NOAA Teacher at Sea Patty McGinnis Aboard R/V Ocean Starr May 20 – 29, 2013
Mission: Juvenile Rockfish Survey Geographical Area of Cruise: San Francisco Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2013
I’m sitting in my hotel room where I will spend the night prior to boarding a plane for Philadelphia. I still feel the rocking of the boat, a strange, but evidently perfectly normal phenomenon. As I look back on the last week, I am flooded with memories—the smell of the catch, the constant sound of the boat engines, the feel of the ocean as she makes herself known to the Ocean Starr, the sight of a multitude of krill, and the taste of Crystal’s jambalaya made from freshly caught shrimp that had the misfortune of finding their way into our trawl.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a NOAA Teacher at Sea. In addition to developing an appreciation and deeper understanding of pelagic fish and the work that goes into managing our fisheries, I take away fond memories of my work and of the friendships forged. Although Fisheries Biologist Don Pearson, Biologist Sophie Webb, and graduate student Jamie Lee worked days, I had opportunities to spend time with each of them and learn from them.
When working the night shift, I found that our operations quickly settled into a comfortable routine thanks to Chief Scientist Keith Sakuma. Methodical and careful in his work, it was obvious how much he enjoyed taking the time to teach us and entertain us as we worked through the night. Although Lindsey, Brianna, Kaia, and Amber all have much more experience identifying fish than I do, we quickly formed a team that worked efficiently and cheerfully throughout the shift. Our work, however, would not have been possible without crewmen Rich, Nate, and Jason who braved the elements several times a night to release the trawl net and reel it back in. Rich especially enjoyed bantering with us and seeing what the trawls yielded.
During my time on the Ocean Starr I also quickly came to appreciate the rhythm of the day that our marvelous ship steward, Crystal, provided. She was always ready with an enthusiastic smile and thoroughly enjoyed applying her creative energies to sating everyone’s appetites.
In addition to Crystal, I got to know several members of the crew, all who were unanimous in their enthusiasm for their work. I heard time and time again how much they enjoy traveling and meeting the various scientists that board the Ocean Starr. All of the crew was incredibly patient when answering my questions. Dale Johnson graciously explained his navigational duties and briefed me on some of the equipment he uses. He explained how he keeps a constant eye on the radar which tells him the locations of other ships in the area. He also explained the electronic chart that he uses to navigate. As much as he enjoys the convenience of the electronic chart, however, using a paper chart is still an essential skill. Dale hones this skill frequently as he plans out the route on paper and transfers it to the electronic chart.
I enjoyed getting to know George Rayford, Jr., a QMED (engineering department) who caught the “working on the water” bug through his employment with a barge line that navigated inland rivers.
Captain Bud Hanson always referred to me as “Patty, Teacher at Sea.” I felt a bit like a princess with such a long title. He, too, was generous with his time and was patient with my questions. Captain Bud was delighted when I asked him if he would sign some flags that had been made by various classes in my school district—-I know that those classes are going to be thrilled when I return their little piece of their classroom that sailed with me on my adventure.
Thank you, NOAA, and thank you to my Ocean Starr friends. This past week has been an adventure I’ll never forget!
Weather Data from the Bridge
SW wind 10 knots
Wind waves 1 or 2 feet
17 degrees Celsius
Science and Technology Log
In Science we learn that a system consists of many parts working together. This ship is a small integrated system-many teams working together. Each team is accountable for their part of the hake survey. Like any good science investigation there are independent, dependent and controlled variables. There are so many variables involved just to determine where and when to take a fish sample.
The acoustic scientists constantly monitor sonar images in the acoustics lab. There are ten screens displaying different information in that one room. The skilled scientists decide when it is time to fish by analyzing the data. Different species have different acoustical signatures. Some screens show echograms of marine organisms detected in the water column by the echo sounders. With these echograms, the scientists have become very accurate in predicting what will likely be caught in the net. The OOD (Officer of the Deck) is responsible for driving the ship and observes different data from the bridge. Some of the variables they monitor are weather related; for example: wind speed and direction or swell height and period. Other variables are observed on radar like the other ships in the area. The topography of the ocean floor is also critical when nets are lowered to collect bottom fish. There are numerous sophisticated instruments on the bridge collecting information twenty four hours a day. Well trained officers analyze this data constantly to keep the ship on a safe course.
When the decision to fish has been made more variables are involved. One person must watch for marine mammals for at least 10 minutes prior to fishing. If marine mammals are present in this area then they cannot be disturbed and the scientists will have to delay fishing until the marine mammals leave or find another location to fish. When the nets are deployed the speed of the boat, the tension on the winch, the amount of weight attached will determine how fast the nets reach their target fishing depth. In the small trawl house facing the stern of the ship where the trawl nets are deployed, a variety of net monitoring instruments and the echo sounder are watched. The ship personnel are communicating with the bridge; the deck crew are controlling the winches and net reels and the acoustic scientist is determining exactly how deep and the duration of the trawl. Data is constantly being recorded. There are many decisions that must be made quickly involving numerous variables.
