NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada was built by VT Halter Marine, Inc. in Moss Point, Mississippi. The ship was commissioned on August 25, 2010 and is currently homeported at NOAA’s Marine Operations Center—Pacific in Newport, Oregon. The ship primarily studies a wide range of marine life and ocean conditions along the US West Coast, from Washington state to southern California.
The ship’s design allows for quieter operation and movement through the water, giving scientists the ability to study fish and marine mammals without significantly altering their behavior.
Bell M. Shimada conducts acoustic and trawl surveys. For acoustic studies, the ship uses a multibeam echo sounder (MBES) that projects a fan-shaped beam of sound that bounces back towards the ship. The ship’s MBES, one of only three such systems in the world, acquires data from both the water column and the seafloor. Scientists can detect fish when the boat passes over them, measuring the signal reflected by the fish to estimate their size and number. The system can also create a map and characterize the sea floor.
The ship conducts trawl sampling with a standardized, three-flange, four-seam bottom survey net equipped with a skipping rock sweep: sweeps with large rubber discs that allow the nets to be towed over rocky and uneven seabeds. Trawls sample fish biomass in a given study area. This helps scientists learn what species are in observed schools of fish and collect other biological data.
The ship’s wet lab allows scientists to sort, weigh, measure and examine fish. Data is entered directly into the ship’s scientific computer network. The Bell M. Shimada Bird and Marine Mammal Observation Stations are equipped with sensors to help researchers identify and track protected species.
Bell M. Shimada was named by a team of students from Marina High School in Monterey, California, who won a regional NOAA contest to name the ship. The ship’s namesake served in the Bureau of Fisheries and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. He was known for his contributions to the study of tropical Pacific tuna populations, which were important to the development of West Coast commercial fisheries after World War II. Bell M. Shimada’s son, Allen, is a fisheries scientist with NOAA Fisheries.
This has been an experience that I never imagined, on Thursday, August 11, when I entered the port and saw the ship in the distance, I felt a lump in my throat, it is much larger and more imposing than I imagined. The scientist in charge of the expedition, Beth Philips, welcomed me to the ship. She was extremely jovial and pleasant and gave me a tour of the ship, which let me tell you, this is a labyrinth. The crew has been excellent, all with a kind and respectful treatment towards me. On the other hand, I hope I can loosen up a bit more with everyone on the ship since I’m a bit in my head because of my English speaking.
I want to introduce you to the excellent team of scientists
In just a few days of meeting them, they have taught me a lot. They have all been patient and have explained and answered questions regarding the work they do on the high seas. Their knowledge and experiences have led me to create great admiration for them. In the next blogs you will learn more about each of them and you will see them in action!
Not Just One, But Two Puerto Ricans on the High Sea!
That’s right I’m not the only Puerto Rican on NOAA Bell M. Shimada, this is LT Erick Estela from Ciales, Puerto Rico. Erick is one of the NOAA Corps officers serving at sea, on land and in the air to support NOAA’s environmental science and management mission. Erick have been serving with NOAA Corps nine and a half years. We met in the middle of a drill and it was very exciting to know that there’s another Puerto Rican on board. Puerto Rico is proud to have Erick in such an important role within NOAA!
Before I go, I want to share some photos taken by Teacher at Sea Alumni Association Manager Britta Culbertson, who met us at Whidbey Island to wave goodbye from shore. Thank you for the beautiful photos and for all your support. Thanks also to TAS Alumni Denise Harrington for your messages of support, much appreciated!
See you in my next blogs where I will be talking about our study of hake populations and the data received from the echo sounder. I’m gone fishing, see you next time!
NOAA Teacher at Sea Justin Garritt NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada September 1-14, 2018
Mission: End of Hake Research
Geographical area of cruise: Seattle, Washington to Newport, Oregon
Date: September 11-14, 2018: Day 11-14
Location: Off the coast of Newport, Oregon. End of research cruise.
Throughout my life there have been moments when I recognize I am in the presence of something truly unique and special. Moments when I realize just how beautiful our planet can be. Moments I know will be engraved in my brain as life passes by. Hiking Zion National Park, night boat riding down the beautiful Saint Lawrence Seaway in the heart of the Thousands Islands, the view on top of Whiteface Ski Mountain, climbing the mountain islands in Greece, landing a helicopter on an Alaskan glacier, gigantic waves crashing in on an empty Puerto Rican beach with nothing but the moon in sight, taking a train ride up the gigantic Alps, and color of the fall leaves over the Castleton University skyline in Vermont are just a few of those moments I have been so privileged to have experienced in my short life. Monday evening, I got to add another new nature wonderland experience aboard the NOAA Bell M Shimada.
It was 5:15pm and I was eating a terrific dinner when one of the scientists came in the galley to tell us fishing was on hold because of the abundance of marine wildlife that was surrounding our ship. I immediately ran upstairs to check it out. When I stepped in the bridge (command room of the ship) the first thing I noticed was the beautiful blue skies with a touch of clouds and the sun that set the stage for the spectacle. My ears rang with the crashing waves against the boat and seagulls squawking in the background. As I looked over the side of the boat there were two pairs of dolphins synchronized swimming all around the ship. After a few minutes, three California sea lions came floating by on their backs waving at the passing ship. Another minute later, the dolphins came back for their encore followed by a spray of a Humpback whale spouting directly behind it. As the whale came closer it swam gracefully in an up and down pattern until it bent its massive dinosaur-like body down followed by its tail flipping over as it took a deep dive below the surface. As soon as the whale took the dive another pair of sea lions came floating by smiling as they took in the heat of the sun. Before I could look again, a Pelagic Cormorant landed directly in front of me on the ship. Right after I took a picture of that I looked up and saw at least fifteen spouts surrounding the ship like a spectator would see at the Bellagio Hotel light show in Las Vegas. For the next hour whale after whale surfaced, spouted, and even breached behind the beautiful blue sky backdrop. No matter where I looked I was seeing whales grace our presence. No camera could capture the magic of that hour as I ran from side to side on the viewing tower above the bridge to soak in as much of this experience as possible. I was in awe at the majesty of the sea creatures. As the ship made its way through the evening and to sunset, the whales slowly trickled off beyond sight as the sun came down in the background. Hope that future generations can experience this beauty for centuries to come.
The reality is the ever growing world’s population consumes large amounts of fish. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states that in 2016, the global seafood trade was worth $140 billion. In the US it is estimated that 1.5 million people are employed by the fishing industry. That is a lot of communities and families that rely on the resources in our water systems. Throughout the week I learned that so much of the work of NOAA is not limiting the growth and catch of our fishermen/fisherwomen, but it is to ensure there is a fish population to catch and future generations can experience what I was able to experience these past two weeks. Part of NOAA’s mission is to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. Having the most high tech equipment constantly being researched to seek improvements mixed with “ground truthing (catching and surveying)” to analyze different species is crucial for the future of the world’s fisheries.
