Header image for expedition: Lophelia II 2010: Oil Seeps and Deep Reefs

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.

  • The Final Dive

    November 3  |  By Chuck Fisher, PhD

    The gorgonian sea fan <em>Callogorgia americana</em> and symbiotic brittle stars from a site at approximately 350 meters depth in the Green Canyon area of the Gulf of Mexico. In the bottom left of the image are some small, brown anemones that have colonized a portion of the skeleton of the sea fan.

    Our final dive of this expedition was an exploratory dive to an area 7 miles to the SW of the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and to the same depth as that site.

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  • People and Careers: Ensign Bryan Begun

    November 2  |  By Ronald Brown Safety Officer

    Ensign Bryan Begun is the Safety Officer aboard the <em>Ronald H. Brown</em>. Friendly and personable, Bryan easily mingled with the science team.

    Catching a scientist for an interview simply means you must search out one of the labs. But looking for Safety Officer Bryan Begun required a different tact.

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  • People and Careers: Walter Cho

    October 31  |  By Sheli Smith, PhD

    Walter Cho examining a brittlestar in the lab.

    Growing up near the Pacific Ocean in Oxnard, California, Walter Cho always loved the ocean, so going into biology in college was not a big leap.

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  • Wrecks as Artificial Deep Reefs

    October 30  |  By Cheryl Morrison, PhD

    Black-bellied rose fish find shelter within a mass of Lophelia.

    There are many known cases of Lophelia pertusa colonizing man-made structures, such as shipwrecks and oil rigs here and in the eastern North Atlantic Ocean.

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  • The GulfOil

    October 29  |  By Sheli Smith, PhD

    Rising over 10 meters off the seafloor, the bow and stowed anchors bear mute testimony to the 1942 catastrophe.

    Yesterday we prepared all day for the long dive that would allow the archaeologists, the ecologists, geneticists, and geologists to study and collect samples.

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  • People and Careers: Tina Enderlein

    October 27  |  By Sheli Smith, PhD

    Large scale photo mosaics help scientists relocate sites that have been previously studied.

    Tina Enderlein first came to my attention through emails. This incredibly organized woman kept the entire crew on track making sure we submitted myriad forms, took online courses for NOAA, and got inoculated.

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  • Black Corals

    October 26  |  By Dannise V. Ruiz

    The Jason ROV's robotic arm collects several stalks of black coral from the seafloor. Dannise Ruiz is currently studying three black coral populations on the second leg of the expedition.

    Approximately 230 species of black coral (Antipatharia) are distributed from shallow (5m) to deep waters (8600 m) around the world.

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  • Serious Bottom Time

    October 25  |  By Mark Schrope

    Hoisting the sediment trap aboard after recovery.

    Yesterday morning at 7:30 a.m. and according to schedule, the Jason ROV was looking at the last of the sediment traps the team will be collecting this trip.

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  • Warning: Greenhorn Aboard

    October 24  |  By Samuel E. Georgian

    Bringing the ROV set Medea and Jason home aboard the research vessel, Ronald Brown is just the beginning of the research.

    Greenhorn. Rookie. Novice. When it’s your first time out at sea, these are all phrases that you hear pretty often.

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  • Getting the Picture Over Time and Space

    October 23  |  By Ian MacDonald

    Morning recovery of the <em>Jason</em> ROV onto the <em>Ron Brown</em>.

    Jason gives us amazing access to the deep-sea. This is my third expedition with Jason and the technology keeps getting better.

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  • Documenting Octocoral Diversity in the Gulf

    October 21  |  By Andrea Quattrini

    Microscopic view of the coral polyps of Paracalyptrophora sp. and Acanthogorgia sp. showing the differences in polyp morphology between species. Polyps of Paracalyptrophora are downward, and arranged in whorls whereas Acanthogorgia has non-contractile polyps projecting outward from the axis. Also, Paracalyptrophora has larger, flat sclerites whereas the sclerites of Acanthogorgia are thin, and spine-like.

    Octocorals in the deep sea are highly diverse, and new species are continually being collected and described with the help of deep-sea expeditions such as this one on the R/V Ron Brown.

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  • Coral Metabolism

    October 20  |  By Lara Henry

    Jason II prepares to collect samples from a rocky outcrop covered in Lophelia.

    There isn’t a lot known about the basic physiology of corals, especially that of deep-sea corals. Like any other animal, corals need to breathe oxygen to survive.

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  • Surprises in Green Canyon

    October 19  |  By Kody Kramer

    Collection of the dead giant isopod (Bathynomus giganteous) found floating in the large brine pool, just visible in the background.

    This past weekend, the cruise visited a brand new, unexplored area called Green Canyon 246 (GC246).

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  • Gas-powered Circle of Life – Succession in a Deep-sea Ecosystem

    October 18  |  By Pen-Yuan Hsing

    Close up image of a clump of mussels. Forming dense beds, deep-sea mussels are often early colonizers at cold seeps.

    One objective of this cruise is to learn why we find deepwater corals where we do.

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  • The “Trappings” of Great Fortune

    October 17  |  By Timothy M. Shank, PhD

    The robotic arm of a remotely operated vehicle samples a clump of deepwater coral.

    It was a balmy afternoon on September 3, 2009 when the crew of the NOAA Ship Ron Brown and a few of us scientists let go of a 50-foot long line, a mooring that included a 500 pound anchor, 300 pounds of positive floatation, a meter to measure current speed and direction, and a sediment trap to collect the rain of falling particles to the deep.

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