High-resolution 3D mapping of plankton, marine snow, and associated environmental Variables in the Gulf of Mexico using the Video Plankton Recorder

The primary objective of the proposed March/April 2011 R/V Oceanus plankton imaging
sampling cruise is to collect high-resolution data on plankton and marine snow together with
environmental variables using the VPRII. A high-speed survey of the shelf and slope waters of
the northern Gulf of Mexico will be conducted, with the transect lines running through the
standard SEAMAP stations and extending beyond them into the slope sea (Figure 2). The
occurrence, abundance, biomass, and vertical distribution of plankton and marine snow, together
with ocean temperature, salinity, chlorophyll fluorescence, PAR, and turbidity in the Gulf of
Mexico will be quantified in real time. This sampling will allow direct comparison of data from
traditional samplers used in the SEAMAP surveys and the current NRDA MOCNESS surveys
with optical imaging of the VPRII. The VPRII sampling will extend the spatial resolution of the
present sampling and will allow quantification of fragile plankton and marine snow. It will also
allow comparison between deeper DAVPR optical-based sampling in the slope region with netbased
sampling of shelf and slope regions. The proposed Oceanus cruise is part of the overarching
plan to conduct sampling in each season, utilizing several sampling methods (e.g.
MOCNESS, bongo net, neuston net, and imaging systems). The duration of the program with
respect to the number of years is to be determined. Because plankton are transported over wide
areas, and populations are connected across the northern Gulf of Mexico, sampling plans need to
be broad in geographic scope.