Exploring Atlantic Canyons & Seamounts





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NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer docked at her home port in North Kingstown, RI.

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer docked at her home port in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


Expedition Complete!

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
October 7, 2014

After over a month of remotely operated vehicle dives, mapping, and public outreach events, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer returned to her home port in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Our team spent the day finalizing cruise documentation, packing, and preparing for the winter inport period. While we battled the weather for much of the cruise, it was still very successful. We completed the first-ever explorations of five canyons and four seamounts, including the deepest dive ever in the New England Seamount Chain. Okeanos will be exploring the Caribbean this spring, so we will see you then! 


 


 

 

 

During our mid-water transects, ROV Deep Discoverer imaged a dragonfish.

During our mid-water transects, ROV Deep Discoverer imaged a dragonfish. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


Dive 13 – Nantucket Canyon

39.77278 N, 69.93016 W, 1,872 meters
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
October 6, 2014

During the final dive of Leg 3, we conducted the first-ever exploration of Nantucket Canyon. Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) landed on a sedimented seafloor with several eels, urchins, and brittle stars at a depth of 1,872 meters. In the area surveyed, sea pens were the most diverse faunal group; brittle stars and sea stars were the most abundant. D2 transited up a soft sediment slope with a few outcrops of hard rock and we encountered octocorals, stalked crinoids, several different species of sea pens, sponges, anemones, brittle stars, a couple different species of fish, sea spiders, and zooanthids. Cup corals, black corals, bamboo corals, paramuricea corals, chrysogorgia, and several colonies of Anthomastus were all documented during the dive. The dive concluded with several mid-water transects where D2 imaged larvaceans, ctenophores, jellyfish, a squid, mid-water fish (including a dragonfish), shrimp, salps, siphonophores, and a couple of organisms our experts couldn’t identify. Today’s highlights included the diversity of sea pens and abundance of brisingid sea stars, a particularly large caprellid amphipod, and a number of small corals that indicated active recruitment.


 


 

 

 

ROV team members take advantage of a small window of decent weather to do maintenance on Camera Platform Seirios

ROV team members take advantage of a small window of decent weather to do maintenance on camera platform Seirios. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


More Bad Weather

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
October 5, 2014

Today’s dive was canceled due to poor weather conditions. NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer spent the day collecting sonar data to inform U.S. Geological Survey and fisheries scientists about geohazards and fish movement in the region. Our at-sea team spent the day catching up on paperwork and rest, working on vehicle improvements, and planning for future operations. Our shore-side team enjoyed one of the many benefits of telepresence: Not having to ride out bad weather. We will spend the rest of the night mapping and will be on station bright and early tomorrow morning at Nantucket Canyon for the final dive of the cruise.


 


 

 

 

An eel pout burrows into the soft sediment on the seafloor of Ryan Canyon.

An eel pout burrows into the soft sediment on the seafloor of Ryan Canyon. Click image for credit and larger view.

camera icon Video highlights from Dive 12

 


Dive 12 - Ryan Canyon

39°, 40.116' N; 071°, 37.778' W, 1,524 meters
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
October 4, 2014

Remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer (D2) conducted the first-ever ROV exploration of Ryan Canyon today. D2 landed on a silty seafloor with multiple sea stars, fish, urchins, and human debris at a depth of 1,524 meters. As D2 transited, we encountered shrimp, several species of fish and eels (including witch flounder, cusk eels, chimeras, rattails, hake, a dogfish, an oreo, and eel pouts), brittle stars, occasional cup corals, sea stars, coral rubble, a sea spider, and thousands of sea cucumbers along the seafloor. Upslope, D2 scaled a chalky wall partially covered with a thin layer of soft sediment and large groups of stony corals with bivalves on areas with no sediment cover. Highlights of the dive included a king crab eating a pancake urchin and a coral skeleton that had been colonized by a member of almost every major grouping of benthic cnidarians. Overall, corals were rare with very low diversity during this dive. Also, similar to Dive 03 in adjacent McMaster Canyon, D2 encountered several instances of trash and derelict fishing gear, potentially due to its proximity to shipping channels into large cities on the U.S. East Coast.


