Day 24 in the James Cook house…
Today was a good day; we were only a couple of hours behind schedule when I got up for my shift at 12:30 this morning and everything was working and going well. Of particular success was Jess’s light box (aptly nickname HALO, though we don’t know what this stands for yet, but it is a much cooler name than PARSNIP which Grant is still petitioning for), after a bumpy start HALO produced some interesting results…. and great screen saver material.
The ROV dive was also successful in catching a number of species of interest to Marsh and David, a few of which they had never seen or been able to photograph before due to their delicate nature. As they were caught at the beginning of the dive there was some worry that when they finally surfaced some 33hrs later they would not be in good condition. But the cold of the deep and the containers on the ROV protected them and they were the cause of excitement and curiosity when they finally arrived on deck. This site has previously been an area of contention having ripped nets and lost trawls due to the rocky terrain, which we encountered ourselves on an ROV dive which was supposed to be relatively flat and ended up with the ROV having to scale cliff faces and dodge huge boulders, but it also gave the first real look into what was living in the south-west of the ridge.
Predictably the Megacorer was also successfully deployed bringing up more of the dense sandymud sediment that seems to dominate this area and the thick layer of pteropod shells on the sediment surface in most cores at this site. The CTD also went providing more data from one of the least sampled sites of the ECOMAR project.
I had my first experience of helping sample and sort the amphipod trap, which had been down for almost 72hrs collecting the little beasties. There were some huge amphipods in the trap, but the ones you have to look out for are the smaller ones who, once they figure out the bait (which is very neatly wrapped) is difficult to get into turn on the larger amphipods often leaving only the carapace behind.
Tonight the ROV is going down to do more collecting so hopefully tomorrow will bring some interesting new creatures from the deep.