Carolyn Bielser, May 27, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Carolyn Bielser
Onboard NOAA Ship Delaware II
May 23 – 30, 2005

Mission: Surf clam and quahog survey
Geographical Area: New England
Date: May 27, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge
Cloud cover 100%
Weather drizzle
Wave height 1.3
Swell height 1.3
Latitude 3943.80 N
Longitude 07358.57W
Air temperature 10.8
Barometer 1007.4
Wind Direction 027.76
Wind speed 025.36

Scientific Log 

On this survey, we are most concerned with surf clams and quahogs; so here’s a little information on surf clams.

Surf Clam or Spisula Solidissima:   Identification: shells moderately strong, somewhat triangular.  Hinge with distinct cuplike chondrophore and strong lateral teeth crenulated on inner side, visible with a hand lens even if very small.  Outside is nearly smooth; fresh shells have yellowish-orange periostracum and grow up to 8 inches (200 mm).

Where found: Nova Scotia or Labrador to South Carolina.  Very low in the intertidal zone to subtidal, down to 100 feet (30 m).

Remarks: The most common clamshell on ocean beaches south of Cape Cod.  A favorite of scavenging gulls, who drop them from on high until the shells break.  Formerly little valued commercially, surf clams recently accounted for 70% of the U.S. clam crop, usually taken by hydraulic dredge off N.J. and Maryland shores.  Most of the catch is canned.

Personal Log 

Science involves fieldwork and lab work; this is one type of fieldwork involved in marine science. Lots of people are involved and they have to work as a team to accomplish the mission.  Often they are working on less sleep than usual and probably a whole different schedule than they are used to. This ship is not very big – only 155 feet long and 30 feet wide. Much of the space on board is taken up by equipment.  There is a wet lab (264 sq. ft), a dry/chemistry lab (230 sq. feet) a protected work area 172 sq feet, and a scientific freezer (201 square feet).  There are two single staterooms, 11 double staterooms, and four bunkrooms with a total of 32 bunks.  There is a small dining area, a very small lounge area, and for exercise, there is stationary bicycle stuck in the corner.  So you can imagine people are crammed pretty close together.  You need to think about how you would handle this if you wanted to pursue a career that took you out to sea very often.

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