Successful sampling, safety drills and sun.. so far!

On Thursday afternoon, June 9, 2011, just one week after our departure from Woods Hole, the Delaware II crossed the Great South Channel and began its oceanographic survey of Georges Bank. We have now completed half of our cruise in terms of regions sampled; the Mid-Atlantic Bight and Southern New England areas are done. Before us, however, stretch the vast reaches of the Gulf of Maine, which we’ll enter after completing Georges Bank.

bono net being retrived aboard ship

Crewman Matt Verlaque retrieving bongo plankton nets. (Credit: Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA)

Fortunately for us, the severe heat and thunderstorms which have plagued parts of New England have eluded us, and although we were treated to an exciting show of lightning Wednesday night, we were spared the punishing winds which swept over much of the shore. Our benign weather is especially appreciated as we head farther east onto Georges Bank, a place where there is no “lee” to escape from high winds and seas.

sieve full of salps and one juvenile fish

A sieve full of salps and one juvenile fish. (Credit: Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA)

Our plankton samples have changed as we’ve moved northward and eastward. The net-clogging salps gradually gave way to sea gooseberry comb-jellies, and they in turn are being replaced by copepods, rice-grain sized crustaceans which are now dominating our samples. We also find an occasional fish larva in the mix, but not very many of those so far.

A closeup of a juvenile fish on a human finger

A closeup view of a juvenile fish from the net full of salps. (Credit: Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA)

The steady pace of twenty-four hour research was punctuated today by one of our weekly safety drills, where we reinforced lessons learned on our first day of sailing of where to go in the event of a fire or the need to abandon ship.

Scientists learn to get into survival suits during safety drill on deck

Scientists learning to don survival suits on the first day of the cruise. (Credit: Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA)

Crew members in boat during man-overboard safety drill

Crewmembers Jim Pontz and Rick Rozen returning with Oscar the rescue dummy during a man-overboard drill, part of safety training. (Credit: Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA)

Today’s drill was hardly over when the call of “ten minutes to station” sounded over the loudspeakers and the scientists on watch scrambled back to their posts to ready their instruments for another deployment into the waters of Georges Bank. This will be our life for the next two weeks, until we return to Woods Hole on June 22nd or are forced to stop working due to hazardous weather conditions. No one is complaining about the regimen, however. Rather everyone is grateful to have this opportunity to sample these remote offshore waters and learn more about this ecologically and economically important area called Georges Bank.

Jerry Prezioso
Chief Scientist
DE 1105 EcoMon/NASA/ODU Cruise

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