an active member of the scientific team.  The images from the ROV are amazing and I sit at the laptop and continue to take digital images of the ocean floor.  The brightly colored sponges, the darting of the fish, the sea anemone, starfish, and sea cucumber bring excitement to the crew in the lab. This is an entirely different ecosystem that is so different to those that we see and study in Missouri and I am truly in awe!  Another unique experience is sitting at the computer working on my daily log as the ship is underway to our new position.  This is a flat-bottom ship and it really rocks and rolls.  It is a challenge to type and keep my chair (that is on rolling wheels) close to the keyboard.  Even though the weather and equipment did not cooperate 100%, it was another successful day and I am looking forward to many new adventures.

Nancy McClintock, NOAA Teacher at Sea, tries on a survival suit informally known as a “Gumby Suit.” The suit helps to prevent hypothermia in case there is an emergency requiring evacuation of the ship.
Nancy McClintock, NOAA Teacher at
Sea, tries on a survival suit informally
known as a “Gumby Suit.” The suit
helps to prevent hypothermia in case
there is an emergency requiring
evacuation of the ship.

Question of the Day 

Answer to yesterday’s question: There are many answers to this controversial question. If the MPAs designated on this cruise were established in the future, overfishing would be prevented. Hopefully, this would protect fish from endangerment or, possibly, extinction.  Whenever one part of the “Web of Life” is affected, the entire “Web of Life” is affected. The designation of MPAs is a very controversial topic.

Today’s question: How does the introduction of a non-native species of fish affect the biodiversity of the ocean ecosystem?

Interview with Stacey Harter 

Stacey is the NOAA data manager for the cruise.  She annotates the positions, and habitats, and ocean life for the ROV tapes.  She grew up in upstate New York and always knew that she wanted to have a career in the field of marine biology.  While at Florida State University she completed an internship at the Panama City NOAA Fisheries Lab.  Upon graduation, she began working for NOAA and has been there for the past 4 years.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Marine Biology and loves her job.

Addendum 1: Scientific Personnel for the M/V FREEDOM STAR 

Andrew David, NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) Panama City, Principal Investigator Stacey Harter, NMFS Panama City, Data Manager Marta Ribera, NMFS Panama City, GIS/ROV/Deck Craig Bussel, NURC (National Undersea Research Center), ROV Pilot Kevin Joy, NURC, ROV Navigator Freshteh Ahmadian, NURC, ROV Steve Matthews, NMFS Panama City, ROV/Deck Cecelia Linder, NMFS Headquarters, ROV/Deck Nancy McClintock, NOAA Teacher as Sea Mark Silverman, NOAA Teacher at Sea.

Nancy McClintock, June 8, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy McClintock and Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006

Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 8, 2006

Early morning sunrise 50 miles off the coast of North Florida viewed from the deck
Early morning sunrise 50 miles off the coast of North Florida viewed from the deck

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  unlimited
Wind direction:  S/W
Average wind speed: 7 knots
Wave height: 1-2’
Air temperature: 78oF/25oC
Cloud cover: None
Barometric pressure:  1011 mb

Science and Technology Log 

The FREEDOM STAR left Port Canaveral at 0010 and traveled 92.3 miles north during the night of June 7. At about 0800 the CTD was launched and recovered successfully in the Option 2 area about 50 miles off the coast of North Florida.  A fish trap baited with Spanish mackerel was deployed with high-flyer floats as markers for a later retrieval. After overcoming a few difficulties, the ROV was launched to a depth of 207’ and rested on the ocean floor.  Visibility was excellent and two successful transects were accomplished.  The bottom consisted of mixed hard bottom that visibly contained invertebrate species such as black coral, Oculina varicosa coral, Lophelia pertusa and other branching corals as well as basket sponges and various algae.  In addition, sand with several good ledges was encountered. The fish were most prolific in areas where the most relief was seen. Fish species spotted included tomtate grunts, scamp (a type of grouper), three types of porgies, blue angelfish, reef, bank and spot fin butterfly fish, blue and queen angel fish, almaco and greater amberjacks, yellow tail reef fish and many other types of damsel fish, filefish, scrawled cowfish, and Cuban hogfish.  After the ROV run, the fish trap was retrieved with two red porgies that were measured and released.  The camera array with four video cameras was dropped to the ocean floor for 30 minutes and then retrieved.  After cruising approximately 26 miles north, a similar protocol at Option 1 was repeated.

Recording digital images relayed from the ROV at 207 feet below the surface of the ocean.
Recording digital images relayed from the ROV at 207 feet below the surface of the ocean.

Personal Log 

The ignition of the diesel engines and the roar of the bow thrusters was just the beginning of my first real night as sea.  I felt like I was in a flight simulator at an amusement park for six hours. I am beginning to get my “sea legs” and have learned that motion sickness medicine helps and that you have to stand with a wide stance without locking your knees to prevent losing your balance. Walking on deck in the early morning presented me with one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen.  What a wonderful way to begin a day! The deployment of the research equipment and the recording of data is a key component to the mission of this cruise.  I recorded digital pictures with a laptop computer of the ocean floor images relayed from the ROV and helped wherever I could be of assistance. The retrieval of the almost-empty fish trap brought groans and moans from the crew.  However, seeing a huge Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Caretta caretta, surface next to the ship will be in my dreams tonight.

