Lacee Sherman: Teacher Getting Her Sea Legs! June 8, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Lacee Sherman

Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson

June 6, 2018 – June 28, 2018

 

Mission: Eastern Bering Sea Pollock Acoustic Trawl Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Eastern Bering Sea

Date:  June 8, 2018

 

Weather Data from the Bridge on 6/9/18 at 17:00

Latitude: 55° 34.3 N

Longitude: 162° 39.0 W

Sea Wave Height: 2-3 ft

Wind Speed: 12 knots

Wind Direction: 335° NW

Visibility: 8 knots

Air Temperature:  7.1° C

Water Temperature: 8.6° C

Sky:   Blue with scattered clouds

 

What have you done to protect the oceans lately? Picture of Lacee with finger pointing at camera

World Oceans Day! June 8th, 2018. What have YOU done to protect the oceans today?

Science and Technology Log

On Wednesday, June 6th 2018, NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson left port from Dutch Harbor Alaska at 08:00 to go and fuel up for the upcoming voyage.  Fueling the ship takes hours and during that time, NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson took on over 50,000 gallons of fuel.  After the ship was fueled, it searched for a spot in Captain’s Bay to calibrate the acoustic equipment. In order to calibrate the equipment, a metal ball made of tungsten carbide was suspended beneath the boat under the center board. The ball has known acoustic return values based on density and purity of the metal. It is attached at three points to the boat so that it can be moved under the center board to calibrate each transducer..  The location of the ball is adjusted under each transducer one at a time to the center of each beam.  Adjustments to the equipment will be made if the return from the ball at each transducer is not as it is expected to be.  The scientists had to change the depth of the ball in the water in order to avoid the fish to get an accurate reading.  The calibration can be different depending on the temperature of the water and the salinity (saltiness) of the ocean. A second calibration will be taken at the end of the research cruise and the average will be used in the necessary calculations.  Once calibration was complete and the equipment was retrieved, the ship started heading to the beginning location of the first transect line.

The journey from our calibration point to the start of the first transect line took approximately 23 hours, traveling at 12-13 knots.  The ship reached the northern end of the first transect line at approximately 21:00 (9 pm) on June 7th. The first trawl sample was taken shortly after at sunset, which was approximately 23:30 (11:30 pm).  This is not an ideal time to collect a trawl sample though since the fish move and behave differently at night.  The first trawl sample of the survey that I participated in was on 6/8/18 at approximately 15:30.

Operations on the ship run 24 hours a day, so some members of each team onboard need to be awake and working at all times.  Shifts for the science team are 12 hours long and the day shift runs from 04:00 (4 am) to 16:00 (4 pm) and the night shift is from 16:00 (4 pm) to 04:00 (4 am).  I am assigned to the day shift along with Chief Scientist Denise McKelvey and Fisheries Biologists Sarah Stienessen, Mike Levine, and Scott Furnish. On the night shift for the science team are Nate Lauffenburger, Darin Jones and Matthew Phillips.

 

In order to collect a trawl sample, members of basically every department on the ship are involved.  The NOAA Corps officers are on the Bridge driving the ship, charting the course that the ship will be traveling on as it collects it’s samples, as well as keeping track of the net, and all of the other duties that they regularly hold.  The stewards keep us all fed and happy. The deck crew are in charge of making sure that all of the nets are hooked up properly and are put into the water correctly as well as controlling the winches that release the nets. The engineers make sure that all equipment is functioning properly.  The survey technicians ensure that all of the scientific instruments used for making any type of measurements are attached to the net at different points, mainly on the kite.  The “kite” is a section of the net primarily used for holding scientific instruments. Some of the scientists are preparing the fish lab and getting dressed in waterproof gear, while the Chief Scientist is on the Bridge with the officers giving direction about where and when to start and stop trawling and exactly how deep the nets should be set. Adjustments to the net are regularly made during the sample collection.

The locations for when trawl samples will be collected is not pre-determined before the start of the research cruise.  The sites for samples are determined in real time by looking at the data collected from the acoustic pings being sent out by the transducers.  There are 5 different frequencies( measured in kilohertz) sent out by the ship’s transducers: 18 kHz, 38kHz, 70 kHz, 120 kHz, and 200 kHz.  The acoustic frequency that may best indicate the presence of pollock is 38 kHz. The chief scientist decides when she wants to “go fishing” based off of looking at the results coming back as echoes to the ship.

 

Acoustic data points collected at 5 wavelengths

This is what the acoustic data points look like as the ship is moving on the water. All 5 different frequencies are depicted in this image. The top left is 18kHz, bottom left is 38kHz (best for pollock), top right is 70kHz, middle right is 120kHz and the bottom right is 200kHz. Each dot represents an echo received by the ship’s transducers after the sound hits something in the water. The solid red band near the top of each window is the depth of the sonar transducer sending the acoustic pings, while the heavier red band at the bottom of each window is the sea floor.

On this leg of the research cruise thus far, 3 trawl samples have been collected from the transect lines.  I will include more detailed information and photos of the fish processing protocol in my next blog. In the next three pictures, there are temperature and depth profiles of our sample collection.  The depth (in meters) is shown by the shape of the line as it rises and falls, and the color shows the temperature (in degrees Celsius) that goes with the scale on the right of each figure. More specific details are underneath each image.haul 1 profile

 

haul 2 profile

 

haul 3 profile

Personal Log

Now that the ship is in the middle of the Bering Sea and is moving, I have learned an important lesson:  You can’t trust the floor. I know that sounds weird, but usually you know exactly where the floor is going to be when you are walking, but when the ship is moving in the water, the floor may be higher or lower than expected, causing a lot of wobbling.  This is especially challenging for someone who is as naturally clumsy as I am. There are times when I feel like a toddler learning to walk again, but I am getting more and more used to it already. At night it feels like being gently rocked to sleep.

