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2004 Daily Log

06/15/04 - Monkfish & many more


Time: 7:32 pm  
Lat: 34° 19.5 min N
Long: 75° 47.2 min W

Lophelia coralWe arrived at our next study site about 4 am and took a few fathometer readings. This is an area that we have studied extensively over the past few years. Thankfully, the seas had calmed down considerably and after a quick plankton net tow which caught several "leptocephali" or larval eels, we sent the sub down with Ken Sulak in the bow and Branwen Williams in the stern. Back home in the lab, Branwen is working on aging the coral we find out here and the dive provided a terrific opportunity for her to see the corals in situ (in their original position). The scientists returned with several samples, including a few unusual crabs and some corals. In between dives we sent down the otter trawl. This net is designed to catch things just above the bottom of the sea. It has two wooden structures called "doors" which spread out the net as the ship steams forward.

crab caught on 6/15/2004The otter trawl was quite successful. There were several types of fish, three different types of sea urchins, and at least three different kinds of crabs. We brought up some very interesting small red and white hermit crabs that live in the hard tubular casings left by worms. The casings, which look like soda straws, are about 1/4 inch (6.4 mm) in diameter and the hermit crabs have long slender bodies that can completely retreat inside the tubes.

anglerfish or monkfish, photo courtesy of NOAA
Photo courtesy of NOAA
With Steve Ross in front and Martha Nizinski in the stern, the team caught a large monkfish, also known as an anglerfish, when they went down for the afternoon dive. A monkfish can be identified by its flat body and huge, gaping mouth. A spine on the front of its head has a fleshy tip, which the fish wiggles back and forth to lure its prey towards its monstrous mouth. This species lays large gelatinous mats of eggs which may be 20-36 feet (6-11 m) long and 2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 m) wide. In North Carolina they generally spawn in March [1]. The scientists also collected several galatheid crabs, some small bioluminescent fishes called "myctophids" or lantern fish, and a large sunstar approximately 12 inches (30.5 cm) in diameter.

Tonight we plan to use nets to sample in the area of today's dives, which is off of Cape Lookout, and expect to dive fairly close by tomorrow.

[1] Fisherman's Guide: fishes of the Southeastern United States, by Charles S. Manooch, III; NC State Museum of Natural History; (1984).

06/15/04 Research Data

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