Sue Zupko: 7 Along the Bottom

NOAA Teacher at Sea: Sue Zupko
NOAA Ship: Pisces
Mission: Study deep water coral, Lophelia Pertusa, in the Gulf Stream
Geographical Area of Cruise: SE United States near Gulf Stream from off Mayport, FL to Key Biscayne, FL
Date: June 3, 2011
Time: 16:33 EDT

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Speed: 2.4 knots
Visibility: 10 n.m.
Surface Water Temperature: 28.6°C
Air Temperature:29.6°C
Relative Humidity: 60%
Barometric Pressure:1017.80mb
Water Depth: 251.75 m
Salinity: 36.35 PSU

If this is your first visit to my Teacher at Sea blog, you might want to scroll down to the bottom to follow the story of the voyage of the Pisces.

We’re here.  At 245 meters, we have 100% sediment on the bottom.   We have seen a lot of Cancer Crabs, eels, Spider Crabs, and Hermit Crabs.  When we first reached our survey site, we found a soft bottom which looks like the surface of the moon with small craters.  There wasn’t a lot of visible life, either.  After we flew a bit further the ground cover changed to coral rubble (old, dead broken coral).  There were more fish and worms visible. Finally, success!  We found a mound of  live Lophelia pertusa. Mounds are formed by Lophelia rubble covered with some sediment, then more Lophelia rubble.  Live Lophelia then grow all over the mound.  The mound we found had Lophelia of all sizes covering it.  What a find!  According to John Reed, one of our coral experts, the mound we observed is the shallowest Lophelia mound that has been recorded in this part of the Atlantic.

It took over three hours to reach our dive site once the ROV was launched.  Again, patience is a virtue.

Kevin, the Captain, and Andy surround computer screens and discuss the mission.
Kevin Stierhoff, Captain Jeremy Adams, and Chief Scientist Andy David discuss the mission.
A red fish called Big Eye sitting on the bottom.
Big Eye

You might want to check out the web site, Extreme Corals 2011.

There is more information about our mission and we are posting pictures there.  Enjoy!

Golden crab walking along the ocean floor
Golden Crab

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