Thursday, 9 June 2011

Nearly There

Since I last left you the weather turned bad again and we have left Rockall Bank, returning to the Darwin Mounds to try and wrap up the work we nearly finished there earlier in the trip. It has been most unfortunate for me and my boss Kerry, as we have been hardest hit by the weather, managing to get only one out of the 13 plannned transects we hoped for. However all is not lost as we are being allowed to take away the other ROV transects we have done throughout this trip as compensation and hopefully manage to use them to the same effect.

I should say (albeit very late!) that the reason we want these video transects is to ground truth and refine a model that Kerry has built to predict the locations of vulnerable marine ecosystems. Finding out where we do actually encounter deep water coral reefs is important to these predictions and allows us to build up a database of factors that can be used to refine these predictions.

As such I am now gathering in the photos from our transects and have a few to show you here of the wonders that lie hundreds of metres below the water surface up here in the north atlantic.

Now after a 40hour transit back to the Darwin Mounds which has been one of the roughest trips we've had, we are now sitting one again, able to do a final 48hours of megacoring, ROV dives and maybe even a piston core for the sae of reprise (and of course valid science ;) ).

We have also finally seen a proper whale! A fin whale was rumoured to have been hanging around, and after scoping the seas for longer than anyone else could be bothered to, I managed to spot it and alert the rest of the crew as they were getting ready to deploy our own curious yellow whale, the autosub, for its penultimate if not final voyage of this cruise. My time advantage gave me the chance to get one of the few closer pictures of the fin whale near the ship.

Definitely looking forward to getting home now, and I'm very excited that Luke has managed to get a couple of days off work, so that arriving on sunday evening, I still manage to get a little bit of "weekend" with him before it is back to the usual working week.

Enjoy the pics!Live corals and anemones on the Rockall Bank Cliffs
Even the dead coral provides a rich habitat for other species here there are several species of sponge, urchin, polychaete worms, a sponge crab, some shrimp and even a little bit of live coral on the side there.Chimaera monstrosa, the rabbit fish, these are somewhere between a fish and shark and elegantly glide just above the bottom, flapping their wings and looking like they are hopping when they are startled.A dumbo octopus! This little guy has wee "ear flaps" that do indeed flap while it glides through the water making it look like a large elephant with only its ears to help it fly. Rather a groovy spot from the Polygonal Faults.A fin whale doing a blow, its long body following, finally its tiny little dorsal fin arches over as it dives. 2nd larges animal in the world! Woop. :)

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