Friday, 17 May 2013

The Marine life of South West Deeps West rMCZ

After a few shifts of multibeam, the weather has calmed and the beautifully flat sea means that we can continue with ground truthing using the Hamon grab and Camera tow. Whilst unfortunatly we have not had any clear sightings of whales or dolphins, we have had a few avian sightings including a Pomarine Skua. The Skua is a migrant to the UK in both spring and autumn which winters off the coast of West Africa.

Yesterday afternoon the day shift was even lucky enough to see a sun fish!  The sunfish is the heaviest known bony fish in the world and produces more eggs that any other vertebrate!  Their diet consists of jellyfish- yum yum!

Some interesting species have also been caught on film in the camera tows.

We have had a variety of starfish,

Some sea urchins and anemones,

A number of crabs,

And also even some fish!
Can you spot the Megrim?

Megrim is a species of left eye flat fish which prefer sandy seafloors of between 100m and 700m depth. They eat small fish, as well as squid and crustaceans and can grow up to 60cm. They are caught commercially in some countries.
We have also seen a Cuckoo ray!

Cuckoo rays are easily identified by the yellow and black eye spots on each pectoral fin and can reach up to 75cm in length.
On a few occasions we have also seen schools of Boarfish, a small orange pelagic fish whilst we are dropping the camera tow into position. 
We still have at least a few more days of camera and grab work to do at the sites, so we are keeping our fingers crossed for more interesting things!