I’m learning my way around the ship and I am starting to not walk right past the doors that I need to go into a few times before I remember that it’s the right place.  I am also getting more familiar with the people onboard as well as the schedule. Since my shift that I am working on is from 04:00 (4 am) to 16:00 (4 pm), it took a few days for me to adjust and everyone was very patient with me.  Coffee definitely helps! The meal times are as follows: Breakfast 07:00, Lunch 11:00, Dinner 17:00 and there are always some snacks available in the Galley.

Ocean Selfie! 6/7/18

Photo of TAS Lacee Sherman aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson in the Eastern Bering Sea.

In my downtime on the ship, I have found a new favorite location; the flying bridge!  The flying bridge is located above the Bridge (where the Ship is controlled).  There is a chair up there that makes the perfect spot on a nice day to sit and read for a little while.  It is windy and cold, but worth it!  The view from up there is pretty amazing!

Did You Know?

The NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps is one of the 7 uniformed services in the United States.  The other 6 include:  Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Airforce, Coast Guard, and the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

Math Challenges!!!!

If the Dyson regularly travels at 12.5 knots, how many miles per hour is it going?  (Hint: you may want to look at my previous blog before you try this.)

Currently 9 of the people aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson are women.  If there are 31 total people on the ship, what percentage of them are women?

Jessie Soder: Drag It Along, Dump It Out, Count ‘Em Up, August 14, 2011

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jessie Soder
Aboard NOAA Ship Delaware II
August 8 – 19, 2011 

Mission: Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Survey
Geographical Area of Cruise:  Northern Atlantic
Date: Wednesday, August 14, 2011 

Weather Data
Time:  16:00
Location:  41°47N, 67°47W
Air Temp:  18°C  (64°F)
Water Temp:  16.5°C  (62°F)
Wind Direction:  SE
Wind Speed:  6 knots
Sea Wave height:  0
Sea Swell:  0

Science and Technology Log

A fellow volunteer, Rebecca, and myself measuring clams

When I found out that the Teacher at Sea trip that I would be on was a clam survey, I thought, “Oh, clams.  I see those on the beach all the time.  No problem.”  I learned that the clams are collected using a hydraulic dredge.  I knew  that a dredge was something that you dragged along the bottom of the ocean.  That seemed simple enough.  Drag it along, dump it out, count ‘em up, and you’re done.

Quickly, I learned that this project is not that simple!  A few questions came to mind after we had done a couple of tows:  How many people are needed to conduct one tow for clams and quahogs? (operate the machinery, the ship, sort through a tow, collect the data, etc.)  How many different jobs are there during one tow?

Sorting through contents of a dredge

Those questions are hard to answer, and I don’t have a precise answer.  What I have learned is that it takes a lot of people and everyone that is involved has a job that is important.  I asked the Chief Scientist, Victor Nordahl, how many people he preferred to have on a science team per watch.   He told me that it is ideal to have six people dedicated to working on sorting the contents of the dredge, processing the catch, and collecting data per watch.  Additionally, he likes to have one “floater,” who can be available to help during each watch.  This seems like a lot of people, but, when there is a big catch this number of people makes the work much more manageable.  There are six people, including myself, on my watch.  Four of us are volunteers.

Each time the dredge is lowered, pulled along the ocean floor, and then brought back onto the ship it is called an “event.”  In my last post I included a video of the dredge being hauled up onto the deck of the ship after it had been pulled along the bottom.  An entire tow, or “event,” is no small feat!  During my watch Rick operates the machinery that raises and lowers the dredge.  (Don’t forget the dredge weighs 2500 pounds!)

There are also two people working on deck that assist him.  (You can see them in the video from my last post.  They are wearing hard hats and life vests.)  Additionally, an officer on the bridge needs to be operating and navigating the ship during the entire event.  There are specific times where they must speed up, slow down, and stop the ship during a tow.  They also have to make sure that the ship is in the correct location because there are planned locations for each tow.  Throughout the entire event the science team, deck crew, and the bridge crew communicate by radio.

Rick, in front of the controls he uses to lower and raise the dredge

As I said, this project is not simple!  To make it more complicated, equipment often breaks, or is damaged, which means that the deck crew and the science team have to stop and fix it. On this trip we have stopped to fix equipment several times.  Various parts of the dredge get bent and broken from rocks on the ocean floor.  Before the dredge is lowered, the bottom is scouted with a depth sounder to try to avoid really rough terrain.  On the screen of the depth sounder different substrates are shown in different colors.  For example sand is shown in green and rocks are shown in red.  We try to avoid a lot of rocks.  However, all the rocks cannot be avoided and sometimes we hit them!

Personal Log

Vic getting a hair cut

Before coming on this trip I was told that the work can be strenuous and, sure enough, it is.  Sometimes a tow brings up hundreds of pounds of rocks (with some clams mixed in!) that we need to sort through and, as you know, rocks are heavy!  The work is also a bit, well, gross.  We have to measure all the clams, whole and broken and we also have to collect weights of “clam meat.”  That means that we have to open the shells and scrape the meat out.  I have a pretty high tolerance for gross things, but I am starting to grow weary of clam guts!