The Hake Survey began in 1977 collecting every three years and then in 2001 it became a biannual survey. Like all experiments there are protocols that must be followed to ensure data quality. Protocols define survey operations from sunrise to sunset. Survey transect line design is also included in the protocols. The US portion of the Hake survey is from approximately 60 nautical miles south of Monterey, California to the US-Canada Border. The exact location of the fishing samples changes based on fish detected in the echograms although the distance between transects is fished at 10 nautical miles. Covering depths of 50-1500 m throughout the survey. Sampling one species to determine the health of fish populations and ocean trends is very dynamic.
Science requires team work and accountability. Every crew member has an integral part in making this survey accurate. A willing positive attitude and ability to perform your best is consistently evident on the Miller Freeman. In the past few days, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to assist in collecting the data of most of the parts of this survey, even launching the CTD at night from the “Hero Platform” an extended grate from the quarter deck.
Before fishing, I’ve been on the bridge looking for marine mammals. When the fish nets have been recovered and dumped on the sorting table, I’ve sorted, weighed and measured fish. For my first experience in the wet lab, I was pleased to be asked to scan numbers (a relatively clean task) and put otoliths (ear bones) into vials of alcohol. I used forceps instead of a scalpel. Ten stomachs are dissected, placed in cloth bags and preserved in formaldehyde. A label goes into each cloth bag so that the specimen can be cross referenced with the otoliths, weight, length and sex of that hake. With all the high tech equipment it’s surprising that a lowly pencil is the necessary tool but the paper is high tech since it looks regular but is water proof. It was special to record the 100th catch of the survey.
Questions for the Day
How is a fish ear bone (otolith) similar to a tree trunk? (They both have rings that can be counted as a way to determine the age of the fish or the tree.)
The CTD (conductivity, temperature and depth) unit drops 60 meters per minute and the ocean is 425 meters deep at this location; how many minutes will it take the CTD to reach the 420 meter depth?
Think About This: The survey team directs the crane operator to stop the CTD drop within 5 meters of the bottom of the ocean. Can you think of reasons why the delicate machinery is never dropped exactly to the ocean floor? Some possible reasons are:
The swell in the ocean could make the ship higher at that moment;
An object that is not detected on the sonar could be on the ocean floor;
The rosetta or carousel holding the measurement tools might not be level.
Launching the CTD is a cooperative effort. The boom operator works from the deck above in visual contact. Everyone is in radio contact with the bridge since the ship slows down for this data collection.
Weather Data from the Bridge
SW wind 10 knots
Wind waves 1 or 2 feet with swell 6 feet at 10 seconds
17 degrees Celsius
Areas of fog
Science and Technology Log
The Miller Freeman docked in the Port Angeles harbor two days earlier than scheduled. Repair was needed on the trawling net reel. Then the bow thruster wasn’t cooperating on Tuesday so departure was delayed until Wednesday. Once at sea, the ship must be self reliant 24 hours a day seven days a week. Everyone and everything work together. Team work and cooperation are critical. Many different careers are on board. Smooth operation of the Miller Freeman relies on each department performing specific assignments. Some of these departments are:
NOAA Corps- commissioned officers who pilot the ship
Scientists-oceanographers, fisheries biologists and data analysts
Deck Dept.-maintain the ship and launch the survey equipment
Engineering Dept.-operate all ships mechanical systems
Steward Dept.-prepare meals
Electronics Technician – manages ship’s computers and network
Survey Department – assist the scientists with data collection and equipment
Some people have PhDs while others may have acquiredskills from on the job training. Most people seem to like the challenge of solving problems like how to weld an extra guide stick with the materials on board or how to map the course to the fishing transects. The opportunities seem as endless as the vast waters of the ocean.
Learning my way around the ship is one of my first tasks and everyone has been so very helpful. There are many hatches and steep ladders (stairs) to the different decks. Safety includes knowing how to exit quickly and how to put on a life suit in less than one minute. Like a fire drill at school we will have a fire or abandon ship drill sometime today. When I hear the ship’s alarm I must go to my stateroom, grab 4 things: my life preserver, bag with life suit, long sleeve shirt and hat then muster to the lab deck. There I slip off my shoes, shake the suit out of the bag, lay it out, sit in the middle, wiggle my legs in, kneel down, put in my left arm, pull up the hat, put in my right arm, arch my back and zip it up to my nose. With clear “how to” directions and practice given by my chief scientist, Larry Hufnagle, I’m ready for the mandatory drill.
Question of the Day
Why would you rather load a ship at high tide?
Something to Think About
When I departed the ship in the evening I had to walk down the gang plank but when I returned the next morning the gang plank was level. I only had to walk straight across to board the ship. The ship was at the exact same dock and no one moved the gang plank. What variable made the angle of the gang plank change?