Question of the Day 

Answer to yesterday’s question: The FREEDOM STAR holds 44,000 gallons of diesel fuel in ten tanks.  A gallon of diesel fuel costs approximately $2.25.  Just imagine the fuel costs for this week! Today’s question: If the government designated certain areas as Marine Protected Areas and limited their public use, how would this affect the ocean ecosystem?

Deployment of the ROV by NOAA scientists and crewmembers at Option 2 from the rear deck of the FREEDOM STAR.
Deployment of the ROV by NOAA scientists and crewmembers at Option 2 from the rear deck of the FREEDOM STAR.

Addendum 1: Glossary of Terms 

Millibar (mb):  a unit of pressure equivalent to 1/1000 atmospheres of pressure.

Atmosphere: a unit of pressure that is the average air pressure at sea level.

Transect:  a sample area taken along a straight line used to estimate populations and habitat coverage.

Option: Proposed areas for deep water MPA’s that are under evaluation.  Each MPA has 2-3 Options for a total of eleven.

Prolific:  found in abundance or in large amounts.

Relief:  distance above or below relatively flat, featureless sea bottom.

Protocol:  a series of steps and procedures used in an operation.

Addendum 2: Officers and Crew of the FREEDOM STAR 

Captain: Walter Exell, Chief Mate: George Kirk, Second Mate: Mike Nicholas, Boatswain (Lead Seaman):  Darrell Hoover ,Ordinary Seaman:  Cody Gordon, Able Bodied Seaman:  Allan Gravina, Cook : Patrick Downey, Retrieval (Crane Operator):  Wayne Stewart, Retrieval (Crane Operator):  Darin Schuster,  Deck Supervisor : P.J. Zackel, Chief Engineer: Tim Freeley, Assistant Engineer:  John Heer.

Nancy McClintock, June 7, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy McClintock and Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006

Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 7, 2006

Nancy and Mark on the bridge of the NASA ship FREEDOM STAR ready to begin an awesome week as NOAA Teachers at Sea.
Nancy and Mark on the bridge ready to begin an awesome week as NOAA Teachers at Sea.

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility: excellent – over 10 miles
Wind direction:  ESE
Average wind speed: 9 knots
Harbor wave height: light chop
Air temperature:  75 oF at 1900 hrs.
Cloud cover: partly cloudy
Barometric pressure:  1014 millibars

Science and Technology Log 

Upon arrival Tuesday, June 6, we loaded equipment onto the ship such as: Chevron fish traps, a four-camera video array, an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), a Blue Spectra Line (1 cm diameter, rated to 27,000 lbs, cost $2.00 foot),  a Seabird 19+ CTD ( Conductivity, Temperature, Depth), buoys, and bait.  Next, we toured the ship, settled into our staterooms, were introduced to our survival suits, and received an informal technical briefing from Andy David, the Principal Investigator, from NOAA fisheries.  We also were introduced to the rest of the NOAA scientists and the crew of the FREEDOM STAR.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 was the official start of day 1 of our cruise.  We met with the Captain of the FREEDOM STAR, Dave Fraine, who graciously gave us a tour of the bridge and an overview of ship operations, navigation, and piloting.  At 1100 Capt. Fraine briefed the entire crew on safety regulations and drill procedures.  We also had a fire drill and an MOB (Man Overboard) survival drill.  Walter Exell, Chief Mate, relieved Capt. Fraine and is the captain for the rest our cruise.  At 1600 the vessel shifted to Port Canaveral from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to take on fuel in preparation for departure on June 8th at 0001.

NASA ship M/V FREEDOM STAR docked at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
NASA ship M/V FREEDOM STAR docked at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Personal Log 

It is a great honor to be selected as one of 30 NOAA Teachers at Sea and words can hardly describe the beginning of this awesome, fantastic adventure.  Viewing the FREEDOM STAR for the first time, seeing the Kennedy Space Center from the water, and watching the manatees and alligators swim within a few feet of the ship are breathtaking. The equipment and technology to be used for this cruise is at a very high-level and it will be impressive to watch the videos and actively participate in the collection of scientific data.  I survived my first fire drill (even though I put my life jacket on inside out) and passed the survival drill with success.  I donned my Gumby (survival) suit with great ease—I just couldn’t move very easily and had it zipped up to my nose because of my short stature. My first full day has been filled with excitement, wonderful memories, and the establishment of many great friendships.  I am learning about ecosystems so totally different from those found in Missouri and look forward to sharing this information.  I can hardly wait for tomorrow to come and begin the actual data collection!

Until tomorrow… Nancy

Question of the Day 

How many gallons of commercial diesel fuel does a NASA ship like the FREEDOM STAR (176 feet in length) hold?

Addendum: Glossary of Terms 

  • MPA: Marine Protected Areas are areas closed to all fishing, both commercial and recreational.
  • ROV: Remotely Operated Vehicles robotic vehicles tethered to a crane that will be employed to search for spawning aggregations, determine habitat coverage, topography and composition, and detect new sites for inclusion into the sample site universe using video cameras, and data.
  • CTD: Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth, utilized for physical oceanographic data acquisition.  The CTD actually collects more data than its name implies such as light transmission, salinity, and dissolved O2 (oxygen).
  • M/V: Motor Vessel 
  • NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
  • NASA: National Aeronautical and Space Administration  

Kazu Kauinana, May 19, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 19, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  25, 55.0 N
Longitude: 170, 58.5 W
Visibility:  10 NM
Wind direction:  115
Wind Speed:  115Kts
Sea wave heights: 3-5
Sea swell heights: 4-6
Seawater temperature: 24.6 C
Sea level pressure: 1019.4
Cloud cover: 2/8 cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today we had a fire drill, followed by an abandon ship drill.  Both were executed well.

