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Previous isotopic investigations of Aptian/Albian oceanic anoxic event (OAE) 1b from the western North Atlantic (Blake Nose) posited that increased sea surface temperatures and decreased salinity led to stratification of the upper water column, resulting in lowered dissolved oxygen and enhanced organic matter preservation. We examined calcareous nannofossils from the same site in the western North Atlantic (Blake Nose) to evaluate changes in surface water conditions prior to, during, and after the Aptian/Albian OAE1b. The results of our analysis conflict somewhat with the previous interpretation that OAE1b at Blake Nose was linked to water column stratification. The signal from calcareous nannofossils indicates that in the late Aptian, prior to OAE1b, oligotrophic conditions in the surface waters were replaced by mesotrophic conditions that persisted throughout the OAE event and into the early Albian. We speculate that increased surface water productivity facilitated to some degree the development of OAE1b at Blake Nose.