Posts Tagged ‘science equipment’

Drew Gashler Internship at stake! Please consider donating

February 21, 2014

by Ben Yair Raanan, Physical Oceanography Lab

For nearly a decade the Friends of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have generously awarded a $5,000 summer internship at MBARI to an MLML student in the name of Drew Gashler, a former MLML student and MBARI employee. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, it may be impossible to offer this incredible opportunity to one of our students this year.

MLML physical oceanography student Diane Wyse placing the nose cone on the Tethys AUV. Photo by: Todd Walsh/MBARI 2012

MLML physical oceanography student Diane Wyse placing the nose cone on the Tethys AUV. Photo by: Todd Walsh/MBARI 2012

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Let’s Get Physical!

September 28, 2011

photo: E Donham

by Emily Donham, Ichthyology Lab

During Physical Oceanography class (MS 142) Professor Dr. Erika McPhee-Shaw invited interested students to participate in a day cruise aboard the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories 135’ research vessel (R/V) Point Sur.  The cruise was part of a collaborative research project between scientists at the Naval Post Graduate School (NPS), the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and the physical oceanography lab at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) (Dr. McPhee-Shaw is the lead PI).  The mission included the deployment of oceanographic instrument moorings and the collection of conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) measurements at stations along an isobath, or line of constant depth, in Monterey Bay.

Moss Landing Harbor

photo: E Donham

I arrived at the ship at 0700 in order to make it aboard for the safety briefing before setting sail.  The morning was foggy which delayed our departure by a half hour.  At our first stop NPS researchers deployed an instrument mooring fitted with an acoustic doppler current profiler (ADCP) which will take continuous water velocity measurements throughout the water column.  These water velocity measurements will help the scientists understand how water is flowing in the bay.

The NPS team readying their mooring before deployment (photo: E Donham)

Next we moved further offshore to deploy Erika’s instruments.  (more…)

Drop-In to MLML Open House: Track a “Sea Lion” Through the Halls

April 21, 2011

"Track Me!" reads the label on Tamale's collar (photo: E. Loury)

If something small, furry and tagged bumps into your leg during Open House, don’t worry – it’s probably just a student’s pet posing as a marine mammal!  These visitors below have successfully tracked down Tamale the would-be sea lion by following the beeping noises transmitted from Tamale’s tag to their receiver antenna.   Scientists in the Vertebrate Ecology Lab use this method to relocate their tagged animals in the field.  Come to our Open House to give it a try for yourself!

MLML Open House is Saturday, April 30 & Sunday, May 1.

photo: E. Loury

Drop-In to MLML Open House: The Bottle Drop – See Niskins in Action

April 19, 2011

photo: E. Loury

Biological Oceanography student Shana Carmichael readies a Niskin bottle to show Open House visitors how scientists use it to collect water at different depths in the ocean.  The bottles are arranged in a carousel on a CTD instrument like the one shown below (and modeled here).   Scientists lower the instrument to the depth of interest in the ocean, then send down a “messenger” weight that triggers the bottle to close at both ends.   Each bottle can be filled with water from a different layer of the ocean, allowing scientists to sample oxygen, nutrients, plankton and other water components across a range of depths.  Come to Open House to see a nifty Niskin for yourself!

MLML Open House is Saturday, April 30 & Sunday, May 1.

photo: E. Loury

Sampling the Seafloor with a Lunar Lander?

March 19, 2011

Collecting samples from the deep aboard the Research Vessel Point Sur. (photo: E. Loury)

Just like a space rover, this instrument is designed to help us study places that are inhospitable to people.  But rather than the furthest reaches of space,  this corer travels to the depths of the sea to where it collects cores of the mud and sand on the ocean floor.  Geological oceanographers like MLML professor Ivan Aiello (left) can use the samples to learn how different geologic features  in an area formed throughout history – in this case, the study site is Monterey Bay.

You Must be This Tall to Ride This Ride

February 27, 2011

(photo: H. Hawk)

Recent MLML graduate and Drop-In contributor Amanda Kahn poses next to an instrument called a CTD on the deck of the Research Vessel Point Sur.  “CTD”  stands for Conductivity (or salinity), Temperature and Depth – all properties that the nifty gizmo can record as it’s lowered and raised through the water.  The black cylinders are called niskin bottles, and they can be opened and closed to collect a sample of seawater at specific depths.  Niskin bottles and other oceanographic equipment snag the spotlight in the mother of all marine science music parodies, “Cruise Cruise Baby” – check it out!

