Weedlines: A Sargassum Research Blog

PS-18-05 Daily Log

June 6, 2018 (Day 8)*

*Note: these will be posted on a one-day delay, i.e., this report is for yesterday’s activities.

We’ve had great luck with the weather so far (remember Alberto?), but all good things come to an end. Our last day of sampling was shortened due to storms in the area and rough seas. Here is a short synopsis of some of the day’s activities.

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If able, we will grab debris from the water. In this particular rig, we found some polychaetes hiding!

Our decision to hold position overnight was a good one; we woke up to large patches and mats of Sargassum, flowing up the the Loop Current and into the Gulf of Mexico. That was the good news. The bad news is that the winds had picked up overnight and the seas were choppy, with whitecaps and swells. We started our sampling ops with a neuston tow along a weedline, which was moderately successful. The net ‘gulped’ in and out of the water with the waves and winds, so it was not the prettiest tow we’ve done. But, we managed to sample some Sargassum and a few associated fishes and invertebrates. Like our previous net tows in this region, relatively few organisms overall. After a successful CTD cast and water collection, we then attempted a Sabiki fishing set. However, it was difficult to maintain a position near Sargassum for an extended period of time, so we abandoned this fishing effort after several attempts.

 

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Storms on the horizon (Photo: Brian Jones)

The seas continued to worsen and there were numerous storms in the vicinity, therefore we could not conduct small boat ops or collect Sargassum reflectance data. Since we were 25-26 hours from port, we set a heading for home in the hopes of encountering calmer seas, brighter skies and better overall sampling conditions.  The next several hours were spent plowing north through rough seas. Eventually conditions improved, however the sun was setting quickly. We made an attempt to collect additional reflectance data before sunset, but ultimately this was not successful. Having done our best, we resumed our course for Gulfport where we expect to arrive tomorrow afternoon.

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Dr. Xingxing Han and Mengqiu Wang relax on during our last beautiful sunset. (Photo: Brian Jones)

Overall, this has been a successful cruise, albeit very different than last year’s effort. We were able to collect Sargassum data in two very different environmental regimes, which will be very valuable in our assessment Sargassum and its value to fish early life history stages.

I want to thank the captain and crew of the R/V Point Sur for another great cruise; they made everything possible and we really appreciate what they do for us. Special thanks to our science team for putting in the long hours to get the job done. Also thanks to the NOAA RESTORE program for supporting this research.

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The Hernandez crew relaxing after a long day with some card games.

And lastly, thanks to everyone who followed along with us on the cruise blog! This was our first attempt at sharing our science while at sea. We hope it was informative and entertaining. We have another cruise in July, so stay tuned for more Weedlines.

 

 

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