JC010: Mud volcanoes and submarine canyons


Cruise diary

Day 15: Saturday 26 May 2007
Position: Latitude 35º, Longitude 8º, Bearing 249º
Weather: Rainy

Gillian writes:

"We are coming to the last few days of the cruise. Time on a ship seems to pass quite slowly and it seems a long time since we set sail from Vigo two weeks ago. But strangely, because each day is full of interesting things the days pass by quickly. Time  on a ship is very different to land.  

Today I spent a lot of time talking to the technicians who work with the ROV Isis. If you would like to know a little more about how you could have an exciting job like this look at the special feature on them.

Another really interesting investigation is being carried out by Ana and Marina using a big plastic disc with a filter inside it. This is attached to the Isis. The sea water is sucked through it with a pump and a fine filter net of 64 microns is placed there to catch any larvae. The filter is then pealed off and placed in a preservative and they will be identified and counted on their return to their University in Portugal. If we are to protect ecosystems and work out what animals prefer to live on and in what conditions they survive best this type of science will help us greatly.

The Downs and Alton Convent Schools polystyrene cups came up last night, a fraction of the size, after being subjected to heavy pressure at 2200m. I am sure they are looking forward to seeing them next week back in school!

Eduard writes:

"Isis came up this morning from the depths, bringing with it all the water samples from the aqualab and, of course, some polystyrene cups we loaded before its dive. This time, we packed them with paper to preserve their initial shape. And it worked!

It is raining cats and dogs today! Fortunately, we don’t have any core to work on, now, so the team won’t get wet on the working deck (three cores were done this early morning before it started to rain). The Isis is diving again. It seems that it doesn’t stop, actually. It has been under the water for 40 hours and now it will spend another 40 hours down there! In this dive, Ana and Marina will leave down on the seabed some colonisation rings (you can see a photo of Ana making these rings in the diary entry for Monday 14 May). These colonisation rings are metal cylinders, encircled by heavy chains, this way they are weighted down so they don’t move. It is very important to know where they are because when the experiment finishes they have to come back to pick them up! Ana and Marina have recorded the latitude and the longitude. They want to investigate the organisms that will colonise these different substrates. For that, they are going to leave some of them on the seabed for three weeks, and others for one year. Each ring contains one of theses three substrates: stone, wood and grass. You can see some photos of these cylinders below. The one with the cylinders on the seabed has taken a few days ago when they put them over the Mercator mud volcano. The three capital letters you can see are M for Madera (wood in Portuguese), C for Calcarea (stone) and A for Alfalfa (grass). Ana and Marina are looking forward to the day they will pick them up to see what kind of organisms have been colonized their rings and the differences between the rings collected after three weeks and the rings that are going to be on the seabed for a year. One year waiting for the results! They should be patient, shouldn’t they?

Ana and Marina prepare the larvae filters

Carbonate blocks

Soaking the colonisation rigs

Pots full of larvae in seawater

Holothurian (sea cucumber) on the seafloor

Not a flower, but a sponge!

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