08/11/02 - Sub dive!
Sunset was a multifaceted event last night. We started watching about eight to twelve striped dolphins riding on the bow wave. They frolicked and chased each other in front of the ship for about thirty minutes. Everyone came out to peer over the edge of the bow to enjoy this show. As the dolphins swam away, the sun began to set. The evening sky was filled with magenta, turquoise, and saffron bands across the panoramic sky. The sliver of moon rose with a star just to the left, and we all appreciated the spectacle. Then it was time to go back to work.
Otter Trawls were the chosen mode of sampling for the day yesterday. The first late-day Otter Trawl collected an amazing assortment of coral and fish. Everyone was excited to see the variety of species we had collected. We sorted the fish and some were taken for photographs. We spent several hours picking tiny brittle stars off of the pieces of coral. The next attempt did not have as much coral or fish, but did bring in a snake mackerel which was a new fish for this trip. We are glad that we caught such a variety earlier because we lost the trawl when it snagged on an unknown hazard.
This morning, the seas had finally calmed down enough for a sub dive. Art Howard, our videographer, and Ken Sulak from USGS in Florida, descended to 1,400 feet where they observed mounds of Lophelia, hundreds of brittle stars, an octopus, and a conger eel. Art's log reflecting on his first sub dive should appear on NOAA's Ocean Explorer Web site by August thirteenth.
While the sub's batteries were recharging, we assembled a new Epibenthic Dredge and tried it off the stern. It brought up a bushel of dead coral with several interesting (but small) invertebrates such as brittle stars, tube worms, hermit crabs, and sea urchins. The second dive left about 4:00 pm with Steve Ross from NCNERR in the stern and Martha Nizinski from NOAA/NMFS in the bow. We are looking forward to seeing what they bring back.
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