Long-running plankton survey to resume this winter

Mount Desert Islander

Scientists this winter will revive a long-running survey of plankton in the Gulf of Maine. Plankton, drifting microscopic sea organisms, are food for endangered North American right whales and other marine species. 

The Gulf of Maine plankton survey was originally performed from 19612017. It is returning under a new agreement between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, England, and the Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  

“Many marine species are shifting their distributions as ocean waters warm,” said Chris Melrose, a research oceanographer at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s laboratory in Narragansett, R.I. “Because plankton are an important food source for many species, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale, knowing about changes in the plankton helps us to understand other changes we see in the ecosystem.” 

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