Deepwater Canyons 2012 Expedition: Mission Logs

October 1 Log
October 1: Grandmom's Kitchen
The crew on the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster is well trained and quite accommodating. This is their home, but they make you feel like it is yours, too. There's a spirit of cooperation and hospitality here that permeates everything.

September 30 Log
September 30: Standing on the Roof
One of the things that I find captivating about the ocean is the idea that I’m standing (or in a boat floating) on the roof of another world.

September 29 Log
September 29: A Wild Place for Wildlife
For this mission, we are operating approximately 60 miles off the east coast of Virginia exploring the deep waters of the Norfolk Canyon. The kind of wildlife I expected to see at this location is the kind that lives in the ocean.

September 28 Log
September 28: Benthic Passion
Imagine getting in your car and driving to the beach, but instead of stopping to gaze at the ocean, you keep driving straight into it. You drive across the sloping continental shelf, down the steep continental slope, all the way to the flat plains at the very bottom of the ocean. What would you see along the way? 

September 27 Log
September 27: BOEM and Shipwrecks – What's the Connection?
Why is the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) interested in shipwrecks off the Virginia Coast?

September 26 Log
September 26: Billy Mitchell Shipwrecks "Found"?!
As an archaeologist, finding a shipwreck is often a process rather than an event.  When can you say you have found it?

September 25 Log
September 25: Benthic Community Ecology of Canyons
We have had a very successful Leg 3, examining shipwrecks and canyon biology in Norfolk Canyon. For me, our productive sampling in Norfolk Canyon directly complements Leg 1 studies in Baltimore Canyon, facilitating direct comparisons of the benthic communities found between canyons.

September 24 Log
September 24: Shark Attack!
The morning Kraken II remotely operated vehicle (ROV) deployment was picture perfect. The crew of the ROV spent hours carefully documenting another of the ships sunk during the Billy Mitchell air bombing experiments. The ROV monitor showed a steady stream of incredible images of the wreck.

September 23 Log
September 23: Progress!!
Although weather and technical problems have worked against us this leg, the crew of the NOAA ship Nancy Foster has miraculously managed to put us back close to our original schedule. As a result, we have some notable successes to report.

September 22 Log
September 22: The Terminator
The rough start to this mission due to weather and issues with equipment that had delayed the science work by several days were seemingly behind us.

September 21 Log
September 21: You Are What You Eat...
Despite a late start to the day due to winch issues, yesterday was our first successful remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dive. No shipwreck was found on this shallow-water dive, which mostly served to get the Kraken II ROV back in the water to work out any kinks. After bringing the ROV back on board, preparations were made for the night operations. On the schedule: Trawling.

September 20 Log
September 20: Sluicing for Gold?
Scientific gold, perhaps! I am sitting here in the "wet lab" of the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster. It is 8 AM on Thursday morning. We have been on this mission for three full days now and have barely begun the science because of the weather.  

September 19 Log
September 19: Mid-Atlantic Deepwater Canyons: Leg 3
Leg 3 of Continental Shelf Associates’ “Mid-Atlantic Deepwater Canyons” study, supported by NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), got underway on September 17.  

September 13 Log
September 13: Lophelia in the Canyons!
The objective of our dive in Baltimore Canyon was to return to a flat plateau we had seen previously, which had dense colonies of Paramuricea...

September 12 Log
September 12: Wrapping it up in Baltimore Canyon
Today is our last dive in Baltimore Canyon and the next to last dive of this cruise leg. 

September 11 Log
September 11: Cups Ahoy!
Stony corals come in many shapes and sizes, from branching colonies that can form massive reefs, to tiny solitary or ‘cup’ corals that are only a few millimeters across.

September 10 Log
September 10: The Gold Standard
Somewhere in France locked up in a vault is a golf ball size block of metal  - more specifically an alloy of platinum-iridium –that weighs* 1 kilogram (kg)...

September 7 Log
September 7: Brave new worlds
From the perspective of a bacterium, each coral colony is a microbial world, with different landscapes and communities...

September 5 Log
September 5: Rough Start for Leg 2
Actually, in terms of sea conditions, our second leg of this Deepwater Canyons expedition started with calm seas and light winds. Hurricane Leslie had other plans...

Leg I Summary
Leg I Summary (two more to go)
Overall, the first leg was a great success; we accomplished 11 ROV dives and over 150 stations from other operations (CTD casts, box cores, mono-cores). 

August 27 log
August 27: Canyon Fishes
The view available from the ROV cameras of the living fishes in their habitats is a unique perspective and provides invaluable information.

August 26 log
August 26: Baltimore cold seeps re-discovered!!
In the early 1980’s Dr. Barbara Hecker was lead scientist on an exploration cruise in Baltimore Canyon, using a towed camera to survey the seafloor. She made an interesting discovery!

August 24 log
August 24: End of the week update
We have seen some amazing things in the past few ROV dives including a bubblegum coral that was almost 15 feet tall, and patches of carnivorous brittlestars that were buried in the mud with their arms in the air ready to capture small squid and fish that come within their grasp.

August 23 log
August 23: Canyon Productivity
Deepwater canyons, the rivers of the ocean, transport and redistribute sediments.

August 22 log
August 22: Research Project
Craig Robertson, a Ph.D. candidate from Bangor University in the United Kingdom, carries out his doctoral studies project during this cruise. Discover what Craig is hoping to accomplish!

August 21 log
August 21: Genetic Studies in the Deepwater Canyons
Studying genetic connectivity in deep sea communities is important from a management and conservation perspective.

August 20 log
August 20: Energy Flow through Submarine Canyons
In recent times canyons can act as important pathways for transport of particles from continental shelves to deeper waters and the deep-sea.

August 18 log
August 18: First Successfull ROV day
The ROV was loaded with seven tubes (quivers) to hold samples, a biobox with three chambers to keep collections cold, a coral holder, two water sampling bottles (Niskins), an instrument to measure water properties every second, two digital still cameras, and one high definition video camera.

August 17 log
August 17: Busy day throwing gear overboard
Our first real day of work at sea began in the early hours of this morning when we arrived at Norfolk canyon on a beautiful calm summer day. Our goals were to deploy two benthic landers (owned by our Dutch partners at NIOZ) and a mooring (owned by USGS) at different locations within the canyon axis. We deployed the first lander at the deeper end of the canyon at just over  1300m depth. 

August 16 log
August 16: Microbial Architects
I’ve heard people describe corals (especially the branchy ones) as ‘ecosystem architects’ – meaning that the corals create all kinds of habitats for other creatures – places to attach and hang into the current, little hidey holes inside, etc. And that’s true. But the REAL ecosystem architects are the microbes.

For 2011 coverage visit Deep-Water Mid-Atlantic Canyons Exploration 2011

Visit North Carolina Museum of Natrual History exit iconExternal link NC Musuem Blog exit iconExternal link for additional logs from the ship!

Sign up for the Ocean Explorer E-mail Update List.