Mission: 2009 United States/Canada Pacific Hake Acoustic Survey Geographical area of cruise: North Pacific Ocean from Monterey, CA to British Columbia, CA. Date: July 29, 2009
Weather Data from the Bridge (0800)
Wind speed: 10 knots
Wind direction: 345° from the north
Temperature: 14.1°C (dry bulb); 13.8°C (wet bulb)
Sea water temperature: 10.6°C
Wave height: 1 ft.
Swell direction: 320°
Swell height: 3-5 ft.
Air pressure: 1011.0 mb Weather note: There are two temperature readings taken on the Miller Freeman. The dry bulb measures the current temperature of the air. The wet bulb measures the absolute humidity of the air; uses a thermometer wrapped in a wet cloth. The dry and wet temperatures together give the dew point and help to determine humidity.
Science and Technology Log
Those aboard the Miller Freeman: including NOAA Corps, crew, and scientists were randomly selected to answer the following question.
How are science and the environment important to the work you do?
Here are some of their responses:
The engineers aboard the Miller Freeman are a group of hard working people. There are always engineers on duty 24 hours/ day to ensure the ship is running properly. Jake DeMello, 2nd engineer, gave me a tour of the Miller Freeman’s engine room. Jake attended California Maritime Academy where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Engineering. He has a 12-4 shift which means that he works from noon to 4:00 p.m. and then again from midnight to 4:00 a.m.
Before taking the job aboard NOAA’s Miller Freeman, Jake worked on a Mississippi River paddle boat traveling from New Orleans north past St. Louis through the rivers’ many dams and locks. He reminisced on one memorable moment aboard the paddleboat; the day he saw Jimmy Dean, the famous singer and sausage maker. Jake and the other engineers do many jobs around the ship including checking the fuel and water levels throughout the day and fixing anything that needs repairing. The Miller Freeman is equipped with a machine shop, including lathe and welding equipment.
Among the jobs of the engineer is reporting daily fuel levels including:
Hydraulic oil used for daily fish trawls, CTD, gantry, and winch operations.
Gasoline used for the “Fast Recovery Boat.”
Diesel fuel used for the main engine.
Lube oil used for main engines and generators.
Fresh water production: The ship’s water desalination machine transforms 2,000 gallons of sea water into fresh drinking water daily. The ship’s water tanks hold a total of 7,350 gallons of fresh water. Another job of the engineer is taking soundings throughout the day/night. Taking soundings means measuring the levels of liquid in the tanks. There are tanks on both the starboard and port sides of the ship. The engineer needs to be sure that fuel levels are evenly distributed so that the ship will be evenly balanced in the ocean.
Vocabulary: Starboard: right side of the ship. Port: left side of the ship.
I write this off the coast of Oregon in the North Pacific Ocean. It has been an amazing 17 days aboard the Miller Freeman. I feel honored to have participated in NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program. It has truly changed the way I look at science in the classroom and has given be a better understanding of how scientists conduct research on a day to day basis in the field. I am excited to have made so many learning connections between the real world of scientific study and the elementary school science classroom. I thank NOAA, the Teacher at Sea program and the entire crew, NOAA Corps, and scientists aboard the Miller Freeman for this opportunity.
NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 7 – 24, 2009
Mission: Hydrographic survey Geographical area of cruise: Pavlov Islands, Alaska Date: July 14, 2009
Weather from the Bridge
Position: 55°11.664’N, 161°40.543’W (anchored off SW Ukolnoi Island)
Weather: OVC (overcast)
Visibility: 10 nm
Wind: 28 kts.
North Seas: 2-3’
Sea temperature: 7.8°C
Barometric pressure: 1021.0 mb and rising
Air temperature: Dry bulb=12.8°C; Wet bulb=10.0°C
Science and Technology Log
The past few days have been “typical” Alaska weather—fog, drizzle, moderate winds. This morning I was quite surprised when I looked out my stateroom porthole. The weather was supposed to have calmed somewhat overnight; however, it was obvious that a good blow had picked up. White caps covered the water’s surface. I was scheduled for a launch, RA-4 (each of the launches has a number 1-6, RA being the abbreviation for Rainier), but I decided not to board at the last moment. When the launches are lowered to the side of the ship, the bow and stern (front and back) are secured with line to minimize movement. To board the launch, you have to step across a 1-2 foot gap from Rainier to the launch. Today’s conditions amplified the heaving and pitching motion of both the ship and launch and made the distance between too far for my short legs. I chose safety over adventure today.