In between tows there is a little bit of down time to catch your breath, drink coffee and eat cookies, watch the ocean, and read a book.  During one of these breaks, the Chief Scientist Victor Nordahl, took the moment and had his hair cut!

Becky Moylan: Careers on the Ship, July 11, 2011

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Becky Moylan
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
July 1 — 14, 2011


Mission: IEA (Integrated Ecosystem Assessment)
Geographical Area: Kona Region of Hawaii
Captain: Kurt Dreflak
Science Director: Samuel G. Pooley, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist: Evan A. Howell
Date: July 11, 2011

Ship Data

Latitude 1940.29N
Longitude 15602.84W
Speed 5 knots
Course 228.2
Wind Speed 9.5 knots
Wind Dir. 180.30
Surf. Water Temp. 25.5C
Surf. Water Sal. 34.85
Air Temperature 24.8 C
Relative Humidity 76.00 %
Barometric Pres. 1013.73 mb
Water Depth 791.50 Meters
Deputy Director of the Pacific Islands Science Center (NOAA): Mike

Deputy Director of the Pacific Islands Science Center (NOAA): Mike

Deputy Director of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (NOAA): Mike Seki

Duty: I oversee all operations at the Pacific Islands Science Center. That includes all operation: four research divisions, administration and information technology, science operations. Under science operations the Science Center has about 30 small boats (12 to 30 feet) and the Oscar Elton Sette ship (224 feet) to support the mission…

What do you like about the job?  It allows me to see how it all comes together; all facets of the science and how we accomplish our mission.

Experience/ Education: I have BS in biology and have worked with NOAA for 31 years. While working, I went back to school to get my masters and PHD.  In today’s world, to be credible, you really need to have an education. Most of our research scientists have a PHD.

Can you explain the hardest part of your job? Trying to do what we can with limited resources. We have to prioritize and that involves making tough decisions.

Captain (CO) Commanding Officer: LCDR Kurt Dreflak, NOAA

Captain (CO) Commanding Officer: LCDR Kurt Dreflak, NOAA

Captain (CO) Commanding Officer: LCDR Kurt Dreflak, NOAA

Duty: I have responsibility for the whole ship; safety, operations, moral, everything.

What do you like about the job?  I like it best when everyone works together and all the pieces fall into place. We get a chance to see things most people don’t. It‘s a unique opportunity that we shouldn’t take for granted.

Experience/ Education: I obtained a BS in geosystems in environmental management, worked as a geologist at an environmental consulting firm, and have forked for NOAA for 12 years.

Can you explain the hardest part of your job?

There are things you don’t have any control over.

Executive Officer (XO): Chief Mate Richard (Pat) Patana

Executive Officer (XO): Chief Mate Richard (Pat) Patana

Executive Officer (XO): Chief Mate Richard (Pat) Patana

Duty: Second in command after Commanding Officer. I do the administrative work for the ship.

What do you like about the job? I like the NOAA mission, and the job pays well.

Experience/ Education: I am a licensed Captain. I am from Alaska and used to be a commercial long line fisherman in Alaska, Canada, and the West Coast catching shrimp, halibut, and salmon. Then I worked with charter fishing boats.

Can you explain the hardest part of your job?

The administrative duties.

LCDR (Lieutenant Commander) Hung Tran, USPHS

LCDR (Lieutenant Commander) Hung Tran, USPHS

LCDR (Lieutenant Commander): Hung Tran, USPHS

LCDR (Lieutenant Commander): Hung Tran, USPHS

Duty: Medical officer- Emergency medical care on the ship.

I actually work for the United States Public Health Service.

What do you like about the job?  Meeting new people

Experience/ Education: Eight years of schooling in Chicago, IL. I use to work for the Bureau of Prisons in Honolulu.

Can you explain the hardest part of your job? The ship is kind of like a “mini-jail”. We are out to sea for long periods and you can’t go anywhere. The confinement can be hard.

What is the most common reason for seeing the doctor at sea?  Sea sickness and headaches.

 

Field Operations officer (OPS): LT Colin Little, NOAA

Field Operations officer (OPS): LT Colin Little, NOAA

Field Operations officer (OPS): LT  Colin Little, NOAA

Duty: A liaison between scientists and command officer (CO)

What do you like about the job? I was trained as a scientist, so I like to use that background to better understand where the scientists are coming from and what they want to do, then use the information to relay it to the Captain (CO).

Experience/ Education: I have a BA in biology and a Masters in evolutionary biology.  I have worked my way up to this position by doing various jobs. I work onshore and on the ship at sea. We get transferred every few years, so I will be going to Oregon next.

Can you explain the hardest part of your job?Being away from home.

Navigation Officer: LTJG Mike Marino, NOAA

Navigation Officer: LTJG Mike Marino, NOAA

Scientists:

Chief Scientist: Evan

Chief Scientist: Evan

Chief Scientist: Evan Howell

Duty: Directs the operations of the scientists, coordinates activities working with the OPS to make sure the bridge understands what the scientists are trying to accomplish, and writes report on progress.

What do you like about the job?  Although it is tough while we’re going through the process of gathering data, to me it is very satisfying in the end to have something that people can use to further studies of the ecosystem.

Experience /Education:  I have a PHD; however, I didn’t have it when I began the job with NOAA. What’s important for this position is to be able to organize all the different studies, communicate with the scientists and know when to push or back off. You need to be able to see the “big picture” of the project and keep it going forward.

