Karolyn Braun, October 24, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 24, 2006

A pilot whale breeches the surface of the water.

A pilot whale breaches the surface of the water.

Plan of the Day 

Well it was a long early morning. I was awoken at 2 a.m. to prepare for the 300 CTD profile. By the time I was finished and all was said and done, it was time for the next one. We sailed by the TAO buoy and all looked well so we went ahead and conducted the CTD and deployed the AOML. My last CTD for the day was the 1230 profile at 2.5N/170W.  Eric from MBARI will be doing the evening one.  I walked on the treadmill for an hour then made a nice salad for lunch.  I honestly don’t eat this much on my own.  It’s easy to eat when every meal is made for you.  One can easily gain weight out here. I did some knot tying and rested a bit but did not want to nap, as I would not sleep tonight.  We saw another pod of Pilot whales off the port bow playing in the water. Snapped a few good photos.

Lets talk about whales shall we?  Whales are mammals, and there are five distinct groups of marine mammals: Pinnepeds, which include seals, sea lions, fur seals and walruses;  Sea Otters; Cetaceans containing whales, dolphins and porpoises; Sirenians which consist of dugongs and manatees; and Polar Bears.  So what does it mean to be a marine mammal?  Well like all mammals, they are warm-blooded, they have at least a few hairs on their bodies, and they nourish their young with milk.  These mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act that was enacted in 1979, which made it illegal to “take” any marine mammal.  The term “take” includes harass, hunt, capture, collect, or kill, or attempt to do the same.  “Harass” denotes the act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance that has potential to disturb marine mammals.  In1994 it was amended to strengthen the definition of harass and included feeding.

Pilot whales have been hunted for many centuries, particularly by Japanese whalers.  In the mid-1980s the annual Japanese kill was about 2,300 animals.  This had decreased to about 400 per year by the 1990s. Killing by harpoon is still relatively common in the Lesser Antilles, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Hundreds or perhaps thousands are killed each year in longline and gillnets.  However, due to poor record-keeping it is not known how many kills are made each year, and what the effect this has on the local population. Female pilot whales mature at 6 years of age and a length of about 3.5 m.  Males mature much later when 12 years old and 5 m in length.  Mature adult males, which are generally larger than females, can weigh as much as 3 tons.  At birth, calves weigh slightly over 200 lbs. They are born after a pregnancy of 16 months, and are weaned at around 20 months of age.

Pilot whales have strong social cohesiveness; it is rare to see a single individual.  Even when being driven ashore by whalers, they would stay together as a group.  Groups typically contain animals of both sexes and many different ages.  The males may compete for breeding privileges, forming a hierarchy that excludes smaller males.  Large assemblages may also be composed of smaller, close-knit groups, which are stable over time.  Pilot whales are some of the noisiest whales in the ocean. Their group structure requires social communication, and they orient to prey objects by echolocation.  Vocalizations include a wide variety of whistles and clicks.

Karolyn Braun, October 22, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 22, 2006

The crew of the KA’IMIMOANA conduct an abandon-ship drill.

The crew conduct an abandon-ship drill.

Science and Technology Log 

We are still a little behind schedule this morning.  We’re preparing the next TAO buoy for deployment later on in the week, and I’m getting ready for my busy schedule of CTD profiles. After our 930 CTD was up and secure on deck, we had an abandon-ship drill.  Those are always fun. Mike and Joe, the ET guys instructed us on the use of the emergency VHF radio, the EPIRB, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons the PEPIRB, Personal Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons and the SARTS, Search and Rescue Transponder System.  Our drill was over in time to enjoy a nice lunch, after which we were back outside getting ready to clean one of the lockers when we had a scenario fire drill.  The scenario was that a fire broke out in the paint locker.  We all had to report to muster to be accounted for.  Once we did that, I assisted by bringing out the hose to the grated deck and made sure certain vents were closed.  The drill was definitely adrenaline pumping, but I am glad we haven’t had a real one onboard.

After the drill was said and done, I had to conduct a CTD profile.  It was supposed to be short and sweet but turned out to be a little longer than expected due to something wrong with the winch speed and another fuse blowing.  I don’t think the computer likes me.   The CTD was finally finished and we steamed off towards the next buoy to conduct a dive operation to repair some fittings on the TAO buoy.  I got in a work out and a nap before my late CTD at 2300.  What a day.

