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Teachers at sea blog category.

Posted by on in Teachers

      After each trawl the MOCNESS frame is reeled in and the nets are collected.  Scientists pulled in the nets by hand.  The nets stay on for the whole trip but at the bottom of each net there is a section called a cod end.  It is where the marine organisms collect.  This portion of the net is removable and after each trawl it is opened and poured into a collection jar with very cold sea water. The specimens are then stored in the refrigerator until the researchers are ready to look at a specific sample. It is very important for their data that they know what organisms came from what depths so we work on one net sample at a time.  Here are some pictures from yesterday’s trawl.


Bringing in the Nets


Nets Coming In


Pulling in the Nets


Emptying the Cod Ends


     Typically at each location, we will do a day and a night collection.  Sometimes based on acoustic data the scientists will target a specific depth of water.  Early this morning they were going to do one of those targeted trawls.  However there were some complications with the net and they discovered there was a seam on one of the nets that had come undone.   So last night before it went back in the water that net had to be changed out.  Three extra nets were brought along on the trip in case of any net damage. 


 Seam Tear on Net


Repairing the Net


Close Up of Net Attachment

   Keep posting comments & questions. I am trying to respond to them as quickly as possible.  We have had a few technical difficulties with the internet so be patient, I will get to them.  The scientists & I love getting your questions!  Tomorrow I will be posting some pictures of our finds!

Teacher At Sea,

Christia Hewlett


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Posted by on in Teachers


     When the ship reaches a station, the location where the scientists want to collect their data, the acoustic transducer is lowered into the water.  The transducer acts like a “telescope” underwater by sending sound waves down.  These sound waves bounce off of the layers of animals and create picture of the layers of animals.  The data are put into a computer model to help analyze the data collected and to help the scientists know at what depth to fish the nets. 



       Assistant Professor Kevin Boswell, Reading the Acoustic Data                          


                   MOCHNESS Operator Gray Lawson

     After scientists have taken readings with the transducer, the MOCNESS nets are lowered and deployed at different depths that range from 1500 meters to the surface.  The process of the nets being lowered and collecting samples can take several hours. The MOCNESS is made up of six different nets. Net 0 goes down open to the deepest depth.  When Net 0 is closed, Net 1 opens. The rest of the nets open at specific depths.  For example Net 1 may collect samples from 1500 meters  to 1200 meters. The next net would collect from 1200 to 1000 meters.  All of the net openings and closing and the data associated with the nets is controlled from a computer inside the ship. 



                                   Lowering the nets                                                                             Nets in the water

   When the nets are brought up scientists go through a process to identify the organisms that are collected.  They are identified by specialists, weighed, measured and in some cases DNA samples are taken.  For other samples, some parts of their body are selected to look for an accumulation of mercury or hydrocarbons (from the oil spill). 



                      Sorting the Organisms

Teacher At Sea,

Christia Hewlett





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Posted by on in Teachers

 Hi, I am Christia Hewlett and I teach middle school science and marine biology at Sheridan Hills Christian School.  I was chosen as the Teacher at Sea for the 3rd DEEPEND research cruise and I will be keeping you updated on all of our adventures.

We are underway!  After a day busy day spent getting the ship ready for the trip, the ship headed out to sea a little after midnight.  There was plenty to do to prep the ship yesterday.  The lab equipment had to be unpacked and secured for being out on the water.  The crew was busy preparing the ship for the research specific to this group of scientists.  They attached the pole for the acoustic transducer which allows the scientists to help locate layers of organisms before the nets are lowered.   They also had to weld on a special device to help control the MOCNESS (Multiple Opening/Closing Net & Environmental Sensing System) nets which will be lowered down to maximum depths of 1500 meters to collect the samples.

In addition, the ship’s crew had to load the ship with a tremendous amount of supplies and food to feed the seven member crew and the 16 scientists for the two weeks at sea. 

            Over the last two days scientists arrived and set up their work stations for the various projects.  Some are studying cephalopods, some deep-sea fish, some crustaceans.  Others are conducting molecular and genetic studies of organisms and some will be filtering the collected water to learn about the microbes it contains.  This will be a great learning opportunity as I set out on this new adventure!

Teacher At Sea,

Christia Hewlett

For my marine biology students I wanted to share that I overheard two scientists talking today about obligate and facultative symbiosis in sponges and because of what we learned in class you should know what they were talking about. :)



Getting the Acoustic Transducer ready and attaching it to the boom on the ship.




Putting the nets on the MOCNESS.


Before picture of the lab.                                                                     Unpacking the lab and getting the stations ready.

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As I was preparing for our next research cruise I received a very exciting letter in the mail! In fact, it was more than just a letter…it was Flat Stanley! ( He wants to join us on our research cruise. How could I say no? He travels light, does not take up much space, and will not require any extra food! Better yet, he has decided to join us in the van while we drive the gear from Dania Beach, FL to Gulfport, MS where the RV Point Sur is docked. It will be good to have him out there with us to show him all of the cool shrimp, squid, and fish that we collect. If we happen to lose any of our tools in tight spaces he will be able to fish them out for us! We’ve set him up with his own blog profile so that he can blog about his experiences with you guys! So keep checking the Kids blog between April 27th and May 14th to learn about his first official deep-sea cruise!


Flat Stanley at computer         b2ap3_thumbnail_Flat-Stanley-2.jpg


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Posted by on in Teachers



We wrapped up our last trawl around 5 p.m. last night and celebrated with a tropical themed dinner of grilled pineapple and tuna steaks. After dinner we watched our last gorgeous sunset on the R.V. Point Sur, accompanied by a few dolphins traveling through the glassy calm water. Once the sun was fully at rest we took advantage of the clear night sky and observed the stars and constellations. I have never observed the night sky as beautiful as it was last night, so clear and free of obstruction. 

As we steam back to port I can’t help but reflect on the last two weeks at sea. The amazing people I have had the privilege to work with, the research I have participated in, and the incredible organisms that I have seen firsthand. I’m so excited to go back to Florida and share all of the knowledge I have learned with my students. If I could sum up this “Teacher at Sea” experience in one word, it would be awesome! A huge thank you goes out to all of the scientists and graduate students: Tracey Sutton, Tammy Frank, Jon Moore, Heather Judkins, Dante Fenolio, Joe Warren, Charles Kovak, Katie Bowen, Lacey Malarky, Travis Richards, Max Weber, and Laura Timm. Thank you for answering my copious amounts of questions, keeping the environment light and fun, and providing an amazing opportunity. Another big thank you goes out to my amazing husband for holding down the fort so that I could experience this. 

Teacher at Sea,

Alisha Stahl




The beautiful sunset on our last night.


b2ap3_thumbnail_team-shot.jpg      b2ap3_thumbnail_Me-and-Heather.jpg 

The team!                                                                                          Thanks Heather for everything! 


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