All of our island adventures are over and we are on our way back home.  We should arrive either Monday night or Tuesday morning.

Vince Rosato and Kim Pratt, March 27, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Vince Rosato & Kim Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
March 9 – 28, 2006

Mission: Collect oceanographic and climate modeling data
Geographical Area: Eastern Florida
Date: March 27, 2006

Screen shot 2013-04-08 at 4.44.27 PMScience and Technology Log

Today we had a special treat; we were a part of a “Man Over board” drill! A man overboard drill is held once during a three-month period so the crew is prepared in case someone falls off the ship  into the ocean. The drill starts with a “dummy” which is made of an old Mustang (survival suit) and is named Oscar. Next, the Captain makes a call to the Bridge (where they run the ship), and three bells are sounded.  These three bells are Morse code (a code of lights or bells that spell out words) and they make the letter “O” for Oscar. Everyone responds to a “Man Over Board” to search for the missing person, or in this case the dummy.  Once the dummy was located, the ship traveled to the dummy and brought it on board by means of a large hook.  At this point, LCDR Rodriguez and Chief Scientist Dr. Molly proceeded to practice CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation– to get the heart started and air into the lungs) on the dummy.  Finally, an all-clear signal was given and the dummy was then put away for a drill later on in the year. It was very exciting.

Water was collected from the Bermuda Triangle for Ms. Pratt’s fifth grade class.  This area is known for strange disappearances. The Bermuda Triangle is located between the island of Bermuda, Miami, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Many people have tried to explain what happens to the ships, small boats and planes that disappear and the most reasonable explanation is that there are environmental factors (weather, sea conditions) at play or human mistakes.

Interview with Julia O’Hern 

Julia O’Hern is a graduate student in biological oceanography at Texas A & M  (Agriculture and Military) University. She comes from the Hawkeye State, Iowa.  Julia loves being outside and in the water.  She has an interest in environmental science, and this led her to the ocean. Her parents always promoted science activities.  For instance, Julia recalls her summer, hiking through the prairie, catching bugs and identifying them.  Julia had an environmental science course in her high school boarding school that taught her how to be a field scientist. Julia feels lucky that a creek ran by her home and she could collect big ugly tadpoles.  From fifth grade through college she played softball, ran track, and she swam.  Julia likes chemistry and physics and is working on a degree in biological oceanography but truly loves whales. “Marine biology,” Julia explains, “is different from oceanography,” which studies how some of the physical processes in the ocean (waves, sea floor, and water) affect where the whales live. Marine biology studies the whale itself including its life cycle, its behavior and how it is affected by people.

Ms. Pratt collecting water from the Bermuda Triangle.
Ms. Pratt collecting water from the Bermuda Triangle.

“One of the only times I was out of Iowa, my parents took me on trip off of Maine and we saw whales,” said Julia. This inspired her.  To top everything off, she shared, “The coolest thing to ever experience is to be in the water when a humpback whale is singing.  It doesn’t even matter how far away they are, you feel their music.”  Books she suggested reading are Farley Moats’s, Never Cry Wolf and Jack London’s Call for the Wild as well as anything by Jane Goodall.  Her advice to students is: “If you want to do oceanography and study marine life you have to get past math and computers, and it won’t always be fun.” But, Julia agrees it’s worth it.

Assignment: In your sea logs, write the procedure for a “Man Over Board” drill.  Label each step that happens.  For example:   #1 – Put “Oscar” into the ocean.

Personal log – Kimberly Pratt 

This has been a very exciting trip! I’ve been stretched beyond my wildest dreams.  The correspondence with my students has been meaningful and very educational.  Working with the scientists, officers, crew and my fellow teacher has taught me lessons that I’ll never forget! Thanks to all of you for this unforgettable experience.

Personal Log – Vince Rosato 

Thanks to Captain Gary Petrae for welcoming us onboard and sharing so freely resources to help kids understand life at sea. Thanks, too, to Dr. Molly for extending this experience to us through NOAA. Thanks to my principal, Debbi Knoth, and the New Haven Unified School District Superintendent, Dr. Pat Jaurequi, for enabling this trip and to Kim Pratt for inviting me along.  Thanks to the crew!  Thanks to Mrs. Riach for substituting for me.  There are so many interesting and exciting happenings on board.  Juliet was a hit and remains with Lt. Commander Priscilla Rodriguez.  As Professor Jochem Marotzke shared, life at sea sensitizes you to put yourself in another’s shoes, simply because the job isn’t done when my own shift is over.  I had the pleasure of getting quotes from many people here.  Robert Bayliss, onboard from the THOMAS JEFFERSON for this cruise, advised anyone interested in life at sea to “Be prepared to spend long times away from home.”  Being one of Carlos’ boys with Rigo, Dallas and Mick was a “bonus.” At an all-hands meeting this afternoon we shared our gifts for the crew and NOAA scientists.

