Saturday, February 4, 2011:
After a 2 PM Thursday afternoon departure on February 2, the Delaware II headed out of Woods Hole for Georges Bank to conduct the annual Winter Ecosystem Monitoring Survey. We are working on the Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine areas first, to ensure they are completely sampled before we proceed to the southern survey areas. In addition to our randomly located stations that are sampled for plankton, temperature and salinity, we have a series of fixed position stations that we’ll sample, weather permitting, with a CTD 911 rosette. This will capture water samples from different depths for total alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon measurements as part of a NOAA plan for examining trends in ocean acidity and C02 levels. We will also collect nutrient samples in conjunction with a University of Maine program and a suite of electronic measurements for oxygen levels, chlorophyll, and particle size spectrum analysis.
Right now, on early Saturday morning, two days into the cruise, we are working our way east along the southern flank of Georges Bank. Conditions are marginal for working. We’ve been able to deploy our bongo nets, but not the rosette sampler, due to the high winds and seas. Even bongo operations were curtailed yesterday afternoon, as we waited for a few hours for seas to subside enough to operate safely. The plankton catches we’ve obtained so far have been very light, dominated by surprising numbers of chaetognaths (arrow-worms) at five of the eleven stations we’ve sampled so far, pteropods (planktonic snails) at a couple of other stations, and copepods at the rest.
This is a bittersweet cruise for us, as it marks the last survey our group will have aboard the venerable Delaware II which is being retired after May of this year. We have collected a lot of data and untold numbers of samples using this vessel, and met many good people aboard her. It has come a long way from its original mission of being a gear testing vessel to a premier survey platform, and I will be sorry to see it leave the NOAA fleet.
Chief Scientist, DEII 1202
Winter Ecosystem Monitoring Survey