On a snowy Tuesday morning, February 1, the Delaware II set sail from the NEFSC’s Woods Hole Laboratory dock for the first ecosystem monitoring cruise of 2011. Four scientists, one student, two bird observers and a crew of nineteen were on board as the vessel headed south to collect plankton samples and hydrographic data, and to capture water samples, weather permitting, with a Niskin bottle rosette sampler. Other instruments, such as CTD units for measuring temperature, salinity and pressure, and a Laser In-Situ Scattering and Transmissometry (LISST) unit, for counting and measuring particulate matter in the water, are also aboard to further our mission of long-term monitoring of basic ocean conditions and resources.
Fortunately, the severe icing conditions that have plagued so much of the U.S. have not followed us offshore. After the first day the vessel has been remarkably free from snow and ice, which has greatly simplified working conditions. Our plankton catches have been light with high phytoplankton at stations close to shore, and the water column structure has been well mixed, both typical conditions for this time of year.
Seas have not been high enough to stop zooplankton sampling, but they have curtailed rosette operations. Today, Friday, looks like it will be the day for our first rosette cast, since it is calm with winds less than 10 knots. The long range forecast looks less benevolent, with more of the same rough conditions we had at the beginning of this trip. Whether that slows down our operations remains to be seen. As always, we remain optimistic that we’ll be able to keep working and get up to Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine later in the cruise.
DE 11-02 Winter Ecosystem Monitoring Cruise