Two weeks ago I wrote about the main goals for this research cruise. The first was to gather data to study the impact of the US 32mm net liners and the CANADIAN 7mm net liners. The second was to compare the old acoustic equipment called the EK60 with the new equipment called the EK80. Throughout the last two legs of the trip, scientists have gathered data and will be working on analyzing it over the coming months to make better conclusions on these goals. The vision is for someday to reduce the number of surveying trawls needed to determine the population of fish, and instead, use this highly advanced acoustics equipment instead. If those ships are filled with as curious, hardworking, and focused people as the people I met on this ship, I am confident we will be able to obtain this goal in the future.
Here are some pictures from the final 3 days of fishing and exploring the ship:
Hake are present. . . it’s go time!
Hake are present. . . it’s go time!
Another pile of krill (the hake eat these)
Holding a Big Squid
Rockfish being caught in the net onscreen
A large catch of hake
A Big Squid
Scientists analyzing the Big Squid
Spiny dogfish shark
A Big Squid
A Big Squid
A Big Squid
Spiny dogfish shark
Bringing my experience back to the classroom:
Throughout the past two weeks I constantly thought about how I can bring my experience back to my students in Baltimore. My students receive half the amount of hours of science instructional time than math and reading. After much reflection I decided to use the same core standards we are obligated to teach but begin rewriting most of the 6th grade statistics unit. At the start of the unit I will begin with the purpose of NOAA, pictures of my trip, and exciting stories from my adventure. From there I will have investment in the subject from my students which will allow me to dive in to applying data collected at sea to find: mean, mode, range, variability, mean absolute deviation (MAD), and interquartile range (IQR). We will also be able to use real live data to create histograms, frequency tables, box and whisker plots, and dot plots. I believe it will be exciting for them to have the opportunity to apply required statistical concepts to learning how NOAA (along with others) survey our fish population so species will survive for generations to come. It will also make our school’s 6th grade teacher, Mr. Davis, very happy!
My view while lesson planning
My view while lesson planning
At any given moment, there are thousands of NOAA employees studying our environment across the globe. I had the honor of sailing with incredibly intelligent and hardworking people who are dedicated to the mission. From them, I learned so many valuable things that I will carry with me as I disembark on Friday.
Chief Scientist, Rebecca Thomas was an excellent manager/role model. She taught me that leading through kindness, support, trusting others, and giving people rest will produce better and more accurate results than pushing people past their limitation.
Scientist Steve de Bluis encouraged me to maintain a hobby outside of work that you love. Steve loves to fly planes and dive and talked about these trips all the time. You can tell how much joy it has brought him and how excited he is to continue to dive well into his retirement in a few years. He was also a BEAST in the wet lab!
Roommate and Future Scientist Charlie Donahue taught me the importance of accuracy over speed. He constantly pushed me to be sure the data we were collecting was as accurate as possible. He never let speed and efficiency take away from quality. For those of you who know me, this is certainly an important push for me!
Scientist John Pohl taught me about supporting newcomers. He was the first guy I met aboard and always spent time breaking down complicated science topics for me.
Scientist Melanie Johnson taught me about working through chaos with calmness. She has been on both commercial and scientific ships and constantly kept calm during any situation that arose.
Scientist Dezhang Chu (Super Chu) taught me about focus. No matter what was going on “Super Chu” always kept a clear view of his own goals and purpose aboard and stayed focused on the prize. Chu was also super hard working and was in the acoustics lab at 6:30am when I went to the gym and still in on his computer analyzing data from the day when I returned from yoga at 10pm. I think he could even give KIPP Ujima Resident-Principal Reese a run for it in terms of work ethic!
Super Chu and I
Volunteer Scientist Heather Rippman taught me about service and life-long learning. Heather commits herself to volunteering for important science missions across the country. After leaving an executive position with Nike, she now travels and volunteers to learn all she can about marine science and give back to the marine science community. She shared so much knowledge with me and was the first person to teach me how to dissect hake.
Master Chef Arnold Dones reminded me about the power of food bringing people together. At exactly 7am, 11am, and 5pm, roughly 40 people from all over the country with all types of jobs aboard came together to feast. Arnold made that happen because of the pride he takes in his craft.
Chief Engineer Sabrina Taraboletti spent 3 hours with me on our last day to show me the massive engine room. She explained what every piece of equipment does below deck. I learned the science behind creating freshwater from sea water. I learned the regulations behind sewer and contaminants. The best part was climbing to the bottom of the ship and watching the shaft that makes the propeller turn move. Her team of engineers barely see daylight and work long hours to make sure the ship moves safely and all the amenities and scientific research equipment works flawlessly. She keeps the morale of her team high, keeps an impressively organized work space that is approximately the size of over a dozen typical garages, and is one of the most knowledgeable professionals I ever crossed paths with.
Sabrina teaching me about controlling the generators for the engines
The 2nd of 4 generators
Heather and I in the engine room
How to apply for the Teacher At Sea Program:
Ms. Ellmauer is a 25 year veteran science teacher from my hometown of Liberty, NY. She was also my high school ski coach. She has been following my blog and reached out about information on how to apply. I am humbled to see so many teachers and school officials reading my blog from across the country so I thought I would pass on the website with information about the program and how to apply for this once in a lifetime experience. Please reach out to me at JAGarritt@gmail.com if you have any questions.
NOAA Teacher at Sea Justin Garritt NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada September 5, 2018
Topic Today: Calibrating the Equipment and ship tour
Geographical area of cruise: Seattle, Washington to Newport, Oregon
Today’s Location and Weather: Beautiful sunny skies calibrating in Elliot Bay, Seattle, Washington
Date: September 5, 2018
Today’s blog will focus on calibration and a tour of the beautiful ship.
Calibration is the act of evaluating and adjusting the precision and accuracy of measurement equipment. It is intended to eliminate or reduce bias in an instrument’s readings. It compares the standard measurement with the measurement being made by the equipment. The accuracy of all measurements degrade over time by normal wear and tear. The purpose of calibration is to check the accuracy of the instrument and with this information, adjustments can be made if it is out of calibration. The bottom line is that calibration improves the accuracy of the measurement device which improves quality.
We calibrate many things in life. For an example, many teachers at my school have smart boards or promethean boards. These boards are interactive white boards that allow teachers to teach using more interactive tools. As a math teacher, I have had a promethean board in my classroom which acts like a large touch screen computer that I take notes on, teach lectures on, give student feedback on, and play math games on.