Can you explain the hardest part of your job? It is kind of like a juggling act keeping everything going smoothly. There are so many activities happening at the same time, it is sometimes very challenging.

 

Research Fishery Biologist: Donald

Research Fishery Biologist: Donald

Research Fishery Biologist: Donald

Duty: Research projects dealing with oceanography. (For example; protected species, turtles and larval transports). On this cruise, I am helping lead the midwater trawling operations.

What do you like about the job?  The variety. You don’t get bored with one thing. I tend to get bored working on just one thing at a time.

Experience/ Education:  I got my masters in biological oceanography, went to work at NOAA, and then went back to school for my PHD.

Can you explain the hardest part your job?  Short deadlines and not enough time.

PhD Students

PHD Students: Both up nights supervising the trawls, organizing, recording data, and writing reports.

Johanna: She is working on her PHD through UH in oceanography. Johanna has been working closely with Donald researching larval transport.

John: He is also working on his PHD in preparative biology through the Museum of Natural History in New York. His specialty is studying mictophids.

Scientist (on ship)/Science Operation Lead (on land): Noriko

Scientist (on ship)/Science Operation Lead (on land): Noriko

 

Scientist (on ship)/Science Operation Lead (on land): Noriko

Duty: My primary duty is to serve as the PIFSC Vessel Coordinator, and to oversee the science portion of the NOAA Marine Natural Monuments Program. My group also handles permits, and makes sure our internal programs are properly in compliance with NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act- 1969. On the ship I am working acoustics.

What do you like about the job?  Overseeing a great team of people that help PIFSC scientists go out into the field to conduct important research.

Experience/Education:  I got my BS degree, became a survey technician, and then went back to school for my masters in environmental management.

Can you explain the hardest part of your job?  Coordinating with people outside of our structure can be challenging. We work with the US Fish and Wildlife, the State of Hawaii, Guam and Samoa, the Marianas, and other sections of NOAA.

Stewards

Stewards (Clementine, Jay, and Jeff)

Stewards

Stewards (Clementine, Jay, and Jeff)

What do you like about the job?

Chief Steward: Clementine: My passion is cooking. So I enjoy my job. I can put any kind of food I want out here. The sky’s the limit!

2nd Cook: Jay: I love being on the ocean and living in Hawaii. And I enjoy working with Clementine who is a native of Samoa. She teaches me about Polynesian and Asian cuisine.

Experience/Education:

Clementine:  I used to run my own business in America Samoa. It was a catering business called Mai Sei Aute which means “my hibiscus flower” in Samoan. I catered to a private school named Pacific Horizon, with 130 students and did all the work myself; cooking, delivering, and cleaning. The way I got this job is a long story.  I started out on the ship called Ka’imimoana. My husband heard one of the cooks left, so I flew over to Hawaii and was working two weeks later. Then I moved over to the OES seven years later.

Jay: I’m from Rhode Island and graduated from Johnson and Wales University where I earned a BS in culinary arts.

Can you explain the hardest part of your job?

Long hours! We work 12-14 hours a day while at sea with no days off.  If we are at sea 30 days, we work 30 days. Another thing is you don’t always have your own room. Sometimes you share with another person.

Deck and Engineering Departments

Harry

Harry

Chief Engineer: Harry

Duty: I am responsible for the engineering department on board the ship. That includes the engine room, hydraulic, electric, all the equipment, and the propulsion plant that keeps the ship underway.

What do you like about the job?

It is a “hands on” type of job, and I enjoy repairing equipment.

Experience/ Education:

I spent 22 years in the Navy and obtained my Chief Engineer License through the Coast Guard.

Can you explain the hardest part of your job?

Finding good qualified people is difficult. You can delegate the work, but not the responsibility. So if the employee I hire doesn’t do the job, I am responsible for getting it done.

Chief Boatswain: Kenji

Chief Boatswain: Kenji

Skilled Fisherman: Bruce

Skilled Fisherman: Bruce

Lead Fisherman: Doug

Lead Fisherman: Doug

Chief Boatswain: Kenji

Duty: Supervise the deck department

What do you like about the job? When everything runs smoothly

Education/Experience: I’ve worked for NOAA 24 years. Before that I was a commercial fisherman on an AKU Sampan.

Explain the hardest part of your job:  Rough seas make the work more difficult and dangerous.

What do you like about the job?

Bruce: Everything! I like working with the machines, the science, helping the environment, and the people. I like NOAA’s mission. And my boss; he’s the best boss I ever had. He has patience with us.

Ray: I love everything about my job. I like the fact that I am at sea and learn things every day and meet new people all the time. The science part of it opens up a whole new world to me. It is something that I wish everyone could experience.

Phil: I agree with NOAA’s mission of ocean management and conservation. This ship, in particular, is a nice place to work because of the people.

 Mills: Fishing

Fisherman: Ray

Fisherman: Ray

General Vessel Assistant: Phil

General Vessel Assistant: Phil

Experience/ Education:

Bruce: I have worked for NOAA for 10 years. Before that, I was a long line fisherman; mostly AHI. I also worked construction with heavy equipment.

Ray: I was in the Navy when I was young. Then I attended Prince George Community College in Maryland and Rets Electronic School in New Jersey. I had my own electronics business.  NOAA sends us to different places for training; for example Mitags (Maritime Institute of technology and graduate studies).

James

James

Skilled Fisherman: Mills

Skilled Fisherman: Mills

Phil: I have worked real estate appraisal for 20 plus years.  I used to have my own real estate appraisal business in Honolulu, worked for a bank doing appraisals, and also for the city and state. Right before this job, I worked on an import ship. Then I was trained by NOAA at the Hawaii Maritime Institute. They trained me on firefighting, lifesaving, and construction of ships, lookouts, and also personal responsibility.

