Monday, September 24, 2012

DAY EIGHT (9/24/12)

Over the course of the night while dodging several vessels of a shrimp fleet, the navigators searched for Little Mitch and Four Leaf Clover Banks to no avail.  However, en route to Steamer Bank this morning, we stumbled upon a set of banks that we named Falkor Banks trending to the west of the previously located “Rock.”  We’re quite sure “Rock” has not been mapped in the past.  It is a very interesting site with a rather flat top, fairly low relief, several circular holes, and a very large “blue hole” feature, which might be an ancient lake near a historic coastline.
Blue hole
Image credit: Maureen Trnka

Biologist (and closet geologist) Tom Shirley and geologist Andre Droxler pounded open a rock from yesterday’s collection to investigate what critters and geological clues could be revealed.  They found layered red algae, a bright orange worm, a brittlestar, and tiny crabs.

Worm found upon breaking rock
Image credit:  Maureen Trnka

Meanwhile, David Hicks, Liana Lerma, and Jonathan Le analyzed the 3D video from Baker Bank recording the number of fish species for biodiversity analyses.
Wes Tunnell spoke at the SASS this afternoon giving an ecological history of coral reefs in the southern Gulf of Mexico.  He told us about the decline of Acropora corals throughout the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico and pointed out the similarity in appearance to the staghorn bryozoans that we discovered yesterday at Dream Bank.

Wes Tunnell speaking about coral reefs at SASS
Image credit:  Maureen Trnka

Just before dinner, the Falkor steamed on to map Steamer Bank, which unfortunately was also a disappointment as we only found a tiny bump at the coordinates we researched in advance of the cruise.  We collected CTD data and water samples at Falkor Banks and Steamer Bank and then ended the day with a sunset photo contest.

Day 8 Sunset
Image credit:  Maureen Trnka

Written by Harriet Nash for HRI at TAMU-CC.


  1. The thought that the blue hole might represent an ancient lake is intriguing. Was it significantly deeper than the surrounding shelf?

  2. Adelaide, the depth of the hole was only about 4 meters, but it was a very interesting discovery!