All Articles

Back on Solid Ground

Nina sends a final update before returning to Iowa!

Here’s one last blog post for this trip as I am once again back on dry land! It is nice to not have the ground constantly swaying beneath my feet but I have a feeling I’ll miss the sea soon enough!

The last several days of the cruise were the farthest away from shore we got on the whole trip as we headed out to Georges Basin and Georges Bank after we had weathered out the storm in Frenchman Bay.

We originally headed out to Georges Basin in search of an entrapment buoy. Entrapment buoys are buoys that are put on whales who are entangled in fishing gear etc. so that if the whale dives when scientists are trying to free it, they can find the whale again to continue helping it. One had been put on a right whale earlier on in the week but had since fallen off and we were asked if we could go and pick it up.


Looking out at Acadia National Park from Frenchmen Bay

As it turns out, this is easier said than done. The buoy is fairly small and green – after several hours of searching, we all wondered why someone would paint a buoy a shade of the ocean. The buoy sends out a message with its location once every hour but there is a fair amount of error associated with the exact location of the buoy due to the fact that the number of satellites overhead at any given time varies. We got pretty close to it as we could hear its pings on our directional antennae but needless to say, we never found it. However, we had fun searching as we were surrounded by whales for most of the afternoon – lots of spouts, whale tails, flippers and even a couple of whales breaching. It made the fruitless search worth it!


A whale’s flukes.

Once the sun had set and we gave up on searching, we started doing CTD casts again until it was time to head back to land. Taking CTDs in Georges Basin was possibly the highlight of the trip as it is the deepest water in the Gulf of Maine by almost 100 meters. The deepest cast we did was 360 meters. The other exciting characteristic of Georges Basin is that deep water coming in from the Northeast Channel does not have to go over any relatively shallow areas before it reaches Georges Basin, unlike in the other deep basins of the Gulf of Maine. Consequently, the water is less mixed in Georges Basin than other basins, allowing us to sample fairly distinctive water masses.


Nina processing some water samples. Photograph by Jordan Snyder.

The rest of the trip was uneventful as we steamed back to shore and unloaded all of our gear. Most of my water samples have already been shipped out to Iowa where they await analyses in our mass spectrometer. I am very excited to analyze these resulting data as I continue my PhD research. Thanks to everyone who made this cruise possible. I’m already looking forward to the next one. And thanks for reading!