NOAA Teacher at Sea
Dieuwertje “DJ” Kast
Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
May 19 – June 3, 2015
Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring Survey
Geographical area of cruise: East Coast
Date: May 19, 2015, Day 1 of Voyage
- Air Temperature: 13.5 °C
- Water Temperature: 12.6°C
- Barometer: 1005 mb
- TSG (Sound-Velocity): 1496.852 meters/sec
- TSG- Conductivity: 3.90427 s/m
- TSG- Salinity: 33.25 PSU
- Wind: 13 knots SouthWest
7 am- 8 am breakfast. Oatmeal with fresh fruit! I also met Jeremy and Dennis our chefs and mess hall stewards for the voyage. They are so nice and their food is so delicious.
I also met two mammals researchers named Marjorie and Bridget who will be spotting marine mammals and documenting what we see. I hope they can spot the three belugas that have been in the news here in Narragansett Bay. I heard that researchers took a biopsy of one of the whales with a small dart that takes epidermis and blood samples from the whale itself.
Science and Technology Log
I decorated my drifter buoy with stickers from all of my current programs (USC Dornsife, JEP, YSP, Wonderkids and NAI) and the programs that inspired me to be here (USC Seagrant, USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber). A drifter buoy looks like a ball with a cap on it and is gray on the bottom of the ball structure and blue on the top.
Thank you Laura (Operations Officer) for coming up with the idea to print out logos and photos of my programs and laminate them and place them on the buoy because I forgot mine.
11:00-11:30- Laura the operations officer gave us a welcome aboard speech talking about all the safety components of the ship including fire drills, man overboard drills, and how to use a EEBD (emergency exit breathing device) that provides air for 10 minutes when a compartment floods with smoke.)
11:30: Lunch was delicious! Spaghetti with meatballs! I met a Canadian man named Bradley Toms, who will be monitoring and observing for marine birds.
I learned from Jeff and Jerry what the markings on our chart are! The square boxes are for bongo net deployments and the purple dots are for rosette and CTD deployments. The dive flags are locations where we deploy both bongo net and rosettes.
Met with Christina, Tamara and Megan (three amazing women scientists) in the lab space to see how they were setting up all of their research for the trip. This included putting together CTDs, turning on all their sensors and computers and all the flow-through systems and data collectors.
Our survey technician, Jeff, also opened up the shop for me to buy a NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow mug. LOVE it and now I don’t need to waste the paper cups in the mess hall (Kitchen/ cafeteria area). He even offered up some free stickers from NOAA and the ship itself to place on the buoy. The goat with Henry B. Bigelow had a cute story of the Bigelow being on a previous boat called the Albatross and its mascot was Buck the goat, which was why they had that sticker in the boat shop. Henry Bigelow is a scientist who used to study the Gulf of Maine on a schooner.
I got to put on my foul weather gear for the first time. Everything must be waterproof (I wonder why?) and my foul weather gear includes boots, pants and a jacket. To work on the deck space where the bongos are thrown overboard or deployed I must were a PFD (Personal Flotation device) and a hard hat.
I definitely needed those boots and pants when Jerry and Chris taught me how to clean the bongo nets to actually collect the plankton. There are two deckhands (Roger and Paul) on our watch (12 PM- 12 AM) that assisted the person driving the winch or crane that holds the main and mini bongos in the water. They are towed at various depths (within 5 meters of the seafloor) to measure plankton for different researchers at various sample sites along the way. There was a little rocket ship (flowmeter) looking device in the middle of the large bongos that came with a propeller that was used as a way of measuring flow through the plankton net which helped in plankton counts (per cubic meter) sampling at depth.
First, we took a hose to the net causing all of the organisms in our plankton tow to wash down to the end where they could be taken out and put into a sieve. They said to focus on the seams because lots of plankton can get stuck there.
There are two main types of plankton tows out here, one with mini bongos that are processed with ethanol and are used for genetic analysis. The ethanol dehydrates the plankton releasing water so the ethanol needs to be replaced after 24 hours or else it will be too diluted from the plankton water.
They are labeled on top of the jar and inside the jar with waterproof labels that indicate:
Cruise: Henry Biglow 2015, cruise # 2; and the gear 2B3 indicate baby bongo nets. Date, station number, haul event, type of ethanol used etc. The plankton collected by the big bongo is labeled the same except instead of the Ot (other) on the side it says I or Z (ichthyoplankton and zooplankton).
The second type is the big bongos. There are two types of nets on the bongo setup (called bongo because the 2 types of nets are placed side by side); there is one that is labeled green for zooplankton and the second that is labeled red for the ichthyoplankton. After the sieve has filtered out all the plankton from the seawater, all of the organisms are put into a jar and formalin is added to kill and preserve them for taxonomic purposes. The coolest thing so far I have seen are fish larvae because they look like little eyeballs sticking out of on top of the thousands of reddish brown plankton or copepods, a ctenophore (or comb jelly, a tiny little see-through blob), and two lion’s mane jellyfish.