Jacob Tanenbaum, October 16, 2008

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

Falcon

Falcon

Science Log

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?

Octopii

Octopii

This baby skate has a yolk sack still attached to it. The baby uses the yolk as food while it grows. Usually this happens in the skate case. I wonder what happened with this little guy.

This baby skate has a yolk sack still attached to it. The baby uses the yolk as food while it grows. Usually this happens in the skate case. I wonder what happened with this little guy.

This is a red gold-bordered sea star. Isn't it amazing how many different kinds of sea stars there are in the ocean!

This is a red gold-bordered sea star. Isn’t it amazing how many different kinds of sea stars there are in the ocean!

This is a red gold-bordered sea star. Isn't it amazing how many different kinds of sea stars there are in the ocean!

This is a red gold-bordered sea star. Isn’t it amazing how many different kinds of sea stars there are in the ocean!

This is a shrimp close up. Can you guess what the blue mass is under her back end? Post your answers to the blog.

This is a shrimp close up. Can you guess what the blue mass is under her back end? Post your answers to the blog.

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.

Sea anemone

Sea anemone

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:

chart2-740911The 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.

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IMG_6818-772778In 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!

Jacob Tanenbaum, October 13, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jacob Tanenbaum
Onboard NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow
October 5 – 16, 2008

Mission: Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: October 13, 2008

Old fashioned navigation

Old fashioned navigation

Science Log

Happy Columbus Day everyone, and, since were in Canada, Happy Thanksgiving. Yes, that’s right, Thanksgiving. Here in Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. So a special note to my son Nicky: Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!  Back to Columbus Day, though. Since that’s probably what your all talking about at home. In honor of Columbus Day, I thought I would try something interesting.

I made a replica of the instrument Columbus used to navigate his ship. It is called a Quadrant. Columbus would sight the North Star with his quadrant and measure its angle above the horizon. That angle is equal to your latitude. He used a quadrant to measure that angle.

A quadrant

A quadrant

This is what a quadrant looks like. You hold it up so you can see the star you want in your site. The weighted rope simply falls over the scale of numbers and indicates the angle. What instrument in math looks like this? Post your answers on the blog if you think you know. So did I beat the GPS? You will have to watch this video to find out.

Want to try sighting the North Star yourself? Here is how: Find the Big Dipper. Trace an imaginary line from the spoon up. The first bright star you come to is the North Star. Want to find our more about using the stars to find your way, or Celestial Navigation, click here.

We are fairly far out to sea right now. There is a point of land in Nova Scotia, Canada about 100 miles to our north, but most land is around 200 to our west. We are seeing a lot of off-shore birds like the Shearwaters pictured here. These little birds spend most of their lives in the open water feasting on fish. They come on shore only to breed, so landlubbers don’t see them very much. What a treat. They were part of a large flock that was foraging in the nets yesterday afternoon during a tow.

Seabirds

Seabirds

We also have a few land birds on board. They may have been blown out to sea by storms and have stopped on our ship for a rest. Several were eating what they could find out of the nets on deck yesterday. The nets on the Bigelow have 6 sensors, each reporting different variables, such as depth, the width of the net opening and the height of the opening back to the scientists on deck. One of the sensors stopped working and had to be replaced yesterday. Take a look at this video of how the repair was done.

The water temperature outside is changing. It is now much colder than it was. When we were further west, we were towards a warm current called the Gulf Stream that moves north along the east coast of the USA. The water was about 63 degrees. Now we are in a cold water current called the Labrador Current. This current brings water south from the Arctic along the Canadian coast and ends in the Gulf of Main. The water here is about 55 degrees or so. We are not seeing the dolphins anymore and some of the science crew thing the water temperature may be too cold for them. Take a look at this map of the water temperatures. Brighter colors are warmer in this picture. We have moved from the warmer greener colored water into the cooloer blue colored water. The red line represents our course.

Water temperature illustration

Water temperature illustration

WOS students who have not had a chance yet, should compare our ship to the one Columbus Sailed. Go back and look through the blog at the pictures of Snuggy and Zee in the different parts of our ship to help you. Post your answers on the blog. Finally, something very interesting came up in our nets today. We got this off the bottom in 1000 feet of water. It is wood. Clearly cut and shapped by a person and for a purpose. It appears to have been down there for a long time. How do you think it got there? Post your answers on the blog!

