08/13/02 - Searching for lophelia
We are sending this a little early today because the current plan is for Liz to go in the sub this afternoon. Chances are she will not be back up until after the mail goes out.
The second sub dive yesterday was shortened because there was a great deal of current along the sea floor. The sub is not powerful enough to fight strong currents. They could not get close enough to any of the coral heads to really identify anything. We made the decision to leave the area and head further south towards a place where we thought there might be some coral. We did not really know if there was any coral at this spot, but we wanted the chance to find out. We started motoring right after dinner and enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the bow. Everyone got a good night's sleep because there were nets going out and no large machinery moving around on deck. The big question as we went to bed was would we be able to find this new area of coral?
We got to the spot where we thought we might find it and started running transects. This meant we watched the fathometer give depth readings back and forth over the ocean floor. We were looking for shallower water. During one of the runs, we saw a large rise from the floor so we decided to send the sub down in the morning.
The sub descended about 8:00 AM and found a new area of lophelia. There was a steep bank with coral, anemones, fish, and a crab we had not see in this area before. We were really pleased to document our new find. Now we are heading to an inner reef area and planning to dive at 4:00 PM.
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