 


 

 

 

High winds and high seas are a powerful combination and the reason that Okeanos spent the day inshore, in sheltered waters.

High winds and high seas are a powerful combination and the reason that Okeanos spent the day inshore, in sheltered waters. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


Bad Weather Continues

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
October 3, 2014

Our bad luck with weather continued today. We stayed in sheltered waters near Martha’s Vineyard in an attempt to avoid the high winds off shore. We spent the day testing new equipment, planning for the winter inport, catching up on paperwork, and collecting sonar data when conditions permitted. Although the forecast doesn’t look bright for this weekend, we will try for a dive tomorrow in Ryan Canyon. 


 


 

 

 

Rough seas and high winds lead to another canceled dive.

Rough seas and high winds lead to another canceled dive. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


Weathered Out

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
October 2, 2014

The forecasted bad weather finally caught up with us. Last night, we experienced 8-10-foot swells and 40-knot winds. Although the weather calmed down a bit during the day, with six to nine-foot seas and 30-knot winds, the conditions were still unsafe for remotely operated vehicle (ROV) operations. When conditions permitted, we collected sonar data as we transited inshore searching for calmer waters. A lot of our crew spent the day catching up on rest and the ROV team took advantage of the “dry” day to make some improvements to the vehicles.


 


 

 

 

A highlight of Dive 11 was this pompom anemone, the first one we have seen on this cruise.

A highlight of Dive 11 was this pompom anemone, the first one we have seen on this cruise. Click image for credit and larger view.

camera icon Video highlights from Dive 11

 


Dive 11 - Physalia Seamount

39.81 N, 66.93W, 2,579 meters
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
October 1, 2014

Today, remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) conducted the first-ever remotely operated vehicle exploration of Physalia Seamount, which prior to the dive was the last unexplored seamount on the East Coast inside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. D2 landed at 2,579 meters on a cobbled bottom populated by urchins and brittle stars. As D2 continued up slope, it encountered burrowing anemones, sea stars, dead urchin shells, a lophogastrid shrimp, a halosaur fish, and corals (sea pens and Anthomastus). From there, the geology became sedimentary with carbonate deposits and pillow lava layering. Here, D2 encountered more octocorals, a diversity of sponges, fan worms, black coral, shrimp, brittle stars, sea cucumbers, a cusk eel, squat lobsters, a rattail, and feather stars. Highlights were a sea spider feeding on hydroid, a rare Aplacophoran mollusk, a pompom anemone, and an octopus as D2 prepared to leave the bottom.

 


 

 

 

Sponges, including this carnivorous sponge, were one of the most abundant fauna during our Dive 10.

Sponges, including this carnivorous sponge, were one of the most abundant fauna during Dive 10. Click image for credit and larger view.

camera icon Video highlights from Dive 10

 


Dive 10 - Unnamed Seamount

38 54.9 N, 64 49.2 W, 4,689 meters
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 30, 2014

Today, remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) completed its deepest dive ever and the first-ever exploration of an unnamed seamount at a depth of 4,689 meters. D2 began the dive over hard rock with a light sediment cover and scarce encrusting biota that included bamboo corals, anemones, barnacles,  hydroids, corallamorphs, sponges, and Cornularia octocorals. During the transit upslope, D2 also encountered sea stars (including a potential new species), squat lobsters, crinoids, and channel of uniform pebbles of unknown origin. Highlights from the dive included two brief glimpses of a breaststroke isopod with modified limbs that look like paddles, documentation of a variety of lava formations on this seamount, and several carnivorous sponges.

 


 

 

 

The ROVs discover a field of bed forms or ripples on a flat area of Kelvin Seamount. Geologists and oceanographers can learn a lot about the current conditions of an area by studying the size and shape of the ripples.

