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New England Shelfbreak
The New England shelfbreak front is the boundary between the cold, relatively fresh water of the continental shelf and the warmer, saltier water of the continental slope. Along this boundary, which stretches from Georges Bank to Cape Hatteras, nutrient-rich deep water is pumped from the depths to the surface, where it nourishes a cornucopia of fish, marine mammals, and seabirds. This oceanography project, a joint venture between the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Rutgers University, was aimed at understanding the relationship between fish school distributions and local oceanographic features such as the shelfbreak front. The research team, led by Dr. Glen Gawarkiewicz (WHOI), first used both a towed instrument and an autonomous vehicle (REMUS) to locate the fronts. Using a high-resolution imaging sonar on the REMUS (similar to a fish finder), reseachers mapped out both schools of fish and large individuals (manta rays). The team also identified species through diving, attracting them with chum, and catching them with lures and bait. I contributed to the effort by collecting underwater imagery using a pole-mounted DSLR and GoPro HD video camera.
I am currently producing a multimedia video to tell the full story of this project, which will be online this fall.