CLE students, try using these images of ships in the past as a story starter. Write me a short story about a trip on an old sailing vessel and incorporate some of what you have learned about their technology in your story. Can you tell me the story of how that wood ended up on the bottom of the ocean? Please don’t post these to the blog. They will be too long. Print them and show them to me when I get back on land next week.

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IMG_6782-766424And now some answers to your questions:

RM – Good question: A sea spider is a sea-creature related to the horseshoe crab. It just looks a lot like the spiders we see on land.

Have we seen any sharks? We have seen a lot of dog-fish, which are a type of shark, but are not very ferocious. Our captain saw a great white off the bridge. Unfortunately, I was working below decks at that moment and did not get out to see it in time.

Richard Coburn, July 31, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Richard Coburn
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 17 – August 1, 2007

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographic Region: Alaska
Date: July 31, 2007

Weather Data from the bridge

Visibility: 10 Nautical Miles
Wind directions: 325 degrees
Wind Speed: 10 Knots
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 feet
Seawater Temperature 13.9 degrees Celsius
Sea level Pressure: 10009.2 millibars
Cloud cover: Partly Cloudy

Science and Technology log

Flora and Fauna 

Some very interesting features here in Alaska are the rocks and the various shapes and textures that they form as well as the animals that inhabit the environment.  Below are some pictures illustrating this.

The rugged coastline is abruptly ends with this beautiful cliff. There are so many wonderful vistas I have captured on this trip, each one more breathtaking than the last.

The rugged coastline is abruptly ends with this beautiful cliff. There are so many wonderful vistas I have captured on this trip, each one more breathtaking than the last.

Seals lying on a rock out cropping.

Seals lying on a rock out cropping.

Two eagles perched on the branch of a tree on a tiny island in the Bay of Escobelie

Two eagles perched on the branch of a tree on a tiny island in the Bay of Escobelie

A young deer watching intently from an island while our launch takes readings of the water depth.

A young deer watching intently from an island while our launch takes readings of the water depth.

Haul out-rocks and beaches where seals come ashore to rest or molt. This haul out was located near Timber Island. The seals watched us but did not seem to react as we got closer to the area to survey it. The waves were not large but there was lots happening here so the crew and I were very mindful of not only the animals around us but also the rocks that we could see and we were constantly on the lookout for those we could not see.

Haul out-rocks and beaches where seals come ashore to rest or molt. This haul out was located near Timber Island. The seals watched us but did not seem to react as we got closer. The waves were not large but there was lots happening here so the crew and I were very mindful of not only the animals around us but also the rocks that we could see and we were constantly on the lookout for those we could not see.

Humpback whale feeding. The humpbacks often entrap prey using “bubble nets” to corral prey in a smaller area and consume them. I am very grateful to my TAS colleague Ginger Redlinger for letting me use this picture of a humpback whale. She took beautiful video of the humpbacks while we were both out on the RAINER. She kindly shared this picture with me and I would like to include it here.

Humpback whale feeding. The humpbacks often entrap prey using “bubble nets” to corral prey in a smaller area and consume them. I am very grateful to my TAS colleague Ginger Redlinger for letting me use this picture of a humpback whale. She took beautiful video of the humpbacks while we were both out on the RAINER. She kindly shared this picture with me and I would like to include it here.

This was truly an awesome adventure.  I cannot wait to share this with my students, family, friends and colleagues.

Richard Coburn, July 26, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Richard Coburn
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 16 – August 1, 2007

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographic Region: Alaska
Date: July 26, 2007

Weather Data from the bridge

Visibility: 10 Nautical Miles
Wind directions: 325 degrees
Wind Speed: 10 Knots
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 feet
Seawater Temperature 13.9 degrees Celsius
Sea level Pressure: 10009.2 millibars
Cloud cover: Partly Cloudy

Science and Technology log

I wondered how the survey technicians know they are in the right place and they continue to be in the right place while the data is collected.  The short answer is satellites or GPS.  While this was explained to me, here is the official info regarding known location, as explained by NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory:

