Weedlines: A Sargassum Research Blog

PS-18-07 Daily Log

July 15, 2018 (Day 7)*

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

Well, we’re getting close to the end of the cruise, with just a few days left before we head back to Gulfport. Below is a summary of today’s activities aboard the R/V Point Sur.


The science team getting prepped for some sabiki rig fishing. (Photo: Eric Haffey)

We were able to stay in the general vicinity of yesterday’s sampling region, and find Sargassummats to sample during the morning. The mats were scattered about, with no obvious pattern in their distribution, so we chose the biggest we could find and collected the usual samples. Sample collection and processing went smoothly, and we were able to collect many small juveniles in the mats, including Sergeant Majors, Tripletail, Amberjacks (Seriolaspp.), and Bermuda Chubs, among other species. Larger juvenile Amberjacks were collected during our Sabiki fishing set, so a nice size range from this station. We decided to do two more neuston tows, as there were numerous mats to survey, and they were relatively small and manageable.


A quick neuston dip before we drifted into a large vessel buffer zone.  (Photo: Zabe Premo)

If you’ve never been to the northern Gulf of Mexico, it’s hard to express how busy this body of water can be. Thousands of oil and gas platforms and structures are located off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and they are serviced by all manner of survey and supply vessels. Often times these operations have buffer (safety) zones around them, and we had to work around one such vessel today. Our Sargassum mats kept drifting along (as they are want to do) and into one of these buffer areas. It took some zigging and zagging, Shipbut we were able to follow the weedlines and get everything done. So a long morning extended into the afternoon, but all in all a great day of sampling Sargassum(thanks to the tireless team of scientists we have on board, and the crew, who are always willing to help us get the job done).

We made our way south to waters relatively free of Sargassum to sample an open water station. Again, all went well, and the neuston picked up several cool larvae, including a Mahi Mahi, a few Flyingfish and a nice larval Billfish! Love seeing those guys!

Overnight we will steam further south to what we hope will be a great ending to our Sargassum sampling (the last day, Tuesday, will be for traveling home). We have our fingers crossed for an area that should have high Sargassumbiomass according to analyses by our remote sensing team. Stay tuned to see how the cruise wraps up!


Due to the physical processes that aggregates the Sargassum, trash is often found associated, as well. Check out our blog on micro plastics! https://hernandezfishecologylab.com/2018/06/07/weedlines-a-sargassum-research-blog-8/  (Photos: Carla Culpepper and Olivia Lestrade) 


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