Mills: I went to high school and college in South Carolina to get a degree in marine technology. Then I worked in Alaska for salmon hatcheries. I moved back to South Carolina and worked for the SCDNR (Dept. of Natural Resources). Five years ago, NOAA called me and asked if I could go to Dutch Harbor in two weeks, and I’ve been with them ever since. I started out working in the hydrographic side of things.

Mills

2nd Engineer Neil

Can you explain the hardest part of your job?

Bruce: Nothing really. I like my job.

Ray: Dealing with negativity issues and people conflicts.

Phil: I would say it has to be adjusting to the schedules. We don’t have a regular 8 hour on, 8 hour off schedule. It varies.

Mills: The hardest part is being away from the world; people, the social life. But then that is the best part of it also.

Coxswain: small boat operator

Coxswain: small boat operator

Coxswain: small boat operator: Jamie

Duty: I’m in charge of the Boating Safety Program and Instructor of Boating Courses for the scientific staff and I help the Pacific Science Center with research boats. There are 24 small boats.

What do you like about the job?: Being on the water and driving the boats

Experience/ Education: I received a degree in marine biology at UC Santa Cruz. Then I began doing field projects and became known to NOAA.

Can you explain the hardest part of your job?  Doing the certificates for boating courses along with paperwork and record keeping is my least favorite part of the job.

ET: Electronic Technician: Ricardo

ET: Electronic Technician: Ricardo

ET: Electronic Technician: Ricardo

Duty: I’m in charge of all the electronics, information technology, navigational system, communication system, sensors, and computer network.

What do you like about the job? I enjoy it when I get a chance to help others, like the time I was called ashore to help some people on a small island. I also like that I have a partner to share the job with. We switch every two months (onshore/offshore).  I am glad to be able to travel, the pay is good, and I like accomplishing things that make the ship look good.

Experience/ Education: I did not go to college, and barely finished high school. Then I joined the Air Force.  There is only one tech person, and that is me.

Can you explain the hardest part of your job? Climbing the mast where the antennas are and writing weekly reports are things I could glad give to someone else.

Research Oceanographer:  Reka Domokos

Research Oceanographer: Reka Domokos

Research Oceanographer:  Reka Domokos

Duty: Works as an active acoustician for NOAA at the Pacific Fisheries Science Center in Honolulu.

What do you like about the job?

I like that in my job there is always something new, so I am always learning.  I like to look at the big picture to see how the different components of an ecosystem fit together and influence each other.  I like formulating hypotheses, and then test them to see if they hold.  I am also detail oriented so I enjoy writing computer scripts for my data analyses.  In addition, I like contributing to the “collective knowledge” by writing articles that summarized and describe my research and results.

Experience /Education:

I have a Ph.D. in physical oceanography. I attended Berkley for a BS in zoology, then UH Manoa for a masters in zoology and a masters in physical oceanography.  I also earned my Ph.D. at UH Manoa where I taught graduate courses in Zoology and Oceanography before working with NOAA.  I believe that sometimes more experience can be substituted for education when applying for a job.

Can you explain the hardest part of your job?

Sitting in an office everyday can sometimes be hard, but spending a month, or sometimes more, a year at sea and going to conferences help to break the monotony.  I also have to take care of administrative duties as part of my job which is necessary but not enjoyable for me.


Aimee

Aimee

Aimee: This is a special case. Aimee was a previous Hollings Scholar who now works at the University of Michigan and is on the ship working co-op with NOAA in the acoustics department. She lives in Michigan and got her degree in Marine Science Biology, but would like to stay in Hawaii. Before boarding the ship she was researching wind farms and fish. She collects data so that they can see if the underwater wind turbines will affect the fish .

Survey Technician: Stephanie

Survey Technician: Stephanie

Survey Technician: Stephanie

Duty: Responsible for data collection from shipboard oceanographic sensors; CTD deployment and retrieval, water filtering for chlorophyll-a samples

What do you like about the job? I like the simple life on the ship. There are no roads with traffic and you don’t have to carry around your wallet or keys.

Experience/Education: I have my bachelor’s degree, and plan on going back to school this fall. I have worked for NOAA for two and a half years.

 

Mammal Research Observers: Allan and Jessica

Mammal Research Observers: Allan and Jessica

Mammal Research Observers: Allan and Jessica

Mammal Observation-So far we have taken over 2700 photos and several tissue samples for researching dolphins and whales.

Allan: What do you like about the job?  I like being on the water and getting paid for it at the same time.

Allan and Jessica

Allan and Jessica

Experience/ Education: I earned my engineering degree, but didn’t use it.  I began volunteering for whale watching and doing volunteer work for the University of Hawaii coral reef research. I have lived in Hawaii for 14 years, but recently started spending half of my year in Montana, so that I can experience the four seasons.                                                                                                     

Dolphin

Dolphin

Can you explain the hardest part of your job? The toughest thing is not finding any dolphin or whale species. It makes a long day. If the water is rough, it is harder to see them. The best condition to spot them in is when it is smooth and calm.

Jessica: What do you like about the job?  I love small boats, being on the water, and finding less frequently seen species.

Experience/ Education: I attended Hawaii Pacific University and have a master’s in marine science. Right now I’m working a one year position for NOAA called the NIMB Fellowship.

