Good weather and interesting catches as we head north

Good Afternoon Everyone,

On Tuesday evening the Gordon Gunter reached the southernmost station of this cruise and turned northward to complete sampling in the Mid-Atlantic Bight.  The weather has improved dramatically from the time we left port, and the vessel is now traveling at 9.8 knots in flat calm seas off the coast of Virginia.  The forecast is good for the next several days and we expect to continue making excellent progress.

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Deploying the large and small bongo nets used to catch our plankton samples from the Gordon Gunter. Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA Fisheries

We’ve had a few interesting catches along the way.  Off the northern coast of Virginia on an offshore station at night in deep slope water, a number of myctophids, or lanternfish, were caught in the 61 cm bongo nets.  Outer shelf stations off the coast of Delaware have yielded large numbers of salps and sea butterflies and pteropods, or planktonic snails.  Rosette casts have shown that, in general, inshore stations had well mixed water columns, but as we got offshore there were thermoclines with associated chlorophyll maximums at about 28 to 40 meters depth.

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URI student Lauren Kittell-Porter filtering seawater for nutrient samples. Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA Fisheries

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U.Mass graduate Bonny Clarke and U.Maine graduate Zach Topor washing down bongo nets to obtain plankton samples. Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA Fisheries

Although we have two recent college grads and one undergraduate student all making their first cruise, all are doing well and fitting into the odd work schedule of noon to midnight or midnight to noon, that is the normal shipboard way of life out here.  We don’t have any teachers with us on this trip, but in a way, we are sharing the experience with 80 third-graders from the Peacedale Elementary School.

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Scientists (left to right) Jerry Prezioso,  David Richardson and Kelsey James speaking to third graders from the Peacedale Elementary School about working at sea.  Photo by Jon Hare, NEFSC/NOAA Fisheries

Scientists from the NOAA Narragansett Lab had a chance to visit them before we sailed.  After regaling them with stories and photos from work at sea aboard NOAA vessels, we were given 80 Styrofoam cups decorated by each student, for us to bring out and attach to our CTD rosette.  There, confined in a mesh bag, they are subject to water pressure from each hydrocast, causing the cups to become compressed and shrink, as a vivid demonstration of Boyle’s Law of Pressure and Gas Volume, which the students will see when the cups are returned after the cruise.

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Styrofoam cups before immersion, in left photo.  Same cups after 8 immersions in water down to 500 meters deep, on right. Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA Fisheries

Who knows? Perhaps this may inspire some of them to look into marine science as a career!

Jerry Prezioso

Chief Scientist
GU1608 Ecosystem Monitoring Survey

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