CD179: Deep-sea biology of the Portuguese canyons


Who's who on board the ship...

The scientific team

Dave Billett

Dave Billett is the Chief Scientist on board this cruise. He is a deep sea biologist at NOC, working on the ecology of large deep-sea invertebrates, such as sea cucumbers, starfish and sea urchins for about 29 years. Most recently David has been working on how global change at the sea surface might have an immediate and long-term effect on seabed populations 3 miles deep and on how jellyfish swarms at the sea surface can form lakes of rotting jelly detritus on the deep-sea floor. David is interested in how large-scale natural changes in deep-sea communities can be distinguished from those caused by man's direct influence, such as deep-sea fishing and the utilisation of non-living resources.

Veerle Huvenne

Veerle is a postdoc researcher at NOC, working on deep-water corals and their sedimentary environment. She will be interested in any corals we find in the canyons - which sedimentary regime they live in and what sort of reef structures they build. Veerle is also interested in the overall process of downslope sediment transport and canyon formation and in the associated bedforms on the canyon floor. During the cruise, Veelre will mainly be responsible for processing the new TOBI sidescan sonar data and building and maintaining an up-to-date GIS (Geographical Information System) of the area (a digital map with all the information from the area), and to assist in the coring and sediment sampling operations.

Raquel Arzola

Raquel is currently doing a Master in Research (MRes) in Marine Geology and Geophysics, for which she is studying the general sediment processes that take place in submarine canyons. This work should put her well on the way for starting a PhD in October, looking at the frequency and cause of turbidity currents that flow down the Portugese canyons. Her supervisors for her PhD will be Phil Weaver and Doug Masson.

Abigail Pattenden

Abi is a PhD student at NOC, looking at epibenthic megafaunal communities within submarine canyons using video footage and still photography. She will be trying to find out how physical factors such as hydrodynamic regime, sedimentology and topography affect these communities. By looking at a few different canyons, she hopes to see changes in community composition which relate to the different environmental factors found in each canyon. Abi's PhD supervisor is Paul Tyler.

Teresa Amaro

Teresa is Portuguese and has just finished her PhD Thesis at the Netherlands Institute For Sea Research (NIOZ). She is just about to start a research scholarship with Dave Billett at NOC about the ecological importance of the Portuguese “Grand Canyons” (Nazaré and Setúbal) in terms of structure and functioning of benthic communities and of key species.

Sarah Murty

Sarah is a first year PhD student at NOCS. The aim of her PhD is to find out whether shallow water ecotoxicology experiments can be applied to deep-sea animals. This is currently not known because deep-sea animals have different physiologies compared to their shallow water relatives, and it is hard to carry out experiments on deep-sea animals because there are so hard to access. Sarah is on cruise CD179 to help everyone else out with their research, and to get experience of life on a cruise.


Dário is a Portuguese PhD student from the University of Aveiro. His PhD thesis will focus on the benthic assemblages from the Portuguese canyon systems. He will look at the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Dário has a diverse background in marine science. In the past he has worked in coastal management, fisheries management, and marine ecology. He is now interested in the deep-sea benthic communities and looking forward to find new species in the deep-sea Portuguese waters.


John Dinley

John is a retired orthopaedic surgeon who is now 15 months into a PhD at NOCS. John is now getting a fascinating insight, on the Charles Darwin's last voyage, into deep sea science and investigation. Although his PhD involves investigating the digestive processes of polychaetes, the high tide in Poole Bay is normally the deepest water that John is involved in, apart from a hobby of scuba diving.

Xana Aranda da Silva

Xana (Ana Aranda da Silva) was born in Mozambique but is also Portuguese and has just finished her PhD Thesis at NOCS on "Benthic protozoan community attributes in relation to environmental gradients in the Arabian Sea". She is onboard this cruise already collecting samples for her postdoc, which will focus on benthic foraminiferal communities in relation to past and present environmental gradients associated with the Nazaré and Setúbal canyons (Portuguese continental margin).

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June 2005
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