06/12/04 - Katie's first dive!
|Lat:||31° 46.6 min N|
|Long:||79° 11.6 min W|
We arrived somewhere off the coast of Savannah, Georgia this morning and put a couple of nets in the water. We think our nets may be too coarse to catch much, so members of the science team have been modifying the nets throughout the day.
Katie Cartwright, Educator at Sea, sat in the stern with Steve Ross in the bow during the morning dive. They landed in an area with less coral than we have seen before, but collected a bright red scorpion fish and a pink pillowstar. They also gathered some Lophelia samples for Branwen Williams from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) to take back to the lab for aging studies and for Cheryl Morrison to use for DNA studies. Katie had a wonderful time and was grinning from ear to ear when she returned from the dive. In the stern she has to keep track of all of the samples collected, remind the scientist in the bow to change the videotapes, record all of her observations, and videotape things that she sees out the stern porthole.
Just before the sub came up, one of the sub crew used a hook and line to catch a mahi mahi. It is also called a "dolphin fish" or just plain "dolphin", but it is NOT the mammal! It is a beautiful yellow fish with a blue-green back.
We traveled to a new location for the afternoon dive. We used the fathometer to get an image of the bottom and found we were over an area with lots of ridges. When we looked across the sea there was an area of "standing waves" which look like whitecaps surrounded by relatively flat blue water. One would think that the ridges on the bottom below would not effect the ocean surface because the water is so deep, but this phenomena has been reported several times.
Branwen Williams was in the stern and Martha Nizinski in the bow for the afternoon dive. Although the habitat was not as rich as they had hoped, they did return with an octopus. Octopi are mollusks in the class Cephalopoda. Unlike other mollusks, they have no shell at all. They swim well using a siphon system, but more commonly walk along the bottom on their eight arms. Octopi are quite flexible and can fit through tiny cracks and crevices. Active predators, they feed on crustaceans and snails.
The submersible never made it to the target site because of difficulty fighting the current. It was extremely strong at the bottom (almost a knot) and much stronger than that along the ridges.
We are now steaming towards an area off the coast of Charleston,
South Carolina. We have explored this region before and hope to
find some good Lophelia habitats.
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