“Global Positioning System. GPS was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense to tell us basically three things: where we are, how to get where we want to be, and what time it is right now. This is commonly referred to as “PNT” which stands for positioning, navigation, and timing. GPS is a “dual-use” system in that it has both military and civilian applications. To facilitate the development of civilian applications, the U.S. Government makes the radio signals broadcast by the GPS satellites available to every user free of fees. As a result of this policy, a multi-billion dollar industry has developed to exploit the benefits of GPS for civilian applications. For example, a commercial GPS navigation system in your car tells you where you are on an electronic map that is constantly updated as you move. Computer software in the navigation system tells you the best route to take to get to your destination. Wireless communications between your navigation system and a traffic management system tell you the best route to take to avoid delays or hazards.”

To find out more about the GPS please go to the following link where I found the above paragraph: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/news/2007/gps/ 

The launches can only collect data when there are a minimum of five satellites receiving and transmitting in orbit above the area that is being surveyed.  The use of five satellites lessens the chance that the information may be skewed by a distortion from one of the satellites.

The survey launch collects data from the sonar device that is located in the bottom of the ship; the computers assemble the feedback on board the launch and continually retransmit that data via satellite back to the RAINIER and it is processed during the evening hours.  The work runs right through the night, with technicians working to ensure the sonic images are transferred into a coherent chart.

This photo was taken looking over the shoulder of the coxswain who is in charge of the boat and steers the boat to keep it on the desired course. The orange airplane icon shows the direction of the boat and keeps the launch on the survey lines designated by the survey tech in the forward cabin.

This photo was taken looking over the shoulder of the coxswain who is in charge of the boat and steers the boat to keep it on the desired course. The orange airplane icon shows the direction of the boat and keeps the launch on the survey lines designated by the survey tech in the forward cabin.

The areas today have not been surveyed in the past eighty years.  Obviously the technology has changed markedly since the last survey.  To view more about historical surveys click the following NOAA link.

http://celebrating200years.noaa.gov/foundations/mapping/welcome.html#intro 

I finally had a chance to pilot the launch and of course it looked far easier to do than when I tried it myself.  It seemed like a simple task, to keep the nose, or bow, of the boat on the specific course and while I understood it well enough my attempts were often less than perfect.  The sea was clam with negligible wave height.  The wind was perceivable but not a large influence.  The current was strong but steady and predictable.  The route was clearly indicated on the screen in front of me and yet I could not hold the course steady enough (at least not well enough to collect valid data).  Perhaps I was being too hard on myself: most annoying was the bow of the boat would head in the direction that I wanted it to but the stern of the boat (reacting to the force of the currents) dragged in a way that caused me to simultaneously both over and under compensate for the action.  That coupled with the fact that I had no island or land point of reference made this experience a challenge.  With the help of Mr. Foye, I was given some expert coaching that allowed me to get into a zone. I was in a pattern of both over and under steering and each correction brought me further away from where I wished to be.  I learned that you develop a feel for this sort of thing and while I tried my best, I knew it would take many days of practice before I developed competency navigating this boat.

Launch approaching the RAINIER at the end of a day.

Launch approaching the RAINIER at the end of a day.

As the launch approaches the RAINIER, the person near the bow of the launch has a line ready to throw to the crew on board the ship (same in the stern).  The crew on the larger ship needs to hold the launch so it doesn’t bang into the RAINIER.  RAINIER then lowers two cables to attach to the launch (one on the bow and one on the stern).  The cables are hooked onto large shackles and when all is secured the signal is given to the operator to hoist up the launch.  There is only one person signaling to the operator on the ship.  If there is ever a problem, naturally anyone can alert the crew of the problem but there is always only one person signaling to ensure safety of all.

Richard Coburn, July 18, 2007

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Richard Coburn
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 17 – August 1, 2007

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographic Region: Alaska
Date: July 18, 2007

Weather Data from the bridge

Visibility: 10 Nautical Miles
Wind directions: 325 degrees
Wind Speed: 10 Knots
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 feet
Seawater Temperature 13.9 degrees Celsius
Sea level Pressure: 10009.2 millibars
Cloud cover: Partly Cloudy

Science and Technology log

Most days start at 6:30 am with breakfast served promptly at 7:00.  We then get our protective gear on for our days work on the smaller boats.  The gear consist of what is called a “float coat” which is basically a brightly orange colored jacket designed to keep the wearer afloat and warm in the water should they accidentally fall in.  We also wear hard hats and when hoisting the launch, a life jacket, and ear protection (the diesel engines are very loud when underway).  The boats are located on top of the ship and they are lowered into the water using a series of hoists or cranes depending on the boat and where they are located.

