Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Working in the fog!

We had big plans for field work yesterday including test plantings on the north side of Plum Island, but it wasn't to be...

It was a beautiful day at the lab, warm, sunny and very little breeze...all the makings for the perfect day on the water, or at least I thought that would be the case. Rounding the north side of Shelter Island we could see hints of fog to the east and I didn't think too much of it as we have been out in fog in the past and it always clears. It's usually around in the early morning and disapears by mid problem.

This day was a little different. On our way past Bug Light and into Gardiners Bay we could see that the fog was thicker to the east and from the activity on the radio, it was clear that there was no visibility in Plum Gut. With this in mind I took us on a heading that would steer well clear of this busy area and we tracked southeast into Gardiners Bay on our way to Fishers Island. Unfortunatley, the fog never abated and it just got thicker and thicker making navigation nearly impossible. I decided we would try and wait it out on the south side of Plum Island where few boats would be in the hope that the fog would eventually clear.

After waiting approximately 30 minutes we decided to give up on plan A and forged ahead with a plan B. Since we were already at Plum Island, I figured we might as well scout for another test planting site to compliment the ones we have off of Fort Terry. I wanted to find an additional site further SW along the Island to try and avoid some issues we were experiencing with our first plots that seemed to gather masses of drifting macroalgae after heavy E-SE winds. This is a long story that relates to similar easterly facing planting site off of Shelter Island. The take home is that we not only have to consider current velocity and wave energy when planning out planting sites, but we also have to consider prevailing current direction and the characteristics of the upstream bottom conditions. (I'll get into this in a future post)

I had already identified a new site using aerial photos so it was just a matter of getting in the water to see if the conditions were suitable. After swimming around I was very pleased to find that the conditions were not only suitable, but were superior to our other planting site to the NE. The area contained plenty of perfectly sized rocks for rock plantings and the rocks had a nice growth of macroalgae indicating the perfect conditions. At least the day wasn't an entire loss!

After this we decided to push our luck and venture around the eastern tip of Plum to see if we could explore the north shore where we had planned addtional plantings. The heavy fog made this very challenging, but we were eventually able to find one of the sites that I had identified previously and we carefully anchored near the rocks where no boater would dare go. In the water here we were able to explore a large area inshore of the boat and among the rocks, but none of this looked suitable for planting.

After this second dive we decided to call it a day and head back to the lab to get some other work done. Hopefully, later this week we can return and complete our scouting.


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