MESA Archives: Deep Water Corals Cruise, July 24 - August 8, 2004
Jason II. Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Click image for more information.
Jason II electrical engineer Chris Taylor sits
before a bank of video panels and controls in the Deep Submergence
control van. When Jason II is diving, researchers work shifts to
observe the video feed and direct the technical team members who
pilot the vehicle and control its collecting arms. A single dive
may last more than 24 hours. Click image for more information.
A group of deepsea brittle stars in the genus
Astrophiura, retrieved from the bottom of the North Pacific Ocean.
Click image for more information (off site).
appearance of a "Dumbo" octopus (possibly
Grimpoteuthis) was an
unexpected and exciting sight on the Jason II dive the
evening of July 30. Click image for more information.
Scientists Explore Aleutian Islands Coral Habitats
(PLEASE NOTE: These web pages are for archival purposes only and are no longer maintained. For current information please refer to the MESA homepage.)
Scientists from the Auke Bay
Laboratory (ABL) used the deep-diving, remotely operated vehicle Jason
II to study corals near Alaska's Aleutian Islands as they continued their exploration of the terrain and of the species
that form an ecosystem on the ocean floor.
On board the research vessel Roger Revelle, a collaborative team of
scientists along with science reporter Sonya Senkowsky departed Dutch
Harbor July 24
on a 1,000 mile cruise, providing daily updates of their investigations,
- Daily logs and guest journal entries
- Underwater photos of marine species and habitat
- Audio and video reports as the cruise progresses
Since 1996, scientists at the Auke Bay Laboratory have been conducting
research on the effects of fishing gear on benthic habitat. The
initial discovery of the coral and sponge habitats fueled worldwide
interest as well as debate about the degree to which such habitats need
special protection from fishing methods--such as trawling and longlining--which
use gear that contacts the ocean bottom.
Two years ago, Auke Bay Laboratory researchers documented the Aleutian
Islands' colorful undersea coral gardens. In 2002 and in following years, Auke Bay Laboratory biologists used an
occupied submersible to explore areas around the Andreanof Islands and on
Petrel Bank in the Bering Sea. Going to depths of 365 meters, scientists
found habitats of coral, sponges and other invertebrates previously
undocumented in the North Pacific Ocean or Bering Sea.
The deepest dive of this cruise is
planned to go to a depth of 2,750 meters (about 1.7 miles) using the Jason II. The remotely operated vehicle will be used to record video
and collect samples of corals, rock, and other specimens.
The focus of the cruise is to learn more about the deeper
Aleutian coral habitats, including documenting their location and depth.
The Jason II mission was funded by the University of Alaska-based West
Coast & Polar Regions Undersea Research Center, one of six regional
centers in NOAA's Undersea Research Program. Jason II is operated by the
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
in Woods Hole, Mass. This cruise represent the farthest north that Jason II, or any of the
organization's remotely operated vehicles, has ever ventured, according
to the Woods Hole Deep Submergence Lab.
More information on the deep water corals cruise is available
http://www.alaskascienceoutreach.com/coralsite/index.html with funding through the North Pacific
Research Board. (Links
to resources outside the Federal Government are provided as a convenience
and for informational purposes only and should not be construed as an
endorsement or approval by the NMFS/AFSC of information provided through
other sites and computer systems.)