Mark Silverman: Introduction: Prior to Fall Groundfish Survey Cruise, October 28, 2011

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mark Silverman
Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
November 11-21, 2011

Hi.  My name is Mark Silverman and I will be sailing aboard the Oregon II beginning November 11, 2011. I  am a graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelors of Science in Zoology.  I am an avid fisherman, snorkeler and SCUBA diver and a general outdoor enthusiast with a great love for the ocean and a fascination with all types of science.

Diving in the Kerama Islands off Okinawa Japan last summer.

I am currently teaching Chemistry at Homestead Senior High School, Homestead, FL.  Homestead Sr. serves about 2500 9-12 graders, a mix of urban and rural populations, at the the extreme southern tip of the Florida mainland.  I have been teaching since 1985, the last 16 years at Homestead Senior.

In my classroom.

South Florida is a unique environment in the U.S.  The climate is subtropical and many unique animals and plants are found here that are found nowhere else on the U.S. mainland.  We are surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean, Florida Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico.  Two national parks, Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park, bound the east and west sides of Homestead.  Additionally, the northern terminus of the only living coral barrier reef adjacent to the U.S. mainland is found off our coast.  So, you can easily see why the ocean is so important to our way of life.  Ocean and climate literacy is extremely important in South Florida and as such I’m very excited to be participating soon in my second Teacher at Sea adventure!  Since I will be sailing during the school year this time, my students will be more even intimately involved than in the past.

That's me "surfing" a whale shark this summer off of Tori in Okinawa, Japan!! ( I was not actually riding or injuring the animal in anyway...just a cool photo angle). Photo by: Chad Galvez

For those of you new to Teacher at Sea and Teacher at NOAA, I would like to share a little.  NOAA stands for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  NOAA is responsible for a wide variety of important functions, throughout the United States and the world, related to oceans, weather, and climate, including, but not limited to creating weather reports, tracking hurricanes, studying long-term climate, mapping the sea floor, creating nautical charts, studying fisheries with sustainable use as the goal, and managing MPA‘s (Marine Protected Areas).  NOAA Teacher at Sea is a program that promotes Ocean and Climate Literacy and NOAA career opportunities by allowing educators to participate in actual scientific research aboard research vessels and then bring back what they have experienced and learned to their classrooms.  I was a Teacher at Sea for the first time in the summer of 2006 aboard the NASA Ship MV FREEDOM STAR, where I assisted with a grouper and lionfish survey off the southeast coast of the United States (Yes, lionfish, a non-native species, but more about that later).

On the bridge of the NASA ship MV FREEDOM STAR in 2006.

After being involved with the development of NOAA Teacher in the Lab in 2007, I spent two summers, 2009 and 2010 at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) on Virginia Key, Florida, as a pilot Teacher in the Lab.  There, I worked under the direction of Dr. Trika Gerard in the Early Life History Lab.  My work included identifying, counting, and sorting juvenile fish samples from Brewer’s Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The second summer I also extracted otoliths (ear bones…I will tell you more about otolith chemisty in the near future too) and prepared them for radioisotope analysis.  Subsequently the lab group hosted my students on several occasions during a fantastic field trip!  Working with Dr. Gerard, her lab manager Estrella Malca, and the many other professional scientists at SEFSC was a unique and wonderful experience which gave me a true insight into the work they do on a daily basis.  While I was there in 2010, the BP Gulf Oil spill crisis was going on.  Although this was a truly tragic event, watching these professionals mobilize in a crisis was an incredibly exciting and fascinating experience!

Snapper otolith after extraction and cleaning.

Extracting otoliths at NOAA SEFSC Juvenile and Larval Fishes lab in 2010.

Sorting and identifying fish samples at SEFSC in 2009.

I truly look forward to another great experience with NOAA TAS!!  I will be sailing out of Pascagoula, Mississippi aboard the NOAA ship Oregon II, a 170 foot trawler, set up as a fisheries research vessel.  I will be participating in a leg of the Fall Groundfish Survey.  This yearly survey monitors bottom fish in the Gulf of Mexico and is

The Fall Groundfish Survey area.

an important fisheries management tool. You can follow my journey and adventures in this blog and via the NOAA Ship Tracker.  Just click on the hyperlink, enter the ship tracker and select the Oregon II (R2) from the drop down menu on the right side of the screen.

The OREGON II.

I look forward to your virtual participation and comments!