Afterwards those who wished got their picture taken in groups.  Dr. Molly created a centralized computer space for sharing pictures.  I have some CD’s to work with, thanks to Dr. Shari and LCDR Rodriguez. Those kinds of sensibilities make life pleasant.  I understand my Uncle Sam better from this cruise.  I cannot leave without a special hello to my 14-year-old daughter, Alexandria Jo.  When we return, there will be extension activities, such as lesson plans, presentations to prepare and publicity pieces.  My enriched enthusiasm and understanding of ocean science will be shared with every student. I got autographs from world-class oceanographers, modern-day explorers, and stand in awe at the collaborative efforts being made to better understand the ocean and its relationship to climate.  The current issue of Mother Jones is devoted to the state of the seas. Gratitude was my beginning attitude and remains as I prepare to return to land.  What makes a fine sailor also remains: someone who knows their job and gets it done, is dependable, a friendly person to be around, and one who you can trust to watch your back. This applies as a major lesson to those in all walks of life.

Vince Rosato and Kim Pratt, March 9, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Vince Rosato & Kim Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
March 9 – 28, 2006

Mission: Collect oceanographic and climate modeling data
Geographical Area: Barbados, West Indies
Date: March 9, 2006

Teachers at Sea aboard the Ronald H. Brown
Teachers at Sea aboard the Ronald H. Brown

We sail today.  After spending the entire day traveling from San Francisco to Barbados by way of Miami, we arrived in Bridgetown. We heard screeching critters at the Grand Barbados Hotel. We learned that they were tiny frogs that sounded like squawking tropical birds. We took a taxi to the port, about 20 minutes on the other side of the island, after meeting Chief Scientist, Dr. Molly Baringer, also called “Dr. Molly.”

Docked among cruise liners (which are huge hotel-like pleasure ships), we were greeted aboard the NOAA ship, RONALD H. BROWN, by Ensign Jackie Almeida, serving as OOD, Officer of the Deck. The OOD is the captain’s delegate like when the principal has to go to a meeting the AP (assistant principal) is in charge.  Everyone welcomed us and made us feel right at home.  After stowing our gear and being directed to where the cabin linens (bed sheets, pillows and towels) and galley (where we eat meals) were, we made our way to Bridgetown and back by foot.  One of the main sources of income for Barbados is selling things to travelers, otherwise called tourism.  They made money by our visit. It cost $1.40 Barbados for postcard postage.  We passed a fish processing area not far outside of the closed port facilities where Mahi Mahi, otherwise known as “Caribbean Dolphin” by the locals was being prepared for market.  They are not real dolphins, since they are fish, and not marine mammals.

The harbor pilot and his assistant boarded the ship yesterday when our ship was moved.  We were invited to view the ship maneuverings from the bridge, where the officers navigate and drive the ship in the front, or bow, of the ship.  Junior Officer Ensign James Brinkley invited us to the bridge at the request of the Captain Gary Petrae.  If you thought parallel parking looked difficult by car, the captain explained a ship doesn’t have any brakes, which makes it harder.  He made it look easy.  We will continue to take photos and interview officers, crew, and scientists and help out where we can.  We will be sending logs periodically to keep you informed of our journey and help make the science we are learning more accessible in school and home.

Everyone enjoys seeing critters like monkeys and dolphins, but this expedition is primarily about chemistry, currents and climate, non-living, or abiotic, features of the seas. Coming up soon are fire and abandon ship drills.  Fire and emergency drills are held weekly at sea because shipboard personnel must rely solely on themselves in the event of an emergency.  In some cases help may be days away, so ships at sea will render assistance to other vessels located in proximity.  Later we will be conducting a test run of the CTD. The CTD is a conductivity, temperature and density reading at various depths from instruments on a line that extends from the surface of the sea to the ocean floor. Stay tuned for more data.

Assignment – Maritime flags are a very important way for ships to communicate to each other. For example, when a ship wants a harbor pilot to help it navigate its way through the harbor, they’ll hoist (put up) a blue and gold pilot flag.  We all use flags in our daily lives—the American Flag, California Flag, and we use flags to start races.  Describe one flag that you know of. Describe its markings and state the purpose for the flag or what it means.

Vince Rosato—Personal Log 

At the airport after getting up around 3:30 a.m. Kim and I were in line and an agent asked me to get into a “special” line.  No, it was not the express line.  As others walked by, one said, “Are you in the penalty box?”  I said, “I was chosen–perhaps I should buy a lottery ticket.” Anyway, I was run through a glass container and puffed with air jets which sensed nothing but my cologne and was passed along to our delayed flight and Kim’s enjoyment.  On the journey here the wife of a former Minister of Trinidad watched out for us. That was memorable because she attempted to get us quick passage to our connection at Miami after our arrival terminal was switched due to our delayed flight.

Kimberly Pratt—Personal Log 

Hi all! It’s great to be in Barbados!  The students and I really worked hard to get ready for the trip. In class they decorated their Styrofoam cups (for a later experiment), signed the stickers for the drifter buoy we’ll be deploying later and most importantly, they all made me going away cards!  I was really touched (they love to see me cry). It’s beautiful here.  The weather has been warm and tropical.  The flight was long, and I met a wonderful lady named Nora.  The next day I went to the ship and checked in.  Today, we sailed and we’ll be motoring straight away for two days.  I haven’t felt really sick, so that’s good news.  It’s nice to be traveling with another teacher this time around.  My e-mail on board the ship is kim.pratt@rbnems.ronbrown.omao.noaa.gov

Philip Hertzog, July 25, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Philip Hertzog
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 25 – August 13, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Aleutian Islands, AK
Date: July 25, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge

TAS Philip Hertzog in his safety gear
TAS Philip Hertzog in his safety gear

Visibility: 10 nm (nautical miles)
Wind Direction: 127˚
Wind Speed: 12 kts
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 feet
Sea Water Temperature: 12.8˚ C
Sea Level Pressure: 1009.5 mb
Cloud Cover: 8

Introduction 

Welcome to my Teacher at Sea Log.  Over the next three weeks, I will document my experiences on board the NOAA Vessel RAINIER as part of the Teacher at Sea (TAS) program.  NOAA established the TAS program about 15 years ago as a means to educate the public about its mission through the use of classroom teachers.  Over 400 teachers have participated in the TAS program and have used their NOAA experience to bring marine research and mapping into the classroom for thousands of students.

