Sue Zupko: 3 On the Pisces

NOAA Teacher at Sea: Sue Zupko
NOAA Ship: Pisces
Mission: Study deep water coral, Lophelia, in the Gulf Stream
Geographical Area of Cruise: SE United States in Gulf Stream from off Mayport, FL to south of St. Lucie Inlet, FL
Date: May 31, 2011
Weather Data from the Bridge
Clouds: Partly Cloudy
Wind Speed: 8 knots
Wind Direction: 020
Visibility:10 nautical miles (n.m.)
Swells: 3-4′
Barometric Pressure: 1018.4mb
Salinity: 126.9
Dry/Wet Bulb: 26.8/24

I am finally here on the Pisces.  The weather is perfect.  Puffy clouds, nice breeze.  I love being in the harbor.  There are ships all around us and there is always something going on.  We are berthed (parked) literally next to a missile cruiser.  Instead of having a gangway (walkway) directly onto our ship, we must climb up some metal stairs (no kidding–you have to be able to pull yourself up about two feet to get started), board this cruiser, then cut across to another gangway to go to the Pisces.

Walkway made of metal with holes and raised slats

Although we have shown ID at the gate, and the entrance to the pier, we must show it again to get onto this ship.  There are a lot of guards.  The gangway is not the easiest thing to walk on even though there are railings on both sides.  The floor has slats that stick up and are easy to trip on.  I really had to watch my step.  Try carrying heavy gear while maneuvering on this.  We had to unload our cars and trucks and carry just about everything across these two gangways.  Thank goodness one of the crew was there to help me.  Would have been a struggle to get my duffel up those first few steps.

Looks like two aluminum pie pans stuck with the wide sides together
What is this?

What is this?  Vote using the survey on what this is a picture of.  It is an important object on our ship.



This is an eye wash.  Scientists often use chemicals in their work and if something splashes, they can step on a pedal and it opens up the top of this “waffle iron” and water eye-width apart rinses the chemical from their eyes.  It’s a handy safety device.

1 Introduction to My Voyage on the Pisces

Laughing Gull flying over ocean as viewed from our ferry
Laughing Gull

I have a rare opportunity and a responsibility to teach others about our world.  Having been selected as a NOAA Teacher at Sea, I will be sailing aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ship Pisces as a scientist.  Andy David, the chief scientist on our expedition, who works for NOAA’s Fisheries Service, has assigned and will be assigning me duties.  Already I’ve participated in editing press materials, setting up a blog, pre-cruise meetings, and finding groups to Skype with from the ship.  On board ship some of my duties will include photographing and videotaping our activities.  Yeah!  My students will have lots of material from which to create projects.  I will be able to teach them about public access to information and my role in that from my blogging responsibilities.  Having raised service dogs, I am already familiar with many aspects of public access, but it has usually been wheelchair access to buildings.  Internet access for the blind hadn’t occurred to me.  Learning, always learning.

I teach grades 3-5 in a pull-out program for the gifted and talented.  Last week my 3rd grade students got to Skype with Andy David and asked him questions about the purpose of our cruise, what we would find there, how we would solve problems, how the ship is powered, and so much more.   The students seem very interested in sharks, dolphins, whales, and turtles.   Those species aren’t exactly what we are focusing on in our study of the deep water coral, Lophelia.   Andy said that we would probably see all those marine creatures. That hadn’t occurred to me; they weren’t on my radar since these species haven’t been mentioned in other blogs or information pages from this study.  They will be serendipitous meetings, and, although I didn’t think it possible,  my excitement level has increased.  I found a great web site about Lophelia.  Check it out.  It has easy reading, maps, pictures, and games.

Keep checking back for more on this exciting adventure.  I will post my blog entries as often as bandwidth will allow after we depart on May 31, 2011 to help you better understand about our mission and what we found.  We will return  June 11, 2011.  Until then, I will talk about things I plan to take and why.

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