The CTD, ready to go down to the depths

The CTD, ready to go down to the depths

At 8:00 am there is a morning meeting on the fantail of the ship (this is a large area on the back of the vessel).  The meeting involves most of the senior officers as well as the crew that will be directly involved in the day’s operation.  The commanding officer speaks first, he will give everyone data regarding the weather and his best guess as what to expect out on the water he then turns the meeting over to another officer who will detail the plans that he has worked on more fully with the rest of the crew.  Lastly the chief engineer will recount the basics of what boat will launch first and reiterate the constant vigilance regarding safety.

I feel very comfortable on the water and extremely safe with this crew.  This is likely because of the constant checking and rechecking of systems and personnel that continually occurs.  The entire crew is mindful that the safety of one depends upon the persistent and sometimes annoyingly extreme attention to detail.  Accidents most often happen when people get too lax or over confident, are tired or in a rush.  Accidents even happen when none of the situations are present which is why the constant mindfulness is so important.

This is a truly collaborative effort.  If one person in the lineup fails to do their job the mission risks failure: someone else has to step in and do the job of the person missing as well as their own.    Deck hands ensure that the boat is fueled and has the necessary equipment on board and is in working order.  Engineers check the engines and the electrical equipment and the kitchen staff prepare the lunches and snacks to take on board.  When the launches are out they are usually deployed for the whole day.  Everything must be ready in the launch for the entire day otherwise the mission risks failure.

Andy (an intern from Penn State) monitors the computer screens to ensure that the data collected is valid and usable.  This picture is from the interior of the launch.

Andy (an intern from Penn State) monitors the computer screens to ensure that the data collected is valid and usable. This picture is from the interior of the launch.

Our job on most days is to get on the launch and survey the area that the larger ship could not safely operate in.   The larger ship the RAINIER takes up far too much draft (the water the hull displaces when the boat is underway).  This does not mean that the RAINIER is simply sitting idly by while the launches do the work.  The ship also runs back and forth patterns in the area and it too collects data.  The larger and smaller launches are always on the lookout for any hazards to navigation, other boats or any marine life-like a whale and make sure that collisions do not occur.

TAS Redlinger underway for the morning survey

TAS Redlinger underway for the morning survey

Once we arrive at the survey area we need to prepare the CTD cast.  CTD is a device that measures the conductivity, temperature, depth, and salinity of the water about to be surveyed.  This establishes a baseline for the work in the area.  If a survey is going longer than four hours a new baseline must be established.  This test establishes a sound profile that shows exactly how the fast the sonar beams travel in the water under the specific conditions at the time.  This information is critical to maintain accurate and credible data.  The procedure is simple, first, the CTD is attached to a rope turned on and warmed up, next the device is lowered in the water and data is collected.  It is then lowered to the bottom of the sea and more data is collected.  Once the CTD is brought back from the ocean, the information is then uploaded to a computer on board and a new baseline is established.  This information is then embedded into the sonar data collected for the day’s survey.  All information collected is held against this baseline to ensure the delivery of clean, accurate information for the new charts.

Tide marker on the left of boat, me facing coxswain and biologist.  We stopped to check out the tide monitoring equipment today.

Tide marker on the left of boat, me facing coxswain and biologist. We stopped to check out the tide monitoring equipment today.

The best part of this trip is that I traveled with another teacher who teaches Science in Oregon.  TAS Redlinger is a wonderful lady who shared with me all of the photos she took while she was out too.  Often we would spend time sharing what we had done the during the day and what was in store the following day.

