Finding Coral sails into the sunset

PhD student Michael Reuscher has been guest posting from the RV Cape Flattery aboard the Finding Coral Expedition, sponsored by the Living Ocean Society in British Colombia, Canada. He summarizes the cruise accomplishments, and bids farewell below. On behalf of Deep Sea News, let me say this was a job well done. Congratulations, team. This was a remarkable undertaking, and a real success.

Aquarius and two DeepWorker submersibles on the back deck of the RV Cape Flattery
Aquarius and two DeepWorker submersibles on the back deck of the RV Cape Flattery

The last day of submersible dives lies in the past. The RV Cape Flattery is steaming back to the south. This afternoon we will arrive in Vancouver. The atmosphere of industriousness gave way to an atmosphere of departure. The activities have switched from dive preparations and sample processing to organizing last thoughts and packing up supplies and personal belongings.

During our “Finding Coral” expedition we found around fifteen different coral species – the exact number has to be determined by examination of the gorgonian’s microscopic spicules and the coral’s DNA. Forty two dives brought up more than one terrabyte of video clips. We went down with the Deep Worker at eight different diving sites that ranged from flat, muddy soft sediment to vertical rock walls. Samples from corals, polychaetes, sponges, crustaceans, and brittle stars were taken and remain with the scientists or will be shipped to specialists.

For all the divers, Sheila McKenna, Jennifer Lash, Tom Shirley, Lance Morgan, Greg Workman and me the cruise was certainly a lifetime experience. For some of us -all are certified scuba divers- it was the first time to dive in these depths, for all of us it was the first, and maybe last, time to pilot a submersible.

The science team will start right away to work on the cruise report and publications. For the Nuytco crew, another exciting cruise is dawning: they will accompany NASA scientists who will look for aliens in a lake in British Columbia!