Can you explain the hardest part of your job?  The same thing Allan said, coming home without seeing anything is disappointing.

Students:

 Laura

Laura

Laura: She is attending Stanford University as a senior, majoring in Earth Systems with an emphasis on Oceanography. It includes a wide range of classes, and she has had very interesting traveling experiences while learning. Right now on the OES, she is doing an internship working with the CTD process. This is a paid job with NOAA. Laura’s past experiences include sailing around Cape Cod, a trip to Australia for a Study Abroad Program, and a five-week trip to the Line Islands South of Hawaii. Her plan is to go to school a fifth year to earn a master’s degree while also working in the field.

Nikki

Nikki

Nikki: After this cruise, Nikki will have 82 days at sea under her belt. She started going out during high school in New Jersey. Her charter school had a vessel. Right now she is in the Hollings Scholar Program through NOAA. She applied and received a two year scholarship for her junior and senior year of college. She is attending the University of Miami. And when she finishes that, she has a conditional acceptance to attend RASMAS (University of Miami Science Grad School) where she wants to get her masters in Aquaculture.

Jonathan

Jonathan

Jonathan: Miami is Jonathan’s home and he is also in the Hollings Scholar Program. He is a senior majoring in Marine Science Chemistry. He would like to attend grad school, but needs to make up his mind what area to study because it becomes very specialized. His two choices are ocean acidification or biofuels. After the cruise he will be going to Washington DC to present what he has learned.

Meagan

Meagan

Meagan: She lives in Honolulu and attends University of Hawaii.  In December she will obtain her degree in Marine Biology. She has been employed with NOAA since Nov. 2010 working at the Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center with data collected around the N.Pacific Transition Zone. On this cruise she is helping with the acoustics.  Meagan also works at the Waikiki Aquarium educating others about marine life. She hopes to continue with NOAA and educating the public about conserving and protecting the ocean.

 

UH Marine Research Technician: Jennie Mowatt—

-Preparation and deployment of the Ocean Glider SG513

John Schneider, July 10, 2009

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

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Kodiak, AK to Dutch Harbor, AK
Date: July 10, 2009

Position 
Shumagin Islands

This sheet on my door lists my duty station in case of an emergency.

This sheet on my door lists my duty station in case of an emergency.

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Weather System: Partly Cloudy/Fog/overcast
Barometer: 1022.0
Wind: variable <8 kts
Temperature: 13.0º C
Sea State: 1 foot

Science and Technology Log 

Today I was not assigned to the launch details.  (The launch crews change frequently and the officers try to have the duty load between the ship and the launches balanced.  Launch duty is a minimum of an 8••• hour day on the water and it taxes the crew to have the same personnel repetitively deployed. I’m also not yet up to speed enough to have any use to data processing or ship-board data acquisition.  Sooooo, I took a self-directed tour of the interior of the ship!

Personal Log 

The computer area outside my stateroom

The computer area outside my stateroom

The ship is divided into Decks and Sections. The sections run from 1– 10 with the bow being 1 and the stern being 10. Decks run from A to G with G being the Flying Bridge and A being the bilge. My cabin is number C-5-106.  I’m on C-deck, just about amidships.  The sheet of paper above my cabin number is my duty station list for emergencies.  Each crewmember has one of these on their door and it tells where you belong in emergencies: Fire/AbandonShip/MOB (ManOverBoard). Just outside my door there is a small computer area about 10’ x 10’.  In that area are two terminals for the ship’s LAN.  Additionally there is room in this area for each member berthed there (there are four of us) to stow some gear (like the work vest/life jacket on the hook next to my door.) To the left is a yellow ladder and the sign behind it reads “Escape Hatch Do Not Block.” There are escape hatches like this all over the ship and above them the decks are kept unobstructed. 

The “chiller” where the food is refrigerated

The “chiller” where the food is refrigerated

Unlike a cruise ship, most of the ship is accessible to people on board.  Of course the cabins of other folks are off limits.  Violate this and the punishment is severe . . . you’d never get a position on another ship in the fleet again.  Also, officers’ offices are restricted.  Other than that, I spent a good couple of hours nosing around and learning my way around the ship. I found that EVERY spare nook and cranny is used for storage. If she had to, I bet the Fairweather could sail for months at a time with the only limiting factor being fuel.  Fairweather even makes her own fresh water by evaporating and re-condensing seawater in order to extract the salt. They should sell it as bottled water!

Hazardous materials remediation equipment in the quartermaster’s storage.

Hazardous materials remediation equipment in the quartermaster’s storage.

I found a “chiller” where food is refrigerated.  It’s HUGE – must have been 300-400 square feet!  The freezer was locked, but it must be comparably sized. When I saw the lock on the freezer door I thought of the movie The Caine Mutiny with Humphrey Bogart as Captain Queeg (“they had the keys to the food locker. They ate the strawberries.”  (If you’re not familiar with the movie it is certainly worth renting!). I also found several smaller compartments where dry goods for the chefs were stored. There were cake mixes, spices, cases of condiments (including 3 flavors of Tabasco Sauce) . . . name it, and the chefs can find it!

If you look up through the circular hatch you can see the caged hazmat locker.

If you look up through the circular hatch you can see the caged hazmat locker.

