08/18/03 - Snowy Wreck
Last night the sub came in around 7 p.m. with a wonderful assortment of invertebrates and a few fish. We had a tiny crab with black tips on its claws, two huge sponges, three different kinds of starfish and a fish called a "green eye."
After dinner we decided to steam towards our next target -- the southern Lophelia Banks. We arrived on site about 5 a.m. in the middle of a storm. The rain was torrential, the sky was full of lightning, and the seas were quite choppy. It was obvious that we were not going to get a morning sub dive in. Instead of waiting for the weather to clear we chose to go ahead to the Snowy Wreck site where we put down the ROV.
We were interested in the Snowy Wreck because we had heard from fishermen that it was a good fishing area and that there was a noticeable decrease in depth in the area. We didn't know if it was a wreck or a large coral head. The ROV went in about 10:15 a.m. and we soon confirmed that it is, indeed, a wreck. It appeared to be a steel-hulled fishing boat, and the ROV pilot could see lines and portholes. The camera spotted several fish as well. Unfortunately the current was very strong and visibility was quite poor (about 5 feet) so we were not willing to put down the sub.
As we hauled in the ROV we noticed a long, free-floating line drifting near the ship. We stopped the engines but continued bringing in the ROV. The crew kept the long line off the ROV so we were able to successfully bring it back on board. We started pulling in the floating rope and it was covered with goose-necked barnacles. We collected some of the barnacles to use in the research. We also discovered that the rope was caught on something on our bow. We decided to head into shallower water so we could put a couple of divers in the water to free the rope. After steaming eastward a little way one of the crew saw that the rope was wrapped on the intake pipe, and the crew and captain worked together to free it. It was great to solve that unexpected problem without getting too far from our target dive sites.
We are heading to a target site in the proposed MPA. Our hope is that the seas have settled down, and that we will be able to put nets and trawls out tonight and send the sub down in the morning.
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