As the launches continued to be deployed, Rainier began to transit from our anchorage north of Wosnesenski Island to our previous anchorage position in a small cove off the southwest corner of Ukolnoi Island. Having the flexibility to change the ship’s direction was essential for the safe deployment of launches today. Personnel and equipment could be protected from the force of the wind and waves (which topped 6’ at times). Although disappointed that I did not make it onto my launch, I was given an opportunity to watch the deck crew in action. I learned that this morning’s weather was some of the worst that the crew has seen during this survey season, however, work can be completed in conditions that are more blustery than today.
As a member of a survey team, you have to put your trust in the deck crew and their talents and skills. Jimmy Kruger is the Chief Boatswain. He is in charge of the deck and its crew. In a way, he is like the conductor of an orchestra—he makes sure that each member of the crew is in the right place at the right time and that they begin their job at precisely the right moment. As the day progressed, I began to wonder how the weather data from 0700 to 1400 (2 pm) changed, so I took a walk up to the bridge. My guess was that, although there were still whitecaps on the surface, wind speed and wave height would have decreased, since we had anchored on the south shore of one of the islands (which would serve as a buffer from the wind). It seemed to me that the weather was so much worse this morning. Not so. The wind speed had actually increased by a few knots, although the seas had decreased by about a foot. When I am up on the bridge, I always find something new to inquire about. It’s a busy place—not necessarily busy with numbers of people, but with instruments, charts and readings. General Vessel Assistant Mark Knighton and ENS Jon Andvick were on the bridge.
When you are standing on the bridge with a gusty wind coming at you, you immediately think of the anchors. Rainier’s anchors are made of steel. They weigh 3,500 lbs. EACH! The anchors are attached to the ship by a very thick chain. Chains are measured in a unit called a shot. A shot equals 90 feet, and each of Rainier’s shots weighs about 1,100 lbs. There are 12 shots per anchor. (So, can you calculate the approximate weight of the total of Rainier’s shot? How about the total length of the chain?) The depth of this small cove is between 9-10 fathoms. This is important in determining the scope, or ratio of the chain length to the depth of the water. According to ENS Andvick, when a vessel drops anchor, the length of the shot cannot be the exact distance between the vessel and the seafloor. An amount of “extra” chain must be released so that some of it sits on the seafloor, producing a gentle curve up to the vessel. This curve is called a catenary. The extra chain allows the ship move with the wind and/or waves and provides additional holding power. If either wind or current becomes too strong for the anchor, it will drag along the seafloor. If the ship has too little scope it will pull up on the anchor instead of pulling sideways along the sea floor. The anchor chain lies on the bottom and when the ship pulls on the anchor it must lift the heavy chain off the bottom. If there is enough chain that the ship does not lift all the chain off the sea floor, it will lower the effective pull angle on the anchor. By increasing the scope of chain that is out, the crew is increasing the amount of weight the ship must lift off the sea floor before pulling up on the anchor.
I have to say that today was kind of an emotional one for me—because I did not go out on the launch. In a way, I feel like I let my team down. The others who went surveying on RA-4 had to do it without me. Even though my work as a Teacher at Sea may not be as significant as that of the crew members or hydrographers, I’m feeling like I am a part of the team more and more each day. That is in contrast to being an observer (which I still do plenty of!). As I kept busy throughout the day on the ship, I thought about RA-4 and what they were doing, what the conditions were like, if they liked what was in the lunch cooler today? I also realize and appreciate, however, that safety is the most important practice here on Rainier and when you don’t feel safe, you should never proceed.
Did You Know?
The crew on Rainier is organized into six separate departments: Wardroom (Officers), Deck, Electronics, Engineering, Steward and Survey. There are photographs of each person on board along with their name and title posted for all to see. They are organized by department as well as a “Visitors” section. There are several other visitors on board besides me and Dan Steelquist (the other Teacher at Sea) including hydrography students and officers from the Colombian and Chilean Navies.
Alaska Fun Facts
Pavlof Volcano is one of the most active of Alaska’s volcanoes, having had more than 40 reported eruptions since 1790. Its most recent activity was in August 2007.
You can learn more about the volcanoes of the Alaska Peninsula here.
NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 6 – 24, 2009
Mission: Hydrographic Survey Geographical Area: Pavlov Islands, Gulf of Alaska Date: July 7, 2009
Weather Data from the Bridge
Latitude: 56° 20.76′ N
Longitude: 157°09.52′ W
Visibility: 10+ Nautical Miles
Wind Direction: 220° true
Wind Speed: 14 knots
Sea Wave Height: 1-2ft.
Swell Waves: 3-5ft.
Water Temperature: 9.4° C
Dry Bulb: 11.7° C
Wet Bulb: 11.1° C
Sea Level Pressure: 1021.0 mb
Science and Technology Log
The Rainier is a self-contained workstation that has many different types of jobs that need to be done. As I have arrived and settled in, I have tried to learn what jobs people do on board and how their work contributes to mission of the ship.
The workers on the ship are divided into six different departments.
The officers oversee the total operation of the ship. They plan the ship’s course and control the ship from the bridge while it is underway. The officers are also involved in the survey operations
The Survey Department gathers and processes hydrographic survey data.
