Gulf of Mexico 2017





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.

 

A particularly grumpy-looking ophidiiform cusk eel encountered at a depth of 1,585 meters (5,200 feet) during Dive 12.

December 21: Gulf of Mexico 2017: Highlight Images

While rough weather forced us to cancel several dives, we were able to conduct 17 total dives. Here are just a few of the highlights from NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer’s 2017 return to the Gulf of Mexico.

High-viscosity oil (black tubules) seeping from the seafloor among white bacterial mats forms asphalt when the extrusions solidify.  The long tubules are bent to the left due to the current.

December 20: Ice Worms and Gas Hydrate-Encased Bubble Tubes

NOAA’s Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle encountered gas hydrate mounds, ice worms, chemosynthetic communities, and active gas seeps during Dive 17 of the Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2017 expedition.

High-viscosity oil (black tubules) seeping from the seafloor among white bacterial mats forms asphalt when the extrusions solidify.  The long tubules are bent to the left due to the current.

December 17: Active Asphalt Seep Discovered in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

During Dive 09 of the Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2017 expedition, NOAA’s Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle found an asphalt seep at ~1,150 meters water depth in an area known as Henderson Ridge.

‘Tis the Season to Let It Snow – Marine Snow, That Is...

December 14: ‘Tis the Season to Let It Snow – Marine Snow, That Is...

While snow on land creates scenic landscapes and inspires hot chocolate consumption and relaxing by the fireplace, marine snow in the world’s oceans helps keep our oceans alive and healthy. But what is marine snow?

Alex retrieves a crinoid sample that was collected during a dive.

December 12: NOAA Opportunities to Study the Ocean

Alexandra Avila, who is sailing on the current expedition, explains how NOAA scholarships have given her opportunities that she would have never even dreamed possible.

Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer images “Wreck 15377.”

December 10: Observations of Wreck “15377”

Dive 07 of the Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2017 expedition was at an unknown shipwreck identified by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management simply as “ID Number 15377.”

This sea lily may be the poorly known Monachocrinus caribbeus, the only member of its family, Bathycrinidae, previously recorded from the Gulf of Mexico.

December 7: Crinoids: Deep-sea Lily-like Animals

Sea lilies and feather stars are among the strangest creatures that Okeanos Explorer has encountered during this expedition. Their formal name, crinoid, means lily-like, and although they appear superficially plant-like, they are animals, complete with digestive and nervous systems.

This sea toad (Chaunax suttkusi) was seen while exploring “Okeanos Ridge,” on sedimented canyon floor at ~740 meters (2,428 feet) depth.

December 4: Fish of the Deep

The first several dives of the expedition took place along the West Florida Escarpment. Some of the fishes observed during these dives included the following demersal taxa that are commonly observed over soft sediments or in rocky habitats at similar depths in the southeastern U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone.

A crab feasts on a squid.

December 2: An End-of-life Event for Squid at the Beginning of the Cruise

During the first dive of the expedition, we observed squids that were so numerous that at times as many as 40-50 were in the camera’s field of view at once. It is not unusual to see large schools of shortfin squid. What was remarkable was that D2 came across dozens of dead squid lying on the bottom.

This map shows the geostrophic currents field in the Gulf of Mexico.

December 1: Gulf of Mexico Loop Current

When conducting science at sea, the challenges are many and scientists must be ready to modify plans, often at the last minute. Sometimes Mother Nature is against us, sometimes we face technical issues or challenges—and sometimes, it’s both.

 

 

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