Photo taken by the ROBIO lander. Each arm of the cross is 1 m long.
The ROV is recovered by the crew.
The red spiny crab caught in today's trawl.
Date:9 July 2004
Author: Atle Totland (IMR, Norway), Ricardo Serrão Santos (DOP-University of the Azores, Horta, Portugal)
This has been a great new day at the MAR with slightly rough conditions in the morning and some incredible events.
A blue whale and at least one sea turtle were seen wandering around. It was also time to compile some of the data collected during the two trawls of this second leg. At least 62 species, some identified only at the genus level, and a few others which were not recognised yet beyond family level have been analysed. An interesting aspect is that the plot of the occurrence of species shows a clear distinction between the two trawls.
ROBIO, the photo-lander operate by Monty Priede and Nikki King from the University of Aberdeen's OCEANLAB was deployed yesterday but the images it captured were only seen today. They are incredibly sharp and clear. Several fish were caught by the camera while attracted to the bait. The most conspicuous were a big ray and the "ghost shark" Hydrolagus pallidus, seen in the photograph close to lander which was sitting at around 2000 m depth. The series of experiments to be conducted with the lander is expected to give important information on the occurrence and density of deep sea fish on the MAR.
A major part of the day was dedicated to the deployment of the ROV AGLANTA. The operation was promising. During the slow descent to the sea bottom through the dark sea, slightly illuminated by the AGLANTA lights, mesopelagic fauna were observed. At 1300 m depth a dark-brown shark was seen swimming. This was followed for some minutes by the ROV operators based on the ship. We were part of a small group watching the operation on a TV in the meeting room on the 5th deck. We eagerly watched the live video from the ROV. Expectations were high. We saw the approach to the sea bottom as the ROV prepared to land among boulders. Then the unexpected happened. We lost vision. Communication was definitively lost. We feared the worst. The cable was brought back to the surface and sure enough the ROV was missing. After what seemed eternity the ROV bobbed to the surface by itself, and was spotted from the bridge. The ships rescue boat had an impromptu “man overboard exercise” as it rescued the ROV.
While all this was happening the trawling started late and was finished at 9:30p.m. At the time we are writing this report the catch is being studied by the scientists in the wet lab. Among the many animals brought to surface was a spectacular spiny red crab looking as from outer space.