Steaming to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

R/V Henry B. Bigelow

We departed from Newport, Rhode Island on June 12th and have been steaming ever since. Our destination: the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone. The Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone is part of the vast Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) and is a unique area where cold, boreal water converges with warmer, temperate water. Our goal is to sample the fauna close to the MAR while trawling as deep as 9,000 feet (3,000 meters). Net specialists were flown in from Norway to set up the Norwegian Krill Trawl that we will be using. The trawl is made up of 5 separate nets that can be acoustically triggered to open and close at discrete depths. We will do our first tow on Wednesday (6/17) on the abyssal plain just west of the MAR. Our goal is to study the difference in species distribution and abundance between the ridge proper and just off the ridge.

This cruise is led by Dr. Mike Vecchione (NOAA/NMFS/VIMS) and he will be the go-to scientist for all creatures with 8 arms. Also on board are Dr. Tracey Sutton (VIMS), who will be in charge of all mid-water fishes, and John Galbraith (NMFS), who specializes in demersal fishes and who will manage the day-to-day tasks of operating the net (not exactly a small task to take on). We are also fortunate to have world-renowned photographer David Shale taking pictures for us. Some of you may recognize his work from the BBC’s Blue Planet documentaries “The Deep” and “Open Oceans.” Nothing else to report from this end besides the fact that the weather is getting colder by the minute and we’re supposed to be encountering icebergs tomorrow. Nobody has lost their lunch yet (knock on wood) and with waves ranging from 5-12 feet that is always good news when you’re  sailing on the North Atlantic. If anyone has any questions please feel e-mail me at [[cjsweetman]] and I’ll be sure to get back to you as time permits.