Mark Silverman, June 9, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006

Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 9, 2006

Sunrise revealed rough seas aboard the FREEDOM STAR off the coast of South Carolina.

Sunrise revealed rough seas aboard the FREEDOM STAR off the coast of South Carolina.

Weather Data from Bridge
Visibility: Good
Wind direction:  SW/W
Average wind speed: 20 knots
Wave height: 8-10’
Air temperature: 72oF
Cloud cover: 70%
Barometric pressure:  1009.8 mb

Science and Technology Log 

Morning dawned revealing seas of 8-10 foot with occasional 12-foot swells causing unsafe conditions on deck. Waves were rolling onto one side of the ship’s deck and across the other. Several members of the field party were seasick as a result of the weather.  A joint decision was made to scrub the morning mission by Principle Investigator Andy David, Capt. Exell and Craig Bussel, the ROV pilot, due to the unsafe conditions on deck.

Water washed across the deck creating hazardous working conditions.

Water washed across the deck creating hazardous working conditions.

Conditions improved after mid-day and we began a survey of the South Carolina site B in an area overlapped by Options 1 and 2. The fish trap was deployed first, with 450 ft of blue spectra line tethered to high-flyer floats to facilitate retrieval.  While it soaked the 4-camera array was deployed, using a similar float system, and retrieved after 30 min.  In order to collect physical data, the CTD was also deployed and retrieved successfully. After about 90 min. the fish trap was retrieved.  7 red porgies and a gray triggerfish were recovered and measured.  Three measurements were recorded for each fish:  standard length, fork length, and total length.  Since the fish were blown up by the pressure change they were cleaned for the galley. In the 3 hours between the beginning of the mission and the ROV run the current was determined to have swung 180 degrees, by a drift test. The initial current was 1.3 knots to the south. By afternoon the current was 1.3 knots to the north.  In order to run into the current with the ROV, so as to improve visibility of the camera views and keep the ROV free of the props we took some time to reorient the transect path to start on the opposite, north, end of the transect.  Next, the ROV was deployed, but the dive had to be aborted due to a problem with the camera.

Waves splashed over the transom as we tried to hold position for the morning mission.

Waves splashed over the transom as we tried to hold position for the morning mission.

The camera problem was resolved and the ROV was launched a second time for a 2 hr+ transect. The transect, which ranged from 197’ to 227’ deep, was very successful. A varied terrain was seen consisting of pavement crevices of hard compacted sand and isolated, scattered rocks and hard bottom. At least one object appeared to be of human origin.  In addition to video, still pictures are taken once per minute to survey the bottom composition.  Most of the fish seemed to be concentrated in the rocky areas. A surprising number of fish would orient to even very small pieces of structure. Many of the same species of fish were seen that are mentioned in the Day 2 log as well as several new species of interest. These included Lionfish (an introduced species that is native to the Pacific and Indian Oceans), tilefish, razorfish, and several others that still need to be identified. Abundant numbers of scamp, amberjack, big eyes, red porgies, and butterfly fish were observed.  Additionally, several interesting invertebrates were seen, including a Holothuroidea (Sea Cucumber) and an Asteroidea (starfish). FREEDOM STAR then transited, over night, approximately 131 mi. to the North Carolina Options off of Cape Fear, North Carolina.

The “girls” hold an animated discussion while going over data using a PDA.

The “girls” hold an animated discussion while going over data using a PDA.

Personal Log 

I slept soundly as the ship tossed and turned during the night in a building sea.  As we reached our destination in the morning and FREEDOM STAR slowed the roll and pitch became extreme.  Although several members of the team were seasick, so far I felt fine.  I ate a light breakfast out of respect for the conditions.  As the sun rose in beautiful shades of rose, the waves rose as well, splashing over and washing across the deck.  We had the morning free since it was too dangerous to work.  Feeling a bit queasy, several of us returned to our racks.  After a nap I felt much better and seas were beginning to lay down. I was given the opportunity to participate in several of the deployments and found out it’s not as easy as it looks.  Hardhat and life jacket in place, I baited and launched the fish trap…a bit prematurely, but all went well.  I also tossed the high-flyer for the camera array…not so well. It whipped back and dented the radar reflector, much to my embarrassment.  Andy, kindly, reassured me that most of them wound up this way after being taken to sea. Repairs were made later using a hammer and duct tape. Next, I assisted in taking pictures during the ROV dive.  1, 2, 3…Craig, the pilot would slow down…using the laptop I took a picture once a minute.  I even managed to photograph some fish, including a lionfish.  Noting how much Craig, the pilot, enjoyed his work, I asked if the ROV had a name and was told it’s the Hela Dive 118.  He then offered to let me try piloting one day.  I’m very excited and can’t wait!  I requested soft sand after my experience with the high-flyer, LOL.  Several dolphin (the fish) came up to the boat and I managed to hook one!  It ran toward the operations area and had to be broken off to avoid entanglement…Oh well.  We did see some dolphin (the flipper type) in the wake too!  I shot lots of photos, I wish I could share them all.  Another beautiful sunset and all and all it was an adventuresome day and I’m getting tired, so…

