Rare birds and good weather

The Henry Bigelow crossed over into the Gulf of Maine late Saturday night (August 18).  On the strength of continued good weather we’ve made excellent progress and are now back in Canadian waters as we work our way north along the far eastern portion of our cruise track towards Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy area.  It looks like we’ll be able to reach just about the entire Gulf of Maine in the time remaining for this cruise.

Our catches have been very typical for this area.  Lots of Calanus copepods, easily recognized with their deep red color from the oil in their bodies, and at night we’ve been getting euphausiids and some shrimp.  Senior survey tech Jim Burkitt found a myctophid (lantern fish) about 4 centimeters long in one of the night tows.  Betsy Broughton, watch chief on the midnight to noon watch, has been observing red hake juveniles in a number of the tows from this area.

juvenile red hake

Red hake juvenile captured in our bongo nets at a Gulf of Maine station. (Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA)

I haven’t said anything about the marine birds and mammals seen during this cruise by our observers, Holly Goyert and Tom Johnson.  I’m going to append an update from Tom that provides an excellent description of some of their observations, including a remarkable one of a rarely seen bird.

Barolo Shearwater

A Barolo Shearwater, never before photographed in Canadian waters. This species breeds in the Macaronesian Islands, a small group of islands in the eastern Atlantic, just west of the Straits of Gibraltar, and is extremely rare in North American waters. (Photo by Tom Johnson, Cornell University)

white-faced storm petrel

A White-faced Storm Petrel, another first photograph from Canadian waters. This species has only been sighted once before in these waters. (Photo by Tom Johnson, Cornell University)

The marine mammal and bird observation team on the flying bridge of the Henry Bigelow (left to right): Tom Johnson, Holly Goyert and Sammi Ocher.   (Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA)

Jerry Prezioso
Chief Scientist
HB 12-05 EcoMon/CliVEC Survey


Bird Observation News:
I just wanted to share some cool sightings and photos from yesterday, 17 August. When we were out in the ~1700m deep water off the shelf edge around 11:50 AM, I spotted a tiny shearwater that I’d never seen before – it was a Barolo Shearwater (Puffinus baroli), a species that breeds in the Macaronesian Islands of the eastern Atlantic and has only been recorded off North America about 5 times previously. I was able to get some photos, so this is the first Barolo photographed at sea in Canadian waters. I was even more excited later when Holly and Sammi joined me and we found 3 more of these super rare Barolo Shearwaters, as well as 2 White-faced Storm-Petrels and 1 Audubon’s Shearwater (the White-faced Storm-Petrel and Audubon’s Shearwater have each been sighted once before in Canadian waters, but had never been photographed at sea in Canada until yesterday, as far as I can dig up). Combined with great whale activity (humpback, fin, sperm, and a few small pods of pilot whale sp.), yesterday was a fantastic day for us up on the flying bridge!

Some photos of these birds can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bonxie88/

Tom Johnson
on the NOAA ship Henry B. Bigelow in the NW Atlantic Ocean

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