The second squall line approaches the Okeanos Explorer just before the remotely operated vehicles reach the bottom. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deepwater Wonders of Wake. Download larger version (jpg, 2.2 MB)
Dive 13: Deepwater Corals and Sponges
A quick look at some of the corals and sponges seen while exploring a seamount located ~189 miles south of Wake Island, and near the southern boundary of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Due to weather issues, the dive was cut short, but scientists did still document a number of corals. Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deepwater Wonders of Wake. Download larger version (mp4, 40.8 MB).
Dive 13 was conducted on a seamount located ~189 miles south of Wake Island, and near the southern boundary of the monument. We nicknamed the seamount "Batfish" for its appearance on the map. The dive was situated on the southeasterly ridge, at a depth of approximately 3,100 meters. We were hampered by weather conditions throughout the dive. First, we had to delay launch to allow a squall to pass. Then, just before the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) were about the reach the seafloor, another much stronger squall passed the ship. The winds changed directions and nearly doubled in a matter of a minute or two, so we had to keep the ROVs in the water column to allow the ship to maneuver in the storm. After that squall passed, we had about 1.5 hours on the seafloor before we had to abort the dive due to increasingly poor weather conditions.
Given the short amount of bottom time, the dive focused on doing some collections rather quickly and spending a limited amount of time between collections for exploring. As expected from the depth range, the fauna at greater than 3,000 meters was sparse; however, we did document several species of coral and fish.