Location of Charleston Bump

The Charleston Bump lies at the north end of the Blake Plateau, off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Click image for larger view.

Investigating the Charleston Bump

August 2 – 16, 2003

Off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia exists a unique feature called the Charleston Bump, which rises off the surrounding Blake Plateau from 2,000 ft deep to a depth of about 1,200 ft. The rocky, erosion-resistant Charleston Bump impedes the flow of the Gulf Stream, deflecting it offshore and creating a zone of gyrating eddies and swift, narrow currents. The combination of rocky, high-relief bottom and strong currents creates a complex habitat consisting of scour depressions, mounds of deep-water corals and rubble, and steep scarps that are deeply undercut with extensive caves.

During this exploration, researchers investigated how fishes and invertebrates adapt to the variety of bottom habitats, and how they tolerate the strong and shifting currents. The investigators also sought new and unique species. Much of the work was conducted using the Johnson-Sea-Link II manned submersible, which was outfitted with digital video, still cameras and other instruments to record information about the surrounding waters. The submersible also collected samples of rocks and sediments, as well as specimens of fishes and invertebrates such as sponges and deep-water corals. Little was known about the creatures that inhabit "the Bump" and the surrounding Blake Plateau, making this a true mission of exploration.

Background information for this exploration can be found on the left side of the page. Daily updates and logs that summarize expedition activities are posted below and to the right.

Updates & Logs

Click images or links below for detailed mission logs.

Mission Summary Mission Summary The Charleston Bump cruise is complete! Read about the team's experience in the Mission Summary.
camera iconVideo of a wreckfish and red bream, two of the largest fish species on the Charleston Bump (mp4, 1.6 MB).

Aug 15 Log August 15, 2003 Read about the many symbiotic relationships in the sea.

Aug 14 Log August 14, 2003 Perspectives from students on the cruise.

Aug 13 Log August 13, 2003 Piecing together a geologic perspective requires first-hand visual interpretation of the seafloor.

Aug 12 Log August 12, 2003 The crew uses a method over a century old to attract and capture deep sea organisms.
camera icon View a video of a manipulator arm retrieving a carrion bucket. (mp4, 2.6 MB) and a camera icon flythrough (mp4, 2.3 MB).

Aug 11 Log August 11, 2003 How do benthic organisms survive the live-bottom habitat of Charleston Bump? They hide! Read about the Cryptic Life of Benthic Crustaceans.
camera icon A benthics video is also available. (Qmp4, 2.6 MB)

Aug 10 Log August 10, 2003 Daily discoveries excite the exploration party and make the wet lab a hub of activity.

Aug 9 Log August 9, 2003 What is ocean weather, and what does it tell us? Read about it in today's mission log.

Aug 8 Log August 8, 2003 The intricate and complex behavior that has evolved in larvae is a marvel. Read about this behavior in today's log.

Aug 7 Log August 7, 2003 The elusive lionfish escapes capture once again.
camera icon Video of a lionfish eluding capture (mp4, 3.1 MB).

Aug 6 Log August 6, 2003 Back on track, two dives result in rewarding deepwater coral samples.

Aug 5 Log August 5, 2003 Complex currents lead to a short stay at 1400 ft.

Aug 4 Log August 4, 2003 Daily "disasters" are turned into productive periods through the positive attitudes of all cruise members.

Aug 3 Log August 3, 2003 A Swordfish takes a swipe at the Johnson Sea Lab II in today's log.

Aug 2 Log August 2, 2003 Several types of crabs are observed during the first dives at Charleston Bump.
camera icon Video of crabs frequently seen on the coral mounds. (mp4, 2 MB).