The ROVs discover a field of bed forms or ripples on a flat area of Kelvin Seamount. Geologists and oceanographers can learn a lot about the current conditions of an area by studying the size and shape of the ripples. Click image for credit and larger view.

camera icon Video highlights from Dive 9

 


Dive 09 – Kelvin Seamount

38.85756 N, 63.74856 W, 2,052 meters
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 29, 2014

Dive 09 explored an interesting bulls-eye feature on Kelvin Seamount, starting at a depth of 2,052 meters. After descending through a large layer of salps, jellyfish, midwater fish, and siphonophores, remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) landed on uniform rippled sediment with occasional dropstones. During the first portion of the dive, D2 encountered sea cucumbers, sea stars, xenophyophores, anemones, urchins, sea pens, brittle stars, and a few corals. As D2 continued upslope, the underlying geology changed to hard rock lobate sheet flows with a high diversity, but low abundance, of corals that included precious corals, black corals, primnoids, bamboo corals, and other octocorals. Other fauna encountered included crinoids, a diversity of sponges, brittle stars, shrimp, fish, sea spiders, crabs, and sea stars. The highlight of the dive was seeing a live pteropod, or sea butterfly, on the seafloor, as usually only their shells are observed. 

 


 

 

 

A large black coral along the edge of a very steep cliff that was heavily encrusted with coral and sponges.

A large black coral along the edge of a very steep cliff that was heavily encrusted with coral and sponges. Click image for credit and larger view.

camera icon Video highlights from Dive 8

 


Dive 08 - Gosnold Seamount

38°, 18.143' N ; 062°, 30.643' W, 2,138 meters
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 28, 2014

Today, remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) conducted the first-ever exploration of  Gosnold Seamount and discovered an incredible landscape of deep-sea corals. D2 landed on hard bottom at a depth of 2,138 meters with several coral colonies, anemones, and sponges. During our transit up the ridge, we encountered 15 individual fish of eight different taxa, several crinoids, a diversity of sponges, coral rubble, hydroids, sea cucumbers, shrimp, sea stars, a dandelion siphonophore, urchins, brittle stars, barnacles, and sea spiders. At the top of the rift arm, D2 explored a sediment plane with manganese-crusted pebbles and similar encrusting fauna as seen down slope on the few larger hard-rock areas. The most abundant fauna throughout the dive were sponges and corals, primarily large brambles of bamboo corals and precious corals. Other corals present included black corals, cup corals, primnoid corals. Highlights of the dive included an almost vertical rock wall feature with a high density and diversity of corals, a rare sun star, a hermit crab using a sponge instead of a shell for its home, and a rare coral-eating mollusk (aplacophora). D2 was recovered from 1,850 meters after two deployments of the Sepoke on the sediment plane, which indicated that sediment accumulation was less than 15 centimeters. 

 


 

 

 

This dumbo octopus was our second cephalopod of the day  and a dive highlight!

This dumbo octopus was our second cephalopod of the day and a dive highlight! Click image for credit and larger view.

camera icon Video highlights from Dive 7

 


Dive 07 – Atlantis II Seamount Complex

38.6017 N, 63.3210 W, 2,786 meters
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 27, 2014

Today’s dive was the first ever to explore the Atlantis II Seamount Complex and what a great dive it was! Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) landed at a depth of 2,786 meters on hard substrate with manganese staining and some evidence of pillow lava flows as well as pteropod shells, polychaete worms, and shrimp. Shortly after beginning our investigation of the northwest ridge, D2 encountered octocorals, cup corals, precious corals, sponges, a dandelion siphonophore, sea stars, and anemones. This first portion of the dive had a lot of fauna, but the majority of it was very small, potentially indicating frequent disruptions or a lack of resources. As we continued upslope, precious corals (including a colony that was over 1.5 meters) were the dominant group of corals with others including black corals, bamboo corals, and other octocorals. Other fauna in this area included multiple sea cucumbers, a high diversity and density of sponges, sea urchins, squat lobsters, sea stars, a few different species of fish, shrimp, anemones, both stalked and non-stalked crinoids, a vampire squid, eels, and surprisingly few brittle stars. D2 also came across a carbonate outcrop that appeared to be a drowned reef overrun with lava from when this seamount was exposed during a time of lower sea level. The latter portion of the dive had many highlights, including potential range extensions for two species of precious corals, a dumbo octopus, a rarely imaged sea spider with a large egg mass, groups of large barnacles, a sea toad, a rare swimming isopod, and a striking area of rock covered in a glassy manganese coating devoid of life. 

 


 

 

 

With winds over 25 kts, ROV Deep Discoverer had to be recovered before we reached the seafloor on dive 6.

