Friday 9 November 2012

High tailing it back

After yesterday’s weather and equipment setbacks, lunchtime comes around and we’re able to hit the ground running once again. With a further eight video tows planned in our mission to map deep sea sponge aggregations and to hopefully collect some samples for analysis later, we certainly had an ambitious work plan laid on the table. Luckily we weren’t disappointed, with sponge grounds out in force. Particular highlights include massive sponges such as the cathedral sponge (pictured below with pencil urchins either side) and the general high diversity of different sponge species observed.

Cathedral sponge with pencil urchins

Sponge grounds of the Faroe-Shetland Channel

Sponges, red banded fish and sea cucumber on boulder

Once we’d completed our camera work in the Faroe-Shetland Channel the weather finally started to creep in and it was time to high tail it back to port. With time on our hands we used an opportunity en route back home to conduct some further survey work in an area of interest for a Marine Protected Area in Scotland known as Noss Head. Here the feature of interest is beds of the horse mussel (Modiolus modiolus).

We conducted multibeam sounding over the area of interest to try and get a feel for the extent of horse mussels in the area, followed by some grab sampling work so we could assess the biodiversity associated with the beds. Unfortunately, our grab samples were a bit hit and miss but we still got some interesting stuff such as many different types of worms and clams.

Suited and booted ready for grab work

Hamon grab sampling at Noss Head

Grab sampling

After a brief period of calibrating our multibeaming equipment in the Moray Firth on the way back home we finally arrived back into Aberdeen at 19:30 hours on 8th November 2012, weary but satisfied with the achievements we’ve made on the cruise.