Karolyn Braun, October 20, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 20, 2006

TAS Braun contacts the winch to bring up the CTD carousel.

TAS Braun contacts the winch to bring up the CTD carousel.

Plan of the Day 

Well after a long and fun-filled three-day transit we arrived safely at our new longitude line, 170W, to follow.  The ship was buzzing early with preparations to retrieve the TAO buoy. Mother ocean is VERY calm with a small swell but smooth as velvet.  Why is that you ask? Well, the winds cause waves on the surface of the ocean (and on lakes).  The wind transfers some of its energy to the water, through friction between the air molecules and the water molecules. Stronger winds (like storm surges) cause larger waves.  You can make your own miniature waves by blowing across the surface of a pan of water.

Waves of water do not move horizontally, they only move up and down (a wave does not represent a flow of water).  You can see a demonstration of this by watching a floating buoy or a bird bob up and down with a wave; it does not, however, move horizontally with the wave. So the lack of waves makes things easier on the boat but tough on the fantail spooling, as there is little breeze to keep cool. By 800 the buoy was secured and the spooling fun begun. We finished spooling the line and prepped for the deployment just as lunch was beginning. Perfect timing.  After a full belly and some much needed rest indoors we deployed the “Samoan Legend” buoy and spent the next three and half hours releasing the line before dropping anchor.  We finished conducting a 3000m CTD and released an ARGO when Mr. Moon greeted us.  Another wonderful day in paradise…Good night!

Karolyn Braun, October 19, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 19, 2006

TAS Braun displays her creative buoy artwork.

TAS Braun displays her creative buoy artwork.

Plan of the Day 

Paint designs on TAO buoys; Go for a swim in the “pool”

Today was our last day of transit before we arrived at our destination of 8S/170W. After breakfast I got my paints out and spent literally all day painting the three buoys we will be deploying in the next few weeks. I enjoyed myself.  I created an Aloha Buoy with plumeria flowers; a Samoan Buoy with a Samoan designed fish, turtle, shark, ray and an island scene; and my third one is of a fisherman trying to lure an octopus with a lure made of a large cowry shell that resembles a rat (isumu). The Samoan legend about the octopus (fe’e) and the rat comes into the picture.

TAS Braun relaxes in the KA’IMIMOANA’s “pool.”

TAS Braun relaxes in the KA’IMIMOANA’s “pool.”

Gather round, story time: It all started with a sightseeing canoe trip on the ocean by an owl, a snail and a rat.  Their canoe started to sink, so the owl escaped by flying away, the snail sank with the canoe to the bottom of the ocean (goto uga), and the rat tried to swim to shore but he had a long way to go. He saw an octopus and called for help.  The octopus agreed and swam to shore with the rat on his head. When they got to shore, the rat jumped off and thanked the octopus for saving his life and said that he left a little present on the octopus’s head.  When the octopus realized that there was a rat dropping on his head, he became extremely angry and told the rat, “If I ever see you again, I’ll kill you.”  To this day, the octopus is mad about this and is still looking for the rat.  Whenever a fisherman uses this rat shape lure he is sure to bring an octopus home.

After my lunch break I went to relax in our ‘pool’ on the bow before returning to finish up the painting. It was fun and everyone seemed to get a laugh at my paintings.  I was exhausted by the end of the day but it was worth it.  Tomorrow starts another busy week with buoy ops, CTD’s, late nights and early mornings so I am enjoying the slow pace. OK this is enough for the day.  Till tomorrow.

Karolyn Braun, October 18, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 18, 2006

TAS Braun using the Fluorometer to test CTD water samples.

TAS Braun using the Fluorometer to test CTD water samples.

Plan of the Day 

Transit; TAO buoy painting; Testing CTD samples using the Fluorometer

Woke up at 5am to get a head start on the painting. I’d rather work in the morning before the sun comes up.  I finished painting the white strips before breakfast so the crew could flip the buoys over to paint the red on the bottoms before the end of the day. I spent most of my day in front of the Fluorometer testing the CTD water samples.

