Off and Running on the Late Spring Ecosystem Monitoring Survey

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.

bongo net deployment

Bongo nets being deployed for plankton collection. Photo by D.J. Kast, NOAA Teacher at Sea.

view of chemistry lab with equipment

Chemistry lab filled with seawater filtration racks. Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA

insturmneet to photograph phytoplankton

FlowCytoBot Unit for photographing phytoplankton in the scientific seawater flow-through system, strapped into position in the CTD lab.
Photo by D.J. Kast, NOAA Teacher at Sea.

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.

Niskin bottle rosette array with CTD unit

Niskin bottle rosette array with an added CTD unit (white cylinder) for logging chlorophyll fluorescence and transmissometry data. Photo by D.J. Kast, NOAA Teacher at Sea.

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.

lion's mane jellyfish in net

Lion’s Mane jellyfish capture in one of the nearshore plankton tows. Photo by D.J. Kast, NOAA Teacher at Sea.

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.

three woem scientists working in lab

Researchers Cristina Bascunan, Tamara Holzwarth-Davis and Megan Switzer working together to connect a transmissometer (black unit) to a CTD unit (white cylinder) shortly before sailing. Photo by D.J. Kast, NOAA Teacher at Sea.

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!

Jerry Prezioso
Chief Scientist
HB1502 Ecosystem Monitoring Survey

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