|In partnership with PRBO, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary works with NOAA's Teacher At Sea Program to expose teachers to ocean science aboard ocean research vessels such as the Fulmar. Having this experience, teachers convey the fascination of ocean science to their students like no textbook can. The goal is to enrich the teacher's classroom curricula with a depth of understanding gained from working side-by-side with scientists who are contributing to the world's body of knowledge about the ocean and atmosphere. Our partnership enables teachers to see what most people cannot—and to share that connection with hundreds of students.—Jennifer Stock, Education and Outreach Coordinator, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary|
|The research vessel Fulmar|
All the of the scientists aboard were spotting creatures and calling out directions (relative to the ship's prow as "12 o'clock"). "Humpback whale at 11 o'clock!" and "Pacific white-sided dolphin at two!" No matter where I was standing, though, I seemed to be getting zilch in the way of wildlife sightings.
|Black-footed Albatross. Photo by Tom Grey (www.geocities.com/tgrey41)|
Feeling quite dejected, I went to the stern in a huff. That's when an enormous, gorgeous Black-footed Albatross came sailing on the breeze right over my head. It did a super slide across the water as it came to a rest. Its eye was exotic, as if rimmed in kohl, its beak curved and dangerous. It was so close I felt I could touch it, but I barely dared to breathe as I happily shot video. Intent on zooming in and out, I didn't notice at first that another albatross had landed. And another. Then about a hundred more albatross were landing behind the vessel, and all of the biologists and scientists were scrambling for their own cameras and busy counting birds. This was the first of many great moments that I could share with my sixth-grade Art and Science students.
I had learned about this amazing opportunity at the National Marine Educators Association conference in Monterey this past June. I was so eager to apply for NOAA's Teacher At Sea (TAS) program that I could almost taste it. From 170 candidates, I was lucky to be chosen to participate on a cruise outside the Golden Gate with scientists from PRBO and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary.
|Laurie Guest (left) with NOAA scientist Kaitlin Graiff aboard the Fulmar. Photo by Jaime Jahncke / PRBO.|
After the albatross moment, in fact, my week with NOAA brimmed with wonderful close encounters. I saw what I thought was a great white shark following the hoop net, a miniscule octopus about a centimeter tall, and a jelly so enormous that it took several people to get "him" back into the ocean.
Experiments with real scientists! Birds with six-foot wing spans just above your head! Photos and stories to bring back to my classroom on the mainland! What a tremendous experience, being a Teacher at Sea.