Cuba’s Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity: Mission Logs

Follow along as participants in the cruise provide updates and reflections on their experiences, the science, the technology, and other elements of the expedition.

 

June 13: Cruise Ends

June 13: Cruise Ends

Our circumnavigation of Cuba to explore its mesophotic reefs is now complete! We ended Leg 2 of our Cuba’s Twilight Zone Reefs Expedition right where we started, in Havana.

June 11: Cuba’s North East Coastline: Diversity on a Grand Scale

June 11: Cuba’s North East Coastline: Diversity on a Grand Scale

The final week of our expedition has focused on mesophotic sites along the Northern coast of Cuba from Punta Maisí on the eastern tip of Cuba to Havana. We expected conditions here to be some of the most challenging of the expedition.

June 10: The Art of the Claw

June 10: The Art of the Claw

The ROV sample collection skid, including the manipulator, is the key to successful specimen sampling during our mission. Samples can vary widely in their structural integrity.

June 7: New Depth Records for Algae in Cuba

June 7: New Depth Records for Algae in Cuba

In our ROV dives at the Cayo Coco site of the Archipelago of Sabana-Camagüey, we observed a higer diversity of Halimeda spp. It is interesting to see how the patterns of distribution in these two groups of algae (brown algae and green algae) seem to alternate.

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June 5: Southern Coast of Cuba

June 5: Southern Coast of Cuba

Five days have passed since we left the port of Cienfuegos, exchanged portions of the scientific team, and started our 1000-mile journey. The team first explored three locations seaward from the "Golfo de Ana Maria, and the "Gulf of Guacanayabo".

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June 3: Deep Seaweeds Scene

June 3: Deep Seaweeds Scene

Seaweeds are among the most ancient organisms on Earth. When we are looking at the display during our ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) dives, we are anxious to discover what is the maximum depth where seaweeds can live.

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June 1: The Water World of Cuba's Deep Corals

June 1: The Water World of Cuba's Deep Corals

What is the ocean environment these deep corals live in, and what are the physical forces that control these water properties?

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May 30: Fish Report

May 30: Fish Report

During the first leg of the Cuba’s Twilight Zone Reefs Expedition, which included the western half of Cuba from Havana to Cienfuegos, we observed a very diverse group of fishes. In general, we expected to see larger numbers of fishes, but the number of species observed was very impressive.

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May 29: Leg 1 Ends

May 29: Leg 1 Ends

Yesterday we finished the first leg of the Cuba’s Twilight Zone Reefs Expedition, with a golden experience. The last dive with the Mohawk ROV was in Bay of Pigs, specifically Punta Perdiz.

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May 25: Sponges Rule!

May 25: Sponges Rule!

We were welcomed at 170 m by a "sponge party". Many of the species we have observed at 100-125 meters were there, daring the abyss, in smaller sizes, but present.

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May 23: Western Cuba: A Stepping Stone for Corals in the Gulf of Mexico?

May 23: Western Cuba: A Stepping Stone for Corals in the Gulf of Mexico?

Beyond exploration of new mesophotic reef habitats and characterization of community composition across depths, our expedition includes another important research objective: to sample benthic species.

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May 22: Deep Reefs along Cuba’s Northwest Coast

May 22: Deep Reefs along Cuba’s Northwest Coast

For the first four days of the cruise we worked along the northwest coast of Cuba, visiting for the first time the deep reefs between Havana and Guanahacabibes at the western tip, a distance of 190 nautical miles.

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May 21: San Antonio Bank

May 21: San Antonio Bank

San Antonio Bank is in the Gulf of Mexico, northwest of the Peninsula of Guanahacabibes in Pinar del Río Province. This is a bank of reefs that rise from the ocean bottom and is surrounded by waters deeper than 1000 meters. It is a unique type of structure in Cuba.

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May 20: Making A Team

May 20: Making A Team

On our first night together with the Cuban scientists, we discussed general points of the expedition. Shall we sail all the island perimeter? Can we dive with the ROV in 60 localities on 30 days? Will the weather allow diving? Will we be able to dive the ROV off the treacherous Guanahacabibes Peninsula?

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May 19: Arrival at Havana

May 19: The Mohawk ROV

The Mohawk is a 300-meter science class ROV consisting of five thrusters, high-definition (HD) video camera, 10-Mp digital stills camera, two sets of lasers for scaling, lights, and a collection skid.

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May 17: Arrival at Havana

May 17: Arrival at Havana

At 8:00 a.m. the pilot guides us into the port of Havana. Old sights that I first saw in 1967 greet me; the Castillo de Morro at the entrance of the Port and Old Town to the right.

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May 15: Preparation and Departure: We Are Going to Cuba!

May 15: Preparation and Departure: We Are Going to Cuba!

Nearly a year and a half has passed since we began our deliberations for going to Cuba on a research cruise. Although the shallow reefs of Cuba are fairly well known, no one to my knowledge has studied Cuba's deep water reefs. At 9 p.m., we pull away from the dock for our 30-hour journey to Havanna.

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