We have covered a lot of ground since the last update. After the wind died down we were finally able to leave our Provincetown anchorage and head up into the Gulf of Maine where we sampled a “loop” of stations to cover as much territory as we could before the next predicted storm system forced us to dock in Portland Maine.
While there we hosted tours of our vessel for researchers and staff from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI). They in turn invited us to visit their impressive facility which was conveniently located just down the road from the state pier where we were docked. We learned that the GMRI has a multifaceted mission of fostering research, education and sustainable fisheries for the Gulf of Maine.
Their gracious hosting of the ship’s complement helped us pass the time while we waited for the weather to abate, which it did by Friday morning, when we left Portland and returned to work. With cruise time now limited to just a few remaining days we sampled what we could in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank before still another storm system forced us to seek shelter in Narragansett Bay. We stayed there overnight and calibrated our acoustic fish-locating system, which we had been unable to do when we were anchored off of Provincetown.
On Monday morning we left our Rhode Island anchorage and finished the last part of the cruise completing sampling of Southern New England waters. Even though pressed for time sampling as much as they could in the few remaining days, the scientists still managed to squeeze in one more mission; that of education.
They brought out with them fifty-one Styrofoam cups, creatively decorated by second graders from the Fishing Cove Elementary School in North Kingstown, RI. By placing them in a mesh bag attached to the CTD/Niskin bottle water sampling array, and submerging them during deep water casts, the scientists were able to shrink the cups to about one fourth of their original size, dramatically demonstrating how pressure increases with depth in the ocean.
Now in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, we have just completed our last station and are heading back to Narragansett Bay to dock at the Newport Naval Station in Rhode Island. It has been a very difficult cruise in terms of weather, but we are fortunate to have achieved as much survey coverage as we have due to the very hard work of the Pisces command and crew, who did everything they could to assist us with our sampling. Now they will be returning to their home port in Pascagoula, Miss., after they deliver us to Newport. I wish them a safe and speedy return home. We are very grateful to them for their efforts and camaraderie that they shared with us, and hope that we will have an opportunity to sail with them again soon.
PC 13-01 Northeast Pelagic Survey