C244 departed from Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI and finished in Key West, FL, USA. Our cruise track traversed several major oceanographic provinces:
a) the shelf and coastal waters of the Leeward Islands
b) the NW Atlantic Ocean or Sargasso Sea, including the waters overlying the Puerto Rico Trench and Mouchoir Bank
c) the shelf and coastal waters of the Greater Antilles including Formigas Bank
d) the Western Caribbean Sea
e) the shelf and coastal waters of the Florida Straits.
We collected various oceanographic data from 59 discrete stations encompassing 106 separate gear deployments.
1. Physical oceanographic studies focused on the distribution of surface and sub-surface (to 1800 m) water masses and the delineation of frontal boundaries. Specifically, North Atlantic sub-tropical mode water (18°C Water) was studied in relation to the phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).
2. Chemical oceanographic studies focused on the geographic distribution of nutrients (phosphate) and extracted chlorophyll-a.
3. Biological studies focused on the geographic distribution of charismatic megafauna (seabirds, sea turtles, flying fish, and marine mammals), lantern fish in Family Myctophidae, several meroplanktonic larvae including lobster (phyllosoma) and eel (leptocephali), the marine insect Halobates micans, the floating macroalgae - Sargassum spp., and general density and diversity of zooplankton.
4. Geological studies focused on the relationship between sediment grain size and benthic faunal diversity on shallow banks and island harbors visited during the cruise.
Jeffrey M Schell (Sea Education Association)
North West Atlantic Ocean (limit 40W) Caribbean Sea