John Schneider, August 1, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Schneider
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather 
July 7 – August 8, 2009 

Mission: FISHPAC
Geographical Area: Bering Sea
Date: August 1, 2009

Bristol Bay, AK

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Weather System: nice all 3 days
Barometer: steady
Wind: light and variable
Temperature: low  7.0º C
Sea State: < 3-4 feet

This is the bottom sample after it has come straight from the water and into the collection bin.

This is the bottom sample after it has come straight from the water and into the collection bin.

Science and Technology Log 

We have made about 30 stops along the tracklines for bottom samples as described in a prior log. When the SeaBoss comes to the surface, the scientists check to see if it grabbed an adequate sample.  Sometimes it will strike the bottom at a bad angle, land on a rock, release prematurely or catch a big piece between the halves of the grabber and lose the sample on the way up.  But on the 90% of deployments that are successful, the sample is emptied into a large bin and taken to the sifting table.  It is washed with salt water and the critters within the sample are collected.

The bottom sample has been moved from the collection bin into a sifter box.

The bottom sample has been moved from the collection bin into a sifter box.

It looks pretty gross when you pull it up and the scientists estimate how full the sampler was, how deep it went into the bottom and describe the color and texture of the sediment.  All of these criteria go into the evaluation of the bottom. This is the sample in the sifter box.  The screen at the bottom has a 1 millimeter mesh which allows anything less than 1 mm to be washed through and overboard. It can take anywhere from 2-6 minutes to screen out the sample depending on the sediment grain size.

After it has been sifted out, the bottom sample reveals all the things it was hiding.

After it has been sifted out, the bottom sample reveals all the things it was hiding.

This is a screened sample from a relatively shallow grab (probably <150 feet.) One of the interesting things that Dr. McConnaughey and his team have determined is that the wave energy in the Bering Sea in the winter extends down to almost 250 feet!  This wave action carries away the finer sediments which leaves a coarser bottom.  The coarse bottom has interstitial spaces that allow for animals to burrow and survive.  The “cashew-looking” critters are members of the Phylum Echinodermata, Class Holothuroidea (Sea Cucumbers). They represented a significant portion of several of our samples.

By establishing this correlation between sediment and animals present, and integrating that with gut analyses done on other ships catching target species at other times and cross-referencing that information with hydrographic survey information, it may be possible in the future to be able to predict what species will inhabit what areas.  This type of data is absolutely essential to maintain a sustainable yield in the fishery and avoid depletion of the resource. It is environmental stewardship at the highest level.

Personal Log 

Starboard breezeway in the dark

Starboard breezeway in the dark

I’ve been very fortunate in my life that this is my third time out to sea for more than just a day or so. The first time was almost 30 years ago in grad school in California (about 2 weeks), the second time in January of 1991 going from SC to the US Virgin Islands (a week) and not these legs with the Fairweather.  One of the things I had forgotten was how dark it gets at sea at night.  Even though dawn this leg is about 0615 and sunset is around 2300, we have been conducting 24-hour ops for most of the time.  So we’ll be deploying the SeaBoss at all hours.  I took one of these pictures with a flash and then turned the flash off and took the second.  No explanation necessary. IT’S REAL DARK!  SCARY DARK! As you can see, there’s plenty of light on the fantail to work, but outside our little orb of light, it’s real dark!

Weston Renoud and Adam Argento deploying the MVP fish.

Renoud and Argento deploying the MVP fish.

Questions for You to Investigate 

The conversion formula for changing ºC to ºF is really quite simple.   ºF = 1.8 (ºC) + 32. For example, 10ºC would be converted thus: ºF = 1.8 (10 ºC) + 32 → 18 + 32 → 50ºF

By the way, 10ºC is a warm day here!

Something to Think About 

This line is laid out in a figure 8. Why would this be a good way to have a line arranged if it has to be paid out gradually rather than in a coil?

The next couple days should be interesting. CO says we have some weather coming!