Steve Matthews, fisheries methods and equipment specialist, coordinates crane operations during deployment of the 4-camera array.

Steve Matthews, fisheries methods and equipment specialist, coordinates crane operations during deployment

Question of the Day 

Answer to yesterday’s question: Yesterday’s question is very controversial and is the impetus for this mission.  There is currently no right answer. Hopefully the data we collect will help shed light on this complicated issue.  The Scientist and crew are dedicated to providing concrete, unbiased data to create sustainable fisheries for the future. Today’s question: Today we encountered an introduced species, the lionfish.  Nonnative species have plagued the freshwater ecosystems of South Florida for years.  What are some of the possible impacts resulting from the introduction of nonnative species to marine ecosystems of the Southeast Atlantic basin?

Addendum 1:  Glossary of Terms 

Standard length:  Measured from the front edge of the mouth to the forward edge of the caudal fin. Fork length:  Measured from the front edge of the mouth to the center of the fork of the caudal fin. Total length:  Measured from the front edge of the mouth to the farthest point of the upper caudal lobe. Caudal fin: The tail fin of a bony fish (Class Osteichthyes). Drift test:  Used to determine how the ship will move in the wind and current conditions by shutting down propulsion and using the GPS to note direction and speed of travel. Rack: Bed High-flyer:  a buoy with a tall pole topped by a radar reflector to facilitate retrieval. Sustainable Fisheries:  a fishery where the numbers of fish remain at suitable levels to support commercial and recreational fishing.

Addendum 2:  An Interview with Andy David, Principle Investigator 

Andy David is an affable man.  He is a walking encyclopedia of facts about fish, wildlife, environmental issues and marine science.  I found Andy to be patient while teaching, yet focused and determined about his work.  I interviewed him in the galley after lunch as we transited between study sites. The interview is paraphrased.  I did not have a tape recorder to get accurate quotes and used notes.  Any inaccuracies are the fault of the interviewer and not Andy.

Sunset, in stark contrast to sunrise, over calm seas as another day aboard FREEDOM STAR draws to a close.

Sunset, in stark contrast to sunrise, over calm seas as another day aboard FREEDOM STAR draws to a close.

Q: What and where did you study?

A: I have BS in Chemistry and Biology from Stetson University in Central Florida.  My MS is Marine Science was done at USF in Saint Pete.

Q: Do you have a PhD?

A: My PhD is near completion at FSU.  I am nearing completion of my dissertation.

Q: How did you come to work for NOAA?

A: I am from Panama City and moved back after college due to my wife’s work.  I took a temporary 1-year position on the [NOAA] redfish project at $17,000 a year with no benefits and stuck with it. Sixteen years later here I am.

Q: What are your current projects?

A: I currently have four projects, The South Atlantic fisheries project, a Gulf of Mexico fisheries project which is completed, [an investigation of] trolling in closed areas in the Gulf, and a multibeam mapping project on Pulley Ridge in the north Dry Tortugas in 60-100 meters of water.

Q: Would you recommend a career in fisheries science to current high school students?

A: It’s a great job. You can tailor your studies

to what you like. The stress level is low, the dress is casual (points to his shorts, rubber clogs, and t-shirt smiling), and the work is interesting. There are boring things as in any job, but generally it’s really interesting.  New projects always come up.  It’s not usually mundane.

Q: How would you recommend that a student prepares for this career?

A: Take all the math and science you can. English is important too…it all comes down to expressing what you found in an understandable way or you’re just spinning your wheels. Don’t worry about Marine Biology [courses] in 9th grade. Take good general science and wait to learn the fancy stuff, all the names and stuff, in grad [graduate] school. You don’t need to go straight through. You can get a Bachelor’s degree, get an entry-level job, and see if you like it. NOAA supports returning to school and helps with tuition. You can blend your work with your Masters thesis project. Andy confers with Darin Schuster, one of the crane operators as the camera array is recovered on day 3.