Jacob Tanenbaum, June 16, 2006

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

Waves washing over the bow of NOAA Ship MILLER FREEMAN

Waves washing over the bow of NOAA Ship MILLER FREEMAN

Mission: Bering Sea Fisheries Research
Geographic Region: Bering Sea
Date: June 16, 2006

Weather Data from the Bridge

Visibility: 14 miles
Wind Speed: 27 miles per hour
Sea Wave Height: 7 feet
Water Temperature: 41.7 degrees
Air Temperature: 42.4 degrees
Pressure: 1013.8 Millibars

Plotting longitude and latitude

Plotting longitude and latitude

Personal Log

NOTE: We will arrive in the port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska on June 20. As the project draws to a close, I would like to evaluate how effective it was. There is a link to an electronic survey. I would like to ask students, teachers, parents, and other visitors to the site to take a few moments to let me know what you think of this idea. The survey is all electronic and only takes a minute or two to complete. Thank you in advance for your time. Click here to access the survey.  How do you find your way around when you can’t see any land? I spent some time with Ensign Lindsey Vandenberg, on NOAA Ship MILLER FREEMAN.

Plotting longitude and latitude

Plotting longitude and latitude

Every 30 minutes or so, the bridge officers take a “fix” on their position. How do they do it? When they are out at sea, they take the latitude and longitude from the GPS and plot their exact position on a chart. A GPS is a machine that uses satellites to display the exact longitude and Latitude on a screen. The charts also have the latitude and longitudes written on them, but there is a problem. The longitude and latitudes scales on the chart are on the side and bottom of the chart, not where the ship is located. Every so often, there is a line across the entire chart. The navigator must use a tool, like the same compass you might use in math class, to mark the distance to the exact point on a scale from a line on the chart. She can then use the same tool to mark the distance in the part of the chart where we actually are. This must be done for both the longitude and latitude of the ship.

Ploting the bearing on a map

Ploting the bearing on a map

When we are near land, we can use Terrestrial Navigation. This means we can use the distance to an object on the shore, such as a lighthouse, to find out wherewe are. With a large ship close to shore, it is very important that we know exactly where we are so that we don’t wind up in shallow water. Ensign Vandenberg uses a tool called an alidade to help her. She puts the alidade over a large compass outside of the ship. The instrument reflects the compass into the viewer so she can see both the object on shore and the exact compass heading. If she takes a few bearings to objects on shore, she can use tools to chart her exact position on the chart.

Science Log: 
I’ve been asking many of the people on the ship what becomes of the data that we are collecting. This survey will be used to set quotas for one of the most important fisheries in the world. Here is how it works. If too many fish are caught in an area, there will not be enough fish left for the species to come back the next year. That is bad for the fish, and bad for the fisherman. To prevent this “overfishing,”. A quota, or limit to the number of fish that can be safely caught, is established. Methods are put in place to make sure that all fishing boats in the area respect the quotas. Do you want to learn more? Take a look at this short video on the subject.

Question of the Day:
It is about 8:00 AM on Saturday morning. If the ship uses 2100 gallons of fuel a day, how many gallons of fuel will we need to get to Dutch Harbor on Tuesday Morning at about 8:00 AM?

Answers to Yesterday’s Question:
If our ship wants to do a trawl 50 meters below the surface, how much wire would it need.

The ship must put out two feet of wire for every one foot of depth. So you have to multiply 50 x 2 which gives 100 meters of wire. Each net has, not one, but three wires holding it to the ship. So you would need 3 wires. All three are 100 meters in length. That gives us 300 meters of wire to do our trawl.

Answers to Your Questions:
Hello to all who wrote today.

Colin, no seawater on the equipment yet. They have a couple of computers in the lab where we process fish that can be drenched with water and will still work. Maybe I need one of those.

Mrs. Z. Click here to see the route we have taken so far. I do not think it will give you exact miles, but you can get a good idea of our total.

Thanks for writing.

James Miller, August 17, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
James Miller
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
August 13 – 27, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: August 17, 2005

Weather

Sky: Clouds and rain, low 60’s
Wind: 10-15 kts.
Seas: 6 – 8 foot
Itinerary:  Should arrive in work area tonight (9:30pm). Anchor in Fish Range Bay on peninsula.

Science and Technology Log 

Went up to the bridge last night prior to going to bed.  There’s usually an officer and three crew on a rotating four-hour shift schedule.  It’s reassuring that there is so much redundancy regarding navigational equipment.  The officer on duty (OOD) is constantly checking our position on the chart and comparing it to the radar, and GPS chart plotter. He also does some quick time, distance, speed calculations to determine where we should be at half hour increments, these he marks on the chart (good lesson potential).

