IEEE Earthzine’s Jenny Woodman is bloggingåÊfromåÊthe Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus.åÊRead more about her journeyåÊhere.
Shortly after dinner on Sunday evening, around 6 p.m. PST, the team on board the E/V Nautilus kicked off the first dive of the expedition in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).åÊ This dive focused on Bodega Canyon, 10 miles north of Cordell Bank. While areas north and south of the canyon have been explored ÛÒ giving scientists some expectations about what they might find ÛÒåÊthis dive covered unexplored territory, according to Dani Lipski, lead scientist for the expedition.
The ROVs were deployed for 22 hours. Expedition Leader Dwight Coleman described the dive path: ÛÏWe crisscrossed the canyon, working along the south wall to north wall and back to the south; we went from west to east, from 2,400 to 1,700 meters.Û
Using a 3.5 kHz sub-bottom profiler, the scientists identified locations where rocky substrates were likely to be found. The profiler emits an acoustic signal and measures the speed and strength of the return signal to determine characteristics of the seafloor. Rocky habitats are more likely to be home to coral and sponge communities.
When the science team determined that a sample should be collected, the ROV Hercules’ pilots used its robotic arm ÛÒ a Kraft Predator ÛÒ to retrieve deep water coral samples including several bamboo, black and primnoid corals. The team collected glass sponges, hydroids, sea pens and a serpent sea star as well as water samples; they also logged temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen. This data will be studied and used to guide policy and marine resource management; it also will serve future research.
At the end of a long dive, you might think everyone would be tired, but the excitement is tangible. ÛÏI’m absolutely thrilled,Û said Lipski. ÛÏIt far exceeded my expectations.Û
Everyone is working diligently to ready the ROV for the next dive, which will launch late Monday evening; we’ll continue to explore Bodega Canyon and it is expected to last approximately 20 hours. You can tune in any time and follow the dives live at www.Nautiluslive.org.
Jenny Woodman is a science writer and Writing Fellowship Coordinator for IEEE Earthzine; she lives Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter: @JennyWoodman