Spring Sightings

Hello from Leg 2 of the NE AMAPPS Spring Shipboard Survey aboard the NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter!  With Leg I’s bad weather behind us, we are hopeful that this second leg will be bring good weather for observing marine mammals, seabirds and sea turtles, and the oceanographic sampling and acoustical work we’ll be conducting.  We spent most of our first day (April 7) anchored inside the scenic Newport Bridge calibrating the EK60 acoustic instrument that will be detecting lower trophic level productivity while underway. On Day 2 we awoke to dense fog and 6-8 ft. seas hampering our ability to conduct observations while en route to the Great South Channel to deploy a single MARU (marine autonomous recording unit).

Launch of a  Marine Autonomous Recording Units (MARU).

Launch of a Marine Autonomous Recording Unit (MARU) in the Great South Channel. Seven more will be deployed during the cruise. Photo credit: Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA

We have 7 additional MARU deployments planned along the southern edge of Georges Bank throughout the cruise. These units drop to the sea floor and record marine mammal acoustic sounds for up to 6 months, then will be retrieved and the data downloaded for analysis.  Day 3 our weather was much improved and we were able to conduct marine mammal observations all day; a bit rough going in the morning but as the day progressed conditions improved nicely.

Marine mammal observers at work.

Marine mammal observers at work. Photo credit: Gina Shield, NEFSC/NOAA

We worked a series of transects south of Cape Cod and the Islands in proposed wind energy areas.  Mammal observers recorded a dozen sightings comprised of humpback whales, a minke whale, unidentified whales and unidentified dolphins.  Sea-birders generally have better luck in windy conditions and although we were working in an area of relatively low productivity, our team observed approximately 200 individuals of 7 species.

The seabird observer was kept busy.

The seabird observer was kept busy. Photo credit: Gina Shield, NEFSC/NOAA

Various species of gulls, alcids, and northern gannets made up the majority of sightings but many phalaropeswere also observed.  Of interest was an Iceland gull and a Lesser-black backed gull.  Depths remain too shallow to deploy the hydrophone array so no marine mammal acoustics for these inshore waters.  Day 4 looks to be real nice.

Gina Shield
Aboard the Gordon Gunter
AMAPPS Cetacean and Turtle Abundance Spring Survey
Cruise 14-02 Leg 2

 

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