We also had a good conversation regarding compass headings.  Typically, smaller boats navigate using magnetic compasses and therefore always steer toward magnetic north. The problem with magnetic north is that charts use true north (north pole) and depending where you are in the world there is a deviation between true and magnetic north (close to 20 degrees where we are). The ship is fitted with both magnetic and gyrocompasses.  The gyro compass points towards true north but requires power.  The ship uses the gyrocompass to navigate but would have to fall back on the magnetic compasses if the ship lost power (which is highly unlikely).

I met with LT Ben Evans and Commanding Officer Guy Noll after lunch for a briefing. They were interested in what specific classes I teach, and the things I wanted to get out of the cruise. They also briefed me about the RAINIER’s mission and where we would be working. They showed me a chart in and around Mitrofania Island.  Charts will typically have depth soundings (in fathoms) every ¼ inch or so.  The map they showed me had a lot of white space with only a few limited depth soundings.  The reason for this is because the area is literally uncharted.  Very few ships or even fishing vessels come into the area because, in Alaska, the ocean bottom rises very quickly and they are concerned about running aground. This is where the RAINIER comes into play.  Its mission is to collect the data to eventually be put on charts.  It sounds like an easy task, however, the process is very complex and lengthy.  I’ll be learning more about the details of this process over the next week and two days.

Seeing the charts really gave me a good visual of where we are heading and the importance of the RAINIER’s mission.  I plan on putting together a bulletin board in my classroom detailing my experiences and the charts would be an excellent addition to it.  I wrote down the chart numbers and asked Navigational Officer Pounds if they had any old ones on board they could part with. He’s going to check for me, but if they don’t, I’ll just order them through NOAA.

Just before dinner I attended a briefing for the survey crew.  These are some of the things I learned:

1) This leg is considered a clean-up leg since they worked the area for three weeks on the previous leg. Apparently there are five open sheets (sheets are designated areas that need surveying) that need to be completed.

2) There is an unstable weather pattern in the area and it will obviously determine whether or not we can finish in this area on this leg.

3) In addition to taking soundings, we will need to pick up a tide gauge and differential GPS station that they put on the island the last leg.

4) The tide gauge sends tide information via satellite to NOAA Headquarters.  Again, very little is known about this area including tide variations.

5) As I understand it, the GPS stations that are set up on the Alaskan peninsula are too far away to be effective, therefore, the differential GPS was temporarily set up on Mitrofinia Island so that the RAINIER could navigate better while working in the area.

6) We will initially be anchoring north of Mitrofania Island in a protected bay on the peninsula called Fish Range Bay.  We will spend a day or two there and then move to Cushing Bay, which is on the north side of Mitrofinia Island.

7) They once again reiterated the fact that they are a bit short-handed this leg and will be relying on me to be part of the launch crews.  I should expect very long days for about 5-6 days.

Personal Log 

I slept very well last night.  I was in such a deep sleep that I almost missed breakfast. I guess it was the rocking of the ship.  The seas are about 6-7 foot and the boat seems to handle it well.  We’re going with the wind so it’s more of a soft but rolling ride.  It’s kind of a funny sight seeing everyone on board bouncing off the walls as they walk down a hallway. My cabin is on the port side on the bottom of the ship, so you can hear the water rushing by the hull, a bit eerie. Although, I guess it’s much better than a cabin next to the engine room.  I’m feeling fine; in fact, I had a big greasy breakfast and a hot dog for lunch. You can be assured I would not eat that kind of food if the seas were getting to me. I feel bad for another visitor onboard whom I’m friendly with.  Unfortunately, he hasn’t found his sea legs yet, but I’m sure he’ll feel better when we get the Fish Range Bay tonight.

The other bad side to this weather is the visibility is terrible.  On our right (starboard) has been the Alaskan Peninsula, and we passed Kodiak Island to our left (port) but could barely make them out.  I hope the weather clears at some point so I can get some good pictures.  I promised my wife!!!

I have to get a good night’s rest tonight because I’m scheduled to be out on a launch for close to 9 hours tomorrow.  After dinner I’ll be working with the survey crew to analyze the data. So it’s going to be a long day, but I’m looking forward to it.