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Fair Weather Greets the 2021 Bottom Trawl Survey Off Massachusetts

November 22, 2021

Art, science, and lovely weather converge for a leg 3 send-off.

 Color image taken during daylight from the upper deck of a research vessel, facing toward the rear of the vessel as it sails through a canal. Land is visible on each side of the canal, and the ship leaves a wake in the water. Two steel framed bridges are in the image. The ship has just passed under the bridge used by vehicles. The railroad bridge is in the distance. View over the stern of the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow, exiting the Cape Cod Canal headed east toward Provincetown, Mass. at the beginning of Leg 3 of the 2021 Northeast Fisheries Science Center fall bottom trawl survey. The two bridges spanning the canal are used by trains (background) and vehicle traffic (foreground. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Katelyn Depot.
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A color image taken in a laboratory aboard a research vessel. A tall, dark-colored metal locker is in the image. Nine colorful drawings are attached to the locker with magnets. A water-tight door is to the left and a counter with filing cabinets beneath is on the right.
Art created by scientists who sailed on legs 1 and 2 of the 2021 Northeast Fisheries Science Center fall bottom trawl survey. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Chistine Kircun

I’m back on the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow for Leg 3 of the fall bottom trawl survey. It was a delight to walk into the dry lab and see the beautiful artwork created by the scientists who sailed on the previous two legs. There was a fish print, free-hand drawings of a butterfly, a portrait, several designs from a coloring book, and a piece of abstract art. It’s common for science and art to overlap, and that’s clearly evident from this small gallery.

Our first station was somewhere between Provincetown on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Georges Bank. The fastest way to get there was to pass through the Cape Cod Canal. It was a beautiful day to sail with a shining sun and large, white clouds. Several of the scientists stood on the flying bridge enjoying the journey. A piece of advice we were given was “No matter how many times you go through the canal, always go outside and watch it because someday you won’t be sailing, and you’ll miss it.”

Just after the sun set that evening, the remaining rays cast beautiful pastel pinks and blues across the sky. It was very calming and peaceful. Just another beautiful evening outside on the flying bridge!

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: A color image taken in daylight. Waves ripple the surface of a gray ocean. Puffy, dark-bottomed clouds hand over the water and above the horizon, the sky is fair.
The evening skyscape full of clouds and pastel blues and pinks on the first day of the 2021 Northeast Fisheries Science Center fall bottom trawl survey. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Katelyn Depot

In one of the early tows, we were surprised to find a paper nautilus, Argonauta argo. Despite having “nautilus” in its name, it’s not a nautilus at all but rather a pelagic octopus. Secretions from glands on the female paper nautilus’ arms create a shell. This very thin shell protects the octopus itself and its eggs. Males are much smaller than the females, only reaching a couple centimeters long, and do not secrete a shell. On the other hand, females can grow up to 2 meters long. If you comb the beach, you may be lucky enough to find one of these beautiful shells.

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A color image. A small, soft, oval octopus with a translucent, pleated shell floats in a bucket of seawater. Its large silvery eye regards the camera. The legs and mantle are speckled with a dark pigment.
A paper nautilus, Argonauta argo, hanging out in a small bucket. You can clearly see one. Look closer to find , four of its eight arms, and its mantle under the beautiful shell. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/ Katelyn Depot

Most importantly, we’re back into the routine of sampling and processing fish, and with that, we’re perfectly happy. Here are some more images we took to remember this day.

Christine Kircun

2021Northeast Fisheries Science Center Fall Bottom Trawl Survey

Aboard the NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow

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Last updated by Northeast Fisheries Science Center on November 22, 2021