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STUDENT:Notes from the 2015 Harmful Algal Cyst Sampling Cruise: An EPP/MSI Student Blog

Published Dec 2015

Eric Gulledge (back left) with his sampling shift team, Dave Kidwell, Steve Kibler, and Leslie Irwin. Credit: NOAA.

By Eric Gulledge, Ph.D. candidate at Jackson State University
I am a NOAA-Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC) Fellow supported by the Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI). I’m currently pursuing an Environmental Science Ph.D. at Jackson State University. The NOAA-ECSC strives to train and develop student’s skills related to interdisciplinary science in support of coastal management. In keeping with NOAA’s mission, NOAA-ECSC afforded me an opportunity to participate in the 2015 Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) cruise in the Gulf of Maine. The HAB cruise is used to forecast a potential algal bloom caused by the algae Alexandrium fundyense.

A sunset view from the upper deck of the NOAA ship Bigelow in the Gulf of Maine. Credit: NOAA.

Working with NOAA scientists and traveling aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow was an experience to remember. The Henry B. Bigelow is a state-of-the-art research ship that carries equipment and systems to conduct fisheries, oceanographic, and hydrographic research. I was given a tour of the whole vessel with my colleagues. Along with the fascinating vessel, the opportunity to work with NOAA scientists and engineers was inspiring. The NOAA crew was highly skilled, educated, and passionate about their work, and were willing to explain and teach scientific techniques employed to forecast Alexandrium blooms. The NOAA team demonstrated the use of various disciplines such as meteorology, statistics, oceanography, marine biology, and physics to obtain a complete harmful algal bloom forecast product. The experience was insightful and beneficial to my own research. The most rewarding part of the HAB cruise is that our collaborative efforts to produce a forecast model will benefit the local community.

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