Saturday, November 26, 2011

Far reaching human impact

Today is our last day at Melville bank. So what have we discovered?

Melville bank painted a very different picture to that of Coral seamount. We found that incredibly this area, despite being thousands of miles out into the ocean, has been heavily exploited by the fishing industry. Unlike Coral seamount, a large area of Melville bank has clearly been fished. We found most places covered only by dead coral rubble. We could see what damage deep-sea trawling can do to the seabed. It literally destroys everything. However, even on such a heavily exploited seamount there were areas that were rich with life. This was because the terrain was so rugged that mobile fishing gear could not be used.

Throughout our exploration of Melville bank we have come across evidence of human impact. We saw many lost lobster pots, drifting pieces of fishing long lines, broken trawl wires and even rubbish (mainly bottles). All these pieces of equipment were floating around on the seabed as ghosts.
It was always impressive and frightening to see this gear appearing on the ROV screens in the devastated landscape of the seamount and caused us a great deal of difficulty in completing our research dives.

Sky at sunrise 5:15 am (ship time)