With winds over 25 knots, ROV Deep Discoverer had to be recovered before we reached the seafloor on Dive 6. Click image for credit and larger view.

camera icon Video highlights from Dive 6

 


Dive 06 - Asterias Seamount...Almost

38.9295 N, 65.3482 W, 2,202 meters
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 26, 2014

As far as we know, Asterias Seamount has never been explored, and unfortunately, it will remain so for a little longer. As we descended on the seamount, weather conditions took a turn for the worse. With wind speeds close to 25 knots and the vehicles just over half way to the seafloor, it was no longer safe for us to continue with remotely operated vehicle operations. Though our dive was short, we were able to collect some valuable information about life in the water column, one of the most unexplored sections of the ocean. Once the vehicles were secured on deck, we collected sonar data in the area of Atlantis and Panulirus Seamounts for the rest of the day. 

 


 

 

 

UROV Deep Discoverer investigates a diverse deep sea coral habitat on Retriever Seamount.

ROV Deep Discoverer investigates a diverse deep-sea coral habitat on Retriever Seamount. Click image for credit and larger view.

camera icon Video highlights from Dive 5

 


Dive 5 – Retriever Seamount

39°, 50.163' N 066°, 15.134' W, 2,142 meters
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 25, 2014

We had a fantastic dive today on Retriever Seamount! We encountered the highest coral diversity we have seen yet, and surprisingly low numbers of fish. Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) descended on a pebble strewn sandy bottom with several brittle stars at a depth of approximately 2,140 meters.  As D2 transited upslope, we encountered several sea pens, xenophyophores (giant unicellular organisms), occasional cup corals, and a multitude of brittle stars. During our transit, the sediment depth was tested with the “Sepoke” and was found to be greater than 50 centimeters. Throughout the dive, the areas of highest faunal diversity were occasionally manganese-encrusted boulders or rock outcrops that had corals, sponges, and anemones. Other fauna seen during the dive included a few rare sea stars, a couple vagrants of sea urchins (we learned during the dive that a large group of urchins is a "vagrant"), polychaete worms, both king and red crabs, squat lobsters, halosaurs, eels, a chimera, a slickhead,  crinoids, and hydrozoans. The highlight of the dive was a large outcrop with a high diversity of corals that included stony corals, octocorals, precious corals, black corals, and bamboo corals. Several of these colonies were juveniles, showing that this in an area of active coral recruitment.

 


 

 

 

Usually hub of activity during an ROV dive, the control room is a bit different during mapping  operations.

Usually hub of activity during a remotely operated vehicle dive, the control room is a bit different during mapping operations. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


Weather Day 2.0

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 24, 2014

Unfortunately, we had to call today’s dive due to poor weather conditions. We spent the weather day collecting high-resolution sonar data over the New England Seamounts that fall within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).  Okeanos Explorer’s engineering team used the time to troubleshoot some technical difficulties that we have experienced during the last few dives. Hopefully, we will have better weather tomorrow and will be able to conduct remotely operated vehicle operations at Retriever Seamount.

 


 

 

 

Towards the end of dive 4, ROV Deep Discoverer came upon a unique geological feature that our team dubbed the Octopus Grottoes. Densely packed stony corals surrounded these cave-like structures and almost every one had its own octopus!

Towards the end of Dive 4, ROV Deep Discoverer came upon a unique geological feature that our team dubbed the "Octopus Grottoes." Densely packed stony corals surrounded these cave-like structures and almost every one had its own octopus! Click image for credit and larger view.

camera icon Video highlights from Dive 4

 


Dive 04 - East of Veatch Canyon

39.8599 , -69.3939, 1,516 meters
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 23, 2014

Today, remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) investigated the habitats and geomorphology of a minor canyon east of Veatch Canyon. This minor canyon had the highest diversity of fish that we have seen so far and some of the highest densities of stony corals. D2 descended onto a boulder-strewn seafloor at a depth of approximately 1,270 meters and quickly encountered a steep wall with bamboo corals, black corals, cup corals, a variety of fish, and octopus. A couple hours into our dive, Okeanos Explorer experienced some technical difficulties that required that the vehicles ascend from the bottom to a safe distance above the seafloor. Our team took full advantage of this time to observe and document fauna in the water column, which included eels, salps, fish, ctenophores, shrimp, and jellyfish. Upon our return to the seafloor, D2 transited up a steep, chalky wall and encountered several species of fish, corals (including several small recruits), sponges, bivalves, and octopus. For both our geologists and biologists, the highlight of today’s dive was what our team dubbed the “octopus grottoes.” This unique linear arrangement of geologic features of unknown origin that looked like small caves was surrounded by a high density of scleractinian corals and had an octopus in almost every opening. 

