Filling in the Gaps

The wee hours of Wednesday morning find us in the enviable position of being able to add more stations back onto our cruise track,  thanks to a favorable forecast for the remainder of the week. On early Monday morning we were working our way eastward across Georges Bank, finding herring larvae at a station on the eastern edge of the shoals and watching their numbers dwindle off as we progressed towards the Northeast Peak.

The Delaware II then crossed the Northeast Channel and went as far north as Browns Bank before turning west to head across the Gulf of Maine and back towards Wood Hole.

herring larvae

Magnified view of small herring larvae (about 10 mm) caught on Georges Bank. (Photo by Chris Taylor, NOAA)

Plankton catches in the Gulf of Maine have been very light, with no fish larvae, until we found a couple of herring larvae at a station on the northern flank of Georges Bank.  Since that time, with seas finally coming down last night, we’ve been able to make better time and now plan to sample stations as far up as twenty nautical miles north of Jordan Basin. Chris Taylor, one of the scientists from the NEFSC’s Narragansett Laboratory, has been able to collect some stage V Calanus copepods from the Gulf of Maine, and flash freeze them in liquid nitrogen to be tested for signs of environmental stress back at the lab.

bongo nets  are recovered

Crew member Chris Taylor bringing in bongo nets during a tow that caught Calanus copepods used by scientist Chris Taylor (we have 2 Chris Taylor's on board!). (Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NOAA)

We’ve continued our sampling for the Census of Marine Zooplankton Project using 20 cm bongo nets at selected stations. We are also using a set of 20 cm bongo nets with a coarser mesh to collect herring larvae for Dave Richardson back at the Narragansett Lab, although there have been no sign of them once we left the Georges Bank area.

The bird observers had a difficult day for observing yesterday with large seas obscuring any birds sitting on or flying low to the water, and conditions so rough they were forced to leave the flying bridge and observe from inside.

observers on the flying bridge

Marine bird and mammal observers Holly Goyert and Chris Vogel at their usual observation post, the flying bridge of the Delaware II. (Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NOAA)

We were however, able to deploy our rosette sampler at sunrise, so Cory Staryk from Old Dominion University collected water samples from the northern flank of Georges Bank, before conditions deteriorated later in the morning. Seas also forced the ship to tack its way north toward Georges Basin, in order to get there without excessive rolling from seas coming at us beam-on.

roseet recovery

Niskin bottle rosette breaks the surface as it's taken aboard during a sunrise water sampling for Old Dominion University researcher Cory Staryk. (Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NOAA)

Today is one of the first days that we’re not anticipating another big low or tropical storm so I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to end this cruise with a flurry of activity as we make our way westward across the the Gulf of Maine towards home. The crew and command have really outdone themselves to keep us working and moving ahead, despite the difficult conditions we’ve had to face for most of this trip.

Jerry Prezioso
Chief Scientist
DE 1109 EcoMon Cruise

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