Thursday, September 27, 2012

DAY ELEVEN (09/27/2012)

The day’s exploration focused on SE Mysterious Bank, an outcrop stumbled upon two nights ago by Safety Tom (Tom Bills, R/V Falkor safety officer). Rising from a depth of 102 m to within 83 m of the surface, this bank was of interest not only for its relief but also due to its orientation. It lies nearly perpendicular to most of the other mid-shelf banks mapped leading to the speculation that it may have been formed by a separate process.

This morning a CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth) was performed followed soon after by the commencement of the final ROV dive of this cruise. The bank features fields of wire coral interspersed with yellow sea spray and wide mesh sea fan with patches of bare ground. It is also home to populations of red snapper and almaco jack, the latter of which often appeared to pose for the cameras.

Cup coral found on SE Mysterious Bank.
Image credit: Elizabeth Shanks

However, by early afternoon long hours of watching the screens began to tell on some of the observers in the form of a rather heated discussion on crumpets. This situation was somewhat remedied by the appearance of a waterspout. As soon as its presence was known most of the scientists rushed outside into the sprinkling rain, cameras in hand, to capture the event.

Waterspout observed near SE Mysterious Bank
Image credit: Nathan Cunningham, R/V  Falkor marine technician

The ROV dive itself produced as yet unidentified specimens of cup coral and a red soft coral as well as wide mesh sea fan, a basket star, three serpent stars, at least two species of red algae, and a rock home to small crab and shrimp. Water samples from the nepheloid layer contained many amphipods which are small shrimplike organisms found in both the water column and sediment. Needless to say this diversity pulled the entire science party into the lab and several members of the crew.

R/V Falkor captain Heiko Volz examines samples brought up by the ROV with members of the science party.
Image credit: Maureen Trnka

As usual, many of the scientists gathered on the observation deck to watch the sunset and recap the day’s events.
Day 11 sunset
Image credit: Elizabeth Shanks

Written by Elizabeth Shanks for HRI at TAMUCC

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