They have improved the learning experience for students in my class and across the globe. In order for the screen to work most accurately, we must perform routine calibrations on the board. If we don’t, there is often errors and where we touch the screen is not what actually shows up on the board. When these errors begin to occur, we must calibrate the board or else we won’t be as accurate when writing on the board.
Police officers and military personnel must also use calibration in their work. Officers must routinely calibrate their weapons for accuracy. When at a safe and secure range, officers will “site-in” their weapons to determine if their scope is accurate. They will then make modifications to their weapons based on the calibration tests. This is another form of calibrating that improves the quality and accuracy of the equipment.
On board the NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada, calibration typically happens at the start and end of most legs. Sometimes the Chief Scientist will also make the decision to calibrate mid-leg. For the past two days we have been spending 12 to 15 hours per day calibrating the equipment to ensure the most accurate research can be completed and we can meet the goals of the leg.
All of the scientists aboard
Me using a down rigger during calibration
Calibrating the equipment is an interesting process that involves the teamwork of all the scientists on board. The process begins with three scientists setting up down riggers on the outside of the boat. Two are set up on starboard side (right side of the ship) and one is set up on port side (left side of the ship). This creates a triangle which will allow the calibration sphere or what I like to call, “the magic sphere” to move in whatever direction needed. This same triangle shaped design is used to move cameras that fly above players in the Superbowl.
This same triangle shaped design is used to move cameras that fly above players in the Superbowl.
Another image of camera that flies above Superbowl
The pictures (with captions) show the process step by step.
Scientist Steve de Blois setting up one of the down riggers
Scientist Dezhang Chu prepares the “magic sphere” before dropping it in the water for calibration
Scientist Dezhang Chu drops the “magic sphere” in the water
Dropping the sphere in the water for calibration
Chief Scientist Rebecca Thomas checking in with her team
The three-line triangle shape is used to maneuver the “magic sphere” below the boat during calibration
Scientist Dezhang Chu leads the calibration from the acoustics lab
Scientist Dezhang Chu communicates with the team at the down riggers on where to move the “magic sphere” for calibration
This screen monitors where the sphere is under the ship. The goal during calibration is to move the sphere is all four quadrants of the screen.
We calibrated for two full days. It was surprising how long the process took. After explanations from the many scientists on board I learned that the process is so long because we are assessing numerous acoustic transducers under the ship. Then, for each transducer, we are calibrating the old acoustic system and the new acoustic system.
NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada is an incredible vessel that sails for months at a time. It has a crew of over 40 people (who I will be discussing in future blogs). The ship is a science lab with most state of the art equipment and also home for the crew on board that make the boat run 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. Here is a quick behind the scenes look at this remarkable vessel.
The Deck:When you embark the ship, the first thing you see is a huge deck with massive pieces of equipment. Each item has a different purpose based on what scientific study is taking place throughout the leg of the journey.
Two of the nets we will be using to catch hake and other organisms. Each net has different size liners which we will be testing.
A view of the back deck and all the equipment
Another view of the back deck
A view looking up from the deck at the top vessel
The Bridge: This is where the captain and his crew spend most of their day. The bridge has all of the most up-to-date technology to ensure we are all safe while on board. Operations occur 24 hours a day, so the ship never sleeps. Officers on the bridge must know what is happening on the ship, what the weather and traffic is like around the ship. The bridge has highly advanced radar to spot obstacles and other vessels. It also is the center of communication for all units on board the ship.
The officers of NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada.
The bridge of NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada
The Galley and Mess Hall:I expected to come on board and lose weight. Then I met Arnold. He is our incredible galley master who makes some of the best meals I have had on a ship. Yes, this better than food on a buffet line on a cruise. Arnold works his magic in a small kitchen and has to plan, order, and organize food two weeks out. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served at the same time everyday. The food is prepared and everyone eats in the mess hall. Beverages, cereal, salad, and most importantly, ice cream are available 24 hours a day, so there is no need to ever be hungry. Every meal has a large menu posted on the television monitor and you can eat whatever you want. Every meal so far has been amazing.
Master Chef Arnold showing me his organized refrigerator
In the food storage closet
The mess hall
The mess hall
An amazing buffet is served three times a day at 7am, 11am, and 5pm.
The menu is posted for every meal
Salad is available 24 hours a day
Ice cream and snacks available 24 hours a day
Drinks are always available
Staterooms:Sleeping quarters are called staterooms and most commonly sleep two people. Each stateroom has its own television and a bathroom, which is called a head. As The bunks have these neat curtains that keep out the light just in case you and your roommate are working different shifts.
My stateroom which I share with Charlie, a volunteer college student
Names on our door
Laundry Room: There are three washer machines and three dryers that crew can use to clean their clothes during off-duty hours
The laundry room
The laundry room
The Entertainment Room:The living room of the ship. This room has a large screen TV, comfy recliners, and hundreds of movies, including new releases.
The entertainment room
The entertainment room
The Acoustics Lab:The acoustics lab is like the situation room for the scientists. There are large computer screens every where that can monitor all of the things the scientists are doing. For the past two days, Rebecca, our Chief Scientist, along with other scientists, lead the calibration from that room.
Scientist Steve de Blois hard at work in the acoustics lab
Scientist Dezhang Chu hard at work in the acoustics lab
A look at the entire acoustics lab
The Wet Lab: The wet lab will be used to inspect and survey the hake when we start fishing later this week.
The wet lab which will be used when we start fishing later this week
A random look in the freezer in the wet lab:-)
I only just began my exploration of the ship. I will have so many more places to share throughout the journey. Later this week I will be asking our Chief Engineer to take me on a behind the scenes tour of “below deck” which is where they turn salt water to freshwater, handle all trash on board, etc. I will also be asking a member of captain’s officers to teach me a little about the navigation equipment up in the bridge. I will be sure to write about all I learn in future blogs.
Thank you for continuing to join me on this epic adventure.
Geographic Area of Cruise: Seattle, Washington to Newport, Oregon
Date: September 1, 2018
About My School and I:
My name is Justin Garritt and I teach mathematics in Baltimore City at KIPP Ujima Academy. KIPP stands for Knowledge is Power Program and is a nationwide charter school network. Most of the 224 KIPP schools serve in communities that have been historically left behind. My awesome middle school serves the best 750 5th through 8th graders in the world. Sadly, due to recent budget cuts throughout our city, science programs have been cut. Three years ago, our school reduced our students’
access to science in half. Students now only receive science for half the year. Many of our world’s most important problems require amazing and informed scientists and our kids have to be a part of those solutions. As a mathematics teacher who has the privilege of having my students for double the time of our science team, it is crucial that I make cross-curricular connections to science in my classroom. As a lifelong learner, I can’t wait to get on board a National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) ship so I can investigate new and creative ways to infuse all the research I will be doing into my curriculum. I can’t wait for students at my school to see me working among the most talented scientists in the world. I can’t wait for my students at my school to picture themselves someday working as scientists with NOAA and solving our world’s most important problems that involve our precious environment. I can’t wait for my future students to get excited when learning statistics, scaling, and ratios with actual data I collected while sailing in the Pacific.
NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada arrival in to Seattle port
The beautiful Seattle skyline near port
To My Baltimore and New York Supporters:
For those of you reading from Baltimore or my hometown, let me tell you a bit about what I am doing.
Last Fall I was sent information about a program called the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association Teacher at Sea Program (NOAA TAS) from a friend and mentor of mine, Amy Wilson. She knew how much I loved ships, water, and exciting adventures and thought I would be interested in this unique experience that could benefit my students and school. NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program gives K-12 teachers across the country insight into our ocean planet & increases understanding of earth system science through real research projects. Teachers are paired with wonderful scientists across a variety of ecosystems across the planet in order to learn from them so they can take back their knowledge gained to their school communities. Fast forward six months and here I am sailing aboard a NOAA ship named Bell A. Shimada. It sails from Seattle, Washington to Newport, Oregon and conducts scientific experiments throughout its journey. I will be writing about these over the next few weeks. Throughout the trip we will be using scientific equipment and techniques that I never knew existed. I will be studying and learning about things I never heard of. I will be working side by side with scientists to learn their exact roles. I will be interviewing people throughout the ship about what a career is like on board a NOAA ship. The whole time I will be posting updates and pictures on this blog. I hope you will join me on this journey.
When I return to KIPP Baltimore, I hope that I will be better equipped to create epic math lessons that are grade level and common core aligned but infuse the data I collected on board Bell A. Shimada. I hope my ratios and proportions unit and my statistics unit come alive for my future scholars. I hope that I can teach my students about the incredible careers involving science with the NOAA so that a few consider it for their life path. Personally, I hope I can be more educated on some of the most pressing environmental issues the future of our world faces.
Although I am nervous about my lack of scientific knowledge, I am so excited to participate in this once in a life time opportunity for myself and my future students back in Baltimore.
The next time you will hear from me, I will be off the coast of Seattle surrounded by water, scientists, and fish.
Seattle sightseeing before departure at the Space Needle
An orca whale visits while riding the ferry near port
The famous Pike’s Place Fish Market massive lobster tails
Geographic Area of Cruise: Seattle, Washington to Southeast, Alaska
Weather Data from the Bridge: Latitude: 48.15° N, Longitude: 122 ° South 58.0’ West, Visibility: 8 nautical miles, Wind: 24 knots, Temperature: 14.2° C
Science and Technology Log
I was fortunate enough to sit in on a survey orientation for new survey technicians and junior officers with Lieutenant Steven Loy. He was on Rainier as the Field Operations Officer, F.O.O., in the past and is currently here as an augmenter filling the role of Senior Watch Officer since he has navigated through the Inside Passage several times. In his two hour orientation, he shared a wealth of knowledge and discussed how multibeam sonar and ultrasounds are two opposite ends to the ultrasonic pulse spectrum.
Multibeam sonar sends out sound and measures the time it takes to return to calculate the depth of the ocean floor. The accuracy of the depth data generated from the multibeam sonar relies on the sound speed profile of the water. The combined effects of temperature, salinity and pressure generate a sound speed profile. Because of the inherent importance of this profile, there are several different ways to measure it. The sound velocity profiler measures this right at the interface of the multibeam sonar. C.T.D.s., or conductivity temperature and depth machines, measure water profile while the ship is stopped. M.V.P.s, or moving vessel profilers, take the water profile as the vessel is moving. Lastly, XBTs are expendable bathythermographs that measure temperature while the ship is in motion.
Sound is affected by different variables as it is energy that travels through a medium as a wave. Lieutenant Loy shared an informative website, The Discovery of Sound in the Sea, where I was able to enhance my understanding. Sound can travel through a liquid, such as water, a gas like air, or a solid like the sea floor. On average, sound travels about 1500 meters per second in sea water. However, the rate changes at different times of day, various locations, changing seasons and varying depths of the water. By looking at sound speed at one particular place in the ocean, you can determine how the different variables affect this sound. Usually, as depth increases, temperature decreases, while salinity and pressure increase.
A multi-beam sensor has a metal plate receiver and a transmitter perpendicular to one another. This array geometry enhances sound. The sound velocity profiler is next to the receiver and measures right at the interface. To determine the speed of sound right where the beam is generated, sonar is used to measure speed sound across a known distance. This information is then utilized in the overall determination of the depth of the ocean floor. Once this cast is taken, the Seafloor Information System (SIS), can adjust sonar measurements accordingly.
Another way to measure the sound profile of water includes a C.T. D. This device measures the conductivity, temperature and depth of the water. Conductivity measures the electrical current of the water. The more dissolved salt, or ions in solution, the greater the conductivity and salinity of the water. The depth of the water is directly related to the pressure of the water. Salinity, temperature and pressure affect the sound speed profile of water. This machine has a high data rate that goes up and down the water column. The titanium C.T.D. operates at a high pressure and costs about forty thousand dollars. This accurate technology can only be utilized when the boat is stopped and is used on the smaller survey launches.
A third method of measuring sound profile is the M.V.P., moving vessel profiler, which takes the data when the ship is moving. These are calibrated before a survey begins and are an efficient way to collect data. An expansive crane lowers the metal torpedo with the sensor off the fantail, the overhanging back part of the ship, into the water to collect the data. The fish is programmed to stop twenty meters above the ocean floor, at which point it returns to its docked position. On ship Rainier, the deck department deploys the fish with a cable wire and the plot room with the survey technicians controls the sensor.
Another way to collect the sound profile of water with a moving vessel is to use an expendable probe. As temperature decreases, the sound speed decreases. Since temperature is the most important factor affecting the speed of sound, an X.B.T., Expendable Bathythermograph, or expendable probe created by the military. With bathy relating to depth and thermo meaning heat, this measures the temperature of the water at a cost of about one hundred dollars. These probes descend at a known rate, so, depth is a function of time.
We left port yesterday at 16:30, which has been a highlight of my NOAA Teacher at Sea Experience thus far. Before leaving port, all hands were assigned a different assignment to help with the launch. I watched the crew bring in the gangway that connects the ship to the port then disassemble it. The crew with hard hats and orange work vests took down poles and neatly tied up different sections by knotting ropes. We slowly progressed out of the port after a cargo ship passed us.
Once the ship picked up speed and the ocean breeze was in my hair, I felt a new kind of freedom. With the Seattle skyline behind us and the beautiful green peninsulas in front of us, I was content to be moving forward. Everyone seemed to feel relieved once we were underway. I felt gratitude as I enjoyed watching the sunset from the flying bridge, the area of the ship above the bridge at the front of the ship.