Ok Learning time: To calculate chlorophyll you need to use the following equation: Chl (ug 1 ) = F*Ve((Fo-Fa)/S)Vf Where F = fluorometer calibration factor

Fo = total fluorescence

Fa = Fluorescence after acid

Ve = extract volume (acetone extract; 10ml)

Vf = filtration volume (volume of filtered seawater in liters; 0.528L

S = sensitivity To obtain Fo we need to fill the cuvette, a test tube-like glass beaker, and place into the Fluorometer.  Record data. Then add 3 drops of 10% HCL to cuvette while still in the fluorometer.  Re-read the fluorescence at the same sensitivity setting.  Record data. Making sure in between samples the cuvette is cleaned with acetone. In completing the equation, we discovered that out here most of the chlorophyll is deeper than in most places.  Let’s get to the basics. The ocean can be divided into five broad zones according to how far down sunlight penetrates:

  • The epipelagic, or sunlit, zone: the top layer of the ocean where enough sunlight penetrates for plants to carry on photosynthesis.
  • The mesopelagic, or twilight, zone: a dim zone where some light penetrates, but not enough for plants to grow.
  • The bathypelagic, or midnight, zone: the deep ocean layer where no light penetrates.
  • The abyssal zone: the pitch-black bottom layer of the ocean; the water here is almost freezing and its pressure is immense.
  • The hadal zone: the waters found in the ocean’s deepest trenches.

Plants are found where there is enough light for photosynthesis; however, animals are found at all depths of the oceans though their numbers are greater near the surface where food is plentiful.  So why is more chlorophyll found deeper the further you travel away from the equator?  Well my hypothesis is because all the nutrients are found in the deep cold layers of the midnight zone.  Near the equator and near coastlines upwelling occurs so the nutrients are brought up to the sunlit zone. As you go further away from the equator less and less upwelling occurs so the phytoplankton is unable to thrive in this sunlit zone. The phytoplankton will grow deep enough in the twilight zone to obtain the nutrients, yet shallow enough where photosynthesis can occur.  I also think that like land plants, too much sun can reduce the growth of the phytoplankton.

Chlorophyll fluorescence is often reduced in algae experiencing adverse conditions such as stressful temperature, nutrient deficiency, and polluting agents.  Phytoplankton photosynthetic efficiency is one of the biological signals that rapidly reacts to changes in nutrient availability as well as naturally occurring or anthropogenically introduced toxins (contaminants).  The results can be used as an indicator of system wide change or health.  I finally finished the samples around 3 p.m. Got in a work out, watched a movie and was off to bed but not before we retarded our clocks 1 hour.  We are now entering my normal time zone.  So close to American Samoa yet so far away•

Karolyn Braun, October 17, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 17, 2006

TAS Braun paints one of the TAO buoys to ready it for deployment.

TAS Braun paints one of the TAO buoys to ready it for deployment.

Science and Technology Log 

Plan of the Day: Transit TAO buoy painting

Today started our first of a three-day transit to latitude 170W.  In the morning I did some knot tying and research on the theory of active fluorescence.  I will be assisting Eric from the Monterey Bay Aquarium on testing the water samples we have been collecting from the past CTDs using an Active Fluorometer.  Active fluorescence methods utilize the relationship between chlorophyll fluorescence and photosynthesis.  I will go into more detail tomorrow.

I painted the TAO buoys in the afternoon to get them ready for deployment on our next line. I was able to paint all the orange before the rain came but will have to paint the white tomorrow.  The weather couldn’t figure out what it wanted to do.  One minute the sun was blazing hot the next it was overcast the next raining then back to the sun again.  I drank a lot of water but felt really dehydrated, so no work out today.  I am going to drink plenty of water and go to bed early.

Karolyn Braun, October 16, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 16, 2006

Junior Officer Phoebe Woodward and TAS Karolyn Braun show off their ARGO tattoos by the ARGO floats before deployment.

Junior Officer Phoebe Woodward and TAS Karolyn Braun show off their ARGO tattoos by the ARGO floats before deployment.

Science and Technology Log 

Well my morning started with a cloudy sunrise, which quickly turned to a nice rain shower. With very low visibility, the winds and waves picked up again, so the ship was pitching and rolling. More learning: Pitching is where the bow and stern move up and down, and rolling is where the vessel will move from one side to another.

While in transit I practiced my knot tying with Jeff and Chris, two of the deck crew, and Carrie, one of the cooks let me borrow her handbook of knots. I am learning!  We had an on-time arrival to the TAO buoy at 8S/155W. The RHIB was sent out to retrieve it; it was secured on deck and lines were spooled in. We were able to take a half dinner break and then it was back to work. The new buoy was deployed into the water and the lines were fed out. We worked until about 7:15 then conducted a CTD and deployed our ARGO float. I even got a workout in. All in a days work.