NY – R/V Neil Armstrong social


May 30, 2017 by Dr. G

I need to start this story with a little of my own history… when I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in geology at Bucknell University, I knew I had a strong interest in learning more about the ocean. Bucknell didn’t offer any oceanography courses, so I decided to pursue some opportunities on my own. One of those opportunities was to spend the fall semester of my junior year at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. At that time, Boston University had a Marine Program (BUMP) that allowed students to stay at MBL and take one course per month focused on marine science topics. My coursework included organism/sediment relationships, mass extinctions and the changing biosphere, microbial geology, and marine pollution. This one semester was the best four months of learning in all my years of schooling (content-learning and mentoring), with excellent laboratory and field experiences.

Unfortunately, one of the experiences I did not have that semester was an opportunity to get out on the ocean. A short distance from MBL was the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). As students, we would sometimes head to WHOI for events that ranged from speakers to steel drum band concerts. I also visited the WHOI Ocean Science Exhibit Center several times to learn from their displays, and I think I purchased every book on ocean exploration they had in the store! But my time to get on a WHOI ship or to even catch a glimpse of deep-sea submersibles such as the Alvin would have to wait…

…fast-forward to May 2017, when I saw this tweet, by WHOI:

I immediately applied to participate. I’ve been a part of two previous social media “socials” (American Museum of Natural History and NASA/AGU) and learned quite a bit while having a lot of fun! This social was close enough to travel to (just over an hour train ride from Philly) and would give me an opportunity to take photos and bring back information to college students enrolled in my oceanography course and K-12 teachers/students. And if I was selected to participate, I would get to satisfy one of my goals from my undergraduate years of getting on a WHOI ship! (OK, so the ship would be tied to the pier – but still, it’s something!)

For my students that are reading this and are wondering, “so what’s the big deal about WHOI? And what is even WHOI?” Founded in 1930, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is, according to their website, “the world’s leading, independent non-profit organization dedicated to ocean research, exploration, and education. Our scientists and engineers push the boundaries of knowledge about the ocean to reveal its impacts on our planet and our lives.” Check out this video below to receive an overview from WHOI of “who we are, what we do, and why that matters.”

Introduction to WHOI from Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst. on Vimeo.


I was excited to receive the good news that I was selected for the #ArmstrongSocial and made it to Fleet Week in NYC amid some wet and dreary weather.

I documented my R/V Neil Armstrong social experience in a Storify and through my Instagram account. You can also search Facebook and other social media accounts with the hashtag #RVNeilArmstrong to see the photos others took (like The Explorers Club – a great Facebook album!). Please also visit the WHOI website for a virtual tour of the R/V Neil Armstrong, and visit the ship’s website. Of course, if you are in my oceanography courses in the future, you’ll be hearing more about the contributions of this research vessel and WHOI’s various ROVs (like Jason/Medea) and AUVs (like REMUS SharkCam)!

Although I am so grateful for the ships that have informed my oceanographic education and research experiences, from the Wallops Island Marine Science Consortium (now Chincoteague Bay Field Station) to University of Miami-RSMAS to the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, I’m pleased that I can now say I’ve toured and photo-documented WHOI’s newest ship, the R/V Neil Armstrong, one of only seven large ships in the U.S. academic research fleet. I look forward to continuing to share stories of the technology and innovations that Neil Armstrong brings to learning about the ocean. Thank you for the opportunity, WHOI, and I hope you continue to do more social media socials so that others can learn and share (and maybe satisfy a long-time wish of seeing a WHOI ship up close!).


One thought on “NY – R/V Neil Armstrong social

  1. […] my second social media social in a month! Last month, I attended the R/V Neil Armstrong social during Fleet Week in NYC. This time, the social is my second NASA social, celebrating a new joint […]


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But I have to share one more post from the #OSM20 fieldtrip to @birchaquarium and @scripps_ocean. And I don't know why this didn't click with me before I went on the trip, but Scripps Institution of Oceanography was the home of Charles Keeling (you know... the "Keeling Curve" guy). He was mentioned briefly during our time on campus, but I wanted more! So I ran over to his building to snap some photos, including photos in front of the historic markers. After visiting the Mauna Loa Laboratory back in 2014 (throwback photo included), it was great to come complete circle on the journey of CO2 measurements! #historicmarker #ACSmarker #Keeling
The last stop on the #OSM20 @scripps_ocean tour was the marine vertebrate collection. This collection focuses on fish-only, as the whale bones were given to NOAA once the Marine Mammal Protection Act went into effect. The collection was founded in 1944 and focuses mostly on eastern Pacific marine fish. We learned many cool, random fish facts! For example, this collection has over 2 million individual fish specimens that represents more than 6,000 fish species. Yet there have been 35,000 fish species identified in the world, with 500 new fish species identified each year. We saw the deepest fish ever caught - a type of snail fish from the Mariana Trench (~7,966 m deep). We also saw lots of fish in jars - a whale shark, goblin shark, viper fish, angler fish, and blob fish!
Next stop at #OSM20 @scripps_ocean was the Hubbs Research Aquarium - which is true to its name, as it clearly resembles a research laboratory! So many cool experiments are being done here by Scripps faculty. The work on the white sea bass was interesting, looking at the otoliths (inner ear bone) and what impact changing ocean pH will have on them for equilibrium and their growth? As this fish is used alot in the aquaculture industry, this work has great releavance. The sea urchin work on the white, purple (no photo), and red varieties was also fascinating. For example, how do human chemicals that wash into the ocean impact the growth and defense mechanisms of these sea creatures? In some cases, the reaction can be seen under a microscope. And the albino shark was just really cool to see...
Being a part of the #OSM20 fieldtrip allowed us special access to the @scripps_ocean Scripps Pier. This 1,000 foot-long pier increases six feet in height as you walk out from the shore, so water can filtered and be pumped back to the laboratories in the black seawater flume that runs along its length. The pier is designed to lower their smaller research vessels and divers, but it also takes important water measurements (looking down the opening where literally a bucket is lowered to collect a sample) and air measurements through weather stations and the pink pole at the end of the pier. These temperature measurements are critical for climate change mapping. What a view of sandstone faces, surfers, and oh yes - we saw dolphins, too!
Next stop on the #OSM20 fieldtrip was to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. We had a box lunch (with a box of water!) and a fascinating summary of the history of Scripps presented by Kirk Gardner. We heard about Revelle, Keeling, and more! @scripps_ocean
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