Off toward Cape Hatteras, sampling underway

May 16, 2017
This is the first leg of the Spring Ecosystem Monitoring (EcoMon) Cruise, and we are heading south towards Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  Our mission, as on previous cruises of this type, is to collect plankton samples, hydrographic data, nutrient samples, measurements of ocean acidity using Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) samples and a pCO2 system, images of phytoplankton with a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Imaging FlowCytoBot and documenting seabird and marine mammal observations along the way.  Our small scientific staff of eight researchers consists of two seabird and marine mammal observers from the US and Canada, two students from Stony Brook University and Suffolk Community College, and four researchers from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center.
GUNTER Newport 2017ed.jpg

The 224-foot Gordon Gunter at Pier 2 at the Naval Station Newport on the morning of sailing for Leg 1 of the Survey. Photo credit: Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC

We have been having very good weather from the moment we left the dock and are currently working our way south off the coast of New Jersey, having already completed fourteen stations.  Preliminary observations of the plankton samples show our present catches to be mostly copepods, although we did bring up a single fifty-five millimeter sand lance last night, on our fourth station, which was south of Block Island.
Sand lance sta 4 rd.jpg

A 55 millimeter (just over two inches) sand lance from the large bongo net tow at Station 4, south of Block Island. Photo credit: Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC

Temperature and salinity profiles of the water column are showing thermoclines developing on some of our mid-shelf stations, which is in marked contrast to the well-mixed conditions we had in similar areas during our Winter Ecosystem Monitoring  Cruise this past February.
At sunset yesterday we had an opportunity to see the Block Island Wind Farm in operation, as we steamed past it on our way towards some stations south of Long Island.
BI Wind Turbine rd

One of the 5 wind turbines from the Block Island Wind Farm seen at sunset. Photo credit: Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC

With a promising forecast for the next several days we are looking forward to making very good progress on this first leg.
Jerry Prezioso
Chief scientist
Gordon Gunter GU 1701 Spring Ecosystem Monitoring Survey

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