A Hard Day’s (and Night’s) Work Aboard the R/V Blue Heron
The Research Vessel Blue Heron, owned and operated by the University of Minnesota, is a highly capable research platform supporting the work of Great Lakes scientists for the last two decades. The Blue Heron has a crew of five and can support up to six scientists for cruises as long as 10 days. While she spends most of her time in Lake Superior, recent work has taken the Heron to Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Erie. Physicists, geologists, biologists and chemists all use the Heron as a way to access the waters of the Great Lakes.
Scientists and ships crew work together (left) to deploy an autonomous moored profiler in October 2013. Two crew-members (right) prepare an acoustic release for a mooring deployment.
(Left) Rual Lee, First Mate on the Blue Heron, sends a hand signal to a winch operator during the deployment of a meteorology buoy.
(Center) A different meteorological buoy, being deployed for another season.
(Right) A water profiling instrument called a CTD (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth) is lowered into the lake. The CTD makes rapid measurements of a variety of water quality parameters, and is capable of capturing water from different depths using an array of sample bottles.
By Chris J. Benson (Photos) and Jay Austin (Text)