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2015 Harmful Algae Cyst Cruise: Student Blog

Published on: 11/23/2015

By Eric Gulledge, Ph.D. candidate at Jackson State University

A sunset view from the upper deck of the NOAA ship Bigelow in the Gulf of Maine. Credit: NOAA

A sunset view from the upper deck of the NOAA ship Bigelow in the Gulf of Maine. Credit: NOAA

I am a NOAA-Environmental Cooperative Science Center fellow and currently enrolled in the Environmental Science Ph.D. program at Jackson State University. The NOAA-ECSC strives to train and develop student’s skills related to interdisciplinary science in support of coastal management. In keeping with NOAA’s mission, NOAA-ECSC afforded me an opportunity to attend the 2015 Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) cruise in the Gulf of Maine. The HAB cruise is used to forecast a potential algal bloom caused by the algae Alexandrium fundyense.

My experience working with NOAA scientist and traveling on Henry B. Bigelow was an experience to remember. The Henry B. Bigelow is an intriguing vessel which carries equipment and systems to conduct fisheries, oceanographic, and hydrographic research. I was given a personal tour of the vessel with other colleagues throughout the vessel. The Henry B. Bigelow is a state-of-the-art research ship by VT Halter Marine, Inc. in Moss Point, Mississippi. Along with the fascinating vessel, the opportunity to work with NOAA scientist and engineers was inspirational. The NOAA crew was highly skilled, educated, and passionate about their work. They were willing to explain and teach scientific techniques employed to forecast Alexandrium blooms. The NOAA scientists demonstrated the use of various disciplines such as meteorology, statistics, oceanography, marine biology, and physics to obtain a forecast product. The experience was insightful and beneficial to my own research. The most rewarding experience of the HAB cruise is that our collaborative efforts to produce a forecast model will benefit the local community.

Eric Gulledge (back left) with his sampling shift team, Dave Kidwell, Steve Kibler, and Leslie Irwin. Credit: NOAA.

Eric Gulledge (back left) with his sampling shift team, Dave Kidwell, Steve Kibler, and Leslie Irwin. Credit: NOAA.

About this mission:

Every fall, scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution embark on a sediment sampling mission in the Gulf of Maine. By examining sediment cores for the presence of seed-like cysts released by Alexandrium fundyense, a common type of harmful algae, researchers hope to improve forecasting of harmful algal bloom (HAB) events along the New England coast.

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