After sunset, I returned to my berth, or sleeping quarters, located in the bow of the ship on the C-deck. I heard the constant white noise of the propellers that got much louder when the pitch, or angle, of them changed. This sound of seawater combined with the rocking motion of the ship lulled me to sleep on our first night at sea.
Did You Know?
Juneau, the American capital of Alaska, can only be entered by plane or boat. It is inaccessible by roads due to large mountain ranges on either side.
Geographic Area of Cruise: Seattle, Washington to North Coast of Kodiak Island, Alaska
Date: June 4, 2018
Weather Data from the Bridge
This evening as I write the blog in port in Seattle, Washington, it is partly cloudy with a low of 53 degrees Fahrenheit. There are west southwest winds at 10-14 miles per hour.
Science and Technology Log
NOAA Ship Rainier surveyed parts of Possession Sound last month and survey technicians created two and three dimensional maps with the depths of the sea floor around Everett, Washington. The 31 square nautical mile maps were developed after processing data utilizing single-beam and multi-beam sonar over a three week period. A colored depth range map was generated and superimposed onto a previous nautical map. The fact that the contour lines matched proved the accuracy of the survey. An exciting part of the Puget Sound survey proved to be a shipwreck from an Alaskan fishing boat that burned when anchored in 1982.
Before completing the survey, a computer-generated polygon plan was drawn to section out the areas that each boat would cover. While Rainier has the ability to survey large areas, it was out of the water being repaired due to damage to the rudder. The four launch boats and one small shoreline ship covered the entire area. The launch boats utilized an efficient multi-beam sonar to generate the map in conjunction with a single beam sonar on a shoreline ship. The single beam sonar is located on a jet boat, rather than a boat with a propeller, which has less draft, making it a better platform for surveying in shallow water.
Multi-beam sonar has the ability to quickly and accurately collect data on the depth of the sea floor. NOAA Ship Rainier and the four launches each have a multi-beam sonar where the transmitter sends out a sound pulse and the receiver creates a 512 beam from the returning echo of the sea floor. The 512 beam swath, or fan shaped area of sound beams, generated from the receiver creates an image on the computer of the depth of the sea floor. The sound travels to the ocean floor and then back to the receiver in the boat, located perpendicular to the transmitter in a Mills Cross orientation. The time return, or time it takes to send out a signal and return to the receiver is then applied to an algorithm that determines the depth of the ocean floor. Things to consider in the speed of sound include the source level of the sound, the transmission loss from the sound traveling, and the noise level from other materials. Further factors that affect sound travel in the ocean include the type of sediment. Soft sediment like mud and silt absorb sound while hard materials like rock, granite and metal reflect sound energy. The tides must also be recorded and utilized to determine the actual depth of the water. All of these factors are put into the formula used for calculating sea depth.
Collecting data in deeper water is easier than surveying shore-line data. The near-shore data uses single resolution for more detail and the outer depth information utilizes a much higher resolution, or coarse resolution. The combined variable resolution allows for the multiple resolution image to be put on one surface, generating specific maps. Shoreline surveys have a narrow swath meaning there are closer runs that must go back and forth in order to cover the same range as a deep water survey. The multi-beam swath may only reach 8 meters when close to shore, but may be as wide as 60 meters when it can travel further into the ocean. So shallow water takes longer to survey and deeper water can be surveyed faster.
Once all of the data is collected, the points from the beam become pixels on a two dimensional or three dimensional computer generated map. The time return charts are put into the Caris software, which is like the arc GIS of nautical maps. The software produces a map with varying depths of the ocean floor represented by different colors. Hydrographic Survey technician Amanda generated this accurate 3-D image of the shipwreck around Everett after processing the data.
Survey technician Amanda also shared her knowledge on removing the noise from images before generating maps. Often times, the sonar waves create some interference that doesn’t match up with the rest of the map and must be removed. Different ships survey the data using different colors so that when the maps are combined, the differences are apparent. The role of processing data is completed by survey technicians during the off season or when the ship is not actively surveying, such as when it is in port. Technicians have a one hundred and twenty day time period to complete data processing to the established specifications post survey. Data is then sent to the Pacific Hydrographic Branch for quality control and eventual submission to the Marine Chart Division for eventual application to nautical charts.
I arrived early morning on Saturday, June 2nd and after taking a taxi to the Seattle Coast Guard base, a patrolling officer brought me to Ship Rainier. I called the bridge and informed the officer on watch that I had arrived. Charlene, the A.B., or able bodied seaman, was on watch and gave me a basic tour, although I only assimilated a small portion with my sleep-deprived, jet-lagged brain. Luckily, I had haphazardly met my roommate. She showed me the tight sleeping quarters with locking drawers and cabinets to keep all things stationery, along with a small sink in the corner. The bunk consisted of two metal beds stacked on top of each other with only enough room to lay down. Since there are only two of us staying in the room for four, it is reasonably comfortable. There are two bathrooms, or heads, along with two showers located in the hall outside of bunk C-09.
After resting for quite some time, I joined Audrey and Mike, two hydrographic survey technicians, on an adventure to Pike’s Marketplace on this atypically warm Seattle afternoon. Open faced crab and wild salmon sandwiches were enjoyed overlooking the Puget Sound and the bustling market. Exploring downtown Seattle on foot proved to be a graceful way to transition to this new way of life at the port.
On Sunday, I went for lunch with Dan and Johnny from the engineering department. These two were working hard to cut a metal plate on the stack so that they could access inside for repairs. Preparing to embark on a ship for a week in transit requires tremendous work. I have thoroughly enjoyed observing the process for this journey and look forward to leaving the port when the time comes.
Not only do I enjoy living on a ship at port, but I love learning about the different lifestyle of the Rainier crew. Some long term ship employees have Ship Rainier as their address and reside in Newport, Oregon on this ship during the off season during the winter. Oftentimes, they are out to sea for three weeks at a time during the field season, then they port for several weeks.
Today was the first day a meal was served on the ship and I came across several familiar and new faces at breakfast. After breakfast I went to the prop room and the holodeck where the officers and technicians were analyzing data. At 1300 there was an all hands meeting with an update from the Captain and Chief Officer or CO. Next, I received damage control, or D.C., from Michelle Levano who also grew up on Long Island, New York. The training included two other new junior officers, Stephanie and Harper, who studied Environmental Conservation and Aeronautical Engineering, respectively. Christopher, a new A.B. and Ray from engineering also joined us on the walk around the ship where we learned the different signals for various emergencies that might take place on the ship. I also learned where the lifeboats are located and the protocol for a man overboard, M.O.B.,or what to do if and when you have to abandon the ship.