 


 

 

 

System display while acquiring submarine canyon mapping data.

System display while acquiring submarine canyon mapping data. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


Weather Day

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 22, 2014

With seven to nine-foot seas and 20+ knots of wind, we unfortunately had to call today’s dive. Okeanos spent the day acquiring mapping data over the submarine canyons in the area with our three sonar systems, an EM302 multibeam system, a Knudsen 3260 subbottom profiler, and an EK60 fisheries sonar. Tonight we will transit to a minor canyon east of Veatch Canyon and will hopefully have good weather for our dive tomorrow.

 


 

 

 

A pancake urchin (Hygrosoma sp.) moves across some discarded human debris. McMaster Canyon had the most evidence of anthropogenic impact that we have seen yet on this expedition.

A pancake urchin (Hygrosoma sp.) moves across some discarded human debris. McMaster Canyon had the most evidence of human impacts that we have seen yet on this expedition. Click image for credit and larger view.

camera icon Video highlights from Dive 3

 


Dive 03 - McMaster Canyon

39.7071, -71.5986, 1,324 meters
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 21, 2014

During Dive 03, we conducted two transects up the eastern wall of McMaster Canyon, approximately 80 miles south east of Long Island. Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) landed on a silty sedimented seafloor with eels, sea urchins, fish, and several instances of anthropogenic debris.  During the first transect, the lower portion of the canyon wall was chalky and highly sculpted with little benthic life. Further up the wall, D2 encountered several large colonies of octocorals and high-density groups of cup corals, anemones, bivalves, and sponges. Transect two show similar patterns and high diversity as seen in Hendrickson Canyon, with large groups of corals living under overhangs and outcrops along the steep wall. Other fauna encountered during the dive included several swimming sea cucumbers, sea stars that our experts have never seen alive, squat lobsters, brittle stars, a king crab, and octopods.

 


 

 

 

Here an octopus mother protects her eggs in Hendrickson Canyon. If you looks closely you can see the eyes of the baby octopus through the egg.

Here, an octopus mother protects her eggs in Hendrickson Canyon. If you looks closely, you can see the eyes of a baby octopus through the egg.  Click image for credit and larger view.

camera icon Video highlights from Dive 2

 


Dive 02 - Hendrickson Canyon

39.0235, -72.4483, 1,670 meters
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 20, 2014

Today’s dive investigated a steep wall face along the southern side of Hendrickson Canyon. Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) reached the boulder-strewn bottom at a depth of 1,670 meters. As D2 moved upslope along our transect, the sheer canyon wall was characterized by several scrapes on the chalky wall surface, evidence of previous failures (some recent), several chutes, and occasional manganese staining. By far, the most abundant fauna of the dive were cup corals, which were generally located under frequent overhangs and outcrops along the sheer wall. Other common fauna encountered along the transit upslope included several species of octocorals, black corals, scleractinian corals, fish, octopods, sea pens, corallimorphs, sea spiders, sea urchins, and sponges. Highlights from today’s dive included a dandelion siphonophore, an acrobatic chimaera, a large vertical crack that had a high diversity of corals and sponges as well as several octopods, and the first deployment of D2’s new sediment probe, affectionately called “Sepoke.”

 


 

 

 

Phoenix Canyon proved to be home to an exciting diversity of mollusks. Here a nudibranch strolls by a bobtail squid.

