Unfortunately, the news from the boat can‚Äôt always be good. After spotting quite a bit of wildlife in the Alabama Alps, the crew hit a snag with the ROV. Here‚Äôs the lowdown from Dustin:
Monday and Tuesday, September 13 and 14
In an unexpected turn of events, the generator used to power Oceana‚Äôs ROV was hit by a large rogue wave Monday afternoon near the edge of DeSoto Canyon. While the ROV technicians spent the rest of the day trying to repair the damaged system, the Oceana Latitude began to adjust course and head towards Mobile in hopes of getting replacement parts.
Yesterday you heard about the Latitude‚Äôs foray into the Alabama Alps. Today, photos!
Here are some of the cool creatures our deep-sea ROV captured on camera. Which one's your favorite?
Special thanks to Nautica, whose support made our use of the deep sea ROV possible!
Today‚Äôs expedition update, which comes to you from scientist-in-charge Dr. Michael Hirshfield, contains some good news about the Alabama Alps:
Sunday, September 12
After making several transects of the Alabama Alps today and comparing Oceana‚Äôs observations with those from previous scientific investigations, we believe to have a fairly good snapshot of the area.
Based on what we saw from the ROV footage and CTD scans, there are no obvious signs that this area was harmed by the recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Here‚Äôs Oceana conducting a CTD scan:
It was an exciting day yesterday on the Latitude, as Dustin reports. We owe a hearty thank you to Nautica, who is making this leg of the expedition possible.
Saturday, September 11
The heat and humidity did not divert the Oceana crew from the important task at hand today.
After running a few more quick tests on the Spanish ROV, the crew sent it down for its first operation. Positioned near the ‚ÄúAlabama Alps,‚ÄĚ the ROV was lowered nearly 250 feet to the ocean floor.
As strong underwater currents tried to move the Oceana Latitude from the operation site, expedition leader Xavier Pastor worked closely with the ships‚Äô crew to ensure that all the necessary measures were taken to keep us on course.
Here‚Äôs Xavier Pastor:
In today‚Äôs update from the Latitude, the crew tests the ROV for its journey into the depths of the Gulf. (Big thanks to Nautica for making our use of the ROV possible!)
Here‚Äôs Oceana‚Äôs senior campaign communications manager Dustin Cranor:
Friday, September 10
From the surface of the water, it‚Äôs hard to imagine that a small underwater mountain range with pinnacles reaching as high as 100 feet above the seafloor is below us.
With the help of an echo sounder and Olex seafloor mapping software, Oceana‚Äôs experts were able to create a visual image of a section of ‚ÄúThe Pinnacles‚ÄĚ off the coast of Alabama, which some people call the ‚ÄúThe Alabama Alps.‚ÄĚ
As is standard procedure on the first day of a new research operation, the Oceana crew spent time testing the ROV equipment after its long trip from Spain. The reason the Spanish ROV can be used to investigate deepwater areas is because it‚Äôs tethered to a weighted line that gives it greater stability and control. A crew of at least six is needed to operate the ROV, including the winch, crane, cable and controls.
Senior campaign communications manager Dustin Cranor is back on board the Latitude after a short hiatus on land, and he‚Äôs here to tell you about the latest leg of the expedition in the ‚ÄúAlabama Alps,‚ÄĚ an ecologically rich reef in the Gulf of Mexico. More on that below in the video with our chief scientist, Mike Hirshfield.
Thursday, September 9
As Will Race and the rest of our Alaskan colleagues headed back to Juneau this week, a new crew was making its way to Gulfport, Mississippi to board the Oceana Latitude.
Our next mission? Documenting seafloor habitat areas along the continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico that may have been harmed by underwater oil.
During this leg, Spanish ROV operators Jose Manuel Saez and Josep Fleta will use a device to reach depths of approximately 1,500 feet and film in high-definition.
The Oceana Latitude also welcomed support divers Thierry Lannoy (France) and Jesus Molino (Spain), as well as Maribel Lopez from Oceana‚Äôs Madrid office. Dr. Michael Hirshfield has also returned to the ship. Here he is talking about this leg of the expedition: