|Objectives||C-264 departed from Christiansted, USVIs and concluded in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic 40 days later, traversing several major oceanographic provinces
a) the dynamic coastal waters and island passages of the Greater Antilles
b) the open waters overlying the Puerto Rico Trench and Sargasso Sea
c) the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea.
In addition, several shallow banks (Navidad, Silver, Grappler) were traversed and inner waterways surveyed (Samana Bay, Santiago Harbor).
We collected data with 104 individual deployments from 52 discrete geographic stations along our cruise track.
1. Physical oceanographic studies focused on the distribution of surface and sub-surface (to 2000m) water masses and the delineation of hydrographic boundaries. Specifically, North Atlantic sub-tropical mode water (18°C Water) and Antarctic Intermediate water.
2. Chemical oceanographic studies focused on the geographic and vertical distribution of nutrients (phosphate), extracted chlorophyll-a, coliform bacteria, and pH. These chemical parameters were related to patterns in physical hydrography at various scales: nearshore to offshore transitions, ocean fronts and eddies associated with island passages and water column stratification.
3. Biological studies focused on the geographic distribution of charismatic megafauna (seabirds, sea turtles, flying fish, and marine mammals), several nektonic organisms (lantern fish - Family Myctophidae, and gelatinous organisms >2cm - i.e salps), meroplanktonic larvae including spiny lobster (phyllosoma) and eels (leptocephali), the floating macrophyte - Sargassum spp., and the density (mL/m2) and diversity (i.e. Shannon-Weiner index) of the aggregate zooplankton community.
4. Geological sampling focused on bathymetric transects of continental shelf regions of several Caribbean Islands. Patterns were related to island age and distance from shore. In addition, surface sediment samples were collected from most harbors/anchorages (i.e. Francis Bay, Samana Bay) and shallow banks (i.e. Navidad, Silver, Grappler).
Sea surface temperature, salinity, fluorescence (chlorophyll-a and CDOM) and transmissivity levels; along with barometric pressure, winds, bathymetry, and geographic position were recorded continuously along the cruise track. Surface samples (76) of nutrients (phosphate), chlorophyll-a, coliform bacteria, pH and microplastics were collected every six hours and in conjunction with all neuston net tows during the cruise track.