2021 Spring Ecosystem Monitoring Cruise Completed

The late spring EcoMon cruise accomplished their objectives and more in two weeks at sea. From bongo tows, water casts and ocean acidification work to bird observing and shrunken cups, it was a productive cruise.

Scientist Betsy Broughton holing a vial of pteropods collected from a plankton sample under a nearby microscope

We have completed our sampling on the Spring Ecosystem Monitoring Survey with our 106th station located just under 60 nautical miles east of Cape Cod.

Mission Accomplished

The cruise was very successful. We accomplished two objectives in addition to our primary monitoring protocols. The first was to sample ocean acidification stations in the Gulf of Maine. We did not sail last year because of the pandemic, and these stations have often been difficult to reach due to time constraints on previous surveys. On this cruise we only missed two of these stations: one in the northern Gulf of Maine and one in the central Gulf of Maine.  

The second objective was to sample mackerel eggs and larvae in the western Gulf of Maine and Southern New England waters, the places they are likely to be this time of year. When storms were forecast for Georges Bank, we shifted the cruise track to the western Gulf of Maine. This allowed our ship, the NOAA Ship Gordon Gunterto keep working. As a result we exceeded our planned coverage of the western Gulf of Maine, although we only partially sampled Georges Bank.

Snails and Slugs to Further Ocean Acidification Work

The work on collecting pteropods—free-swimming pelagic sea snails and sea slugs—has continued throughout the cruise. Betsy Broughton has been an avid “pteropod hunter.” She worked with Chris Taylor, who would grab simultaneous dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) samples from our scientific seawater collection system to match with them. Tamara Holzwarth-Davis and Paula Fratantoni, both on the other watch, did the same. Together they collected 34 samples of pteropods with matching DIC data, which should be great data for this ocean acidification effects study.  

NOAA Science Blog, 7 June 2021. Article.

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