The Electronics Department maintains electronic equipment and electrical systems on board the ship.
The Stewards keep the crew fed
The Deck Department handles all the work on the deck including launching and retrieving the small boats. They also handle the lines when the ship is docking and they operate machinery to raise and lower the anchor
The Engineering Department maintains and operates the ship’s engines and generators.
There are many different career opportunities on a ship like the Rainier. Some of the jobs are similar to land based work, yet with a nautical twist. Most of the jobs require some specialized training. All of the jobs appear to be both challenging and rewarding.
Wow, what an experience so far. Ship life is so much different than life on land. There is so much to learn and know. There are necessary procedures for every aspect of this world and the crew of the Rainier has been very helpful in making me feel welcome. Once we left the dock in Seward, the importance of clear procedures became obvious. Moving this much equipment around an ocean with people living and working on board is no small feat. Everyone has very specific jobs to do and time and places they are assigned to work. I have spent much of my time finding my way around the ship and getting to know what types of jobs these people have. The trip from Seward to our work area takes about forty hours. Once there, we will begin the survey work. Our ship has been assigned the task of surveying the seafloor in some areas that have never before been charted. Once we get that work underway, I’ll be able to peer further into the world of a hydrographic survey ship. The adventure goes on…
Something to Think About
How might the types of work on a ship like the Rainier be similar to and/or different from a closely related job on land?
NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jacob Tanenbaum Onboard NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow October 5 – 16, 2008
Mission: Survey Geographic Region: Northeast U.S. Date: October 16, 2008
This bird came by for a visit. I think is a type of hawk or a falcon. Can anyone identify it for me? We have been trying but can’t seem to figure out what kid of hawk this is. In any case, it stopped by and perched on the bow just out of the blue when we were about 80 miles from shore. I wonder how it got here? Was it blown out to sea by a storm? Did it follow a ship looking for food? Is it lost? I hope it finds its way back.
It was foggy during the early morning and the ship had to blow its fog horn. I found out that ships use a code when they sail. One long blast means we are steaming ahead. One long and two short blasts means we have equipment such as nets in the water and cannot manuver as quickly. Listen by clicking here.
We found more spoon armed octopi. Can you see that one of the arms has a little spoon like object at the end? The male has an arm shaped like a spoon. Can you see it in this picture?
A sea anemone. This opens up and tenticles appear. They wave their tenticles in the water to collect food. When fish like Nemo, the clown fish, go into a sea anomone, it will sting the fish, so the clown fish backs in which helps it tolerate the sting.
Here is an interesting story: We were approaching a station where we were expecting to take a sample from the water with our nets. Do you see the note in the chart that says “Unexploded Ordinance?” (you can click on the chart to make it bigger). that means there are bombs from an old ship that may still be active! We decided to move our trawl to a nearby area. When we did, look what came up in the nets! Part of an old ship! The coordinates are Latitude: 42°27’23.65″N and Longitude: 68°51’59.12″E. Here is that location on Google Earth. What could have happened way out here? CLE students, tell me the story of that wreck. Be creative. Please print them out and leave them for me on Monday. Make them fun to read. I am bringing back what came up in the net for you to see. When I get back, we will see if we can do some research and find out what really happened!
Now lets meet Phil Politis, our Chief Scientist on board the Bigelow. I asked him to tell us about his job. Here is what he said:
The main job of a chief scientists is to meet the goals and objectives of the the scientific mission. In our case, that is, to pair up with the ship Albatross in as many stations as possible, following their route. My day to day job is to coordinate with the officers, and crew, setting the nets properly, make sure that the samples are processed properly and solving problems as they arise. Say we have an issue with the nets. It is the chief scientists job to decide what to do next. I can accept the tow, code it as a problem, or re-do the tow. I have to look at each issue individually. If we tear on the bottom, will it happen again? Is there time to re-tow? I also coordinate with the other vessel.
My title is fisheries biologist, but I am a specialist in the nets. My background is in trawl standardization. We have to ensure that our nets are constructed, maintained and that we fish same way each time. Small changes in nets can effect how the nets fish and that effects the study. That way we can compare this years catch to next years catch. Remember, this study is called a time series. Over time, you can see changes to fish population. The only way you can trust those numbers is if the nets are the same each time we put them in the water year after year, tow after tow. We have to document what we are doing now so that in the future, people know how and what we were doing. This way the time series remains standard. We have to standardize materials the nets are made of, way they are repaired. We inspect the nets each time we come on here. We train the deck crews in the maintenance and repair of our nets.
In answer to many of your questions, I will be back to SOCSD on Monday. I’ll be in WOS on Monday and CLE on Tuesday. See you then.