I currently teach 7th Grade Science to students at Hunt Middle School located in Tacoma, Washington. Hunt Middle School is located about a mile and a half from Puget Sound and many of our students play in parks next to estuarine waters.  I hope to use my experience with NOAA to enhance my classroom curriculum and to provide other teachers in my school district with enhancements to our adopted program.

I have taught for six years and prior to that I worked for government in the field of natural resources management.  Some of my work included hazardous waste cleanup in the aquatic environment and near shore aquatic habitat mapping.

Science and Technology Log 

Today we begin our journey from Kodiak, Alaska to Mitrofania Island on board the NOAA vessel RAINIER. Kodiak is an island located in southwestern Alaska about 250 miles by air plane from Anchorage.  Mitrofania Island is located along the southwestern Alaskan peninsula about half way between Kodiak and Dutch Harbor.  Our trip will take a day and a half to reach Mitrofania.

The RAINIER is a hydrographic ship that measures 231 feet long and displaces 1800 tons of water. Hydrography is the science of using sonar and other complicated devices to bounce sound waves off the bottom of the ocean that can be used to identify hazards (like rocks) that could sink passing ships. The information gathered by the RAINIER is used to update maps of the ocean bottoms and coastlines.  Ships’ captains call these special maps charts.  The charts help keep ships safe and away from shallow waters, lurking rocks and jagged coastlines.

The waters around Mitrofania are remote and have not been mapped in years.  Fisherman, large ships and the Alaska State Ferry use these waters and pass the island on occasion.  Our job will be to gather information to update the charts for the waters around Mitrofania Island to help increase the safety of passing ships.

I spent the morning watching the ships’ crew prepare the RAINIER for its three-week journey. The crew made repairs on small cracks, moved mooring lines and loaded supplies onto the ship. Two trucks full of food drove up to the ship and I helped carry boxes of milk, fruit and vegetables up the gangway and into the narrow passages of the ship for storage.

Prior to our 2:00 pm departure, the ship’s safety officer gathered me and other new members of the crew for safety training.  Working and living on a ship can be exciting, but one needs to be extremely careful to avoid accidents and learn how to live with 49 other people. I spent most of today attending safety classes.

My first class was to learn how to stay afloat in water that is 56 º F.  The answer is simple, wear a life vest!  However, the answer isn’t really that simple.  I got issued 4 different types of life vests. If I work inside a small boat, I get to wear a vest that blows up with a carbon dioxide cartridge. If I work outside on the deck of a small boat or handle lines at the pier, I have to wear a “Mustang” float jacket that doesn’t need to be blown up. If I have to abandon ship, I must put on a survival suit that consists of thick foam and covers my body entirely.  The survival suit makes a person look like the cartoon character “Gumby” and hence gets the nickname “Gumby Suit.”  To make matters more interesting, I am also issued a standard life vest that most people are familiar with.  I am now ready to float for any occasion, formal or informal!

After my floatation class, I learned where to go in the event of an emergency on the ship.  We have three main types of emergencies: fire/general emergency, man overboard, and abandon ship. For each type, I am assigned a different station to report to and given specific duties.  For example, I will serve as a look out in the event someone should fall off the ship and if we need to abandon our vessel I need to bring extra blankets for the life raft. Each type of emergency has its own signal on the ship’s whistle.  Three long blasts means a person fell overboard, six short blasts followed by a long one means we need to abandon ship, and a continuous ringing means fire.  Everybody on board the RAINIER is well trained and given a job to do during an emergency.

After the emergency training, we got to watch the RAINIER “film festival” in the ship’s Wardroom, which is like a lounge on land.  The “film festival” consisted of a series of three safety videos on how to use an air respirator, avoid hazardous materials and general safety on board a ship. I then finished the day by taking two more safety classes through the ship’s computer that also gave me a test.  Luckily I passed the tests and now feel ready to go forward in safety.

Though it may seem like a lot of time, all of the training is important and will help me to save myself and help others around me in the event of an emergency.  Students should be aware that learning doesn’t stop when you graduate from school, but continues for a lifetime as one meets new challenges and experiences.

Personal Log 

Despite a full day of safety training, I managed to spend several hours on the flying bridge to watch the Alaskan scenery pass by as we made our way out of Port.  The flying bridge is the deck above the Captain’s bridge and is the highest point on the ship. You can look out from the flying bridge in all directions and see for miles.

We passed through a narrow passage between Kodiak and Afognak Island where the mountains rose out of the water as the RAINIER carefully made its way with a series of turns and maneuvers.  At one point, we passed 10 sea otters floating by the ship on their backs that looked at us and seemed to wonder what we were up to. We constantly saw puffins vigorously flapping their wings in a struggle to avoid hitting the ship.  Often the fat puffins could not take flight, but always avoided our ship at the last minute

A real highlight of today was seeing several Minke whales blow spray and surface gracefully near the ship.  You first spot a spray of water at the surface followed by a sleek, dark back arching over the water that finishes with the appearance of a small fin that then disappears below the surface.