So, all in all my time on the ship and in Seattle has had a balance between the new structure of life on a ship with the freedom to explore a city. I’m excited to experience how Rainier functions once we leave the port life on Thursday at 1300 hours. I’m also curious what it will be like to be stationed to a 231 foot vessel when I’m used to the freedom of exploring.
Did you know?
There are two types of NOAA employees on ship Rainier. There are NOAA employees and also NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps employees who wear uniforms and operate like U.S. military officers. They share the uniform of Coast Guard members and are one of the two unarmed branches of the military.
Latitude: 47° 44.116′ N
Longitude: 122° 32.070′ W
Sea Wave Height: 1 foot or less
Wind Speed: 5-8 knots in the AM, then less than 5 knots in PM
Wind Direction: SSE, variable
Visibility: 16.1 km
Air Temperature: 8oC
Sky: Scattered Clouds
Science and Technology Log
For the past two days, NOAA Ship Fairweather has been anchored in Port Madison, part of Puget Sound off the coast of Seattle, Washington. The crew is currently stopped for a few days in Puget Sound before heading north to Alaska in order to complete the yearly Hydrographic Systems Readiness Review (HSRR). During HSRR, the survey techs test all of the hydrographic survey equipment that will be used during the field season. It’s essential to test and calibrate the equipment at the start of the season in order to ensure the data accuracy for upcoming projects.
The first part of HSRR began Thursday morning. Because NOAA Ship Fairweather spent winter at dock in Yaquina Bay, barnacles and algae were able to grow plentifully on the ship’s bottom, making it their home. The dive team deployed to check the Fairweather‘s hull and clean off the sonar transducers, removing any biofouling (sea life that had built up on the ship’s bottom) from the winter in port.
Dive Team Beginning HSRR in Port Madison, WA
Divers Preparing to Remove Biofouling from Ship’s Hull and Sonar Equipment
On Thursday afternoon and Friday, the next phase of HSRR began. On Friday, I was able to spend most of the day on the survey launches as a few of the survey techs conducted patch testing (a process for precisely determining an orientation of the launch’s sonar). NOAA Ship Fairweather has four 28-foot launches, and I spent the morning on 2808, and then the afternoon on 2806. When working on projects in relatively shallow waters, the Fairweather deploys these launches to collect data more efficiently as four launches can work on a project simultaneously.
The launches are driven by a coxswain, often a NOAA officer or deck hand, while a Hydrographer-in-Charge (HIC) plans track lines for the vessel to run. Sometimes, a coxswain-in-training or HIC-in training will also join the launch. As part of HSRR, the HIC chose a few track lines for the launch to run, and the coxswain, drove the launch back and forth on the lines at various speeds. While we ran the track lines, the HIC was able to gather data by sending an acoustic ping from the sonar which reflects off the seafloor and is then recorded when it returns to the sonar. The two-way travel time of the pin is measured, which (when coupled with the speed of sound through the water) can be used to calculate the water depth.
While in Port Madison, the crew will send all four of the Fairweather‘s launches out to run the same track lines and to ensure the data collected by each launch matches. At night, after the HIC’s have gathered data, the survey techs spend hours in the plot room, looking at the day’s data and checking for any discrepancies. The survey techs correct any errors in the data and the saved changes are sent back to each launch’s computing system. This is known as calibrating. By running patch tests and calibrating the launches to one another, survey techs are able to guarantee that data collected throughout the season is precise, no matter which launch is used for a given area.
Data Being Collected from the CTD on the Launch Monitor: Conductivity (Salinity), Temperature, and Depth (Pressure)
Before and after running the patch tests, the crew deploys a CTD The CTD measures the conductivity, temperature, and depth of the water. The survey techs are interested in the CTD readings because this information helps them assess the speed of sound (or the sonar waves) in a given body of water. In turn, knowing the speed of sound and the amount of time the CTD takes to reach the ocean floor, allows survey techs to calculate ocean depths. (The classic distance equation, d=rt!)
Conductivity refers to the ability of the given water sample to pass an electrical current. Survey techs are interested in the conductivity, because the conductivity is another way to gauge the salinity (or “saltiness” of the water). The more salt in a sample of ocean water, the greater the ocean water’s conductivity and the faster the sound waves travel. Next is temperature. Water closer to the surface is warmer, and thus, sound will travel faster closer to the surface. Conversely, the cooler the temperature, the slower the sound waves travel. The final measurement is depth, or pressure. The deeper the water, the greater the pressure. Greater depths increase the speed of the sonar waves. The average speed of sound in the water is 1,500 m/s. By comparison, the average speed of sound in air is about 340m/s.
After dinner, survey techs are assigned to night data processing. I joined one of the survey techs, Ali, who was kind enough to explain how the launch data is analyzed. One interesting note is the red light in the plot room. The red light is used because the plot room is next to the bridge, where the officers and deck crew keep watch. The red lights help the crew keep their eyes ready for night watch, so those processing data also work under red lights.
In the above photograph, notice the various colors representing the differing ocean depths. In this case, red is shallower and purple is deeper. Notice that as the survey tech, hovers over a datapoint with her mouse, the data collected by Fairweather launch 2807 is shown as a coordinate with a depth of 168.3 meters. Creating a color “painting” of the data points is helpful because the changing colors help the survey techs understand the slope of the ocean floor; closer together colors mean a steeper slope or a sharp increase in depth, whereas larger swatches of the same color mean a flatter seafloor.
The green lines in the picture represent the “lines” that the launch ran, meaning the area where the coxswain drove back and forth in the boat at varying speeds. Notice that there are two lines as the launches always run two lines to ensure accuracy. As the launch is driven back and forth in the water, the transducers on the bottom of the launch emits multi-beam sonar, and sound waves ping off the ocean floor several times per second, sending sound waves back to the launch which are translated into millions of data points by the survey techs.
A Cross Section of the Patch Test “Painting”
On This 3D Grid, Survey Techs Show a Virtual Map of the Sea Floor of Puget Sound
Two Lines Being Compared for Accuracy
The survey techs use various computer programs and imaging software to analyze the data. Above, the survey techs can look at a 3D cross-section of the data, which essentially looks like a virtual map of the sea floor. In the bottom right corner, the survey tech compares two lines for accuracy, one with data points colored red, the other green. When the lines line up exactly, precision is ensured. The survey techs analyze the data to make sure the rocking of the boat in any direction (front/back, side-to-side, etc.) won’t interfere with mapping accuracy later in the season. Finally, survey techs compare their work with each other to ensure precise calibration.
One of my favorite things about being onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather are the tremendous views every time I look outside. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular. We’ve had some really great weather over the last few days, and though it has been a bit chilly, the skies have been fairly clear.
Did You Know?
