Thursday 28 March 2013

Down in the Valleys

Today we set our sights on the palaeovalley that runs through the bottom of Wight Barfleur Reef cSAC. This enormous valley is thought to have been scoured out thousands of years ago, when the chalk ridge that joined England and France collapsed and a huge glacial lake (in what is now the North Sea) spilled down into the Channel.  The ancient river bed, with its tributaries and islands, can still be seen clearly in the bathymetric data used to map the area.

The palaeovalley in the English Channel (purple) and Wight Barfleur cSAC (red). Underlying bathymetry copyright British Crown and UKHO, image adapted from Wight Barfleur Reef Selection Assessment Document.

We targeted our drop cam over the edge of some of the small undersea "islands" that poke up from the valley floor to see if we could get a good look at these features. The results were pretty spectacular, with sheer cliffs and huge boulders encrusted with tiny bright green jewel anemones and huge elephant hide sponges. Hats off to the deck crew, who skillfuly avoided losing the camera down any of the chasms along the way!

An Elephant Hide sponge and some green Jewel Anemones on the descent. Oh, and an Edible Crab!

Elsewhere on the ship, the day watch scientists have been spending their off-shift time keeping fit with 'Body Pump' and 'Insanity Workout' Mr Motivator-esque DVD classes. Meanwhile the Night Watch ponder the fate of their mascot, Wilson, who was mysteriously kidnapped during the night (well, the day)...

Have you seen Wilson?!