Phoenix Canyon proved to be home to an exciting diversity of mollusks. Here, a nudibranch strolls by a bobtail squid.  Click image for credit and larger view.

camera icon Video highlights from Dive 1

 


Dive 01 - Phoenix Canyon

37.8914 N, 73.9119 W
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 19, 2014

The first remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dive of Leg 3 investigated geomorphology and diversity of habitats along the southern wall of Phoenix Canyon. ROV Deep Discoverer (D2) landed on a sedimented seafloor with several species of fish at a depth of 1,136 meters.  During the first portion of the dive, D2 encountered several large rocks, with biota including sponges and corals, which appeared to have fallen from walls further upslope. During our transit, D2 encountered five separate species of squid; several octopods and skate; numerous witch flounder; sea stars; and several rock outcrops encrusted with sponges, corals, and anemones. Areas of particular interest were several steep walls with a bivalves, sponges, and high density of cup corals under ledges. Phoenix Canyon had several interesting geologic features, including several large burrows, vertical erosional features, and evidence of a small slope failure. Biological highlights included a juvenile king crab, an eel predating on a squid, two separate sightings of nudibranchs – five on a hydroid colony and one with a bobtail squid, a rattail with a large copepod parasite, and a dragonfish.

 


 

 

 

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer underway and steaming towards Phoenix Canyon.

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer underway and steaming towards Phoenix Canyon. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


Underway!

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 18, 2014

After an overnight stay in Norfolk, Okeanos anxiously awaited the arrival of the fresh water maker pump. The part arrived early afternoon and we left the dock at approximately 1530 today. Today was primarily spent adjusting dive plans for the rest of the cruise based on the delay and assessing the weather conditions for the next couple of days. Tonight we will transit to Phoenix Canyon to conduct our first remotely operated vehicle dive of Leg 3. During the transit, we will collect multibeam bathymetry and XBT data. We plan to be in the water tomorrow around 0830, so tune in to the live feeds to explore with us!

 


 

 

 

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer tied up to the pier, preparing for departure.

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer tied up to the pier, preparing for departure. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


Delayed...

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 17, 2014

This morning, Okeanos Explorer docked in Norfolk, Virginia, to pick up a part for a broken pump from the fresh water generating system; however, the part had not arrived by the time the ship pulled into port. The hope was that the part would be waiting at the dock, but unfortunately, it was delayed. Okeanos will spend the night in Norfolk and depart as soon as the part arrives tomorrow. However, the day was not lost! Our ship and shore-based teams used the day to plan logistics of upcoming operations, make sure equipment is up and running well for the cruise, do some additional training of new personnel, and get some much needed rest after a very busy week in Baltimore.

 


 

 

 

From September 10-16, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer participated in the Star-Spangled Spectacular. More than 2,000 people visited and toured the ship during our time in Baltimore. Here, Okeanos and National Aquarium visitors view the fireworks display over the Inner Harbor.

From September 10-16, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer participated in the Star-Spangled Spectacular. More than 2,000 people visited and toured the ship during our time in Baltimore. Here, Okeanos and National Aquarium visitors view the fireworks display over the Inner Harbor.  Click image for credit and larger view.

 


Leg 3 Commences!

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 16, 2014

Welcome back! After an exceptionally successful week in Baltimore, Okeanos Explorer spent the day heading out of Chesapeake Bay towards the Atlantic submarine canyons. We would like to thank the more than 2,000 visitors who toured the ship during the Star-Spangled Spectacular and we hope you will be following along with this cruise from home. Our team spent today's transit unpacking, familiarizing new personnel with the ship, and preparing for the first dive, which is planned for September 18.

 


 

 

 

Stormy skies and seas off the back deck of the Okeanos Explorer.

Stormy skies and seas off the back deck of the Okeanos ExplorerClick image for credit and larger view.

 


Mapping in the Mid-Atlantic

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 8, 2014

Unfortunately, we had to call our last dive of Leg 2 due to poor weather conditions. We spent the rest of the day collecting sonar data over the seep site and then transited towards Baltimore to participate in the Star-Spangled Spectacular. Remotely operated vehicle operations will resume during Leg 3, weather permitting. Join us then to see what we discover as we explore the Atlantic Canyons and New England Seamounts.

 


 

 

 

A deep sea red crab hangs out on a bubblegum coral. If you look carefully you can see a skate egg case on the same branch as the crab and a colony of the white morph of bubblegum coral in the background.

