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Teachers at sea blog category.

Posted by on in Teachers

Today I got a behind the scenes tour of the ship’s engine room with Joshua Jansen, Chief Engineer. 




The first thing we came across was the fuel transfer system.  In this area, the engineer can choose which tanks the fuel is drawn from and can choose where to send it.  The fuel is stored in six cargo tanks under the ship.  The fuel transfer system has a centrifuge which acts like a mechanical filter.  This ensures that any water or dirt that might have gotten in the fuel is removed before it is burned. 


b2ap3_thumbnail_Fuel-Transfer-System-2.png          b2ap3_thumbnail_Fuel-Transfer-System-1.png


Here is the water maker.  Because the ship is out to sea for many days it is important to be able to make enough water for all of the activities on board.  Water is needed for drinking, cooking, cleaning and the science work that is done on the ship.  The water maker can produce a half a gallon of fresh water per minute.  This is equivalent to 720 gallons per day.  The ship does have a storage tank that is filled before leaving the dock, but the desalination device is the main source of water for the ship.  Water is pumped up from the sea chest in the bottom of the ship.  It is sent through a series of pumps with increasing pressure  from 40 PSI to 1000 PSI.  This pressure pushes it through a series of tubes which contain membranes.  The membrane allows the water to pass through but not the sodium chloride ions.  After the salt is removed, the water is then treated by a UV light to kill any harmful bacteria before it is available for use on the ship. 



 b2ap3_thumbnail_Desalination-.png                  b2ap3_thumbnail_Desalination-Closeup.png


Here are the hydraulics which are used to operate the big trawl winch.  The winch is used to raise and lower the nets on the ship.  It has a 150 horsepower motor which is larger than most cars.



Next up, the marine sanitation device.  This is where the waste water is treated before it is released from the ship.  This machine is unique because while some devices use stored chlorine to treat the water, this machine is able to remove chlorine from the sea water and use it to treat the water before it released.  (The system of toilets uses salt water taken in directly from the sea but all water used on board is treated before it is returned.)


Here are the fire and dewatering pumps.  These would be used in case of an emergency if it was necessary to put out a fire or remove water leaking into the bottom of the boat.  The system is accessible from a switch outside the engine room because if there were a dangerous situation in the engine room an inside switch would be hard to access.


Here is the oily water separator device. The separator device makes sure that any oil (usually less than 15 ppm) is removed from water that has collected in the bilge (the bottom part of the hull) before it is pumped out.  The left side of the photo also contains the air receivers for the air compressors.


Air compressors that make the air for the air receivers.  This is used to start the engines and run power tools used on the ship.


Here is the main engine.  It is a Caterpillar D-379 from 1981 and is 565 horsepower.


Here are the two Caterpillar 3406 generators.  Each is 175 kilowatt.  These generators run all of the power on the boat. 


This is the gear shaft.   It turns and is attached to the propeller directly connecting to the engine through the gear.  The blades of the propeller can be tilted to adjust the pitch of the blades which give more options when the operator wishes to vary the speed of the boat. 



This photo attempts to show where the rudders are connected under the boat.  The rudders are controlled by the autopilot computer program but can also be adjusted manually if necessary.



So there you have it.  A behind the scenes look at what powers a ship and keeps it running!

Teacher At Sea,

Christia Hewlett

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     Once the trip got underway the days start to fall into a predictable pattern.  The nets go down at night and get pulled up around 3 am.  The scientists collect the organisms from the different nets which are sorted through one net at a time (there are a total of 6 nets).  There are specialists to identify the different fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans but they still use guides  to help make a positive id.  All of the organisms are entered into the database, weighed and measured.  Some are sampled for DNA, while others are frozen for stable isotope analysis when they are returned to the lab back on land.  It can take up to around six hours to process all of the organisms that are brought in during one trawl.    Sometimes we stopped for a meal during the processing time, other times we wait until we are finished and grab a bite afterwards.  Then it’s time to take a nap or relax until the nets come back up at 3 pm and we start the whole process all over again. 



