CD179: Deep-sea biology of the Portguese canyons


Daily diary

Saturday 22 April 2006

Dario writes:

"We were making plans for a long night of megacore sampling but suddenly the winch did not collaborate and affected our plans for the rest of the day…

Overnight we took a megacore sample at a water depth of 3260 meters. When the megacorer was submerging there was a problem with the winch. As we expected the core samples from the megacore were partially disturbed, recovering just six of the twelve corers of the megacore. The samples were not significant for quantitative studies of macrofauna but would probably be interesting to analyse in terms of molecular studies (i.e. genetics). To do that we stored them in appropriate plastic bags and froze them at -80º C.

Preparing the megacorer for launch

While the winch was being repaired by the RRS Charles Darwin’s technicians and engineers we steamed to a SHRIMP site located at the depth of 1400 meters. When everything was again ready we started the SHRIMP operations and surprisingly found a huge amount of suspended particles that we assume to be associated to the presence of Mediterranean deep-sea water. After taking SHRIMP out of the water we decided to do a new deployment of a CTD / SAP at the same depth, to take a sample of the presumed Mediterranean water for later laboratory analysis.

Our friends the dolphins were present during all the day giving us willingness to continue the rest of the operations. They are known to be common here in this beautiful area of Portugal, which is situated in the vicinity of a recently created Marine Protected Area.

We then repeated a new SHRIMP operation at the end of the afternoon and got interesting images of the deep-sea bottom! The fauna was generally characterized by deep-sea eels, white sponges, echinoderms, sea cucumbers and the much-expected deep-sea corals. Several items of lost fishing gear were found along the SHRIMP transect, remiding us of the importance of this fishing area in Portugal.

We are looking forward to analysing all the fauna in further detail to have a better idea of what inhabits the Portuguese deep-sea canyons.

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April 2006
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