The first Integrated Northeast Pelagic Survey underway

The NOAA vessel Pisces departed from the Atlantic Marine Operations Center in Norfolk, Virginia at 0930 Sunday morning on 10 February after being pinned down there by winter storm NEMO for a couple of days after our scheduled departure date.

Pisces rd

The PISCES (right) at the Atlantic Marine Center in Norfolk, where
it was tied up alongside the HENRY B. BIGELOW, just prior to sailing for
this cruise.  Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA.

.scientists rd

The scientists from the Integrated Northeast Pelagic Survey
gathered in the PISCES conference room for a pre-cruise meeting prior
to sailing.  Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA.

We are currently off the coast of Virginia and working our way north from the southern-most part of our scheduled survey area. Winds and seas came down considerably from the storm-force conditions that plagued this area
prior to sailing, and although they have risen again we are making
excellent progress as we head north along the planned cruise track.

This cruise is entitled the Northeast Pelagic survey, and may be the
first multidisciplinary survey for the Northeast Fisheries Science
Center in terms of the broad scope of its scientific coverage.  The
ship is deploying a CTD 911 with Niskin bottles for hydrographic and
water quality studies.  Large and small bongo plankton nets are being
used for studying taxonomic, abundance and distribution and genetics
of lower trophic level organisms as well as collecting fish larvae and
eggs.  We have a large midwater trawl for upper trophic level studies.

wet lab rd

 The wet lab of the PISCES, serving as a scientific storeroom
and a fish processsing area for midwater trawl catches.  Photo by
Chris Melrose, NEFSC/NOAA.

The midwater trawl will be deployed opportunistically, based upon
what we observe in the water column on the acoustic returns from the
sensors that are running continuously throughout the cruise.  The
ship’s scientific flow-through seawater system is also running
continuously, collecting along-track chlorophyll levels, and
temperature and salinity data.   We have three scientists from NASA
joining us to take light level readings from above and below the sea
surface for correlation with satellite data, as well as water samples
from various depths in the water column being analyzed for total
alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon.

chem lab rd

 NASA scientist  Aimee Neeley in the chemistry lab of the
PISCES with all the gear from the NASA scientists.  Photo by Chris
Melrose, NEFSC/NOAA.

We are also collecting water samples from various depths to measure
nutrient levels for researchers from the University of Maine. Marine bird observers from Cornell University and the City University of New York are stationed on the flying bridge, tallying bird and marine mammals along our cruise track.  The flying bridge also has a radiometer from the NASA scientists to monitor light levels and a bat detector tuned to detect and log sounds emitted by bats that we may encounter along our cruise track.

Although this is a large ship, we have managed to fill every available
scientific space on board with supplies and instrumentation!

At this point in time, Monday night 11 February, we have completed
seventeen stations using our bongo nets and CTD 911/Niskin bottle
rosette.  There have not been any midwater trawls done yet, but we are
hoping to get our first one done when we are further offshore on
Tuesday.  Everyone on board is happy to be out here working after
waiting for a break in the extreme weather that plagued so much of the
east coast.  Another front is scheduled to be coming through here
soon, but hopefully we’ll not see anything of the magnitude of what we
have recently experienced!

Jerry Prezioso
Chief scientist
PC 13-01 Northeast Pelagic Survey

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