Day 2 Feathers, fur or fins: Chantelle Cook

By September 26th, 2017

Image of Chantelle

This morning was spent at Monkey Island, the ship’s observation deck assisting with the Seabird Observation Project. Today we saw plenty of gannets and flesh footed shear water birds, as well as pods of humpback whales, dolphins and seals – it was a fantastic day of sightings!

Apart from the uber excitement of seeing sea mammals, I learnt lots about the looks and behaviour of the sea birds. I learnt how Eric uses the live scientific data from the ship, such as the fluorometry levels present in the sea water, to see if it gives clues or data as to why the birds may or may not be present. We also learnt how to use technology to log the data from our sightings and discussed the mathematical methods to calculate the indices of density. My head is absolutely buzzing with the STEM concepts involved in this project and how I can present these as classroom resources and activities.

Image of dolphins

Photo credit: Eric Woehler

After a quick tour of the laboratories on board from Ben Arthur, I spent the afternoon with Linda Gaskell at a JSA (safety briefing) regarding the core sampling to take place for a project on the Interdisciplinary Characterisation of the Macro-Mechanical Behaviour of Offshore Sediments from Northern Australia. This project will see a specialist piece of equipment, the box corer, sent to the sea bed to collect sediment samples for analysis. The behaviour of offshore sediments is important as this can tell us things such as if a submarine slope will fail and cause a tsunami or what size anchors are required to secure offshore renewable energy infrastructure. The data collected from these samples will give important information to engineers researching anchoring and renewable energy systems.

There were some questions regarding the release mechanism on the core box sampler. The trigger mechanism is designed to open upon impact of the unit on the sea bed and when opened it then collects the sediment from the sea bed. Some testing will be done to see if the mechanism will release early from the impact of hitting the water.

An exciting and eventful first day on board – learning so much about real life science!