Mrs. Christie-Blick’s Class:
You asked some AMAZING questions. I’m so proud of you guys. Drl Kunkel was impressed as well. Here is what He told me:
You asked: What is your proof that these lobster shells are softer than other lobster shells? How do you measure hardness:
We have an engineering department at U Mass and one of the projects they have to do to become materials engineers is to test for hardness and they do an indentation test. Another way is to shoot x rays at shell and we can tell how hard it is by how the x rays scatter.
You asked: What is causing the harmful bacteria in the water?
We don’t know if they are harmful bacteria. My theory is that it could be the same normal bacteria that are on the backs of healthy lobsters. We think it is the weakness in the new lobster shells because of environmental influences south of Cape Cod that causes the trouble.
You asked: Can you get rid of the harmful bacteria?
It is possible to reverse the environmental conditions that have been created by us or by mother nature.
You are right about these sources of pollution. Good thinking. And yes, Dr. Kunkel believes that one or more of these factors may be hurting the lobsters. The problem area is south of Cape Cod. Look on a map today and count the number of cities between New York and Boston. Is this an area with a lot of people and pollution or is this an area that is sparsely populated?How would you expect this area to compare to areas where the lobster population is healthier off of Maine and Nova Scotia? Do the problem areas for the lobster and the pollution occur in the same area? If they match, scientists say there is a correlation between the two and they wonder if one is causing the other. What do you think?
Hag fish did gross me out a little. Interestingly, there is no way to determine the age of this fish as there are with others, so I’m not sure we can even tell you how long they live.
Several of you asked about the red dots on the lobster. They are a disease. It is called shell disease.
The lobster on the right is healthy. I just love this picture so I thought I would share it.
SR, the water temperature is about 16 degrees C last time I checked.
MF, nice to meet you. It is really cool to be a Teacher At Sea.
DTR, my favorite thing about this trip is working with you guys from the middle of the ocean.
MR, Snuggy and Zee are having loads of fun touring the ship.
CF: I will try to count the teeth of a fish and tell you what I find. Sometimes they are hard to see. I do not know if I am going back next year, but I hope so. I like being at sea. The truth is, I like being on land too. Both are nice. Thanks for writing.
BS: No, we find mostly adults, but some babies. Many creatures are small as adults.
BV: We have seen lots of jellyfish. We had so many we had to hose down the lab at the end of our session the other day. They were everywhere.
GS: We will continue to take samples here.
TL and Many Others asked how long we put the cups down for: We put the cups down for about 15 minutes. That includes the time it takes to lower the CTD to the bottom. When it gets to the bottom, it comes right back up. Thanks all for writing.
AS: Right you are!
Good job calculating all those who got 984 feet!
MM, I love the adventures I’m having here and the people I am meeting. It has been fun. I like being on land too.
JS, Dr. Kunkel took samples from some lobsters so he could help cure the disease.
KF: Could the hag fish bit us? Yes, Mel Underwood, our Watch Chief was very careful as she held the bag and backed her hands up when the fish got close to her hands. Mel is very experienced working with sea life and I have never seen her back off the way she did with this thing.
HRF: Go for it! It is a cool job!
CF: Good question. No, your bones are a lot stronger than styrofoam, so you would have to go down many miles to hurt yourself, and you could not swim that far without gear. When divers get hurt from pressure changes, it is usually something different called the bends. This happens when you are swim up to fast and certain gases in your blood stream expand as the pressure increases and form bubbles that can hurt you. Divers have to swim up slowly (the usual rule is don’t go up faster than the air bubbles next to you) in order to avoid getting the bends.
DC: Good questions: The dots are not bacteria on the lobster, they are the result of the bacteria eating away parts of the shell. The actual bacteria are too small to see. Good question about he temperature relating to growth. It is a bit more complex than that. There are many factors at work. The factor that may be causing more bacteria are chemicals like fertilizers from land getting into the water.
Dr. Kunkel came on board to study lobsters. He is a biologist, not a medical doctor. There are many scientists on board working with us, and me with them.
The quadrent is an old invention. People have been able to find their way with the stars for thousands of years. It is an ancient art. It was fun to practice it here.
SF, VF and others: The fish stayed in the bag. We made sure of that. From the bag, we put it back in the sea.
SD, sorry, I can’t help you there. I don’t think a pet skate would survive the trip back to NY.
Several of you have asked if I have gotten sick. No, I have not.
How many lobsters have we caught so far? Lots!
SS, sleeping on a boat if fun. If the waves are small, they rock you to sleep. If they are huge, however, they throw you out of bed!’
CP: bacteria infect the shells of the lobsters. This destroys the protection that the lobster should have. They grow weak and die of other causes. Good question!
Why do we work at night? Because ships work 24 hours a day so that no time is wasted. I ended up on the night shift. Why do we wear suits? To stay warm and dry on deck.
The hagfish eat shrimp and small fish, though they are scavengers and can eat large creatures as well.
