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Entries in mesophotic (3)

Thursday
Jan272011

Attenborough and deep sea corals

There’s a new website up that talks about deep sea corals, including one of the species the science team has been studying here in Brazil - Lophelia.  Its even called Lophelia.org and was put together by some Scottish scientists who discovered Lophelia reefs off the coast of Scotland in 2003.  It’s very comprehensive and well worth a visit, and it’s recently earned an endorsement of the doyen of nature documentaries, Sir David Attenborough.  One of the weird things to think about when you click on over is that the same corals that form those reefs in Scotland are forming deep reefs here in Brazil.  How is that possible?  I mean, one is in the chilly North Atlantic, while the other is in the tripical south Atlantic.  Well, if you think about it, once you go deep, it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s always gloomy dark and cold!  For example, even though the surface temperature was in the high 20’s (low 80’s for the US readers) here in Brazil, the temperature down where the sub was going was 7-9 dgrees (around 45).

A Dendrophyllia alternata (originally mislabeled here as Lophelia) colony collected from the Abrolhos platform

The new website is a great resource for learning more about Lophelia and other deep coral reef species and just maybe it will help us all broaden our horizons to start considering coral reefs in a context broader than the insanely colourful shallow reefs that most easily comes to mind when you hear the phrase.

Monday
Jan242011

LOLcat goes all Cousteau

This is what happens when you have a lot of steaming time between transects:

Monday
Jan242011

A sobering sight at 600 meters

On the very first Johnson Sea Link dive during this cruise, the very second thing seen on the bottom was the bottle shown in the video below shot by Johnson Sea Link crew.  This was observed at 600m (technically, it was at 1,850ft), in soft calcareous mud, over 45 nautical miles from land and 60 miles from the nearest town.  On the next dive, the scientists observed a lot of old longline fishing gear wrapped around the reef structure.  It seems, even in this remote location, which has never before been visited by humans, trash from human activities elsewhere has made its mark on the habitat.  It is a prominent and disturbing reminder of our impact on even the unseen parts of the planet.  I can only hope that this bottle becomes a home for some small thing, or that it becomes crusted over with coralline algae such that one day it is simply a bottle-shaped rhodolith