MASTS Deep Sea Collaboration Project (Survey 0915S) – update 21 July 2015

July 21, 2015 by No Comments | Category Collaborations, Marine Directorate Science, Research Vessel Surveys

Our update of the Deep Sea survey continues…..

Day 2

Steaming west, passed the Butt of Lewis, the Flannen Isles, St Kilda, off the continental slope and into the Rockall Trough. The winds are easing and the sea state is improving all the time. Between construction of the multicore and final preparation of the lander,a sperm whale was spotted spouting in the distance. By midnight we were hovering in a depth of 1800 m about to deploy the whale bone lander. Alan Jamieson of Aberdeen University’s Oceanlab has designed to lander to study the rates and processes by which a group of specialist worms devour whale bones. Time lapse cameras will take pictures over the next year. A few last minute checks and over she went, the strobe beacon descending until its pressure sensors turned it off and it made its way 1800 m to the seabed. One of the graduate students aboard specialises in making 3-D digital images and has created a model of the whale skull, it can be seen here. She will make similar 3-D reconstructions of the creatures we find on the survey.

Day 3

Steaming to the Hatton Rockall Basin. The site sits at the base of Rockall bank – it’s a small trench 1200 m deep and some 2 miles long by half a mile wide. We arrive around midday and first up the Oceanlab team deploy their baited lander hoping to attract scavenging fish in the area to photograph. Next up we get the TV camera ready. Neil Collie and Mike Stewart of MSS remotely fly the TV ‘chariot’ over the seabed at a height of about 2-4 m taking HD video footage of the seabed. To begin with it is a familiar deep-sea floor – worm burrows and starfish, the odd seapen and sponge. Then suddenly the visibility begins to get poor due to particulate matter in the water. It like it’s snowing down there. Then suddenly some odd features are seen to snake their way across the seabed – greenish with white patches. The particulate matter gets heavier until it’s like driving in a blizzard, then all of a sudden its so thick we can’t see the seabed anymore and we’re only 1-2 m above it. Driving the chariot blind for another half hour we eventually bring the camera back. Very strange.

Francis Neat, Marine Scotland Science


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