Jacob Tanenbaum, What are we seeing?, May 24, 2007

NOAA Teacher At Sea: Jacob Tanenbaum
Mission: Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations
Day 6: May 24, 2007
Weather Data from the Bridge:
Visibility: 3 Miles
Wind Speed: 23 Kts.Sea Wave Height: 6 Feet
Water Temperature: 4.2 Degrees Celsius
Air Temperature: 6.6 Degrees Celsius
Pressure: MbsScience LogLast night around 2:00 AM Alaska Time, we reached the point in the cruise where we were in the right position to deploy our drifter buoy. We stood
on the back deck and gently lowered it over the side of the ship and watched it disappear into the Alaska night. Bon Voyage, Excalibur! Click here for the video. We heard from the buoy several times overnight
and now are having trouble reaching the website. I will download data as soon as I can.

It was wonderful to see Excalibur in the water. I’m proud of each and every student in Mrs. O’Brien’s Class who worked so hard to put this buoy
together. I can’t wait to get back and see the data from the buoy with you.

Another gale has blown in and we are again facing winds above 30 kts. And heavy seas. The work has been tough but we have been able to continue.
Well, you have seen how the nets work, you have seen how the lab works. Today I would like to show you some of the incredible creatures that have
come up in our tiny nets. The little bowl of reddish liquid you see here holds an incredible array of creatures which make up the plankton
community in the Gulf of Alaska. Lets meet a few. We will need a microscope to do it. All of the pictures you see here were taken with a camera
mounted to a microscope. But first, will the real Sheldon Plankton from Sponge Bob, please stand up…

Sheldon Plankton

Sheldon Plankton

This is what Sheldon Plankton really looks like. He is a copepod. And he eats phytoplankton (plants), not crabby patties.
Baby Crab

Baby Crab

This is a baby crab. The female carries the eggs. When they hatch, the float around for a few weeks eating phytoplankton. They go through 3 major
stages. This is the last one. At this stage, the crab settles to the bottom and starts to begin life as a bottom dweller. At each stage, these
creatures shed a shell, swell with water, form a new shell and then expel the water they absorbed before they grew the new shell. They use the extra
space to for real grow before they have to shed again.

Pollock larvae

Pollock larvae

This is a pollock larvae. That may be the yolk sack from the egg under its mouth! It absorbs the yolk and then must begin to look for food on its own. You
are seeing this pollocks first real meal.

Baby Sculpin

Baby Sculpin

This is a baby Sculpin. At this stage, the fish begin to settle to the bottom. It now begins to have the colors it needs to hide from predators above.
The don’t have fins quite yet. They are not really able to swim against the current. Right now, since it is too young to swim, it is considered
plankton. Look how large they eyes are. Why do you think they need such large eyes?

Hatched Shrimp

Hatched Shrimp

This is what shrimp look like, when they first hatch. Shrimp like this look red to us, but in deeper water, where there is less sunlight, the red looks
black, not red. What great camouflage!

Pollock larvae

Pollock larvae

Another pollock larvae. You can clearly see the eye and mouth. This pollock does not have a yolk sack, so it has been eating on its own. Do you see the
food in its stomach? I wonder what it has been eating. Take a guess and write a comment. There are no real fins at all on this fish, yet. See how small the
stomach is? These fish have to find food and find it fast. They cannot store energy in their bodies yet.

Zooplankton and Phytoplankton

Zooplankton and Phytoplankton

hyperiid amphipod

hyperiid amphipod

Several different types of zooplankton gather around some phytoplankton. Here is the beginning of the food web. The algae in this photo serve as food for
many little creatures in the sea. The copepods and other small creatures eat the tiny phytoplankton, and in turn are eaten by small fish.

This is a a creature called a hyperiid amphipod. It is related to a sand flea. They live in plankton. These particular ones will borrow into the surface of
jellyfish and ride around on them. They are tiny hitchhikers. They have plates on their abdomen are where the babies stay when they are young.

Personal Log

The storm is really raging now and the seas are getting bigger. I am NOT seasick! That is because of Lt. Sean. He gave me some medicine which seems to
be working. Now it is kind of fun to be out her since the waves don’t’ bother me any more. I kind of enjoy the ride now. We are REALLY moving up and
down.Question of the DayThis is a complex one, but an important concept if you ever sail. The ship was facing 51 degrees (North East) when we let off the buoy, but the ship
was moving 355 degrees (almost true north). Why would the ship face one way and travel a slightly different way?

HINT: Think about how the storm affects the ship

Answers to your Questions

The answer to yesterday’s question was 12.5 x 24 or 300 kts. or about 345 miles. Congratulations all who got this one correct. Of course, we stop a lot
here to take measurements, so we do not go that far in a day.

Many of you asked how much we are finding. I’ll tell you about that in a day or so when the scientists have a better idea of what the data is showing.

We have not seen any sharks. That’s OK with me.

Was it scary to be at sea in a storm? Not really. You get used to the waves after a while. They are really rolling along right now. But people here are
used to it and go about their lives as people do.

What was the deepest ocean we have sailed over so far? 240 meters. We will sail over deeper water in the days to come.

Josh, I’m not getting sea-sick anymore, and there are not many people on deck right now because of the storm. Most of us are inside unless we have to

Amanda, good question. I don’t really feel the tides, but I know they are there. They just move us around a little, but what I really feel are the
waves from the storm.

Hello as well to Lt. Sean’s family. Thanks so much for writing. I’m glad you are enjoying the blog.

Hello to Nazilla and Earnest in Seattle. Thanks for writing.

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