What's That Over There?

From the daily blog of the University of Washington students aboard R/V Thomas Thompson using the ROV ROPOS to conduct seafloor surveys in support of the NEPTUNE Canada cabled observatory and to recover seismometers at Endeavour.

The start of the midnite to 4 am watch marked the completion of the first 24 hours of the ODP 889 cable route survey. Within minutes of beginning our data logging duties, the ROPOS ROV came upon a large object that turned out to be a neatly stacked pile of military ordnance sitting on the bottom right in the proposed cable route. They were artillery projectiles that were once contained on a pallet or in a wooden box that had long since decomposed away. Two insights that I gained from this event were the importance of visual observation in ocean bottom exploration, and how mans actions of the past can influence our actions in the future. Obviously, the knowledge of unexploded ordnance will be an important action item to address before expensive cable laying equipment is used along this route. During our night shift we observed numerous bottom trawl scars, a large water logged tree with bare branches and isolated sightings of individual angular rocks and metal debris. Some notable marine organisms sighted along this fairly flat undulating soft sediment included, several octopus, rattail fish, skates, sea bass, sole, hag fish, crabs, sea whips , sea pens, jellyfish, brittle stars, starfish, seastars and anemones.

Dr. M (1730 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (http://www.scienceofthesouth.com/), connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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