Melissa Fye, April 20, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Melissa Fye
Onboard NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai
April 4 – 25, 2005

Mission: Coral Reef Ecosystem Survey
Geographical Area: Northwest Hawaiian Islands
Date: April 20, 2005

Location: Latitude: 23*36.3’North, Longitude: 164*43.0’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Visibility: 10
Wind Direction:90
Wind Speed: 14 knots
Sea Wave Height: 2-4 feet
Swell Wave Height: 5-7 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1018.8
Cloud Cover: 2/8 Cu, As, Si
Temperature outside: 24.4

Science and Technology Log

Early before daybreak we arrived at Nihoa island to conduct a CTD cast (conductivity, temperature, and depth measurements).  By three o’clock a.m., the HI’IALAKAI began running north/south and east/west survey lines of the ocean floor. The ship continued throughout the day, surveying the ocean floor using the multibeam system for benthic habitat mapping.

Personal Log

The trip is winding down and as the end approaches, I am finishing my interviews with the crew of the HI’IALAKAI.  I sent out word that I would take anything that anyone has to give away. Several of the officers and crew have been kind enough to give me CDs of past diving trips, maps, and photographs taken on board that I may have missed. I have been reading some of the weather and ocean resources aboard also. We did have an unexpected visitor aboard today. A four foot Wahu fish was caught on the chief steward’s fishing line and filleted for dinner. Its scales were a silvery blue/green color and it had rows of very sharp teeth. I’ve included pictures of it in this log.  I also concluded some interviews with other members of the scientific team. Information on scientists Scott Ferguson, Kyle Hogrefe, Emily Lundblad, Jonathan Weiss, and Rob O’Connor are included in this log.

Lead Scientist Scott Ferguson works for the University of Hawaii and acts as a contract scientist for NOAA. He is originally from Colorado and Tennessee and went to college in Boston. While in high school, he remembers becoming interested in oceanography and also recalls opening a National Geographic Magazine as an adolescent, which contained hand drawn maps of the ocean and may have subsequently planted the seed for his current specialization in benthic habitat mapping. He obtained a degree in biology, specializing in genetics, while an undergraduate student in Boston. His current assignment is based on grant work submitted by a group of scientists to collect data, based on the most available science, about the sea floor in the Northwestern Hawaiian Island chain. The data collected from this trip, which in turn will be made into maps, will be made available to any managers of the various resource management groups (including the Fisheries Department, state agencies, agencies which protect sea turtles, monk seals, etc.). Nautical charts available at this time are inadequate for use for management of resources in the area, so the multibeam sonar and the scientists aboard have been collecting much more detailed data about the ocean floor for these agencies.  The information gathered will determine fishing guidelines, etc., and will help determine boundaries for sanctuary designation of this ecological system. Mr. Ferguson finds this career interesting because it is not routine and provides opportunities for problem solving. The tool he uses most is the computer to collect data.  He comments that someone interested in this field of science should build knowledge through mathematics courses, computer classes, and be able to express themselves well through written medium. Persons who consistently pay attention to detail and are inquisitive are well suited to this work, according to Mr. Ferguson.  Mr. Ferguson and his wife, scientist Joyce Miller, will spend 3-4 months a year on assignment in the Pacific Ocean.  As an added side note, he, his wife, and their cat take up permanent residence on a boat when not working in the office or out to sea!

Marine Ecosystem Specialist, Kyle Hogrefe, spoke to me in an earlier log about the Ghost Net Project and marine debris trips he has taken part in. I took the time today to interview him more thoroughly about the work he does.  Mr. Hogrefe is originally from Medina, Ohio and obtained an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in environmental science.  He has worked as a debris specialist, fisheries observer in Alaska, and taken jobs related to data management and mapping to increase his knowledge base. His duties on this cruise involve the deployment and retrieval of oceanographic data platforms.  His job is important because these devices collect long term data about ocean currents, temperatures, etc. which may effect populations of aquatic species of plants and animals over time. Mr. Hogrefe comments that the best part of his job involves the sense of adventure, travel, and diving he gets to do. He comments images from childhood watching Jacques Cousteau may have led to his career choice.  He will spend roughly 6 months at sea this year and the drawbacks of his career involve time away from friends and family. The tool he uses most often is his brain to make decisions and a physical piece of equipment he utilizes often is a lift bag. Patience and an ability to put personal differences aside while working with colleagues are attributes one should possess; according to Scientist Hogrefe.

GIS (Geography Information Systems) scientist Emily Lundblad is originally from the state of Texas and has a master’s degree in Marine Resource Management. Her interest in mapping was sparked from a guest speaker who spoke at her high school. It is a very math/science oriented field and the computer is her most important tool.  She believes the best part of her job is the travel and the ability to see the application of her work. She enjoys going to sea to help collect the data, whereas she would normally just edit and process it. Miss Lundblad will take part in three cruises at sea this year to help collect mapping data.  She mentions that her job on land requires normal eight hour days, but time at sea is different , requiring 12 hour shifts.

Sea floor mapping specialist Jonathan Weiss is a Northern Virginia native, originally from Alexandria, and a graduate of William and Mary. His undergraduate degree is in Geology and he received a graduate degree in Marine Geology from the University of Hawaii. He comments that he has always been curious about the earth and its structure and that research on plate tectonics has revolutionized this field of scientific research. His job requires him to work on backscatter to process the imagery data about the sea floor texture and his most important tool is the computer.  He encourages anyone interested in this line of work to take lots of math courses and a broad overview of the sciences. He enjoys his first post graduate job because the hours are flexible enough for hobbies (like surfing), his bosses are encouraging, and he works with many people his own age. He will spend roughly four months at sea this year in the field.

Rob O’Connor, GIS specialist, originates from Texas but has spent most of his life in Maui, Hawaii. His educational background includes an undergraduate degree in Geography from the University of Hawaii. He comments that the computer is also his most important tool for his job and that he became interested in aspects of the earth after taking some introductory geography courses in college. His duties include data processing and cartography (map making). The travel is an added benefit for this line of work and Mr. O’Connor adds that a person should possess good interpersonal skills and computer knowledge to be successful in this occupation.  This is his first cruise of the year as a GIS specialist.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: I have seen many sea creatures around the Northern Hawaiian Islands coral reef ecosystem. Animals such as the whitetip shark,  sea turtles, and monk seals. These animals are all living things that eat other living things for energy. In a food web, they are called _______________________.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’s Question: Ms. Fye saw a humpback whale near the starboard side of the ship the other day. It was performing an adaptive behavior.  Fill in the blank to find out what adaptation the whale was performing.  The movement of an animal from one region to another and back again is called migration.

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