NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
May 23 – June 7, 2018
Mission: Spring Ecosystem Monitoring Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Northeastern Coast of U.S.
Date: June 1, 2018
Weather From Bridge
Latitude: 41° 25.4′ N
Longitude: 068° 16.3′ W
Sea Wave Height: 1-2 ft
Wind Speed: 16 kts
Wind Direction: SE
Air Temperature: 12.5°C
Science and Technology Log
After completing a southern route past Long Island, New Jersey and Delaware, the Henry B. Bigelow headed north to the Gulf of Maine (GOM). The first sampling stations in GOM were located on the continental shelf close to the slope. After sampling in the Northeast Channel of the GOM, stations will be dispersed throughout the Gulf of Maine. Phytoplankton is continuously imaged through the Imaging Flow Cyto Bot and collection is going well. Below is a recent image taken. Can you find Thallasonemia or Ceratium?
At various stations instead of towing bongo nets with a CTD attached, a CTD, Rosette, is deployed with niskin bottles. CTD contain sensors that measure Conductivity (salinity), Temperature and Depth. The data gathered provides profiles of chemical and physical parameters of the ocean.
The great feature of the rosette is its ability to collect water using Niskin bottles as hydrographic instruments. Opened bottles are lowered into the ocean and at the desired depth a bottle is closed and brought to the surface without mixing with other water so pure samples can be taken at different depths. Back on board, water is taken from the Niskin bottles and nutrient, chlorophyll and carbon dioxide tests are run on the samples.
Georges Bank is in the southern part of the Gulf of Maine. The bank separates the Gulf of Maine from the Atlantic Ocean. It is a huge shoal that is 100 meters higher than the surrounding ocean floor and is a very productive area of the continental shelf. The mingling of the Labrador current from the north and the Gulf stream on the eastern edge plus sunlight in shallow waters, creates an ideal environment for phytoplankton and zooplankton. Once a bountiful fishery, it is presently recovering from over fishing. Federal Fishery regulations aim to ensure recovery of the area and future sustainability. The data samples collected will give a good idea of the recovery of this area. The pink line below shows the route taken by our ship in the southern Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank.
When we were near the Northeast Channel in the Gulf of Maine, Latitude 41° 53.2′ N and Longitude 65°47.0′ W, I deployed a satellite-tracked Drifter Buoy decorated with our school name May River Sharks. The drifter buoy will send GPS and temperature data to a NOAA website and students will be able to track its path. This area was chosen to deploy because the Labrador current from the north meets with the Gulf Stream and hopefully the buoy will get caught up in one of the currents. It will be fun for students to track the buoy path in the fall. Wonder where it will go???
So far this trip the weather has been great. Seas have been calm and temperatures good. I have fallen into a nice routine each day. My shift concludes at midnight; I go to bed till 9:00AM; work out; shower and get ready for next 12 hour shift. I eat lunch and dinner each day and a midnight snack. The days are long but never boring. The crew aboard the Henry B Bigelow is awesome. Internet is sporadic but I was able to face-time with my daughter. Technology is a big part of this whole operation. All the programs collecting temperature, salinity and phytoplankton rely on computer programs to run. Second to the chef, the IT person is invaluable. They are trouble shooting problems all day to make sure the collection of data is working. During the longer steams from station to station, I have the opportunity to talk to crew and other scientists. Each person is excited about science. I have never been involved in real science research and I find each day to be fascinating. There is so much time and effort put into collecting the samples. This cruise will collect samples from over 100 stations that will be analyzed and supply much data to give a good picture of the state of our Northeast coastline waters and fisheries.
Today was the last day of school for the year for May River High School. Graduation is Tuesday and my thoughts will be with everyone. Congratulations to all my students, especially the seniors.
Answers to Phytoplankton Identification:
Thallasonemia- upper left corner
Ceratium- middle top