Our departure was delayed 1 day because of issues with the VSAT which connects the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow to the satellites in order to receive an internet signal. A part was ordered and shipped overnight, but unfortunately, it did not correct the problem. All chief parties agreed that internet was nonessential, (after all, NOAA has been conducting surveys for many years without it) so we set sail from Newport, RI at 15:00 on June 28. Fortunately, we have been able to maintain some contact with a batch email system.
Day 3 – June 29: The day started with spotty survey conditions -intermittent rain and wind, but then the weather calmed down nicely. We resurveyed continental shelf lines 17, 16, and part of 15 under better conditions than we had on the first leg. Sightings included: striped, bottlenose, common and Risso’s dolphins and pilot and sperm whales. That evening we transitted so that we would be on station at one of our offshore legs in the morning.
Day 4 – June 30: Began our longest offshore line, 25, roughly 190 nm. Slightly windy conditions in the morning, but it calmed down quickly for a glorious day. We spent the majority of the day in sea state 3 or less which provided us with great sighting conditions. So much so that we surveyed an extra hour at the end of the day. Sightings included: Unid beaked whales and Atlantic spotted, Risso’s, bottlenose, striped, and rough-tooth dolphins. We even had a gorgeous look at a leatherback turtle and a somewhat distant look at a Kemp’s Ridley turtle.
We were greeted this morning with glass calm seas, a visual surveyor’s dream, and have continued down track 25.
In addition to the marine mammal survey, all has been going well for the other teams– oceanographic, acoustic, and birders. Our guest chemist has his CO2 instruments set up and has been collecting data. The ship’s ET, Billy, set us all up with e-mail accounts within the NOAA fleet messaging system, so we can still have some communications with folks on shore. Thank goodness!!
Allison Henry, chief scientist