Northern Neighbors: Transboundary Exploration of Deepwater Communities:
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.


Mission Summary

Mission Summary

This expedition was our second transboundary collaboration, building on our highly successful 2014 mission. The success of these missions has strengthened the collaboration between the US and Canadian scientists involved.

June 21

June 21: The End Becomes the Beginning

Although the cruise is ending, our work is just beginning as we process our samples and start analyzing the data. The deep-sea coral puzzle is not complete but our results will fill in gaps and help build a more complete understanding of deep-sea coral and their contribution to the structure and function of the deep sea.

June 20

June 20: More Than Just a Pretty Map

Prior to each ROV survey, the science team identifies potential targets. My role on the science team is to analyze the existing data for each location so I can help the science team choose survey transects that are likely to pass over prime habitat for deep-sea corals and sponges. I begin by compiling depth data from any multibeam surveys available for these areas.

June 19

June 19: We Got Caught Mapping

Even though we can’t use the ROPOS ROV in these rough seas, the conditions out here are still favorable for multibeam mapping. Believe it or not, there are still many parts of the Gulf of Maine, a well-known body of water, where we still have no information on the topography of the seafloor.

June 18

June 18: Vive la Difference!

The high densities of Paramuricea and Primnoa observed today in the relatively shallow waters of the Gulf of Maine are unique off the northeast United States. The proximity of these habitats to shore increases the likelihood that they are important for our commercially important fish, thus increasing the need to protect and preserve these fragile habitats.

June 18

June 18: A Squid’s Eye View of the Canyons

We have been seeing a lot of cephalopods on this cruise, and they never fail to elicit shouts of “squid!” from the control room. The star of the show was a seemingly never-ending school of Illex illecebrosus, the commercially important short-finned squid.

June 17

June 17: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

My main duty on the ship is to aid in the processing of collected specimens and organize the dive logs and video. Now that these action-packed two weeks of deep-sea exploration are well underway, here is a behind the scenes peek of the data tasks on a ROPOS cruise.

June 16

June 16: The Mud People

I am on this cruise to collect samples of soft sediment, usually fine muds, from different habitats on the seafloor. The ROPOS team is doing an amazing job collecting these samples using a robotic arm to insert our plastic core tubes into the sea floor to collect the sediment.

June 15

June 15: Comrades and Carnivores

During this cruise, we hope to find several carnivorous sponge specimens so we can get a better idea of the sorts of environments where these sponges flourish and also get some high-definition pictures in the hopes that we can identify specimens that have recently been feeding.

June 13, 14

June 13, 14: Two Days of Mud

Returning to Corsair Canyon for the first time since our last visit in 2014 generated excitement among the science team, as the data collected on that dive helped Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s decision to close Corsair Canyon to protect fragile resident corals that grow slowly and damage easily when disturbed by fishing gear. The main goal for us this time was to see other unexplored areas of the canyon.

June 12

June 12: A Major Find in a Minor Canyon

Day 3 of our ROPOS dive surveys went off without a hitch. This time, we dove on an unnamed “minor” canyon between Heezen and Nygren canyons in U.S. waters. Our intention was to survey the eastern wall of the canyon in an up and down, zig-zag pattern.

June 11

June 11: It Was Worth the Wait

The remnants of the storm were still recognizable in the swells that we either endured or enjoyed as we slept overnight. We arrived at our first station, an area on the continental slope between Munson and Nygren canyons that contained many smaller, unnamed canyons. Finally, all the practice and preparation paid off as the remotely operated vehicle was successfully launched at around 10:00 am.

June 10

June 10: High-tech Meets Low-tech

One of the research objectives for this cruise is to collect samples of deep-sea corals and associated fauna for genetic connectivity and coral reproduction studies. Collecting the samples using ROPOS and then keeping the samples separate requires a mix of high-tech and low-tech ingenuity.

June 9

June 9: In Transit

After a 24-hour weather delay, we were happy to pull away from the dock in Newport, Rhode Island, and watch land recede into the distance. Although remnants of the storm were still being felt off shore, it was a beautiful morning to leave, and we were eager to go. The views of the bay, the bridges, the marinas, and mansions were stunning on the way out of Narraganset Bay.

June 8

June 8: Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay, NOT Wasting Time

With a high pressure ridge over the Gulf of Maine today, and a gale warning with reported winds of 30-40 knots on the edge of the shelf, and seas at 14-18 feet, the Navy told us it would be wise to stay at the dock until Friday morning at 9 AM. As frustrating as it is to wait out the weather, everyone is taking the opportunity to get even better prepared for the cruise.

June 7

June 7: Mobilization – Bigelow and ROPOS Prepare to Set Sail

Gray skies, drizzle, and cool temperatures did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crews of NOAA Ship Bigelow and the remotely operated vehicle ROPOS on Monday as we began mobilization for our transboundary cruise.

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