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July 7, 2014
Contact: Shelley Dawicki
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Check out photos from the Gloria Michelle's Martha's Vineyard outreach. Photos by NEFSC/NOAA staff and friends.

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Students, Public Learn About Fisheries Science, Careers aboard R/V Gloria Michelle During Martha's Vineyard Tours

Fisheries science, careers, and the work of NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center were front and center during three days of community outreach and education activities with the R/V Gloria Michelle on Martha's Vineyard June 19-21.

More than 100 students in grades K-8 from Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School and homeschoolers had a chance to come aboard the 72-foot vessel and visit various science stations set up from the bridge to the stern, and dockside. The ship was also opened to general visitation in Edgartown Harbor Thursday afternoon and in Oak Bluffs Friday afternoon and all day Saturday, where an estimated 1,000 visitors took advantage of the opportunity during the annual HarborFest celebration.

"We introduced people to the work of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, and to the variety of career opportunities in science, like NOAA Corps officers, computer science and information technology (IT) specialists, and fishery biologists, supporting NOAA’s missions," said Anna-Liza Villard-Howe, the Gloria Michelle's Officer in Charge. "We had some rain on Thursday morning in Edgartown, but it cleared by the afternoon and was perfect the rest of the time. We had visitors almost non-stop from the time we tied up at the dock. They asked great questions, and all of us who participated had a great time sharing what we do with the island community, and with many visitors from other states and countries who happened to be on the island and came by.”

Villard-Howe grew up on the Vineyard, and many of her former teachers brought their classes to the vessel. Family members and friends also stopped by to say hello. Some of the students who came to tour the ship at Edgartown’s Memorial Wharf on Thursday brought their parents and friends to visit during the port call in Oak Bluffs Friday and Saturday.

“We came last year, and this year we added another day to accommodate more students and the public,” Villard-Howe said of the effort. “We also included marine mammal research to provide visitors with a broader view of NEFSC research activities."

Students learned about the vessel and its operations from Villard-Howe and junior officer Doug Pawlishen, both members of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps. Fellow NOAA Corp Officer Bryan Pestone, normally assigned to the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer based in Rhode Island, joined the Gloria Michelle team for a few days for the event and led dockside and onboard presentations about safety at sea.

Several of the science and math teachers were happy to hear examples of how their classroom lessons are used in the real world, from the use of metrics in science to applications of math and science principles in many of the ship operations and research presentations.

Jakub Kircun from the Ecosystems Surveys Branch and Heidi Marotta from Data Management Systems spoke on the vessel’s stern about fisheries surveys, the Fisheries Scientific Computing System (FSCS), and showed visitors different species found in the Northeast. Christine Kircun from the Population Biology Branch spoke about age and growth and how researchers determine the age of fish using scales and earbones, or otoliths.

Lisa Conger and Grace Simpkins from the Protected Species Branch shared information from the branch’s NOAA Outreach and Education on Protected Species (NOEPS) program, featuring samples of baleen from different whales, a sperm whale vertebra and a rib bone, and whale teeth.

The vessel open house at the 23rd annual Oak Bluffs Harbor Festival on Saturday, June 21, attracted hundreds of visitors from early morning to late afternoon. With the vessel docked in the center of the activity at the Oak Bluffs town bulkhead, guests of all ages enjoyed the opportunity learn about the R/V Gloria Michelle's work in local waters, and the chance to talk directly with NEFSC staff.

“We thanked everyone who came on board to learn about NEFSC and our mission,” Heidi Marotta said. “But it was wonderful to hear from the public, who thanked us for the important work we do to help conserve our fisheries and fishing industry.”

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The Northeast Fisheries Science Center conducts ecosystem-based science supporting stewardship of living marine resources under changing climatic conditions. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

NOAA Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources and their habitat through scientific research, management and enforcement. NOAA Fisheries Service provides effective stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public. Join NOAA Fisheries on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.

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