Jacob Tanenbaum, June 18, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jacob Tanenbaum
Onboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
June 1 – 30, 2006

Mission: Bering Sea Fisheries Research
Geographic Region: Bering Sea
Date: June 18, 2006

mike-781281Weather Data from the Bridge

Visibility: 10 miles
Wind Speed: 9 miles per hour
Sea Wave Height:2 feet
Water Temperature:41 degrees
Air Temperature:40.8 degrees
Pressure: 1013 Millibars

Personal Log

NOTE: We will arrive in the port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska on June 20. As the project draws to a close, I would like to evaluate how effective it was. There is a link to an electronic survey. I would like to ask students, teachers, parents, and other visitors to the site to take a few moments to let me know what you think of this idea. The survey is all electronic and only takes a minute or two to complete. Thank you in advance for your time. Click here to access the survey.

Sea cucumbers

Sea cucumbers

By now, you have met many of the interesting people aboard NOAA ship MILLER FREEMAN. There are three groups of people aboard these ships. The officers on the ship are part of the NOAA Corps. This is a uniformed service of the United States consisting of about 300 officers who complete rigorous training and hold ranks, like ensign, or commander. They are in charge of ships operations and stand watch on the bridge. The scientists aboard are mostly from NOAA research labs, like the Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. Many of the other members of the crew are civilian wage mariners. These are professional sailors who handle many of the day to day operations of the ship. Some, such as Chief Engineer Bus, have made their home on this ship for close to 30 years. Other sailors are contract workers who come aboard for a few months, go home and take a break, then join the crew of another ship for a different sort of cruise. Sometimes they are on research vessels, sometimes they are on freighters, sometimes they are on tankers. Today, lets meet able-bodied seaman, or AB Michael O’Neal. Click each question to listen to the answer.

Mud star

Mud star

What do you do on board the NOAA Ship MILLER FREEMAN?

Tell us about what you have done and where you have gone on some of the other ships you have been on.

Where are some of the other jobs you have had at sea?

What does it take to be an able-bodied seaman?

Science Log:

Smile! Here are big mouth sculpins. Once close up and one in the hands of Dr. Mikhail Stepanenko.

Smile! This is a big mouth sculpin.

We had another in a series of amazing bottom trawls last night. When the nets trawl along the bottom out here, some of the most interesting creatures of all get swept into our nets. Creatures that live on the bottom are often stranger looking for a few reasons. They are adapted to blend into the bottom so that predators cannot see them. They often wind up looking like rocks or plants as a kind of defense. They are also adapted to an environment with higher pressure and less light than the surface. Some of their adaptations can also make them look very different from other fish. Since they don’t have to worry about predators below them, these fish may be flat and have both their eyes sticking up. These creatures often do not need to be fast swimmers, since their defense is to blend into the environment rather than swim away when predators approach. The basket of sea cucumbers was one of the strangest things I’ve seen so far. These sticky blobs are not plants. They are sea creatures that live on the bottom of the sea and sift through the sand or water to find food. There are several different kinds of sea cucumbers in this basket. Can you see the different types? Mud stars, on the other hand, are soft and sticky, not like the sea stars we have at home. It may be called a mud star, but I think looks like Patrick from Sponge Bob.

Here is another kind of sculpin with large fins that look like the wings of a butterfly, called a Butterfly sculpin.

Another kind of sculpin with large fins that look like the wings of a butterfly, called a Butterfly sculpin.

Question of the Day

Now that you have seen some of the different jobs aboard NOAA Ship MILLER FREEMAN, if you were on a ship, which job would you prefer? Write me a comment on the blog and let me know!

Answer to Yesterday’s Question

Look at the movements of the ship described above. When the ship drives into the wind and waves, sailors call it a corkscrew motion. Can you think why?

A corkscrew motion occurs when the ship is struck by waves in such a way that it moves in several motions at once. In other words, it may pitch, roll, surge, and sway all at the same time. I’m getting a funny feeling in my stomach just thinking about it!

Answers to Your Questions

Sorry that I left off the link from Friday where you can see the position of the ship. Here it is. Fair warning, the site was down for most of today, so if it does not work, just try again later.

After we put in to port, I’ll have a day or two in Dutch Harbor to look around, before I can get a flight in to Anchorage. After that, I’ll be visiting some friends and family out west before I head back east. Thanks for writing.