Researchers discovered this big white coral (an unidentified primnoid) on the Davidson Seamount at 1,570 m depth. Click image for larger view and image credit.
Davidson Seamount: Exploring Ancient Coral Gardens
January 26 - February 4, 2006
Most people think that corals are found in warm water and that mountains
exist only on land. But this is not the case! In 2002, deep-sea researchers used new technologies to explore Davidson Seamount, located in
the cold waters from 1,250 to 3,660 m depth (or 4,100 to 12,000 ft) off the
central California coastline. What did we discover in this deep, cold, underwater environment? The seamount was
covered with spectacular organisms, including large and ancient coral gardens.
We also determined that the corals are located primarily on seamount ridges, and that
we still have much to learn about the taxonomy (scientific names) of these
Now, in 2006, we are returning to Davidson Seamount — which remains 99.98% unexplored —
to test a model we have developed that predicts where corals will be found. At the seamount, we
will take measurements of water currents and food availability to understand
what causes corals to thrive in some areas, but not others. Along the way,
we will photograph and collect corals to determine if they are new species
as well as their ages and growth patterns.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) will be filming during
the cruise. Join in on the fascination of deep-sea life on an upcoming
broadcast of their series, Planet Earth. Be sure to watch!
The collaborating institutions on this project are the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, the BBC, and NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration.
Updates & Logs Click images or links below for detailed mission logs and updates.
Mission Summary The Davidson Seamount team made 70 hours of observations and collected 102 deep-sea animal and rock specimens — including some species likely new to science! Now the real work begins . . .
February 3 Expeditions are expensive and resource intensive, but sharing data and images with others spreads the wealth and adds value to the work.
February 2 While the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Tiburon "flies" with its instruments through the deep sea, many skilled individuals back on the research vessel Western Flyer are overseeing its operation.
February 1 Scientists gather data to determine how water flowing around the Davidson Seamount may affect the distribution and abundance of corals on its surface.
January 31 Enormous amounts of information are collected during ocean expeditions. Find out how scientists keep track of it all.
January 30 The Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN) catalogues hundreds of photos from previous Davidson expeditions. The explorers can't wait to add the 2006 crop.
January 29 Scientists use the ROV Tiburon to photograph
and collect two
coral species of particular interest — bamboo coral and a pink
January 28 The BBC begins filming! Capturing the underwater environment in high definition video is both exciting and challenging to the crew.