A deep-sea red crab hangs out on a bubblegum coral. If you look carefully, you can see a skate egg case on the same branch as the crab and a colony of the white morph of bubblegum coral in the background. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


Dive 03 – Norfolk Canyon

37.0279N, 74.5983W, 676 meters
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 7, 2014

Dive 03 was on a shallow section of the southern flank of Norfolk Canyon with the primary objective of locating characterizing deep-sea coral habitat. Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) landed on a rippled soft sediment seafloor with red crabs, hake, and eels. The geology of this portion of Norfolk Canyon was characterized by soft sedimented seafloor with thin layered hard rock outcrops, often heavily colonized with biota, particularly underneath ledges. Shortly after beginning our transit up slope, D2 encountered several colonies of octocorals (including acanthagorgia, anthothela, and bubble gum corals), anemones, hake, squat lobsters, red crabs, a high diversity of sponges, and brittle stars buried in the mud. Other fauna spotted during the dive included bryozoans, beryx, shrimp, hydroids, blackbelly rosefish, a small chaunax, and several schools of squid. D2 also imaged two goosefish attacking squids and several large (>1 meter) bubblegum  coral colonies.

 


 

 

 

One of the highlights of the dive, D2 imaged a beautiful hydromedusa in Washington Canyon. Hydromedusa have red-tinted stomachs to camouflage any bioluminescence exhibited by their prey.

One of the highlights of the dive, D2 imaged a beautiful hydromedusa in Washington Canyon. Hydromedusa have red-tinted stomachs to camouflage any bioluminescence exhibited by their prey. Click image for credit and larger view.

camera icon Watch video of the hydromedusa

 


Dive 02 – Washington Canyon

37.4109N, 74.4659W, 660 meters
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 6, 2014

Dive 02 investigated the south flank of Washington Canyon. Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) reached the seafloor at a depth of 645 meters and settled over a soft sediment area with several halosaurs and experienced swarms of small crustaceans (amphipods and euphausiids) that would continue throughout the dive. This area was geologically characterized by often burrowed soft sediment, soft sediment outcrops, and a few steep slopes heavily encrusted by biology. Common fauna during D2’s transit upslope included red crabs, anemones, sponges, blackbelly rosefish, octopus, hake, and brittle stars buried in the sediment. Some of the highlights the dive included a pair of goosefish, three hydromedusa, a couple of crabs fighting over a recently captured squid, and colonies of deep-sea corals (anthothela and both white and pink morphs of bubblegum corals). 

 


 

 

 

ROV Deep Discoverer as seen from the second part of the two-bodied system, camera sled Seirios.

ROV Deep Discoverer as seen from the second part of the two-bodied system, camera sled Seirios. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


Dive 01- Engineering Trials in Lindenkohl Canyon

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 5, 2014

Today’s dive with remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer (D2) focused on engineering testing. After an initial run-through of all of D2 standard capabilities, our ROV team began testing new equipment and tools, like photomosaicking. D2 landed on a flat bench feature with a soft sedimented seafloor along the wall of Lindenkohl Canyon at a depth of 665 meters. Common fauna included squid, red crabs (including a couple mating pairs), siphonophores, jellyfish, euphausiids, and a few different species of fish. After all engineering trials were successfully completed, D2 was recovered from a depth of approximately 660 meters.

 


 

 

 

ROVs Deep Discoverer and Seirios are secured to the deck and ready for the first dive.

ROVs Deep Discoverer and Seirios are secured to the deck and ready for the first dive. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


And We're Off!

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 4, 2014

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer departed North Kingstown, Rhode Island, this morning at approximately 0900 and began transiting out to our Leg II operating area along the Atlantic continental margin. Our team has spent the last few months prepping remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) Deep Discoverer and Seirios, testing new equipment, mapping potential dive targets, working with the science and management community to identify priority areas, and refining our operating plans for the two ROV cruises that will occur over the next month. Today, the onboard crew is busy getting familiar with the ship, reviewing safety procedures and preparing for upcoming operations. Our first ROV dive is planned for tomorrow and will be primarily focused on engineering tests and calibrations.

 


 

 

 

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