Science, Art and Styrofoam Cups

Most New Englanders know the saying: “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change!”   At sea it sometimes takes longer than five minutes, but the weather does change eventually.  Our break from the bad weather that has plagued us from the beginning of this cruise came on Monday, November 15.  We started deploying our rosette sampler that day and have been carrying on full sampling operations as the calm, and even mild, weather has continued.  Of course Murphy’s Law always steps in when things are going smoothly.  We’ve had to re-splice and re-terminate our conductive towing cable when we lost the real-time signal to our CTD (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth) unit yesterday.  Our electronics technician, Ed Morse, got the job done quickly and we were back to sampling with only a couple of hours lost.

Ed Morse working on the retermination of our conductor cable with help from technician Tamara Holzwarth-Davis of the Oceanography Branch. (Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NOAA)

The good weather allowed us to make great progress once the seas calmed down after we left our Fire Island anchorage.  We’ve sampled the southern half and the northeast peak of Georges Bank and have crossed over into Canadian waters and the eastern Gulf of Maine.  We’re sampling in deeper water now, and stations are taking a little longer to get done, but being able to steam at full speed between stations means that we are still covering a lot of area fairly quickly.

Our boatswain, Adrian Martyn-Fisher, even tacked an additional experiment on to one of our rosette casts by placing a mesh bag full of Styrofoam coffee cups onto the bottom of the rosette.  These cups, decorated by students from the Lisbon Community School in Lisbon, Maine, come up from our deep-water cast substantially reduced in size, graphically demonstrating to the students the pressures that exist at depth in the ocean.

decorated styrofoam cups

Decorated styrofoam cups from the Lisbon Community School in Lisbon, Maine. (Photo by Adrian Martyn-Fisher, NOAA)

Cups in a mesh bag on the instrument

The decorated cups were placed in a mesh bag attached to the rosette sampler for a deep cast. (Photo by Adrian Martyn-Fisher, NOAA)

As all good things come to an end eventually, so will our stretch of good weather.  The latest forecast shows a low-pressure front coming our way tonight.  It should be on us by Wednesday night and into Thursday.  Hopefully it will be fast moving and won’t force us to stop working altogether.

SeawaterFlow thorugh Monitoring System

The Seawater Flow-through Monitoring System. (Photo by Adrian Martyn-Fisher, NOAA)

Our sampling operations may be curtailed somewhat, but we have our sturdy bongo samplers to put over the side, and the flow-through sampling system which is constantly monitoring the surface water we sail through, to enable us to continue gathering some data and samples. Hopefulness and optimism remain our mantra for this cruise!

Jerry Prezioso
Chief Scientist

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