A big pod of dolphins, maybe 30 or so individuals, came by to check out the ship today. This is not uncommon at sea: dolphins love to play in the bow wake of moving ships. Unfortunately, we were stopped for CTD casts. That didn’t keep the dolphins from having a good time in the waves – I guess it’s pretty difficult to keep dolphins from having a good time in waves – but I couldn’t help but feel like we were letting them down with our wake-less vessel. They were polite enough to put on a good show for our benefit anyway. Thanks guys!
URI oceanographer David Ullman tends to two birds at once: the Seabird instrument package on the CTD as we prep it for a cast; and this songbird that looks relieved to recognize other land animals 100 miles offshore.
In retrospect, it would have been worth the extra 30 seconds to put on my rubber boots.
Pity the physical oceanographers. They were all fired up to spend 13 hours overnight on the fantail, watching the uCTD (a small, portable CTD capable of rapidly profiling the water column) go up and down. Different strokes for different folks, right? Unfortunately the weather has been picking up all day. With the wind at 35 knots and seas around 7-11 feet, our captain stopped all deck operations until morning. With luck the seas will lay down a little bit overnight, and we’ll be back at it tomorrow morning.
Kai Ziervogel samples from Niskin bottles on the CTD rosette.
My name is Kai Ziervogel and I am a research associate in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I am studying metabolic rates of bacteria in the ocean, focusing on bacterial activities associated with macroscopic particles of organic and inorganic matter in the water column. Marine bacteria are one of the major players in processing and transforming biologically fixed atmospheric carbon, and most of this carbon is associated with sinking particles in the ocean. On this cruise, I will measure bacterial degradation rates of carbohydrates, bacterial abundances and dynamics of particulate and dissolved organic matter in the water column. My goal is to describe the effects of coastal organic matter runoff on bacterial carbon processing along our onshore-offshore transect.
One of the fun aspects of this cruise is the diversity of scientists on board. Every night we have a science meeting, in which we discuss any potential changes in sampling plans, problems that might have cropped up during the day, etc. We also have a little seminar: each night two or three of the scientists aboard give a little talk about their work. This is maybe the most fun part of the trip for me – I’ve learned a lot so far. Here, geophysicist Will Fortin shows how he can use acoustic data (i.e., the echoes from big noises) to create images of the structure of water masses in the ocean.
We started our trip with a day’s worth of classroom lectures on how to run an effective scientific cruise. The two recurring themes were:
- It is critical to carefully plan every aspect of your cruise, and
- changing conditions will nullify your plan with a quickness.
This cruise has been no exception: originally we were going to leave port and head directly for station 2 in the Hudson River Canyon, after a brief “test” station 1. Forecast high winds and high seas convinced us to stay closer to the Long Island coast as depicted in the image at right. We’ve broadly stuck to that track, but there have been plenty of smaller changes along the way. When I went to bed last night, we were leaving station 6. When I woke up, we were on our way back to station 6: the CTD wire had spooled poorly at about 1800 meters, so we needed to get out deeper than that to deploy the CTD, unspool the wire, and respool it correctly.
These changes can be a big headache for chief scientists Kristen Buck and Andrew MacDonnell, who are charged with making sure that the other dozen researchers on the cruise are able to accomplish their science objectives. This cruise is a little bit of a trial by fire in that respect: depending on how you count it, we’ve got a dozen distinct science projects happening simultaneously on the ship, each with its own requirements. Kai Ziervogel and I need casts during the daytime, otherwise our measurements might not make sense. Kyla Druschka needed to sample seawater at the moment that a satellite passes overhead, so that she can help to calibrate the satellite’s ability to sense salinity. Gordy Stephenson needs to sample in one place over an entire tidal cycle. And so on.
Thanks to patience and diligence on the part of our chief scientists, and a bit of flexibility on everyone else’s part, it seems that we’re all able to get our work done. Our initial cruise plan was crafted with care, starting back in July. Now that we’ve thrown it overboard, we’ve got a good chance of doing some first-rate science at sea.
Cheers from the night watch!
Currently we are just off the continental shelf. Water depth here is 2124m. Trying not to fall!
The map shows where we at now and the route we have passed since we started (for an updated route go here).
NYC- a different view
As you can see in the route, last night we were just off shore of NYC and got to see an unusual view of the city.
Actually I think a similar fate befalls millions (billions?) of worms every day due to ocean dredging, bottom trawling, etc. Still, you’ve got to feel sorry for this little polychaete: just sitting buried in the sediment, happily siphoning a midnight snack, when suddenly s/he’s trapped and rapidly depressurized.
Scientists Brandy Reece & Heath Mills took this core last night. I didn’t stay around to watch the fate of the worm, but the rest of the core was sectioned for microbial and geochemical analysis.
Howdy, my name is Will Fortin and I’m the seismologist among of this cast of scientists! I am currently finishing my graduate work in geophysics at the University of Wyoming where much of my work is in seismic oceanography. I am particularly interested in quantifying mesoscale turbulent ocean processes. Here on board, my primary interest is in coupling ocean current with bathymetry using onboard acoustic instruments, like the ADCP and echosounder, coupled with estimates of turbulent dissipation calculated from CTD casts.
This is my sixth research cruise, but first which includes chemical and biological oceanography components. Though it is a change of pace from seismic acquisition, where almost all time at sea is spent in a computer lab, I’m quite enjoying getting my boots wet!