Nancy McClintock, June 8, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy McClintock and Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006

Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 8, 2006

Early morning sunrise 50 miles off the coast of North Florida viewed from the deck

Early morning sunrise 50 miles off the coast of North Florida viewed from the deck

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  unlimited
Wind direction:  S/W
Average wind speed: 7 knots
Wave height: 1-2’
Air temperature: 78oF/25oC
Cloud cover: None
Barometric pressure:  1011 mb

Science and Technology Log 

The FREEDOM STAR left Port Canaveral at 0010 and traveled 92.3 miles north during the night of June 7. At about 0800 the CTD was launched and recovered successfully in the Option 2 area about 50 miles off the coast of North Florida.  A fish trap baited with Spanish mackerel was deployed with high-flyer floats as markers for a later retrieval. After overcoming a few difficulties, the ROV was launched to a depth of 207’ and rested on the ocean floor.  Visibility was excellent and two successful transects were accomplished.  The bottom consisted of mixed hard bottom that visibly contained invertebrate species such as black coral, Oculina varicosa coral, Lophelia pertusa and other branching corals as well as basket sponges and various algae.  In addition, sand with several good ledges was encountered. The fish were most prolific in areas where the most relief was seen. Fish species spotted included tomtate grunts, scamp (a type of grouper), three types of porgies, blue angelfish, reef, bank and spot fin butterfly fish, blue and queen angel fish, almaco and greater amberjacks, yellow tail reef fish and many other types of damsel fish, filefish, scrawled cowfish, and Cuban hogfish.  After the ROV run, the fish trap was retrieved with two red porgies that were measured and released.  The camera array with four video cameras was dropped to the ocean floor for 30 minutes and then retrieved.  After cruising approximately 26 miles north, a similar protocol at Option 1 was repeated.

Recording digital images relayed from the ROV at 207 feet below the surface of the ocean.

Recording digital images relayed from the ROV at 207 feet below the surface of the ocean.

Personal Log 

The ignition of the diesel engines and the roar of the bow thrusters was just the beginning of my first real night as sea.  I felt like I was in a flight simulator at an amusement park for six hours. I am beginning to get my “sea legs” and have learned that motion sickness medicine helps and that you have to stand with a wide stance without locking your knees to prevent losing your balance. Walking on deck in the early morning presented me with one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen.  What a wonderful way to begin a day! The deployment of the research equipment and the recording of data is a key component to the mission of this cruise.  I recorded digital pictures with a laptop computer of the ocean floor images relayed from the ROV and helped wherever I could be of assistance. The retrieval of the almost-empty fish trap brought groans and moans from the crew.  However, seeing a huge Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Caretta caretta, surface next to the ship will be in my dreams tonight.

Question of the Day 

Answer to yesterday’s question: The FREEDOM STAR holds 44,000 gallons of diesel fuel in ten tanks.  A gallon of diesel fuel costs approximately $2.25.  Just imagine the fuel costs for this week! Today’s question: If the government designated certain areas as Marine Protected Areas and limited their public use, how would this affect the ocean ecosystem?

Deployment of the ROV by NOAA scientists and crewmembers at Option 2 from the rear deck of the FREEDOM STAR.

Deployment of the ROV by NOAA scientists and crewmembers at Option 2 from the rear deck of the FREEDOM STAR.

Addendum 1: Glossary of Terms 

Millibar (mb):  a unit of pressure equivalent to 1/1000 atmospheres of pressure.

Atmosphere: a unit of pressure that is the average air pressure at sea level.

Transect:  a sample area taken along a straight line used to estimate populations and habitat coverage.

Option: Proposed areas for deep water MPA’s that are under evaluation.  Each MPA has 2-3 Options for a total of eleven.

Prolific:  found in abundance or in large amounts.

Relief:  distance above or below relatively flat, featureless sea bottom.

Protocol:  a series of steps and procedures used in an operation.

Addendum 2: Officers and Crew of the FREEDOM STAR 

Captain: Walter Exell, Chief Mate: George Kirk, Second Mate: Mike Nicholas, Boatswain (Lead Seaman):  Darrell Hoover ,Ordinary Seaman:  Cody Gordon, Able Bodied Seaman:  Allan Gravina, Cook : Patrick Downey, Retrieval (Crane Operator):  Wayne Stewart, Retrieval (Crane Operator):  Darin Schuster,  Deck Supervisor : P.J. Zackel, Chief Engineer: Tim Freeley, Assistant Engineer:  John Heer.

