Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hunting for a package of whale bones

Two years ago during the previous cruise, two moorings, each carrying a package of whale bones and a package of mango wood logs, were placed on the seabed at Coral seamount and Atlantis bank. They are attached to a vertical line with floats at one end and 150kg of ballast at the other end.

The idea is to study the life that will settle on these new substrates and identify what organisms (worms) will grow while the bacteria that colonize the bones and wood during their decomposition recreate a similar chemical environment to those found at hydrothermal vents and cold seeps (both special deep-sea habitats).
We will hopefully be able to analyse the variety and distribution of the worms associated with these environmental conditions.

Slow growing and slow recovery are typical features of the deep-sea communities. If we learn more about this process through experiments like this, it will help us to understand how marine ecosystems are connected and determine the best strategies for protecting these deep-sea habitats.

We spotted the first mooring four days ago during one of the ROV dives at Coral seamount and today we dived again at the same location to try and recover them at 743m depth.

And we were successful!