On nautical charts (or maps), units of measurement vary. Ocean depths can be marked in feet, meters, or fathoms. Fathoms, like knots, is another term steeped in nautical history. When sailors used to measure ocean depths by hanging rope over the side of a vessel, they would pull in the line, looping the rope from hand to hand. The distance of the rope from one outstretched hand to another (a sailor’s wingspan) became known as a fathom.
Challenge #2 – Devotion 7th Graders: Measure your wingspan, the distance from one outstretched hand to another. Then measure four other friends, classmates, or family members’ wingspans. What is the median wingspan for you and your friends? What is the mean wingspan for you and your friends? What is the mean absolute deviation for your collective wingspans? One fathom is equal to 1.8288 meters or 6 feet. If one fathom is the average sailor’s wingspan, how do your wingspans compare? Present your findings on a 8.5x11inch paper as a mini-poster. Include illustrations and calculations.
Sea Wave Height: SW 3 ft at 5 seconds. NW swell 9 feet at 10 seconds.
Wind Speed: 11 to 14 kt. Gusts to 20kt.
Wind Direction: SSW
Visibility: 15 kilometers
Air Temperature: 7.8oC
Sky: AM showers, scattered clouds in PM.
Science and Technology Log
Though we were originally set to sail on Monday afternoon, predicted 10-15 foot swells for Monday evening delayed our departure from Newport, Oregon until Tuesday afternoon. The extra time in Newport allowed me to spend some time in the Plotting Room aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather. The Plotting Room is one of the main work areas for the hydrographers, the NOAA technicians who both plan the missions and then process data collected after each launch.
The Plotting Room
The Main Project Table in the Plotting Room
The West of Prince of Wales Island Project. Notice how each “sheet” is assigned a color.
One of the friendly surveyors, Bekah, gave me an overview of the upcoming project which will focus on the area west of Prince of Wales Island. The hydrographic survey technicians first receive an assignment, known as a project, from NOAA. Next, technicians, break each project into “sheets,” or smaller sections, which are assigned to each technician or NOAA officer. From there, the technicians further break down the sheets into “polygons.” The polygons are like mini-sections of a given area of the map, and are sized depending on a number of factors including the amount and distance from the shoreline as well as the depth. The polygons are assigned one-by-one to the survey launches to complete.
One of NOAA’s primary goals with hydrographic surveying and updating the charts is to obtain more accurate data on the Pacific seafloor and its features in order to promote safe marine navigation. NOAA is part of the US Department of Commerce, and so updating navigational charts will help improve safe passage of all ships, especially commercial cargo ships. As commercial ships grow larger and heavier and global trade continues to increase, improved navigational charts allow for increased shipping drafts (how deep the vessel extends below the water, which is a function of how much cargo they can load), which in turn creates a positive economic impact for the national economy.
Today, NOAA Ship Fairweather uses sonar to measure seafloor depths. Previously, hydrographers used lead lines. Essentially, lead lines were dropped over the ship’s rail and lowered until they rested on the seafloor. While lead lines are occasionally still used today in very shallow areas close to shore, creating new seafloor maps with sonar allows for much greater precision, are much less labor intensive, and allow for continually measuring the depth.
On Tuesday afternoon, at 14:00 (2pm), we set sail from Newport, Oregon and began making our way north to Port Madison, near Seattle Washington. After spending a few days at dock in Newport, I was eager to get underway, and the rest of the crew, many of whom had been in Newport for much of the winter, also seemed eager to begin the season. While the views leaving Oregon were spectacular, the wide open seas proved a bit of a challenge. I quickly learned that heading to the open deck on the back of the ship, the fantail, was an ideal place to catch some respite from feeling seasick. Later in the evening, the waves subsided a bit, and by morning the seas felt much calmer.
Each day, the POD (Plan of the Day) is updated with important meetings, mealtimes, and general updates. Emergency responsibilities are also posted, and one of the first things we did once we were underway at sea was practice drills for a fire and abandon ship. As part of the abandon ship drill, I had to practice putting on the “survival suit.”
The POD (Plan of the Day)
Emergency Drill Assignments
Donning the “Survival Suit”
Most aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather work several four hour shifts or “watches” each day, and some may also work a few additional hours of overtime. Perhaps for this reason, meal times seem a bit early with breakfast at 7am and lunch at 11am. Dinner, when in port is at 4pm, and at sea, it’s at 5pm. Meals are prepared in the ship’s galley (or kitchen), and served buffet style. The crew eats together in the mess (or main dining area). In addition to meals, snacks such as cereal, fruit, and icecream are available 24/7 and some additional options are available for those on night watches who may eat “night lunch.” Meals are a great time to meet the many aboard Fairweather and better understand how the different teams–the wardoom, the engineers, the survery technicians, the deck, the stewards, the ET, and the visiting scientists–all work together.
Meals Served Buffet Style
Night “Lunch” Freezer
Did You Know?
NOAA Ship Fairweather is celebrating its 50th birthday this year! Fairweather was designed by the US Deparment of Commerce Maritime Administration and built in Jacksonville, Florida by Aerojet-General Shipyards. Fairweather was commissioned in October 1968 and is homeported in Ketchikan, Alaska. Fairweather’s sister ship is NOAA Ship Rainier which is also part of NOAA’s Pacific Fleet.
NOAA Ship Fairweather has a field season of about 220 days per year. At 231 feet long, it can house roughly 57 crew and weighs 1591 tons! While cruising, Fairweather averages 13 knots, and while surveying, the ship travels 6 to 10 knots.
By the way, you might be wondering what exactly is a knot. As the story goes, ancient mariners used to tell how fast their ship was moving by throwing a piece of wood tied to a rope overboard and measuring how much time it would take the wood to travel from the bow (front) to the stern (back) of the ship. According to historian Elizabeth Nix, by the 16th century, this method was updated to include knots tied at certain intervals in the rope that was thrown overboard. Sailors began to count the knots to determine a ship’s speed, and eventually a “knot” became a nautical mile per hour.
Nautical miles, by the way, refer to the Earth’s circumference, and are different from “land miles” which reflect the distance it takes to walk 1,000 steps (according to the Romans) or 5,280 feet (according to Queen Elizabeth). Today, one nautical mile is understood as 1,852 meters or 1.1508 miles. Or, more practically, it is one minute of latitude (where 60 minutes of latitude = 1 degree).
A knot, then, is a measure of speed used by ships and planes. A rate of one knot refers to covering a distance of one nautical mile in one hour.
Challenge Question #1: Devotion 7th Graders — Can you convert the speed of your favorite land animal, your favorite sea animal, your favorite bird, your favorite car/plane/boat, and this year’s Boston Marathon winner (male or female) to knots? Show the work to justify your conversions and then create an illustration comparing your choices.
