The Stellwagen paper: part 2

Friends, I am proud to announce yet another paper resulting from my research has been published. This one is actually a great source of pride for me, because it represents the culmination of all the research my team undertook in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in 2019-2020. 

We used remotely operated vehicles to survey four shipwrecks: the steamship Portland, an unidentified 19th century coal schooner, and the interlocked coal schooners Frank A. Palmer and Louise B. Crary. The project launched Team Shipwreck and exposed me to the power of telepresence outreach. 

Calvin and me on board R/V Dawn Treader during 2019 field
operations. This photo is entirely candid, but my excitement is
palpable. Photo by Liz Weinberg (NOAA).
What I'm most proud of is the framework that my team developed for shipwreck research. Every time we went out to sea, Calvin and I would sit right next to each other. At first, our conversations were essentially in parallel - he would notice something archaeological, I would notice something biological. We were talking right past one another, but slowly that began to change. He'd point out a bit or a knee or a sponson, and I'd ask him what it was. I'd get excited about an anemone, and he'd ask me why it was important. Gradually, he learned about biology, and I learned about archaeology. Our conversations deepened and shifted to integrated discussions. How were the biological and archaeological processes related? Do animals stabilize a shipwreck or make it degrade faster? How does the structure of a shipwreck control what lives on it? 

This paper is the product of those discussions. For our analysis, we broke down the shipwreck into its parts - the bow, the stern, the upper structures, the low-lying artifacts, the entangled fishing nets. And we compared the biology on each of those parts, looking within each shipwreck on a fine scale. The results highlight a few major patterns: shipwrecks provide structures that are not available to animals on natural hard-bottom reefs, but they are damaged by entangled fishing gear. Preserving the tall, complex structures of a shipwreck has incredible power for sustaining biodiversity. 

I'm very proud of what we've done and hope you will enjoy reading about it. Our paper appeared today in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin. Find it here