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Biennial Report

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Spring Bloom

Jul 10, 2011 | Gulf of Alaska Project | 0 comments

by Jamal Moss from the Northwest Explorer 

Mt. Edgecumbe appears above the clouds.

Fair weather and calm seas today… Majestic Mt. Edgecombe peeked through the clouds at us as we stepped out on deck this morning. A handful of us stayed up late last night watching Gladiator, and as a result we’ve had lots of commentary on sampling stations with “strength and honor” along with numerous other Russell Crowe one-liners from the movie this morning. 

David Barbee with rockfish.
The spring phytoplankton bloom was late off southeast this year, and Kerri was just explaining that low light levels and/or a deep mixed surface layer (water column stratification) are to blame. Stormy weather will mix the ocean surface, whereas calm weather will allow less dense warmer water to remain undisturbed at the surface, creating stratification. Stratification allows phytoplankton cells to remain in the photic zone where they can utilize both nutrients and sunlight to grow. Currently (post spring bloom) we are observing lots of small flagellated phytoplankton cells in the water column. Their small size and a large surface area to volume ratio allow them to grow well post-bloom, a time when nutrients are scarcer. Kerri says we need to blog about the fish more… so the next post will be about our fantastic finned friends.


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