Mermaids, Barks and Battleships, and Science off the Shelf Break

The Gordon Gunter departed from Norfolk, Virginia on Wednesday, November 13,  to begin the fall Northeast Integrated Pelagic Survey.  The pelagic survey samples stations along the entire northeast US continental shelf from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, to Cape Sable, Nova Scotia. We will be sampling several components of the pelagic ecosystem using bongo nets, CTDs, a rosette, acoustics, and visual observations.  The variety of gears and techniques allow use to collect data on water chemistry, hydrography, phytoplankton, zooplankton, ichthyoplankton, seabirds, and marine mammals.  Our cruise was delayed in starting due to mechanical issues and weather.  Unfortunately, the mechanical issues were such that the mid-water trawling portion of our scientific operations has been canceled.

The unplanned delay gave us some time to explore Norfolk, Virginia, over the long Veterans Day weekend, a city with a long nautical and naval history.  Walking the streets you see lots of statues of mermaids decorated on various themes.  The city apparently commissioned local artists to decorate about 100 statues in 1999 and since, local businesses and homeowners have added to the “mermaids on parade” over the years.



mermaid arthword

Three of the “Mermaids on Parade” in Norfolk. Photos by Harvey Walsh, NEFSC/NOAA

The Nauticus Museum is the home of the USS Wisconsin battleship, one of the largest battleships every built for the US Navy, and an impressive site moored along the waterfront.

The 887-foot battleship Wisconsin is on exhibit at the Nauticus Museum  in Norfolk.

The 887-foot battleship Wisconsin is on exhibit at the Nauticus Museum in Norfolk. Photo by Harvey Walsh, NEFSC/NOAA

Another striking naval vessel, the Norwegian flagged Statsraad Lemkuhl, was moored in the city over the weekend.  The 3-masted steel bark is one of the world’s oldest square rigged sailing ships, and is currently being used as a training vessel for the Norwegian navy.  The 98-m vessel has carried up to 200 trainees at one time, and you can see the why when you see all the brass and teak that needs polishing.

three-masted bark

The three-masted steel bark Statsraad Lemkuhl, one of the world’s oldest square-rigged sailing ships, now a training vessel for the Royal Norwegian Navy. Photo by Harvey Walsh, NEFSC/NOAA

aft cabin

Aft cabin on the Stattsraad Lemkuhl. Photo by Harvey Walsh, NEFSC/NOAA

As we departed Wednesday, we sailed past the stern of one of NOAAs newest ships, the Reuben Lasker, which should depart for the west coast sometime in the future.

Reuben Lasker

NOAA’s newest fisheries survey vessel, the 208-foot Reuben Lasker, was recently delivered to NOAA in Norfolk. Photo by Harvey Walsh, NEFSC/NOAA

We skirted the coast along the Delmarva Peninsula and across the mouth of the Delaware Bay, working coastal stations, and avoiding the worst of the seas stirred up by the front that brought snow flurries to much of the east coast for the first time this fall.  We have been catching Atlantic menhaden larvae in the bongo nets.  As of early this morning, Friday 15th, we started our first transect offshore.  Hopefully, the seas will have calmed down enough for us to sample off the shelf break.

Harvey Walsh

Chief Scientist

GU 13-05 Northeast Integrated Pelagic Survey

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