Question of the Day 

How is safety training on the RAINIER like safety training at school? How is it different?

Debbie Stringham, July 6, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debbie Stringham
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 5 – 15, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: July 6, 2005

stringham_logsWeather Data 

Location: in transit
Latitude: 59 02.8’ N
Longitude: 152 33.6’ W
Visibility: 10 nm.
True Wind Speed: 10 kts.
True Wind Direction: 235
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 ft.
Swell Wave Height: 2-3 ft.
Sea Water Temperature: 12.7 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1000.5
Sky Description: Partly Cloudy
Dry Bulb Temperature: 15.9 C
Wet Bulb Temperature: 13.9 C

Science and Technology Log 

Departed Homer at 1333, assisted with the mooring ropes, and explored facilities to orient myself with the ship’s layout. The Field Operations Officer (FOO), former Executive Officer (XO), and the XO’s replacement showed me safety drill procedures for fire, abandon ship, and man over board. The crew is required to practice these drills weekly and be prepared for any such event that might occur. Everyone on board has a specific place they need to be when they hear a specific alarm.

One long wailing blast, 10 seconds or more, means fire, more than six blasts means abandon ship, and three blasts means man over board. I was also given safety tips of when to wear a hard hat, gloves, and positive buoyancy clothing. I watched the NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER Vessel Familiarization CD on a crew computer, set up and checked my NOAA email  account, and looked through maritime books in the lounge in order to familiarize myself with basic seamanship terms.

I spoke with three survey technicians about their education and where they were from and was surprised to find that two of them had graduated in Geography and one of them in Biology. Most crew aboard this ship come from coastal areas such as California, Washington, or Florida where the ocean has been a strong influence in their lives. One survey tech said that the coolest thing he’s seen while surveying was when he had to stop operations because there were too many whales.

Question of the Day 

How deep is 1 fathom?

Kimberly Pratt, July 5, 2005

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

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Elliot Bay, Seattle
Date: July 5, 2005

Kim Pratt in her survival suit
Kim Pratt in her survival suit

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude: 47.37.2’ N
Longitude: 122.22.3’W
Visibility: 8-10
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 ft
Sea Swell Height: 0
Sea Level Pressure: 1012.2
Cloud Cover: 8/8, AS, AC
Temperature:  20 Celsius

Scientific Log

Chief Scientist Karin Forney called all the scientists together for our first meeting at 0930 in the dry lab.  She gave an overview of the schedule of operations for our cruise and explained the day’s activities which were drills, CDT calibration, and scientist set-up and prep. The CDT or Conductivity, Temperature/Depth devices are used to get readings of salinity, temperature, depth, density and conductivity of the ocean water.  The CDT will be lowered to 500 meters when deployed.  Scientists also set-up their stations and  prepared for their busy days ahead. I worked with Rich Pagan, Sophie Webb, and Peter Pyle to create range finders out of pencils.  The range finders will help them determine whether the birds they observe are at 300, 200 or 100 meter distance.

Seabird illustrations, Sophie Webb
Seabird illustrations, Sophie Webb

Personal Log

Beautiful fireworks, warm weather and a wonderful array of boats showed Seattle in its glory! I spent the evening on board the McARTHUR which had an awesome view of the fireworks. What a send off for our cruise the next day.

I awoke to the smell of breakfast cooking and looked forward to today’s launch. We left Seattle, at 0930, and headed out of Lake Union.  After motoring through two draw bridges – the Fremont Bridge and the Ballard Bridge, we then got a special treat by going through the government locks – or the Hiram M. Chittam locks.  Locks are used to raise or lower water levels to allow passage from one body of water to another.  In this case, we were leaving Lake Union (freshwater) and going to Elliot Bay (salt water).  We waited patiently as the gates closed, and the water lowered us down for passage into Elliot Bay.  Upon leaving Elliot Bay, we dropped anchor to start the CDT calibration.  We then had an abandon ship drill in which I had to put on a very funny orange suit, affectionately know as Gumby suits.  As soon as it was donned, Chief Scientist Forney and Jan Rolleto ran to get their cameras because I looked so comical.  Finally, we had a fire drill and then the scientists set to work.  It was really fun working with Rich, Jim and Sophie. Sophie Webb has published two children’s books, Looking for Seabirds and My Season with Penguins, which are very well done and illustrated.  Recommended reading….. Right now, we’re still anchored in Elliot Bay with a beautiful view of the Seattle skyline, the Space Needle and Mt. Rainer. Tonight we’ll head off to the ocean and all the wonders we will see.

Kimberly Pratt, July 2, 2005

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

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 2, 2005

Teacher at Sea, Kim Pratt
Teacher at Sea, Kim Pratt

Weather Data from Bridge

None, in port.

Personal log

Today has been a very busy and productive day. After getting up at 5:30 AM, I boarded Alaska Airlines and headed to Seattle. Upon landing in Seattle, I was greeted by a cloudy, humid day and luckily no rain.  After taking a shuttle to the NOAA Headquarters I caught my first glimpse of the MCARTHUR II – I was not disappointed! The ship was larger than I expected with many decks.  I met with the 3rd Mate – Donn Pratt! (No, we are not related!)  He gave me the grand tour, showed me my room and helped me learn the terms starboard and port. Starboard means the right of the ship when looking towards the front and port is the left side of the ship when looking towards the front. Also starboard side is odd, with green coloring and port is even with red coloring. My first lesson of the trip!  After unpacking I then met with the Chief Scientist, Karin Forney, who again toured me around and showed me the various locations of where we’ll be doing observations.

