Science and the Sea, Part I

Episodes 15 (Science and the Sea Part 1) and 16 (Science and the Sea Part 2) follow Duke University’s research vessel Eastward on a ten-day cruise. Episode 15 begins as the ship returns to port at the University’s marine laboratory on Pivers Island in Beaufort, North Carolina. Students watch scientists unload specimens gathered and equipment used on a geologic cruise. Students see a new group of scientists boarding Eastward for the next expedition and follow the scientists for ten days as they conduct their investigations.

The scientists study an embayment stretching from Charleston, South Carolina to Saint Augustine, Florida. This mass of water is confined between the shore and the Gulf Stream and is relatively unpolluted. The cruise begins as the Eastward sails to a point off the coast of Charleston. The ship sails along a series of six lines, known as transects. Each transect consists of a series of stations beginning in the shallow water near shore and ending in water more than 1,640 feet deep at the edge of the continental shelf. At each station, scientists collect data including water temperature, primary productivity, radioactive isotopes in the air and water, sediment samples from the ocean floor and samples of the life from the ocean floor. The episode ends by noting that the cruise will continue in Episode 16.

Note to Teachers: Episodes 15 and 16 are not intended to teach students the concepts of oceanography but rather to offer a realistic picture of what life and work is like on an oceanographic research vessel. No two cruises are alike. The array of instruments and investigation on research vessels changes from cruise to cruise. The objective of these two episodes is the help students understand that oceanography, like many other sciences, is hard, tiring and sometimes boring work, but that it holds a particular fascination and thrill for the scientific investigators.

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