A break in the weather, and success

It is Tuesday night (Feb. 21) and the NOAA vessel Henry Bigelow is leaving Georges Bank and working into the western Gulf of Maine area for the last part of the Winter Ecosystem Monitoring Survey (EcoMon).

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Ecosystem Monitoring (EcoMon) cruise track in blue, with black line showing remaining course to be covered.  Image provided by Stefanie Stabile, OMAO/NOAA.

Although dogged by rugged weather from the day before sailing, the ship has managed to complete over a hundred stations so far, from Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf of Maine, and will have a grand total of about 114 stations prior to the time we dock in Newport, RI on Thursday morning (Feb 23).

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Todd Wilson and Frank Forbell deploy the rosette water sampler from the Henry Bigelow on a windy day.  Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA.

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Sometimes something unexpected is caught by the water sampler: a 15 cm sea lamprey attached itself to the CTD unit on the array!  Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA.

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Emily Peacock in the instrument-packed dry lab of the Henry Bigelow explains operation of the cylindrical ImagingFlowCytoBot unit, seen in the middle of the photo, to EPA volunteer Joe Bishop.  Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA.

The weather has given us a break at a key juncture in the cruise, as we were heading out to Georges Bank, which is a notoriously unforgiving area during this time of the year.  That break in the weather, combined with an exceptional effort on the part of the crew and command of this vessel, has helped turn this trip into a resounding success, despite the fact that a blizzard delayed the arrival of our science team and caused us to sail a day late.

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Diatom images recorded from seawater pumped through the Imaging FlowCytoBot unit.  Image provided by Joe Bishop, EPA.

Survey Tech Stefanie Stabile washing down small bongo sampler to collect plankton samples on one of the calmer sunrises of the survey.  Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA.

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Survey Tech Stefanie Stabile washing down the small bongo sampler used to collect plankton samples on one of the calmer sunrises of the survey.  Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA.

I’d like to thank the key parties involved in contributing to this success: the CO and command on the vessel were constantly coming up with suggestions and cruise track “tweaks” to help us cover the survey area as quickly as possible despite the conditions.  The crew, who were always at the ready to get the gear deployed “efficiently and safely” to quote our chief boatswain, plus the engineers and electronics specialist who kept the ship running and sampling flawlessly (no downtime on this trip!) and the stewards who not only kept us fed, but kept up morale with ice cream socials on Sunday nights!  Finally the science team, a diverse group with researchers from the Canadian Wildlife Service, UNH, EPA, the NEFSC, plus support from WHOI and the onboard Survey Techs who worked alongside us to collect hundreds of plankton samples and associated data.

Thank you all.  It was truly a pleasure to sail with you!

Jerry Prezioso
Chief Scientist
HB 1701  Winter Ecosystem Monitoring Survey

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