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Narragansett Lab: Ships of Opportunity Program (SOOP)

gulf of maine transects
Mid-Atlantic Bight showing the transects followed when collecting samples.
mid atlantic bight transects
Gulf of Maine showing the transects followed when collecting samples.

Merchant ships are used as part of an NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) effort to monitor changes and status of the U.S. Northeast Shelf Ecosystem in relation to possible effects on the long-term sustainability and recovery of fisheries in the northeast. In 1961, the British began monthly monitoring of 10m depth plankton using the Hardy Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) aboard merchant and other ships on an opportunistic basis in the western North Atlantic. Beginning in the late 1960's, NMFS established several interagency and international agreements that either started complementary monitoring or supported continuation of existing ocean monitoring. Expendable bathythermograph and bucket surface temperature and salinity sampling were added to the CPR sampling in 1977 under what is now known as the Ships of Opportunity (SOOP) Program in the NEFSC.

Since 1978, CPR, water column temperature and surface salinity have been routinely collected, approximately monthly, along two standard transects across the Gulf of Maine and the Middle Atlantic Bight. Sampling in the Gulf of Maine is between Boston, Massachusetts, and Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, currently using the CJV Skogafoss, Skogaline Ltd. St. John, Antigua, and Middle Atlantic Bight sampling is from New York to the Gulf Stream along the cruise route of the C/V Oleander, Bermuda Container Lines, as it transits between New York and Bermuda. Data collection and processing procedures for water temperature and salinity data are described in Benway et al. (1993), and for plankton collected in Jossi and Smith (1990). Methods used for developing historic means and variability, and for comparisons with current, monthly collections shown in the Monthly Ecosystems Indices figures, are presented in Benway et al. (1993). XBT and TSG operations on both the Gulf of Maine and Middle Atlantic Bights routes continue to be supported by the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) in Miami, Florida. Their supports includes equipment, XBTs, software and computers in support of data collection on the two routes as part of a much larger global observation program. AOML GOOS Center

References cited:

Benway, R.L., J.W. Jossi, K.P. Thomas and J.R. Goulet. 1993. Variability of temperature and salinity in the Middle Atlantic Bight and Gulf of Maine. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS 112, U.S. Dept. Commerce, 108 p.

Jossi, W. and D.E. Smith. 1990. Continuous plankton records: Massachusetts to Cape Sable, N.S., and New York to the Gulf Stream,  1989. NAFO SCR Doc. 90/66, Ser. No. N1788, Northwest Atl. Fish. Organ., 11 p. 

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