Mark Silverman, June 8, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006

Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 8, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  unlimited
Wind direction:  S/W
Average wind speed: 7 knots
Wave height: 1-2’
Air temperature: 78oF/25oC
Cloud cover: None
Barometric pressure:  1011 mb

Members of the science team and crew prepare to deploy the ROV in Option 2 off the coast of North Florida aboard the NASA ship FREEDOM STAR.

Members of the science team and crew prepare to deploy the ROV off the coast of North Florida

Science and Technology Log 

This morning at about 0800 the CTD was launched and recovered successfully in the Option 2 area about 50 miles off the coast of North Florida.  Next, a fish trap baited with Spanish mackerel was launched.  After overcoming a few difficulties, the ROV was launched in about 200’ of water around 1000.  Visibility was excellent and two successful transects were accomplished.  The bottom consisted of mixed hard bottom and sand with several good ledges encountered.  The hard bottom visibly contained invertebrate species such as black coral, Oculina varicosa coral, Lophelia pertusa and other branching corals as well as basket sponges and various algae.  A number of species of fish were spotted. The fish were most prolific in areas where the most relief was seen. Fish species spotted included tomtate grunts, scamp (a type of grouper), three types of porgies, blue angel fish, reef, bank and spot fin butterfly fish, blue and queen angel fish, almaco and greater amber jacks, yellow tail reef fish and many other types of damsel fish, filefish, scrawled cow fish, and Cuban hogfish.  After the ROV run, the fish trap was recovered after soaking about 2 hours. Two red porgies were measured and released.  Finally, the camera array was soaked for 30 minutes.  We moved about 2 hours north and repeated a similar protocol at Option 1.  The FREEDOM STAR traveled 134.5 miles north during the night of June 8-9.

Mark Silverman, NOAA Teacher at Sea, practices the use of his “Gumby” survival suite.  The suit is designed to assist survival at sea should a ship go down.

Mark Silverman, NOAA Teacher at Sea, practices the use of his “Gumby” survival suite. The suit is designed to assist survival at sea should a ship go down.

Personal Log 

Last night I slept well as we sailed from port to today’s destination.  The hum of the motors and the rocking of the ship lulled me to sleep.  Today I awoke a little woozy from the seasick medicine I took as a precaution and remained that way for most of the day.  I will not take any more as the weather is fine.  After breakfast I sat outside on deck and read my Bible for a short while as we finished our travel, it was very peaceful.  Once again we were served excellent meals.  The day consisted of flurries of activity and periods of waiting which I used to write my log and debug the email program.  Just about everyone came out on deck to see what the fish traps brought up.  I also assisted taking ROV still photos and deploying and recovering gear.  Everyone is settling into the routine of life at sea. The crew watches movies, plays cards, and fishes during the down time, but they work extremely hard when called on, which is often.  The ocean is beautiful below an endless sky, deep blue, calm and spotted with patches of Sargassum weed, a brown alga.  Only a few boats have been spotted all day.  I look forward to subtle changes as we move up the coast toward Cape Fear, North Carolina. Perhaps if the crew is lucky this evening we will eat fresh fish tomorrow!  Hello to all my friends, students, and family out there!

“The weather is here, wish you were beautiful.” – Jimmy Buffett

Question of the Day 

Answer to yesterday’s question: The FREEDOM STAR holds 44,000 gallons of diesel fuel in ten tanks. A gallon of diesel fuel costs approximately $2.25.  Just imagine the fuel costs for this week! Today’s question:  Do you think the government should have the right to close certain areas of the ocean to public use and do you think closures would have a positive environmental impact?

An American alligator at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station prior to departure.

An American alligator at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Addendum 1: Glossary of Terms 

Millibar (mb):  a unit of pressure equivalent to 1/1000 atmospheres of pressure. Atmosphere: a unit of pressure that is the average air pressure at sea level. Transect:  a sample area taken along a straight line used to estimate populations and habitat coverage. Option: Proposed areas for deep water MPA’s that are under evaluation.  Each MPA has 2-3 Options for a total of eleven. Prolific: found in abundant, large amounts. Relief:  distance above or below relatively flat, featureless sea bottom. Protocol:  a series of steps and procedures used in an operation. Lock:  Enclosed area where ship can enter while water level between two bodies of water is raised or lowered.

