A Bit of Everything

Day 5:  Sunday, July 24

We completed the onshore lines today in lovely Beaufort 1-2 conditions, except for those pesty rain showers that we had to wait  out. We saw a few common and bottlenose dolphins, a bunch of basking sharks and other shark species.  We even saw a few breaching basking sharks.  We also saw lots of fishing gear and weekend pleasure boat fishers.  What a zoo!  It was great to see the horizon, especially in the afternoon when the seas were nearly flat.  We had lunch on the back deck with grilled hamburgers and corn on the cob. That was yummy and fun! At night we headed way offshore to line 23, so that means tomorrow we will be heading towards the sea mounts and Canada.  More on that later.

Day 4:  Saturday, July 23

We are back at the inshore lines (south of Cape Cod) because the weather forecast predicted this is the only place with light winds, but there were chances of fog. And that is what we found, light winds and some fog, but not enough fog to mess up our entire day. We actually got to see some animals, mostly common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and mola molas. The passive acoustic array was not deployed because these waters are too shallow and we do not want the array to drag along the bottom. All the equipment is working well and the people are happy and healthy.

Day 3: Saturday, July 22

We woke up to acceptable sighting conditions (Beaufort 3-4) when we were at the southeastern end of Line 11. We started surveying northwesterly with everyone on effort: the two visual marine mammal teams, birder team and the passive acoustic team, and we also deploying more XBTs (Expendable Bathythermographs).  We only say Risso’s dolphins. Unfortunately we only worked for 2 hours before we hit the “wall” of fog.  Not  to worry as it did not hurt when we hit that wall and there was no damage to the ship! However, we did decide to leave the area and headed offshore hoping to escape the fog. We ran to the northern waypoint of Line 11, which we reached at about 11:30 am.  Here we succeeded in escaping the fog but we picked up a swell and winds that were at the top of our surveyable range.  We started surveying but  did not see marine mammals. We got into some nice and warm waters, about 26 Celcius (79 degrees Fahrenheit) . Although we did not see marine mammals, there were some warm water birds like Audubon’s  Shearwater,  and lots of flying fish.  Given these marginal conditions we surveyed till 6 pm.

Day 2: Thursday, July 21

We woke up to fog when we were just south of the Vineyard. We could not work in these conditions, so we moved offshore looking for clear air. By lunch time the wind blew the fog away and tempted us to work, but unfortunately the wind also blew up the seas.  Despite this we surveyed he top half of line 11 (on the shelf break near a frontal zone). Though the visual marine mammal teams could not work over this frontal zone, Erin and Chris deployed XBTs and had the EK60 and ADCP running, Betsy deployed the VPR (Video Plankton Recorder) and conducted several bongos and CTDs, Robert and Sandra deployed the passive acoustic array, and the Mike and Marie (with others helping) looked for birds and marine mammals (of which there were very few of both kinds of animals). When all this is put together this should hopefully paint a nice picture of the bio-physical world in this area.

Day 1: Wednesday, July 20

We left the dock at 2pm and by 4:30pm we were at our first waypoint, so we surveyed for a couple of hours on track line 36! We are not used to suchshort transits. Though the sighting conditions were decent, we did not see any marine mammals, but we did see sharks and tuna.

Debi Palka
Chief Scientist, Leg 3
Aboard the Henry B. Bigelow
AMAPPS 2011

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