Fall EcoMon Survey Underway

Nov. 2, 2018

On Thursday, November 1, the University of Delaware vessel Hugh R. Sharp set sail from Lewes, Delaware to start the Fall Ecosystem Monitoring Survey (EcoMon) for 2018. The Sharp is a 146-foot-long  University National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS)

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Research vessel Hugh R. Sharp at its dock at the University of Delaware. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/Jerry Prezioso

vessel and is being chartered by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center to continue our time series of hydrographic and biological marine sampling and data collection along the northeast coast of the United States. Dating back to 1992, the Ecosystem Monitoring Program  provides one of the best long-term marine databases in the U.S. and its value as a baseline for measuring the degree and pace of climate change is immeasurable.

This cruise has not had an easy start! Weather conditions have slowed the progress of the vessel to about half its cruising speed of 10 knots, so we are not making great progress as we head slowly and cautiously towards Cape Hatteras, the southernmost point of the survey area. We are still continuing to work, deploying bongo nets from the stern of the vessel and using a Niskin bottle rosette and CTD sampling array for hydro casts from the starboard side sampling station.

Tam & Chris winch rd

Scientists Tamara Holzwarth-Davis and Chris Taylor hook up the hydrographic winch to a lab computer.  Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/Jerry Prezioso

Every deployment is carefully planned and deployment trials were even conducted at the dock to help the scientists familiarize themselves with the vessel, and the crew of the Sharp to learn about our gear. It’s been a steep learning curve but everyone has worked hard to get the vessel underway as quickly as possible to minimize loss of days for sea sampling.

Three plankton tows and one hydro cast have been completed as we continue south on our first full day of sampling. One of the plankton tows, taken 30 miles off the Virginia coast, yielded three liters of salps in each of our bongo nets, with a large numbers of ten to fifteen millimeter shiny juvenile fish buried among them. The other plankton tows have been very light, which is not surprising since we’ve been in shallow inshore waters on this part of the trip.

Side sampling sta rd

Scientists drawing water from the Niskin bottle rosette at the side sampling station on the R/V Sharp. Photo credit:  NOAA Fisheries/Jerry Prezioso

With increasing winds and higher seas forecast for this weekend, we are planning to tuck in to Norfolk and use the downtime to pick up a part for our winch. Hopefully the weather will improve next week!

Jerry Prezioso
Chief  Scientist
R/V Hugh R. Sharp 1802 Fall Ecosystem Monitoring Survey

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