Mrs. Christie Blick’s Class, you guys are doing some great work. I check on the skates for you. Some skates have protection, like thorns or spikes. They also have some interesting fins that look almost like feet. They use these to “walk” along the bottom searching for food. I know you asked about skates, but I have to mention the ray I worked with yesterday. It is related to the skate and could shock with an electrical charge for both protection and for hunting prey. Cool!
NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jacob Tanenbaum Onboard NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow October 5 – 16, 2008
Mission: Survey Geographic Region: Northeast U.S. Date: October 15, 2008
Our study of creatures on the bottom of the sea has been done every year for 45 years. In fact, it is the longest series of data for fish, in the world. Why is this important? I asked Dr. Michael Fogarty, head of the Ecosystems Assessment Program, at the Northeast Fisheries Sciences Center in Woods Hole, MA.
Mr. T: This is the longest uninterrupted time series of a trawl survey anywhere in the world. Is that important?
Dr. Fogarty: Really important because the changes that we are observing occur over long periods of time due to fishing and climate and other factors, so we need to track these changes to see how individual fish species are doing and to see how the ecosystem itself is responding to these changes.
Mr. T: What have you found?
We have found overall in the 45 years that we have been doing this survey, the number of fish has remained the same, but the types of fish have changed. In Georges bank, we would have mostly cod, flounder in the past, now we have small sharks, skates, which are relative of the rays.
Mr. T: What does that mean in terms of the ecosystem?
Dr. Fogarty: It has changed the entire food web because, for example, these small sharks we are seeing are ferocious predators. Because these dog-fish prey on other species, they keep the fish we usually like to eat down in number
Mr. T: Why is that happening?
Dr. Fogarty: Our hypotheseis is that because the some fish have been hurt by too much fishing, the other fish have come in to take their place.
I thought about that for a while. It means this ecosystem has been effected by something called Overfishing and something called climate change. I started wondering about all the different factors that might have effected the environment we are studying. There are so many! Let’s look at some of the may things that human beings have done that have changed this ecosystem in the 45 years we have been doing this study. Dr. Fogarty and I talked about this and then we created talked about this mini website for you. Click each problem area to learn more.
Remember the other day when I tried to use a sextant to fix our position? I could not even get close, so today, I took a lesson with one of the NOAA Corps officers on board, Lieutenant Junior Grade Andrew Seaman. Click here to come along.
Elsewhere on the ship, Snuggy and Zee paid a visit to the dive locker on the ship. This is the area on the ship where SCUBA gear is stored. We are not using SCUBA on this trip, but it was fun to visit the locker and see all the gear. Snuggy and Zee learned that the crew can actually fill up the air bottles they need right on the ship. They have all the equipment they need to do work underwater right here on the ship.
We had a fire drill yesterday. I know you are all familiar with fire drills, because we have them at school. When we do them at school, we often practice evacuating the building and calling the fire department. Well, at sea, things work a little differently. We have to get away from danger, but then, we have to practice putting out the fire as well. After all, there is no fire department to call way out here! Click here for a video.
Finally, so many of you asked about dangerous creatures that we have caught. This torpedo ray does have an electrical charge to it. The ray can zap you if you are not careful. I used rubber gloves to keep from getting hurt. The hardest part was holding the thing while we took the picture. I kept dropping it becuase it was so slimy!
AT: I have not been frightened by anything on the ship or in the sea that we have seen. The hag-fish did seem gross. Very gross. Other than that, no.
Hi SP, I enjoy Korean food very much and have eaten lots of crab roe. It does not gross me out at all. Thanks for writing.
NV, Zee and Snuggy are just fine. Thanks for asking.
Mrs. B’s Class: I’m glad you liked the blog. We found the dead whale 100 miles or so off of Cape Cod. There are no sea snakes here. The water is too cold. I’m kind of glad about that!
Hello Mrs. Graham’s Class. I am staying nice and warm. Even working on deck, it is not too cold. We could stay out for several more weeks without a problem. Do you know what we use to make electricity? See if you can figure that out. We have to go back to port before we run out of that.
Mrs. Christie Blick’s Class: Very interesting. Our chief Scientists says that they can tell the whales don’t like barnicles because whales without them don’t behave in quite the same way.
This particular fish, which we call a monk fish or a goose fish has all the adaptations you mentioned. You did very well thinking those up. The Chief Scientist, Phil Politis and I are both impressed. He says that the fish hides in the mud (that is why it is brown), which keeps it hidden from predators. It has another adaptation, the illicium which we are calling a fishing rod. This adaptation lures smaller fish to the monkfish. Since it does not move around as much as many other fish, it can stay safer from predators.
Hello to Mrs. Coughlin’s Class, Mrs. Berubi’s Class. I’m glad you like the blog.
NN, I’ll be back next week. Because the crew and I, as well as a few birds are the only land-creatures we have seen out this far! Thanks for writing.
