With our stations complete, we headed home a bit early on Saturday, and with the approaching nor’easter on Mother’s Day, it was probably a good decision. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and value the efforts, hard-work, professionalism and teamwork that make an undertaking of such enormity a valued and fun endeavor. The camaraderie of the team will be forever cherished.
We came back through the Cape Cod Canal late in the evening, on our return to Newport, RI. We spotted joggers with head lamps running along the path of the canal. Perhaps a local road race?
It was interesting feeling in my kitchen rocking and rolling all day Sunday …. dock rock or kitchen rock??? That was a fun sensation!!
It was nice to see my students this morning, Monday, all welcoming me home and curious about my trip. On Sunday, I had prepared a slide-show of many of my photos and projected my blog on the “Smartboard” to share with my classes. They had a wide range of questions from what did I eat, was I seasick, what fish did we catch, did you dissect any fish, did you see any whales, how old do you have to be to go out on the ship, to what will the scientists do with the samples that were saved. They were impressed with my pictures of the goosefish, (who wouldn’t be impressed with such a fish!) and laughed at how the scientist I worked closely with nicknamed me a “Fish Wrangler” as I had caught, in midair, some slippery, squirming, flip-flopping Red Fish as they had managed an attempted escape off the scale when a big wave hit. I’ll wear that tag with pride!
Thank you to NOAA and their staff that prepared me for the journey. Thank you to all the wonderful people I met on the ship. A “Teacher at Sea” is a monicker of which I will be always proud … as well as “Fish Wrangler!”
Underbelly of the Sea Raven
Wolffish on the scale
The skate has a very interesting expression.
A very small Skate
Setting the CTD
CTD being hauled back up.
Glen with a large crab.
Closeup of the crab
Eggs of a female lobster
Another lobster with a lot of eggs
Female with eggs and a notched fin indicating it had previously been caught and released.
Henry B Bigelow tied to dock in Newport
Working on the nets
Scientist weather gear
Ready to sort
At muster station
A lot of hard work in getting the net back onboard with the catch
Tony measuring Dogfish
Wet Room all clean
Nearly time to be home. Wet Room clean and conveyor dismantled
Cute logo on the wet weather gear
In the stateroom the life suit storage container is luminescent.
Emergency and Fire Drill
Beautiful clouds in the welcome blue skies
One lone squid
Grey sky and shimmering seas
Just in case!
Picked up a few passengers outside of Boston
These fish “buzzing ” feeling when placed on your hand.
As soon as the day group’s shift started at noon we were right into sorting the catch and doing the work-up of weighing, measuring and taking samples.
It’s with a good bit of anticipation waiting to see what the net will reveal when its contents are emptied! There were some new fish for me to see today of which I was able to get some nice photos. I was asked today if I had a favorite fish. I enjoy seeing the variety of star fish that come down the conveyor belt as we sort through the catch even though they are not part of the survey. The Atlantic Mackerel (Scomber scombrus) are beautiful with their blue and black bands on their upper bodies and their shimmering scales. They are a schooling fish and today one catch consisted primarily of this species. I’m fascinated with the unusual looking fish such as the goosefish, the Atlantic wolffish (Anarchichas lupus) with its sharp protruding teeth, and some of the different crabs we have caught in the net. Another catch today, closer to land where the seafloor was more sandy, was full of Atlantic Scallops. Their shells consisted of a variety of interesting colors and patterns.