Addendum 2: Officers and Crew of the FREEDOM STAR 

Captain: Walter Exell; Chief Mate: George Kirk; Second Mate: Mike Nicholas; Boatswain (lead Seaman): Darrell Hoover; Ordinary Seaman: Cody Gordon; Able Bodied Seaman: Allan Gravina; Cook: Patrick Downey; Retrieval (Crane Operator): Wayne Stewart; Retrieval (Crane Operator): Darin Schuster; Deck Supervisor: P.J. Zackel; Chief Engineer: Tim Freeley; Assistant Engineer: John Heer.

A pelican in the locks in Port Canaveral, FL.

A pelican in the locks in Port Canaveral, FL.

Nancy McClintock, June 7, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy McClintock and Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006

Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 7, 2006

Nancy and Mark on the bridge of the NASA ship FREEDOM STAR ready to begin an awesome week as NOAA Teachers at Sea.

Nancy and Mark on the bridge ready to begin an awesome week as NOAA Teachers at Sea.

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility: excellent – over 10 miles
Wind direction:  ESE
Average wind speed: 9 knots
Harbor wave height: light chop
Air temperature:  75 oF at 1900 hrs.
Cloud cover: partly cloudy
Barometric pressure:  1014 millibars

Science and Technology Log 

Upon arrival Tuesday, June 6, we loaded equipment onto the ship such as: Chevron fish traps, a four-camera video array, an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), a Blue Spectra Line (1 cm diameter, rated to 27,000 lbs, cost $2.00 foot),  a Seabird 19+ CTD ( Conductivity, Temperature, Depth), buoys, and bait.  Next, we toured the ship, settled into our staterooms, were introduced to our survival suits, and received an informal technical briefing from Andy David, the Principal Investigator, from NOAA fisheries.  We also were introduced to the rest of the NOAA scientists and the crew of the FREEDOM STAR.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 was the official start of day 1 of our cruise.  We met with the Captain of the FREEDOM STAR, Dave Fraine, who graciously gave us a tour of the bridge and an overview of ship operations, navigation, and piloting.  At 1100 Capt. Fraine briefed the entire crew on safety regulations and drill procedures.  We also had a fire drill and an MOB (Man Overboard) survival drill.  Walter Exell, Chief Mate, relieved Capt. Fraine and is the captain for the rest our cruise.  At 1600 the vessel shifted to Port Canaveral from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to take on fuel in preparation for departure on June 8th at 0001.

NASA ship M/V FREEDOM STAR docked at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

NASA ship M/V FREEDOM STAR docked at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Personal Log 

It is a great honor to be selected as one of 30 NOAA Teachers at Sea and words can hardly describe the beginning of this awesome, fantastic adventure.  Viewing the FREEDOM STAR for the first time, seeing the Kennedy Space Center from the water, and watching the manatees and alligators swim within a few feet of the ship are breathtaking. The equipment and technology to be used for this cruise is at a very high-level and it will be impressive to watch the videos and actively participate in the collection of scientific data.  I survived my first fire drill (even though I put my life jacket on inside out) and passed the survival drill with success.  I donned my Gumby (survival) suit with great ease—I just couldn’t move very easily and had it zipped up to my nose because of my short stature. My first full day has been filled with excitement, wonderful memories, and the establishment of many great friendships.  I am learning about ecosystems so totally different from those found in Missouri and look forward to sharing this information.  I can hardly wait for tomorrow to come and begin the actual data collection!

Until tomorrow… Nancy

Question of the Day 

How many gallons of commercial diesel fuel does a NASA ship like the FREEDOM STAR (176 feet in length) hold?

Addendum: Glossary of Terms 

  • MPA: Marine Protected Areas are areas closed to all fishing, both commercial and recreational.
  • ROV: Remotely Operated Vehicles robotic vehicles tethered to a crane that will be employed to search for spawning aggregations, determine habitat coverage, topography and composition, and detect new sites for inclusion into the sample site universe using video cameras, and data.
  • CTD: Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth, utilized for physical oceanographic data acquisition.  The CTD actually collects more data than its name implies such as light transmission, salinity, and dissolved O2 (oxygen).
  • M/V: Motor Vessel 
  • NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
  • NASA: National Aeronautical and Space Administration  

Mark Silverman, June 7, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mark Silverman
Onboard NASA Ship Freedom Star
June 7 – 14, 2006

Mission: Pre-closure evaluation of habitat and fish assemblages in five proposed no fishing zones in the South Atlantic.
Geographical Area: South Atlantic Ocean
Date: June 7, 2006

Nancy and Mark on the bridge of the NASA ship FREEDOM STAR ready to begin an awesome week as NOAA Teachers at Sea.

