John Sammons, July 28, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Sammons
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
July 25 – August 4, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: July 28, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 40° 58’ N
Longitude: 67° 13’ W
Visibility: undetermined
Wind direction: SSW (217 degrees)
Wind speed:  11 knots
Sea wave height: 0.4’
Swell wave height: 1.4’
Sea water temperature: 18°C
Sea level pressure: 1013.3 millibars
Cloud cover: Obscure, Fog, Haze, Dust

Question of the Day: In which direction is the ALBATROSS IV relative to Virginia (north, south, east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest)?  Use the latitude and longitude points in today’s log or refer to the “Location” link shown on the webpage.

Yesterday’s Answer: Some scallops use camouflage and countershading to help protect themselves from their predators by blending into the ocean bottom (light to dark brown as seen from above) and blending into the sky (white as seen from below). Because there are two different colors, this is called countershading, which is a form of camouflage and is a physical adaptation.

Science and Technology Log

Proper navigation is an important component of the ALBATROSS IV’s ability to correctly manage the station locations. Without it, the ship would be lost, and there would be no way to accurately measure station samples over time. First, an electronic course map is generated that has the predetermined route and survey station. Course adjustments are made as the ship approaches a station so that it passes within one mile of the station and over it on its way to the next station. Since the dredge stays in the water for fifteen minutes, it requires accurate course and ship positioning. Second, RADAR is used to keep track of other ship traffic. Radios and an automated tracking system are used to keep a safe distance from other ships like freighters and container ships. Third, visual observations from the bridge enable the watch person to determine visibility and weather conditions that may effect navigating the ship. Of course, when there is dense fog like the ship has experienced on the present cruise, the other two components become critical. While it may seem like a glorious job to be up on the bridge of the ship, it certainly requires a person who is able to perform several operations at once and take the blame for things that go wrong.

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Thursday has been spent sorting and sampling the catch, which has included flounder (flat and slimy), goosefish (mean and toothy), hake (slender and colorful), crab (determined and crusty), skate (mysterious and smooth) and of course, scallops (graceful and tough). As we sample each station’s catch, we have to check over a list provided by land-based scientists in order to save what they need for their research. Two of those scientists are traveling with us and are very knowledgeable about scallops. Dvora Hart is quantifying the abundance of calico scallops, aging sea scallops, and assessing meat quality in certain areas. Avis Sosa is making a reference collection of shells commonly caught during the clam and scallop surveys, including clappers. Clappers are scallops that are still hinged or connected, but contain no internal organs.

The seas at 40°N and 66°W are affected by Tropical Storm Franklin in the distance. The swells are estimated to be 8 – 10 feet and are rocking the boat constantly. It is difficult to walk straight or stand still, but it is still safe to be here.

You have to also make sure everything is attached, or it will slide right unto the floor.

Personal Log

Sort, Sort, Sort 

Time to muster and be alert for another shift begins,
Shells and starfish wait for us, along with things with fins.
Pull up a bucket and a pad to sample and to sort,
It’s been three days since ALBATROSS steamed from the distant port.
Ouch! I bellowed as a scallop clamped onto my finger,
Upon the deck you sort and scoop, no time to stand and linger.