Come Dive Along With Us at Catalina Island: CSUMB and MLML Join Forces

January 27, 2011

Seafloor mapping-capable R/V VenTresca with MLML & CSUMB researchers

What does the seafloor look like?  To help answer this question multibeam and sidescan sonar is used on the R/V VenTresca.  A rare habitat called rhodolith beds, calcareous algae beds which look like tiny tumble weeds, are present around Catalina.  Thanks to graduate student Paul Tompkins at Moss Landing Marine Labs the locations of the beds have been found by using SCUBA, Manta tows, and drop camera work.  Using multibeam and sonar, the R/V VenTresca may have the ability to find these beds without having to dive in the water.

Giant Crane Game for Sediment

January 22, 2011

The crew of the R/V Point Sur work to get the sediment sampling device ready for redeployment. (photo: S. Gabara)

What does the sediment look like on the bottom of the ocean?  The easiest way to get a sample is to send a giant sediment sampler (grabber) which is open as it drops to the seafloor, and closes when hits the bottom.  Then voila, the grabber is filled with sand or gravel from the ocean depths!  We can get an idea of how these sediments will move by how large or small the particles are.

What’s the Temp, Doc?

January 9, 2011

photo: N. Yochum

In order to understand how ocean conditions affect fish populations, researchers need to know something about the state of the water when they count fish.  Dr. Rick Starr (left) and Ichthyology student Katie Schmidt are getting ready to test the ocean temperature and clarity as part of fishing surveys with the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program. Dr. Starr is holding a white sensor that records the temperature of the water as it is lowered from the surface.

In Katie’s hand is a secchi disc, an extremely high tech instrument that oceanographers have been using to determine water clarity since Pietro Angelo Secchi invented it in 1865.  The disc is lowered until it is no longer visible from above the water, and the point at which it disappears is the Secchi depth.  It’s cheap, simple and if it ain’t broke…

Playing Balloon Technician in the Tropical Pacific

October 4, 2010

Filling the weather balloon for the first launch was a team effort, including the help of the Captain. (photo: S. Buckley)

Shandy Buckley

by Shandy Buckley, Physical Oceanography Lab

In April of this year I flew off to sunny, warm Hawaii to participate in a research cruise for my former school, the University of Hawaii, Manoa. As the plane took off from San Jose in a cold morning rain I had little idea of what to expect, science wise. On my arrival in sunny Hawaii I quickly learned that the cruise was funded by the US Air Force, (and specifically an agency called DARPA) to observe a glider do something where no one else could see it. The details were vague, to the point that until the evening after we’d left port none of the ships crew, nor myself knew where we were exactly going or what DARPA stood for. We took to referring to it as the ‘Department of Defense Against the Dark Arts’, and the giant satellite tracking antennae on our deck as the ‘death star’.

My home for 16 days: the RV Kaimikai o Kanaloa, docked before the cruise at the University of Hawaii marine center. (photo: S. Buckley)

Silly names aside, my job aboard the ship was to collect atmospheric data using weather balloons. Before leaving land I was trained by the UHM meteorology department to launch weather balloons and convince the attached instrument to listen to me. The instrument, all going well, would profile the atmospheric density (pressure, temperature, humidity) to over 30,000 meters. Once on station, 1,000 nautical miles west of Hawaii, I would launch a balloon every 6 hours and take meteorology readings at the surface. On land I was referred to as the balloon technician.

Releasing the weather balloon from the ship. Making pushing motions and yelling “Fly, fly!” was found to help. (photo: S. Buckley)

The title of “Chief Scientist” was bestowed on me jokingly one night at dinner and stuck through the entire cruise. The reasons for such a prestigious title were two-fold. First of all, I was the only person on board associated with a research institute who was there to collect research data. The rest of the science party consisted of 4 very intelligent technicians contracted or hired by the Air Force whose job on board was to collect satellite data transmitted from the glider.  Second of all, as the only woman on board, I was given the Chief Scientist cabin. And that is how a first year graduate student becomes Chief Scientist.

Birds would fly onto the back deck of the ship at night and hang out for a day. (photo: S. Buckley)

Being at sea for 16 days, literally 1,000 nautical miles from “civilization,” on a 200-ft ship with 20 men is an interesting and very educational experience. The other people on board had a lot to teach me. The lead technician led me through the basics of communicating between the scientists and the bridge in the middle of the night, and how to launch a large unwieldy object without following it over the side of the ship. Every morning I would go up to the bridge and the Captain would patiently guide me through a sun sight with the sextant. By the end of the trip the GPS and I were mostly in agreement. Being out at sea was an incredible experience and one I would recommend to anyone with an interest in packing as much learning and action into as little time and space possible. The stars were gorgeous, the people were interesting, and the food was great.

The chief steward and the dinner. (photo: S. Buckley)

The chief steward and the dinner. (photo: S. Buckley)

We saw lots of beautiful sunsets like this one. Best movie on the ship.. (photo: S. Buckley)


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