Nancy and Mark on the bridge ready to begin an awesome week as NOAA Teachers at Sea.

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility: excellent – over 10 miles
Wind direction:  ESE
Average wind speed: 9 knots
Harbor wave height: light chop
Air temperature:  75 oF at 1900 hrs.
Cloud cover: partly cloudy
Barometric pressure:  1014 millibars

Science and Technology Log 

Upon arrival Tuesday, June 6, we loaded equipment onto the ship such as: Chevron fish traps, a four-camera video array, an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), a Blue Spectra Line (1 cm diameter, rated to 27,000 lbs, cost $2.00 foot),  a Seabird 19+ CTD ( Conductivity, Temperature, Depth), buoys, and bait.  Next, we toured the ship, settled into our staterooms, were introduced to our survival suits, and received an informal technical briefing from Andy David, the Principal Investigator, from NOAA fisheries.  We also were introduced to the rest of the NOAA scientists and the crew of the FREEDOM STAR.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 was the official start of day 1 of our cruise.  We met with the Captain of the FREEDOM STAR, Dave Fraine, who graciously gave us a tour of the bridge and an overview of ship operations, navigation, and piloting.  At 1100 Capt. Fraine briefed the entire crew on safety regulations and drill procedures.  We also had a fire drill and an MOB (Man Overboard) survival drill.  Walter Exell, Chief Mate, relieved Capt. Fraine and is the captain for the rest our cruise.  At 1600 the vessel shifted to Port Canaveral from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to take on fuel in preparation for departure on June 8th at 0001.

NASA ship Freedom Star at Cape Canaveral

NASA ship Freedom Star at Cape Canaveral

Personal Log 

“Awesome!”  That’s an understatement for our experience so far and the actual mission hasn’t even started yet. The FREEDOM STAR is state of the art with all the comforts of home and then some.  Everyone on board—officers, crew, and scientists—are friendly, professional and informative.  The other Teacher at Sea, Nancy McClintock has also been a great partner to work with.  We got to see parts of the NASA Air Force Station we would never normally see.  In the near distance are gantries and the enormous Vehicle Assembly Building.  One gantry we passed while driving on base even had a small rocket on it! We also had the privilege of seeing dolphins, manatees, and alligators, since the port is in a protected natural area.

The quarters are quite comfortable with two bunks, chairs, and a sink.  Two staterooms share a shower and toilet.  The galley is adjacent to a large “living room” with a big (45”?) TV and two ample sofas on the second of four decks.  There is satellite TV service and a cell phone antennae for reception throughout the cruise as well as Internet and email services. The level of technology on the ship is impressive.  As well as radar, GPS (Global Positioning System), and a very state-of-the-art bridge, there is a dynamic positioning system with bow and stern thrusters that can hold the vessel’s position within a few feet.  We actually pulled away from the dock sideways to move to the fueling station!  The science equipment is also impressive from the $18,000 CTD to the ROV worth over $100,000 (I’ve actually seen this ROV before on Discovery Channel!).

Our first meal on board was dinner on the 7th and I will definitely not be losing weight on this trip. It’s a good thing I ran this morning!  The food was delicious with a fancy salad, chicken fried steak, plenty of “carbs” and a delicious dessert, too.  I’ll have to work hard this week to even things out!

I’m really looking forward to our first data collection, tomorrow, after sleeping while we cruise from 0001 (1 minute past Midnight) until about 0700.

Question of the Day 

How many gallons of commercial diesel fuel does a NASA ship like the FREEDOM STAR (176 feet in length) hold?

Addendum: Glossary of Terms: 

  • MPA: Marine Protected Areas are areas closed to all fishing, both commercial and recreational.
  • ROV: Remotely Operated Vehicles robotic vehicles tethered to a crane that will be employed to search for spawning aggregations, determine habitat coverage, topography and composition, and detect new sites for inclusion into the sample site universe using video cameras, and data.
  • CTD: Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth, utilized for physical oceanographic data acquisition.  The CTD actually collects more data than its name implies such as light transmission, salinity, and dissolved O2 (oxygen).
  • M/V: Motor Vessel 
  • NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
  • NASA:  National Aeronautical and Space Administration