Bay-wide and regional shipboard surveys have been a primary component of AOML SFP field operations. These synoptic interdisciplinary oceanographic research cruises have been conducted since the project's implementation in the mid 1990's.
Due to the shallow depths found in Biscayne and Florida Bays, a shoal draft, 23 foot catamaran was developed for the program. In addition to its use as a platform for discrete sampling, this small boat, the R/V Virginia K, is equipped with a pumped flow-through system more commonly found on larger research vessels. This strained and debubbled underway water sampling system includes a thermosalinograph (temperature and salinity), chlorophyll (chl_a) and chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) fluorometers, and a transmissometer. Conductivity, temperature, depth (CTD) casts, surface net tows, and hull-mounted acoustic Doppler current profiler (SADCP) measurements can also be conducted from the vessel.
AOML SFP regional surveys over the southwest Florida shelf and the Florida Keys reef tract have been routinely performed via the University of Miami's R/V F. G. Walton Smith on a bimonthly basis. Sampling methodologies similar to those utilized on AOML SFP bay surveys (discrete sampling and flow-through measurements) have been employed on these regional research cruises.
Beginning in 2012, bay-wide surveys have been eliminated or run at reduced frequencies due to budget cuts. Since 2015, only regional surveys (aboard the R/V F. G. Walton Smith) have been conducted on a regular basis.
Maps of surface fields (discrete and continuous) observed during AOML SFP synoptic surveys are available below.