NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
July 20 — August 1, 2011
Mission: Cetacean Abundance Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic
Date: July 14, 2011
My name is Chris Faist and I am a NOAA Teacher At Sea participant for the 2011 field season aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow. I teach middle school life science in southern California at Carmel Valley Middle School. In a few days I will be traveling from Rhode Island to the coastal waters off the east coast to experience the North Atlantic for the first time.
I have been assigned to a cetacean (whale and dolphin), sea turtle and seabird survey cruise in the North Atlantic. The cruise objectives are to:
1) determine the distribution and abundance of cetaceans, sea turtles and sea birds within the study area;
2) collect vocalizations of cetaceans using passive acoustic arrays;
3) determine the distribution and relative abundance of plankton;
4) collect hydrographic and meteorological data;
5) when possible, collect biopsy samples and photo-identification pictures of cetaceans.
As the trained observers look for animals, my job will be to record their observations in a computer system. They will be reporting what species they see, the approximate number and location of the animals which I will then input into the ship’s computer. These observations, as well as the recordings taken from our underwater microphone, or hydrophone, will allow scientists back in the lab to estimate the number of animals that live off the east coast of the United States.
All of my previous boat trips have been in the Pacific Ocean, so this cruise will give me an opportunity to see whales, like the North Atlantic Right Whale, that I have never seen before.
Wish me luck!