By Shannon Simpson
Hello everyone! Antares, the Nancy Foster’s guest blogger for the last week, has passed the torch on to me. I will be writing about the mapping mission for the next three days. I’m a policy analyst, working for the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management under NOAA’s National Ocean Service. I’m based in Silver Spring, Maryland where I serve as the legislative liaison and budget coordinator for NOAA’s Coral Program. The majority of my time is spent responding to inquiries and requests for information from members of congress, their staff, NOAA leadership, or the Administration about coral reef conservation in general or NOAA’s Coral Program. This helps them better understand the work we do and its value to coastal communities and to the protection of coral reef ecosystems. My work ranges from reviewing or assisting in the development of current legislation and policy to planning congressional outreach events or briefings. I also facilitate, track, and report on the spending of the Program’s funds. Suffice it to say I usually work behind a desk, but this week I have the privilege of joining the 2012 Nancy Foster coral mapping mission for a bit of an adventure and my first time at sea.
On Monday, April 9, my day began by heading down to the U.S. Coast Guard base in Old San Juan to meet up with my escorts out to the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster. We set out on a 34 foot small boat for a slightly bumpy, mostly sunny ride out to the ship. As we pulled away from Old San Juan I got a good view of an active Brazilian submarine docked at the base.
On my short trip out to the Foster I was accompanied by a total of five members of the Coast Guard (two of them in the photo with me) who insured my safe transport.
The Coast Guard hailed the Foster on the radio and arranged for us to pull up along its starboard side where part of the crew and Antares were waiting to bring me aboard. A very quick exchanged took place where I boarded the Foster and Antares took my place on the Coast Guard vessel for a ride back to San Juan. This process involved simply stepping from the Coast Guard boat onto the Nancy Foster’s back deck. All in all a smooth transition!
Thank you U.S. Coast Guard for a beautiful ride across the waters of San Juan!
The rest of my first day involved watching on screen the visuals of the seafloor transmitted back to the Foster by a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). Scientists onboard were using the ROV to confirm bottom habitats of areas that were mapped using mulitbeam SONAR (more information on this in Will’s piece) the night before. During the ROV operations we saw many small fish, but the biggest sighting was a hammerhead shark swimming majestically through the water….quite a sight! Mulitbeam began again late in the day and in addition to mapping the seafloor scientists were also monitoring numbers and size fish in the area being mapped.
To see the the Nancy Foster throughout the 2012 mapping mission, visit the NOAA ship tracker site and click on “Enter NOAA’s Ship Tracker link, then scroll down to “NF – Nancy Foster” in the box on the upper right of the screen to see where she is at any given time!
Be sure to visit this blog often for field updates, pictures and videos posted by members of the science team.