Today I also had a chance to have a conversation with the Commanding Officer of the Henry B. Bigelow, Commander Jeffrey Taylor. After serving as a medic in the air force, and with a degree in Biology with a concentration in marine zoology from the University of South Florida. What he enjoys about his job is teaching the younger NOAA officers in the operation of the ship. He is proud of his state-of-the-art ship with its advanced technology and engineering and its mission to protect, restore, and manage the marine, coastal and ocean resources. Some things that were touched upon in our conversation about the ship included the winch system for trawling. It is an advanced system that monitors the cable tension and adjusts to keep the net with its sensors open to specific measurements and to keep it on the bottom of the seafloor. This system also is more time efficient. The Hydrographic Winch System deploys the CTD’s before each trawl. CO Taylor also related how the quiet hull and the advanced SONAR systems help in their missions. What we discussed that I am most familiar with since I boarded the Henry B. Bigelow is the Wet Lab, which was especially engineered for the Henry B. Bigelow and its survey missions. This is where I spend a good bit of time during the survey. The ergonomically designed work stations interface with the computer system to record and store the data collected from the fish samples 100% digitally. I was pleased to hear what thought, skill and fine tuning had gone into designing this room as I had earlier on the trip mentally noted some of the interesting aspects of the layout of the room. Commanding Officer Taylor also had high praise for his dedicated NOAA Corps staff and the crew, engineers and scientists that work together as a team.
NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
September 4 – 16, 2011
Mission: Bering-Aleutian Salmon International Survey (BASIS) Geographical Area: Bering Sea Date: September 11, 2011
Weather Data from the Bridge Latitude: 58.00 N
Longitude: -166.91 W
Wind Speed: 23.91 kts with gusts over 30 kts
Wave Height: 10 – 13ft with some bigger swells rolling through
Surface Water Temperature: 6.3 C
Air Temperature: 8.0 C
Science and Technology Log
Today Jeanette and Florence took me under their wing to teach me about the oceanographic research they are conducting onboard the Dyson. At every station there is a specific order to how we sample. First the transducer, then the CTD, then numerous types of plankton nets, and then we end with the fishing trawl. The majority of the oceanographic data that they collect comes from the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth). The CTD is lowered over the side of the ship and as it slowly descends to about 100 meters it takes conductivity, temperature, and depth readings. Those readings go to a computer inside the dry lab where Jeanette is watching to record where the pycnocline is located.
The pycnocline is a sharp boundary layer where the density of the water rapidly changes. The density changes because cold water is more dense than warm water and water with a higher salinity is more dense than water that is lower in salinity. So as the CTD travels down towards the bottom it measures warmer, less salty water near the surface, a dramatic change of temperature and salinity at the pycnocline, and then colder, saltier water below the pycnocline. Once Jeanette knows where the pycnocline is, she tells the CTD to collect water at depths below, above, and at the pycnocline boundary. The water is collected in niskin bottles and when the CTD is back on deck Florence and Jeanette take samples of the water to examine in the wet lab.
Back in the lab, Jeanette and Florence run several tests on the water that they collected. The first test that I watched them do was for chlorophyll. They used a vacuum to draw the water through two filters that filtered out the chlorophyll from the water. As the water from the CTD passed through the filters, the different sizes of chlorophyll would get stuck on the filter paper. Jeanette and Florence then collected the filter paper, placed them in labeled tubes, and stored them in a cold, dark freezer where the chlorophyll would not degrade. In the next couple of days the chlorophyll samples that they collected will be ran through a fluorometer which will quantify how much chlorophyll is actually in their samples.
Besides chlorophyll, Jeanette and Florence also tested the water for dissolved oxygen and nutrients like nitrates and phosphates. All of these tests will give the scientists a snapshot of the physical and biological characteristics of the Eastern Bering Sea at this time of year. This is very important to the fisheries research because it can help to determine the health of the ecosystem and return of the fish in the following year.
One of the high points for me so far on the cruise has been seeing and learning about all the new fish that we catch in the net. We have caught lots of salmon, pollock, and capelin. The capelin are funny because they smell exactly like cucumbers. When we get a big catch of capelin the entire fish lab smells like cucumbers…it’s so weird. We have also caught wolffish, yellow fin sole, herring, and a lot of different types of jellyfish. The jellies are fun because they come in all different shapes and sizes. We had a catch today that had some hug ones and everyone was taking their pictures with them.
Today we also caught three large Chinook or king salmon. Ellen taught me how to fillet a fish and I practiced on a smaller fish and then filleted the salmon for the cook. What is even cooler was that at dinner we had salmon and it was the fish that we had caught and I had filleted. Fresh salmon is so good and I think the crew was happy to get to enjoy our catch.