via NOAA Fisheries

NE - Gulf of Maine Plankton Survey Begun Again

Understanding changes in plankton in water helps scientists understand North Atlantic right whales

A new agreement between NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, England and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will allow a plankton survey to resume. The survey was originally conducted across the Gulf of Maine from 1961 to 2017.

Studies of plankton are one of the ways scientists try to understand the movement of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, which visit Cape Cod waters in late winter and early spring. Right whales feed on dense patches of plankton.

NOAA Fisheries is providing funding for the survey through the NOAA Cooperative Institute for the North Atlantic Region, hosted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The Marine Biological Association manages merchant vessel-based plankton surveys around the world. The association will run and maintain the resumed Gulf of Maine survey through 2024 under this agreement.

“Continuing a long-term time series like the Continuous Plankton Recorder Survey is essential to understanding the impact of climate change to marine ecosystems,” said Chris Melrose, a research oceanographer at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s laboratory in Narragansett, Rhode Island and NOAA representative on the agreement.

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