In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve already been impressed with the friendliness of all on board, the organization of the ship and the equipment they have for research.  I hope to learn more about the ship in the upcoming weeks, and report back some amazing whale and dolphin sightings as well as the progress of the research we’re doing.  I look forward to an exciting, educational and fun trip!

Mike Lynch, June 23, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mike Lynch
Onboard NOAA Ship Delaware II
June 20 – July 1, 2005

Mission: Clam and Quahog Survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: June 23, 2005

Safety ring
Safety ring

Weather Data

Latitude: 3651.23N
Longitude: 07526.591W
Wave Height: 1 foot
Swell Height: 2
Foot Weather: clear
Visibility: unlimited
Wind Speed: 14 mph

Scientific Log

It is now 12 AM Wednesday morning. We were awakened for our shift at 11:20. The unwritten rule aboard ship is that you hustle out and relieve the alternate shift a few minutes early. Things got a little chaotic prior to the end of our second shift on Tuesday. An electrical junction box that operates the high compression pump and water jets on the dredge was damaged on a tow. The electrical wiring was pulled out of the box, allowing water and sand to impregnate the electrical system. The damage was observed prior to the dredge being lowered for another tow, and the work began.

Safety equipment
Safety equipment

Life at sea requires the crew to wear many hats. There is no WalMart, no Home Depot, no 911, no fire department, and no ambulance. We are a self-sufficient community that must be self-reliant and work as a team in order to problem solve. Tools were brought out, electrical parts were on hand and collective, hands on, can do attitude was applied. The box was repaired and I learned a good deal about how electrical work designed for underwater usage, differs significantly from what is done on dry land. This event prompted me to think about the interesting and challenging aspects of life at sea. Today’s journal log will focus on the job of safety.  Starting the first day, we were all assigned fire stations, evacuation stations, general quarters assignments and given safety protocols. Before we left the dock, we had our first fire drill. We were also instructed to go to our evacuation stations and to bring our immersion suits. Everyone was asked to put his or her immersion suit on.  It was a fine photographic moment, but also a very serious one. While on a tour of the Osprey IV, prior to our departure, one of our officers pointed out the self-contained oxygen apparatus for fire fighting. In passing, he mentioned, “you know, if we have a fire out here, there’s no one to call”.

Protocols
Protocols

Every one of our staterooms has four bunks a bathroom, four drawers and small lockers for your stuff. There are usually never more than two in the room at any time due to watch constraints. But regardless of the constraints on space, each room contains a fire extinguisher, four Emergency Escape Breathing Devices (EEBDs), four life jackets with beacons and two survival (immersion) suits. The “common room” which adjoins the galley is no bigger than 6ft.by 12ft. There is a TV, a stereo, VCR and two couches. Space is limited, but central to it all are an EMT jump box for medical emergencies and an automatic emergency defibrillator for possible heart attacks. In the same room, there is a posting of all crewmembers and their stations and responsibilities in foreseeable crisis events. There are drills for fire, abandon ship, and man overboard. Each of these drills has an associated general stations alarm and whistle designation to identify the nature of the crisis. Hardhats are worn on deck at all times and OSHA regulations for safety are strictly followed throughout the vessel. Immediately inside the stern deck are two emergency showers with eye wash stations. There is a chemical spill kit inside the ready room. There are full-size backboards and short boards dispersed throughout the ship for immobilization involving head trauma or possible spinal compromise.

lynch_log4cBefore boarding the ship, I observed twos stokes basket that would be used for emergency lift of a diver out of the water, or an overboard crewmember. There is also a contingency on board for an emergency helicopter evacuation. There are nine general fire stations throughout the boat that have hydrants and hoses. There are four life rafts that can be used for evacuation and one rescue vessel that can be used for emergency retrieval of a person overboard. There is a dive locker with underwater breathing apparatus and trained personnel to make the dives. There is a Damage Control Locker that contains three SBA controlled breathing devices and fire suits in case of an onboard fire, as well as HAZMAT materials, and myriad of resources that would be necessary in the event of a collision. On each of the outside decks, there are life rings with locator beacons stationed to be used for a man overboard scenario.

Deck storage
Deck storage

There are a total of eight life rings, six of which have locator beacons.  At night, personnel are instructed to continue to release these in order that the ship can find a path back to the crewmember. There are a total of forty-five fire extinguishers onboard. They are a variety of water, CO2 and chemical. There is a chief medical officer and three other officers are current EMTs. All crew, commissioned and civilian have basic first aid training, current CPR, and are routinely presented with safety seminars on ship board policy, firefighting and the use of available equipment such as the emergency defibrillator. At first, these drills and musters, seem to be mere bureaucratic protocol, but when you are at sea for a period, and realize the physical isolation that separates the vessel from services that we have all come to take for granted, you come to realize the nature of being at sea. For me, it was the repair of an electrical box that opened my eyes to the true interdependence that makes a crew a self-sustaining community.