NOAA Teacher at Sea Britta Culbertson Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson September 4-19, 2013
Mission: Juvenile Walley Pollock and Forage Fish Survey Geographical Area of Cruise: Gulf of Alaska Date: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
My name is Britta Culbertsonand I am currently serving as anAlbert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow in Washington, DC. Prior to my fellowship, I was a high school science and art teacher in Seattle, Washington at The Center School. I am serving my fellowship in NOAA’s Office of Education and have spent the last year getting exposed to many aspects of NOAA’s education efforts.
Einstein Fellows are K-12 science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) educators who come from all over the United States after a competitive selection process to serve in federal agencies or on Capitol Hill. They typically serve for the duration of one school year. Fortunately, I was offered to stay one more year in my office and will complete my second year in July 2014. Through my role as an Einstein Fellow, I have been able share NOAA resources with teachers at national conferences, work on the education website, and network with a community of STEM professionals in Washington, D.C. among other things. One task that I hope to accomplish this year is figuring out a way to make real-time NOAA datasets more accessible to teachers.
I am really excited about the opportunity to be a NOAA Teacher at Sea to learn more about the fisheries research conducted by NOAA scientists and to see if there might be opportunities to share real data from my cruise with students and their teachers.
After spending a year meeting Teacher at Sea alumni and hearing about their experiences, I am overjoyed to embark on my own cruise and to have a chance to work with scientists in the field. I think these real-life experiences are crucial for teachers because it allows them get in touch with the scientific process in the field as opposed to the artificial environment in which we conduct experiments in the classroom. Sharing these real-life research experiences with students is vital to their understanding of science.
I spent part of my summer in Greenland working with high school students from Denmark, Greenland, and the United States. During my three weeks there, I was inspired by the way the students were more interested in the research they conducted. Being in the field made it more relevant and the students were more engaged. We had visual teleconferences with scientists who were studying climate change and also worked with scientists who were in Greenland conducting research. It was such a phenomenal experience for everyone involved. I wish to use this trip as a model for my future classroom experiences and I am hoping that some of the scientists on my cruise might be willing to stay in touch with me and my students in the future. Not only do I wish to incorporate more “real world” experiences and data into my science teaching, but I hope to connect more students with scientists.
I will be departing Washington, D.C. on September 2 and will travel via Seattle and Anchorage to reach my final destination in Kodiak, Alaska. I will board NOAA’s ship the Oscar Dyson on September 4 at port in Kodiak. From Kodiak, we will head into the Gulf of Alaska and eventually make our way toward Prince William Sound, which incidentally, was the site of the disastrous Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. During the cruise, we will be collecting and studying walleye pollock. If you’ve ever eaten fish sticks or imitation crabmeat, you were most likely eating pollock! According to NOAA’s Fishwatch.gov, “The Alaska pollock fishery is one of the largest, most valuable fisheries in the world.”
Our cruise has several objectives ranging from the study of walleye pollock to physical and chemical oceanography. I’m also excited about one aspect of the cruise, which is a gear comparison to examine the catch differences for each species between the anchovy trawl and the CamTrawl. We will also be describing the community structure, biomass, and vitality of the other swimming, aquatic organisms we capture along with pollock. These organisms include capelin, eulachon, Pacific cod, arrowtooth flounder, sablefish, and rockfish. Additionally, we will examine species that typically prey upon pollock and we will measure the environmental variables that could affect pollock ecology.
It was a wonderful coincidence that I happened to be in Washington State visiting the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS) the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center when the science team for my cruise had their pre-cruise meeting. I was able to attend in person and meet the scientists with whom I will spend the next three weeks. I am really looking forward to working with them! Visiting the OCNMS was a special treat before my upcoming cruise. It was pretty awesome to stand along the Olympic Coast and check out all of the tide pools and other things like the huge whale skeleton I found. In a few days instead of being on the edge of this massive ocean, I’ll be on a boat discovering what is in the depths of the same ocean. I’m looking forward to leaving the hot and humid D.C. weather behind for the cooler weather in Kodiak. Next time you hear from me, I’ll be a teacher at sea!
NOAA Teacher at Sea
Marian Wagner Aboard R/V Savannah August 16 — 26, 2011
Mission: Reef Fish Survey Geographical Area: Atlantic Ocean (Off the Georgia and Florida Coasts) Date: August 12, 2011
I’m off to live the life of a NOAA research scientist aboard the Research Vessel (R/V) Savannah! Our work is part of a population monitoring mission (estimating number of fish in population), doing fishery-independent sampling of reef fishes in the Atlantic off the coasts of Georgia and Florida. See “terms defined” below to learn more.
Preparing to work with and make the most of my time with a team of scientists as a NOAATeacher at Sea (TAS) participant means I have a lot to learn in a short amount of time! This morning, I leave Seattle, and tonight I arrive in Savannah, GA. I can’t believe this day has finally arrived!
I teach 3rd and 4th grade at Salmon Bay School in Seattle Public Schools, and students and families will tell you teaching SCIENCE! is my passion. Central to my passion in teaching science is the importance of teaching students and teachers that we must better understand and protect the earth’s resources with which we are interdependent, and develop a more responsible and sustainable relationship with how we use these resources. The fundamental goal of all my various ways of incorporating this NOAA research experience into my teaching will be to help students and teachers understand the ocean better and our relationships with it, and use this knowledge to protect the world’s oceans.
I have never had first-hand experience in conducting field research (outside of research with children for educational purposes), and I believe it is especially essential in the leadership roles I have come to serve in science education that I have this foundational knowledge first-hand of HOW research is conducted in the field. I look forward to getting my hands dirty! (salty?)
A few days ago I received word that I have passed all my requirements to be endorsed to teach 6-12 grade biology and this experience will stretch me beyond coursework and provide a true field research experience, especially essential if I decide to use my biology endorsement to teach middle school or high school level biology, where I will draw upon this research experience in many valuable ways, especially by sharing methods of conducting research and by exposing students to the career options of working as a field scientist.
My 3rd and 4th graders (and my alumni too, I hope!) are sure to hear extensively about this field science research experience that I am about to dive into! Time to dress for the airport!
Fishery-independent sampling means data are collected separately from the landings of any commercial fisheries, and thus can be separated from economic factors that would compromise population trends based on how many fish are caught in a year (e.g., price of fish or fuel). So fishery-independent data are the closest we can come to a census, and are some of the most reliable data fed in to a “stock assessment”. The data we collect will have direct implications for stock assessment of these fish and ecosystem-based management of southeast U.S. marine fisheries. Here’s a link to more information on the work we are doing.
Seattle-ites: For more information, here’s a link to Federal stock assessment work in the Seattle area, perhaps more helpful because you might recognize your local species and habitats.