Blog on ocean conditions along the Newport Line and the northern CA Current.
We are presently out on the NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada sampling the Northern California Current (NCC). We are a group of 8 scientists collecting routine measurements along 6 transects from Crescent City, California to Cape Meares, Oregon. Our transects extend 200 miles offshore of Newport, OR and 150 miles off Crescent City. At each station we are conducting a CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) cast to look at the water column properties (temperature, salinity, oxygen) and we are collecting plankton tows for zooplankton and ichthyoplankton (larval fish). We are also collecting water samples for phytoplankton, nutrients and chlorophyll and sampling the seafloor with a beam trawl to look for newly settled bottom fish and to characterize their habitat. Additionally, we have 2 bird observers aboard that are recording all the seabirds they observe along our journey.
We are already 4 days into our 9 day trip and the seas and our stomachs have finally calmed enough to look at a computer screen. Highlights so far include the most pyrosomes I have ever observed, which will be the focus of another blog post. The upper water column on the shelf has been quite mixed from the strong winter storms we have had. The upper water column is also fairly fresh, likely due to riverine influence. And, the surface water is also relatively cold (~10°C). It will be interesting to compare the conditions we are observing this Feb to last Feb (2016) when the El Niño and “Warm Blob” were influencing the NCC.