Hi Jennnifer. Thanks for your kind words and thanks for checking in on the blog.
Today is “Meet the crew Monday,” and the two sections you will meet today are both fundamental to the smooth running of the HEALY. One, you never want to visit, the other you visit three to four times a day, so with that introduction meet the “Galley, with Tysin Alley” Due to the great quality of the food I usually make it to the galley at least two and in some instances for three meals a day. I am also up most nights and I do not think a day has gone by when I have NOT seen Tysin cooking. He is always there, baking pies, cleaning, boiling crab legs the man never stops.
When living aboard a floating ice breaker, kilometers from land out for 30 days you need to think of priorities, yes maps and scientific operations are important, but full bellies vital. No one wants to work when they are hungry. And to be honest I think many individuals are gaining weight, especially with four meals a day.
There is not a time, 24 seven when food is not accessible. Bread and the fixings for sandwiches between meals, always cereal, and in the rare instance when zoning out after midnight a possible taste of something new Tysin has created. And yes, I am one of the few who have gained weight.
Since we are now satisfied gastronomically, let’s talk about the Medical division, a place where no one really wants to end up, yet, the proficiency I saw today makes me feel very safe should an injury occur.
Jason and Corey are always on, 24 – seven and constantly available should a medical emergency occur. They work with training teams practicing scenarios involving injuries and offer classes to the crew in topics such as CPR. These responsibilities are not only their duty, but a chosen profession to care for the welfare of everyone on board the HEALY.
Both men entered the U.S. Coast Guard when they were young, and in Corey’s case 17. Both men also entered as enlisted personnel and choose to go through “A School” as Health Services Technicians. Corey and Jason are also within the five year mark for retiring, with over 15 years of amazing service to the United States Coast Guard…
While talking with Jason I was amazed to follow his Coast Guard career. Here is a sample: Oregon→Alaska→Hawaii→Texas→Nebraska→New Jersey→Virginia→Bering Sea…
…and all this with the total support, financially, and physically, from the U.S. Coast Guard. Jason was also able to not only become a Physicians assistant, but also received a fellowship to do post graduate work at the Navy hospital in Portsmith, Virginia in orthopedics.
I find the career paths of both men fascinating and an excellent recruiting example for the Coast Guard. Two men with high school degrees and now look at them, pretty darn impressive! I am hoping my students take the hint!
Quote of the Day: “The art of medicine is in amusing a patient while nature affects the cure.” -Voltaire
FOR MY STUDENTS: Have you figured out yet how many career paths are available within the U.S. Coast Guard? How about in Science, have you figured out yet how many different types of scientists are aboard?
At dinner last night I was invited to meet BECCE, and after a moments confusion I realized I had not been invited to meet a person, but to observe a readiness drill. BECCE stands for Basic Engineering Casualty Control Exercise and I was on my way to watch as the experienced crew aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter HEALY maintains their skills, and passes that knowledge on to new cadets (students from the CG Academy in New London, CT who are here for a month during their summer break) and enlisted personnel. There is an expression in the engineering department, “Slow it down or shut it down,” and that is what BECCE is all about. Once a crew member on watch finds a problem it is their responsibility to report it to engineering and then take appropriate action, thus BECCE a drill.
The steps to take when there is a problem or alarm in Engineering are simple: investigate the alarm, take initial action to control the casualty, stabilize the plant and report status to the bridge.
This procedure might sound simple, but if 250 gallons of lube oil is rushing from a punctured pipe individuals can easily get flustered. That is why BECCEs are such a great idea! Drill, practice and make sure all personnel are prepared for the advent of anything, and you then have a smoother running vessel.
On a side note, as I learn more about the roles and responsibilities aboard a U.S. Coast Guard Vessel I am constantly stumped by acronyms. The EOW is in charge of the “plant” during this drill and is being evaluated on his responses to the various “casualties”.
LCDR Petrusa (The officer in charge of all engineering on the ship) is observing and watching protocol, with the results of this drill falling on his shoulders. Simultaneously MKC Brogan evaluates the EOWs during their drill sets. How about CWO3 Lyons who is in charge of all machinery technicians, both main propulsion and auxiliary divisions? Do you see what I mean, lots of acronyms, and it gets confusing. Everyone has collateral duties, and don’t even think you can figure out what an OSG is???? I also learned that there are nicknames as well, you could be a twidget (electronics technicians), or a snipe (who are mechanics), sparky (electricians), all of which are vital positions on the boat. There is a lot of humor as well with the use of slang, for instance I wonder if anyone knows the difference between a Clean EM and a Dirty EM?
Expression of the Day: “A Clean Slate” Before we had the technology of the 21st century, and there were no onboard computers, or GPS, vital information such as course and distance were written on slates. At the end of each watch this information was copied into the ship’s log. The slate was then…”wiped clean.”
FOR MY STUDENTS: Can you think of any other nautical expressions we now use in everyday language?