Bringing in the 3 am Trawl

     There are no hitchhikers on this trip.  Everyone has a job to do and I get to help April Cook, the database manager.  I help her weigh, measure and store all of the fish samples. 


 Teacher  At Sea,

Christia Hewlett



Our Work station



Juvenile puffer fish, one of the smallest items I measured.


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Posted by on in Teachers

     Yesterday was filled with the wonders of nature, not only from the ocean depths but at the surface as well.  Early in the day we were lucky enough to see some dolphins. The pod of dolphins was quite substantial and had around 50 members. They were splashing and jumping up in the water and bow riding along with the ship. 



  Dolphins Bow Riding 




Sunset at Sea  

     In the evening around 10 pm after we had processed the samples from the nets, the lights were turned off on the deck of the boat.  It was possible to see so many stars and a few of us even got to see some shooting stars.  And not to be outdone, the ocean water was putting on a show too!  The wake of the boat had a slight glow from the bioluminescent plankton in the water.  Bright flashes of light were able to be seen sparkling in the water when some of the floating pyrosomes & other bioluminescent organisms were churned up at the water’s surface. Unfortunately my camera could not capture the beautiful display.

Teacher at Sea,

Christia Hewlett

Last modified on

Posted by on in Teachers

       You might be wondering what like life is like on the ship.   The ship has many amenities that you would have at home.  Most of the state rooms house two people, although there is a room which is shared by four.  Pairs of state rooms share a common bathroom called the head.   The bathrooms include a toilet & shower.  In each stateroom there is a sink and the beds are arranged in bunks.   There is a little curtain that you can pull closed for privacy in case you want to sleep and your roommate is still awake.  (Most of the scientists are on the same schedule, however there are a few of them that are on a different time schedule.)  The scientists that collect data with the CTD device & acoustics sometimes have an opposite schedule so they are up when we are sleeping and they are sleeping while we are processing data.



My  Stateroom

            There is a dining space (called the mess) that also serves as a common area when meals are over. There is a television where we can watch satellite tv, read or do work on our computers.  (Right now as I am writing this everyone has finished eating dinner and they are watching Myth Busters.) There is a washing machine & dryer on board to do laundry so everyone did not have to pack clothes for two entire weeks.  The ship has a device on board so that it can make fresh water for everyone to use for washing, drinking and cooking.


The two common areas


Chef Alex preparing a meal

            Chef Alex prepares the meals at set times 6:00 am, 12 noon and 6:00 pm.  If we are working we will break for the meal.  If it is an off time some people will choose to skip eating to get some extra sleep.  I have enjoyed the food very much after I got my “sea legs.”  The first day and half I had trouble keeping things down and I was really wondering what I had gotten myself into with this trip and if I was going to survive ship life.)   All of the food waste that we create is dumped overboard and the recyclable and trash are stored until we reach land for disposal.


 Trash Storage


            Everything on board has to be adapted for boat life. When the chef is cooking he has special equipment to keep the pots from sliding off of the stove top.  Most doors have a hook that keeps them open so that it does not keep swinging open.  The shower and other areas have a bar on the wall if you need to grab it to hold on to something.  Several of the doorways are set up to be waterproof in case of emergency.  So that is a little run down on our home away from home!

Teacher At Sea,

Christia Hewlett

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Posted by on in Teachers

Here are some pictures of some of the organisms that we have found so far.  After 6 trawls we have cataloged 656 taxa (different types of fish.)  I don’t have numbers for the other organisms (shrimp, jellyfish, squid, or crabs) because some of them are totaled when they are brought back to the university labs, but we have collected 2,411 fish alone.  The majority of the fish are under 3 inches because most of the deep sea fish are not very large.  The largest fish that we collected so far was 36.8 centimeters.

Teacher At Sea,

Christia Hewlett


 I am including a couple pictures that I took as well as some taken by the expert photographer aboard the ship.

Here are 2 photos I took with the Genus and species label included.




Here are a three photos taken by Dante Fenolio.  In an upcoming blog I will give you a look into the photography area where they are photographing certain species.


Larval Linophrynid


Mentodus facilis


This is a Myctophum with a close up of the scales.


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