Further forward I found the quartermaster’s stores. Line, chain, tools and an entire 250 square foot caged off area for Hazardous materials and asbestos remediation equipment.  I opened a hatch in the floor and there was a ladder that went straight down.  So, I went in to find another compartment of stores.  The shot below is from the bottom of that ladder, and you can see the caged hazmat locker up through the hatch.  In this lower compartment were survival coats and immersion suits, printer cartridges, more work vests and more. As I worked my way aft, I went into C-9 and C-10.  C-10 is the steering compartment and the rudder posts (those are the “axles” of the rudder that come up into the ship) are about a foot in diameter! There’s a motor just to turn them and for them to operate in tandem there is an 8” steel bar connecting them.  You can see it with the yellow stripes.  C-10 is also the home to the stern mooring lines, lubricants, hoses and power cables and spare propellers for the launches as well as the hydraulic motors for the winches and equipment on the fantail.

Just forward of C-10 is C-9. C-9 has dozens of parts drawers with thousands of parts and fittings for all over the ship.  It is also the home to the exercise equipment.  The crew has figured out how to cram just about everything they need into the compartment.  Free weight, Pilates balls, punching bag, speed bag, treadmill, and weight bench! There are even a few bicycles hanging from the overhead that are used in port.

This is the part of the ship called the steering compartment which houses the machinery that controls the direction of the ship.

This is the part of the ship called the steering compartment which houses the machinery that controls the direction of the ship.

To close the story (I’ll have to do your tour of decks D and up on a later day) I made it all the way down to A-Deck. A-Deck is the bottom of the ship.  It is accessed by going through a shower compartment forward on C-deck into a small, half-height, sloped-ceiling opening in which there is a 24-inch diameter hatch.  The 24-inch hatch connects with rungs welded into the wall and it goes straight down. Descend this ladder and your feet are on B-deck.  Open an even SMALLER hatch and you can see the inner bottom of the ship.  This compartment is only about 3••• feet tall, but I squeezed through the hatch and put my feet on the bottom.  In retrospect, I should have taken off my Crocs to see how cold the steel was.  I’ve been told that people actually go into this space to do work.  I think if I could wiggle my way in somehow, the only way to ever get me out would be to drydock the ship and cut me out through the bottom!

This room has many drawers that contain thousands of different parts and fittings for all over the ship.  It also has the exercise equipment.

This room has many drawers that contain thousands of different parts and fittings for all over the ship. It also has the exercise equipment.

Here I am squeezing through the hatch that leads to the very bottom of the ship

Here I am squeezing through the hatch that leads to the very bottom of the ship

Here are my feet touching the bottom of the ship.

Here are my feet touching the bottom of the ship.

Questions for You to Investigate 

  1. Where does the term “scuttlebutt” (meaning rumors and gossip) come from?
  2. The survey technicians use the term NADIR a lot in regards to the multi-beam echo sounder.  What is a nadir?
  3. When was the Marine Mammal Protection Act passed?
  4. What was “Seward’s Folly” and how do you think it turned out for America?
  5. Which is closer to the Shumagin Islands, New York City or Moscow?  San Diego or Guam?

Duane Sanders, June 15, 2009

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

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: New England Coast
Date: June 15, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Wind: Speed 6.8 KTS, Direction 65.7 degrees
Barometer: 018 millibars
Air temperature: 11.33 0C
Seas: 2-3 ft.

Dumping a dredge on the sorting table.

Dumping a dredge on the sorting table.

Science and Technology Log 

We had to change out the dredge during my last watch.  Actually, I watched while the crew did the dangerous work. We have been working in an area with a rocky bottom and the rocks caused substantial damage to the netting in the dredge. Fortunately, we are carrying four dredges plus spare netting. The crew put a new dredge into operation right away so that we didn’t lose too much time.  Geoff, our watch chief, directed the installation of the new mesh into the first dredge.

The scallop dredges we use are eight feet wide. Commercial dredges are sixteen feet wide. The basic design is the same for each.  The mouth of the dredge is a welded steel rectangular frame, with the height about one foot.  The bottom of this rectangle is a heavy steel bar, called the cutting bar. This breaks loose organisms from the bottom.  A steel plate, called the pressure plate, is welded at an angle across the top of the rectangle.  This plate creates a downward swirl of water that directs the organisms into the mouth of the netting. The bag attached to the dredge is made of a net of steel rings. A mesh liner is mounted inside the bag for scientific use. This helps to trap other organisms that make up bottom-dwelling communities.  This gives scientists a more complete picture for the survey.  Commercial dredges do not use a liner and the rings of the bag are larger.  This allows smaller size scallops and other organisms to pass through the bag and remain to help sustain a healthy scallop population.

The business end of a scallop dredge

The business end of a scallop dredge

We have been ‘shadowed’ by another ship, the Kathy Marie for part of the time we have been working.  She is carrying a device known as the “HabCam”, short for Habitat Camera.  This is an underwater camera system that is towed just over the bottom. It makes a photographic record of still images of the bottom taken at a rate of three per second. The HabCam accumulates data at about three terabytes per day. The Kathy Marie runs over the same area dredged by the Sharp after we move on to the next station. Images from these runs provide scientists with an index of dredge efficiency at capturing the bottom dwellers.  Once enough image data has been collected to make useful correlations to dredge data, it might be possible to reduce the number of physical dredge samples taken and use the HabCam to record the community ‘in situ’, that is, in position without disturbance.

Personal Log 

I said in an earlier log entry that fish are not my favorite type of organism.  Because of this bias, I had been avoiding helping with the fish sorting and identification.  After thinking about this for a bit, I decided that I needed to embrace my bias against fish and try to learn something as well as help my colleagues.  Besides, how could I face my students without at least making an effort?  So, I am trying to learn how to identify these critters.  So far, I am pretty good with goosefish, red hake, longhorn sculpin and some of the flounder species.

