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Sample results from a typical bay transect

Narragansett Bay Project

Oceanic Sampler

The Narragansett Laboratory of NMFS has established an ecological monitoring program for Narragansett Bay. Its principal investigators are Dr. Mark Berman (NMFS), Dr. Candace Oviatt and Dr. Edward Durbin (both URI/GSO). Once every month a heavily instrumented oceanic sampler (see picture) is towed on a circular transect through the East and West Passages, Rhode Island Sound, Mount Hope Bay and the Providence River. The instruments undulate through the water column recording data including time, position, depth, temperature, salinity, chlorophyll fluorescence, dissolved oxygen concentration, primary productivity, zooplankton concentration and size distribution. The data is being used to establish a baseline for assessing changes in the structure and functioning of the Narragansett Bay ecosystem. Unusual findings such as phytoplankton blooms and areas of low oxygen concentration are reported immediately to Bay managers at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM).

This project is part of a larger comprehensive study of Narragansett Bay being managed jointly by NMFS and RIDEM. The comprehensive study includes enhanced assessments of Narragansett Bay fish and fisheries, a survey of sediment pollution in Narragansett Bay, a study of Bay currents, and a network of fixed-site samplers recording a continuous record of hydrographic data. Agencies participating in this program include NMFS, RIDEM, URI, Roger Williams University, Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the USEPA.

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