Working in Windy Winter Weather …

The Henry Bigelow sailed from the snow covered Newport Naval Station Pier 2 on Saturday morning, February 11, at 0900 hours.  The diminishing seas from the strong blizzard winds of the day before allowed us to make our way out of Narragansett Bay to the shelf edge slope waters and southward before the next front caught up with us.  Luckily, we were able to complete eighteen stations before that happened by turning inshore to continue working as long as we could.

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NOAA Fisheries Survey Vessel Henry B. Bigelow at Pier 2 of the Newport Naval Station.  Photo by Jerry Prezioso,  NEFSC/NOAA Fisheries

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Snow covered Rose Island Lighthouse seen from the Henry B. Bigelow on our departure.  Photo by Joe Bishop,  EPA

We are now off the coast of Virginia and slowly getting back to work as the 40-knot winds we experienced last night come down.  Our plan is to steam slowly offshore from the entrance to Chesapeake Bay as diminishing winds and seas  enable us to start back north, pick up two missed stations and then continue on to sample at our offshore stations.

This cruise was originally scheduled to start on Friday, February 9, but the blizzard that struck Rhode Island disrupted the travel plans of scientists joining us from the University New Hampshire and the Canadian Wildlife Service in Newfoundland.  We are attempting to make the best use of our remaining time by eliminating the southernmost part of the cruise track off of Cape Hatteras, giving us a chance to get to more northern areas like Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine at the end of the survey.

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Deckhands Todd Wilson (left) and Frank Forbell prepare to launch Niskin Bottle and CTD Rosette.  Photo by Joe Bishop,  EPA

The plankton catches have been light and dominated at most stations by copepods and chaetognaths (arrow worms); pretty typical for this time of year.  There were some salps in a couple of tows, which I was surprised to see, and one tow had a considerable amount of diatoms which were caught in the 165 micron mesh nets of our small bongos, but easily passed through the 333 micron mesh nets of the large bongos.   Images from the Imaging FlowCytoBot showed them to be pillbox shaped diatoms, like the genus Coscinodiscus.  Since we have been close to shore for much of this cruise, the three shallow water rosette casts we have made have shown temperatures and salinities to be very well mixed in the water column.

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Survey Tech Stefanie Stabile and volunteer Joe Bishop drawing water from the Rosette Niskin bottles.  Photo by Jerry Prezioso,  NEFSC/NOAA Fisheries

All equipment and the ship are fully functional, and people are in good spirits.  We just need some breaks in the weather now to make this a productive trip!

Jerry Prezioso
Chief Scientist
HB 1701  Winter Ecosystem Monitoring Survey (EcoMon)

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