On a foggy Tuesday (May 19) at 1230 pm the Henry Bigelow left its berth at the Newport Naval Station to start the Late Spring Ecosystem Monitoring Survey. As is typical for these cruises, this is not just a Northeast Fisheries Science Center expedition, but a coalition of several other institutions and Canada with representative scientists on board to study different aspects of the marine ecosystem of the northeast continental shelf. We have scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of Maine, Princeton University, one scientist from the Canadian Wildlife Service and a NOAA Teacher at Sea from California, in addition to our usual cadre of researchers from the NEFSC in Narragansett and Woods Hole. All the lab spaces are filled with gear; an imaging flowcytobot unit and laptop computers in the CTD lab, multiple filtering racks in the chem lab, and the wet lab has become a storage area for spare gear and supplies.
The foggy weather has hindered our progress somewhat, but a more than punctual departure on Tuesday (we left 30 minutes ahead of schedule!) has given us a good start, and we are all thankful to be underway after frantic last minute repairs were made to the vessel prior to this trip.
We have completed eight stations so far: six bongo tows and two rosette casts on the shelf edge. The rosette casts gathered transmissometry data for our U. Maine researcher as well as the usual salinity, temperature and chlorophyll profiles, and jugs of seawater were filled for an EPA researcher in Narragansett who is looking for traces of pharmaceutical compounds in offshore waters. Fish larvae, either herring or sand lance were found in the nearshore plankton tows, and also some lion’s mane jellyfish.
The fog has lifted this Wednesday morning, and the ship is making faster progress now. With the current good weather we will work our way towards Cape Hatteras, sampling at the offshore stations and then loop back north towards New England on an inshore track.
Despite the crowded conditions, the diverse researchers are all getting along, and helping each other with equipment and tasks to help the mission go as smoothly as possible. The ship’s crew and command have certainly played a large part in making things work, and I really appreciate the positive can-do attitude I’ve seen aboard here.
I think this is going to be a good, and very productive trip!
HB1502 Ecosystem Monitoring Survey