lynch_log4ePersonal Log

The morning shift from 12 to 6 was great. Temperatures were comfortable and the moonlight made to ocean absolutely beautiful breakfast at six and back to bed. Up at eleven and work to six. Our tows have been moderately successful and we have been keeping busy. I am still operating the shipboard computer for each of the events, and that seems to be a lot easier now with practice. The food is great, but the hours to eat, in proximity to sleep, are all out of whack. This afternoon I suddenly started to get really tired. The whole crew is going through a metamorphosis where the intense curve of learning is beginning to be replaced by an overall fatigue. I am certain that will improve as we acclimate to our schedules. There is another teacher on board, but on the other shift. We are comparing notes as we pass. One of us has always just gotten up and the other has just finished a shift and is heading for the barn. I did a lot of interviewing today, some on a formal basis and a lot of informal questioning of officers, scientists and crew. My clothes are a mess and wash will soon become a reality. The general rule is to wait until you have a full load, as water is a manmade commodity on the DELAWARE II.

Donning our safety gear
Donning our safety gear

Mavis Peterson, June 21, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mavis Peterson
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
June 21 – July 9, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: June 21, 2005

Weather Data
Lat.: 56 30.3’N
Long.: 156 21.4’W
Visibility: 10+
wind direction: 110
true wind speed: 16 knots
Sea wave height: 1
swell wave height: 175 Dir (true) 2ft.
seawater temperature: 10.3
sea level temp.: dry bulb 10 wet bulb 9
sea level pressure: 1014.4
cloud cover and type: cumulus nimbus overcast

Science and Technology Log

I arose before seven and after breakfast spent most of the morning in the chart room learning about the sonar testing. The sensors are attached to the bottom of the ship and fan out to each side. As the information is picked up by the sweeping action of the sonar, it is then transmitted to the computers, which have several programs to break down the information. The other piece of equipment that was used today was the “fish” or sound velocity profiler. It is an expensive piece of equipment that has many sensors in it that collect information that is relayed back to the computers. The fish is pulled behind the ship on a cable and taken down, for a dive reading, about every fifteen minutes to within about twenty-five meters from the ocean floor. This is a relatively new way of doing this test. It used to be that the ship would have to stop and they would physically have to drop and retrieve the fish do the test, read the results and then go at it again. This was a much slower process and often took a couple hours. The newer equipment usually works; however today they had to pull the fish in by hand, cranking it.

I spent the afternoon on the bridge. We saw a whale and some porpoises, but not close by. I just observe proceedings.

Personal Log

All day today, we were clipping right along rocking and rolling with the sea. I can’t imagine how sick I would have been if I had not gotten a patch. At least half of the crew are lying down and are as sick as I am. I was sitting in a chair at a computer on the bridge and on one heave, it rolled the chair right towards the door–just a little thrill. I went to my bunk early, got up for a few minutes at dinnertime and then was back down until ten. It seemed a little quieter, but I could not keep the chair at the table where I was writing, and the words on the page were jumping around like crazy so I called it a night.

I am paranoid about these tests they keep saying we will be doing. I keep my jacket at the ready and have a cheat sheet of where I am to go in my pocket.

Question of the day: What force causes the “fish” to go down when they want it to?

 

Jeff Grevert, June 8, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Grevert
Onboard NOAA Ship Delaware II
June 8 – 16, 2005

Mission: Surf Clam Survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: June 8, 2005

Jeff Grevert, ready to set sail
Jeff Grevert, ready to set sail

Weather Data
Latitude: 41° 22′ N
Longitude: 070° 53′ W
Visibility: 5 nm
Wind Direction: 220°
Wind Speed: 11 kts
Sea Wave Height: 1′
Swell Wave Height: 2′
Sea Water Temp:  14.3° C
Sea Level Pressure: 1041.8 mb
Cloud Cover: 1/8; Altocumulus, Cirrus

Science and Technology Log

0900 – DELAWARE II changed docks; I assisted with lashing the cargo net beneath the gangway.

1200 – Participated in an interview conducted by an intern at the National Marine Fisheries Service Ecosystems Surveys Branch. The objective is to create an interactive DVD to promote NOAA programs.

1300 – Embarked from Woods Hole Mass.

grevert_log1a1400 – All hands aboard the DELAWARE II participated in ship drills for fire and abandoning ship. All hands onboard had to report with a life jacket, a survival immersion suit, a hat, long pants and a long sleeve shirt. My station was the stern at life raft # 2.  On the stern, we all learned how to don our survival immersion suits.

1500 – The scientific crew and I participated in a practice bottom trawl to learn how to conduct clam surveys. The clam survey is the primary scientific objective of this cruise.  I was briefed on deck safety, chain of command and research protocol. After the trawl (~5 minutes), the scientific crew on watch and I sorted the catch.  The organism collected in the greatest abundance was the Surf Clam (Spisula soldissima).  Other organisms collected included sea stars of the genus Asterias.  The Surf Clams were sorted into three categories: live, clappers (a specimen where the bivalve shell and hinge are intact but with no meat) and dead (a bare half shell).  One of the scientists from the national marine fisheries service gave me training on entering data into the Fisheries Science Computer System.  This is a software application designed specifically for fisheries research.  Parameters recorded included: shell length, overall mass and meat mass.

1900 – The first officer of the DELAWARE II gave me instruction on understanding nautical codes from the ships log for recording cloud cover, cloud type and other meteorological conditions.  A nautical day starts at 1200 noon. Since we were still in port at that time, I recorded the first entry into the ship’s weather log.