I wonder how long it will take me to adjust to walking on dry land after being at sea for eleven days. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.  I have been trying to read some before going to sleep, but I find that I can do a few pages at best.  Hard work, sea air and the rocking motion of our ship make powerful sleep inducers.

Duane Sanders, June 10, 2009

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

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: New England Coast
Date: June 10, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Wind: Speed 19.4 KTS, Direction 86.8 degrees
Barometer: 1013 millibars
Air temperature:  14.2 0C
Seas: 2-3 feet

I’m having fun at the sorting table.

I’m having fun at the sorting table.

Science and Technology Log 

The primary mission of this cruise is to complete the second leg of a three-leg survey of scallop populations along the New England Coast. Other information about the scallop ecosystem is also collected. Scientists evaluate the status of the scallop fishery use data gathered from the survey.  Decisions about which areas to allow commercial scalloping and which areas to close to commercial use are based on these surveys. These science-based management decisions help to promote long-term stability of the scallop industry.

Members of the day watch working at measuring stations.

Members of the day watch working at measuring stations.

After two complete watches, I think I understand the procedure. Stations to be sampled are determined by a stratified random sampling procedure. Computers, following certain parameters set by NOAA staff, determine which area is to be sampled. It is important to be consistent so that each station from each of the three legs of the cruise can be reliably compared other data from this survey as well as from other years.  Once the captain puts the ship on station, an eight-foot wide dredge is lowered to the bottom and dragged for 15 minutes.  The captain keeps the ships speed to a constant 3.8 knots.  When the dredge is hauled in, its contents are dumped on a large steel sorting table that is bolted onto the to deck. The science team on watch sorts through the contents of the catch and separates all scallops into one basket, all fish into a different bucket and all the rest of the haul into another basket.

We then determine the total weight of the scallops and measure the length of each one. Thankfully we use a computerized system for determining the lengths which automatically record them.  All of the fish are sorted by species, and then weighed by species.  The length of each fish is recorded using the same system as for the scallops. The total volume of the remaining haul is estimated with each basket being equivalent to 46 liters. The general contents of the basket are characterized by types of shells found, types of substrate material and other organisms present.

Personal Log 

A sea mouse (Aphrodite aculeate)

A sea mouse (Aphrodite aculeate)

I have been assigned to the night watch. This means we work from midnight to noon. Although I am doing better today, it has been difficult to adjust to sleeping during the day. I am sure that I will continue to adapt. As long as Paul, our cook, keeps preparing his delicious meals I will survive quite nicely!

I have really enjoyed seeing the variety of organisms that come up in the dredge.  My favorites are the invertebrates. Some examples include different species of starfish, other mollusks beside scallops, and sea mice.  A sea mouse is actually a marine worm in the group known as polychaetes. These strange looking creatures grow long, thin scales that looks like fur. Their bodies have the general shape of a mouse with no tail.  There are also many fish species, which I am learning about, but they do not interest me as much as the other organisms.

Duane Sanders, June 8, 2009

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

Mission: Sea Scallop Survey
Geographical Area: New England Coast
Date: June 8, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Wind: Speed 16.1 KTS, Direction 50.5 degrees
Barometer:  1014 millibars
Air temperature: 16.8 0C Seas: 1-3 ft.

Science and Technology Log 

The Hugh R. Sharp at dock in Delaware

The Hugh R. Sharp at dock in Delaware

I have been assigned to participate in the annual scallop survey in the New England fisheries area. Our ship, the Hugh R. Sharp, is two years old and designed specifically for ocean research. The Sharp is owned by the University of Delaware and is under contract with NOAA for the scallop survey. It has laboratories, a workshop and specialized equipment for handling large or bulky devices. There is a continuous data stream gathered by the ship’s instruments and posted on monitors on the bridge and in the lab. This includes some parameters related to ocean chemistry as well as the usual weather data. There are several other high-tech sensing systems to assist in a variety of research projects. The ship’s flexible design allows for the science team to install computers, servers and ancillary equipment specific to the research project at hand.  Also, modular labs outfitted for specific purposes can be secured to the fantail (rear deck) of the ship.

My favorite piece of technology is the diesel electric drive system.  Diesel generators produce electricity that supply power to the drive motors all other electrical needs on the ship.  Propulsion is provided by thrusters, which are capable of rotating in any direction as needed.  There are two thrusters in the stern and one in the bow.  These three acting together can keep the Sharp within six feet of a specified location.  The ship’s engineer can monitor all systems from his station on the bridge. This system is very quiet and vibration is kept to a minimum.  That means we can sleep much better than with a conventional diesel engine drive. All in all, this vessel seems to me to be an ocean scientist’s dream come true.  It is designed for high-tech applications and configurations that change as the need arises.

Here I am practicing donning my emergency immersion suit.

Here I am practicing donning my emergency immersion suit.

Personal Log 

Today is our first day at sea. We spent the morning hours getting acquainted with each other and learning about safety, emergency procedures and shipboard etiquette. For example, the science team was divided into two watches, midnight to noon and noon to midnight.  The rule is that people coming on watch need to take everything they want to use during watch hours with them. This allows those coming off watch to get some undisturbed rest.  Living in close quarters requires everyone to be considerate and cooperative. We all rely on each other to do their part to help make the cruise a safe and successful one.  While there is always room for some fun, everybody takes their responsibilities quite seriously.  Life and limb often depend on this careful approach to our work.