Farewell San Francisco!

The NOAA Ship Ronald Brown left the Exploratorium dock Monday afternoon. Our collaborator Bill Cochlan shared these photos of the ship leaving the Bay, and the new at-sea blog coordinators Spencer Showalter and Meghan Shea put together a short video that perfectly captures the excitement of young scientists heading to sea!

Daytime Visitors- Dolphins, Whales, and More Critters in Nets

After our previous post, ‘Creatures of the Night,’ we thought we would share with you some of the creatures we found during the day. Given we could see much better, these may be considerably more exciting than the plankton that turned up in our nighttime net tows (although I personally find the bizarre, microscopic world far more interesting). But I will let you be the judge!

Continue reading “Daytime Visitors- Dolphins, Whales, and More Critters in Nets”


Chalked on Pier 15 in front of the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown. Our sentiments exactly! Photo: Meg Chadsey

Our weekend at the San Francisco Exploratorium was a whirlwind of activity! The festivities began just minutes after the gangplank was lowered with presentations by cruise scientists in the Exploratorium’s Bay Observatory, followed by public demonstrations of zooplankton and toxic algae on the main floor. Meanwhile, sixteen new scientists (some from as far away as Finland!) scurried to load their gear onto the ship, while weary Leg 1 researchers stumbled off in search of lattes… Continue reading “Explora-palooza!”

pHretting over pH

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Acidity is measured on the pH scale. This scale can be a bit counter-intuitive, since the pH value decreases as acidity increases. Click on the image above to learn why. Credit: NOAA PMEL.

If you’ve ever measured the pH of your swimming pool, you understand that a proper pH range is important for anyone going into water. You wouldn’t want to swim in your own pool if the pH was not in a safe range for you. It is no different for the plants and animals that make their homes in the oceans. Continue reading “pHretting over pH”

Land Legs

We arrived in San Francisco on Saturday (May 21) to drop some folks off and pick some new ones up. Seven scientists left the boat and sixteen new ones came onboard today. Those of us coming off the boat after 16 days at sea had some wobbly legs to start, and for those not used to the infamous ‘dock rock’ we were forewarned that you feel it most when you are in a confined space… Vertigo!

Continue reading “Land Legs”

Eyes in the Sky

[Alternative Title (with apologies to the late David Bowie): Space Oddity Oceanography]

Did you know that in addition to working in the field and laboratory, there are oceanographers that use satellites to study the ocean from space?

Satellite image of the WCOA2016 cruise off Baja California, Mexico (ship not to scale). Image credit: Joint Polar Satellite System
Satellite image of the WCOA2016 cruise off Baja California, Mexico (ship not to scale). Image credit: Joint Polar Satellite System

Satellites can provide information about regions of the ocean where direct measurements aren’t possible or regular, and help with the identification of global trends and seasonal changes in the surface ocean. From satellite information, scientists can analyze sea surface temperature, measure surface winds to support weather forecasts, determine sea surface salinity and measure how much sediment and plant life is in the water. Continue reading “Eyes in the Sky”

Next stop, San Francisco!

Pier 15 at the Exploratorium; NOAA seawater chemistry monitoring buoy in the foreground. Photo: Mary Miller
Pier 15 at the Exploratorium; NOAA seawater chemistry monitoring buoy in the foreground. Photo: Mary Miller

The NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown will be making a mid-cruise pit stop tomorrow in San Francisco! We’ll spend just under 24 hours tied up at Pier 15, right outside the Exploratorium science museum’s Fisher Bay Observatory. Continue reading “Next stop, San Francisco!”

Creatures of the night

After a week to observe the ocean and put our nets in the water at various times, we have seen quite a different community of creatures at night than we do during the day. Granted it is trickier to see things like dolphins and whales at night, so those observations are expected to change. Continue reading “Creatures of the night”

The Bloom! The Blob! What’s happening in the Pacific Ocean?

I’m sure most of you heard about the largest-ever harmful algal bloom that occurred in the Pacific Ocean during the summer 2015, causing closures of razor clam, Dungeness crab and rock crab fisheries.  Many of the reports in the media led us to believe that the Bloom and the Blob were the same thing or that the Blob was feeding the Bloom, like the alien amoeba in the 1958 science fiction movie starring Steve McQueen called “The Blob.”  That movie gave me nightmares when I was a kid. Continue reading “The Bloom! The Blob! What’s happening in the Pacific Ocean?”

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