Celtic Explorer Update 4: 15 June 2015

Here’s another update on the exciting times on-board the RV Celtic Explorer! Sea conditions remain incredibly calm and early morning starts are no tough task when you can enjoy spectacular 6am sunrises like this!

Vivid morning sunrise across the Atlantic Ocean

Vivid morning sunrise across the Atlantic Ocean

Yesterday we managed to collect some ship’s hull-mounted MBES (multibeam) data to investigate the full western extent of the Moira Mounds. However, we won’t know the results until this data has been processed, but it is an exciting prospect!

The tedious and ambitious task of trying to get two gravity cores of one of the smaller mounds unfortunately were not successful as it is quite difficult to hit a target 20m across in almost 1km of water and while also fighting currents, despite gallant efforts by the QuERCi team.

ROV Control room (it’s a tight fit!)

ROV Control room (it’s a tight fit!)

The ROV control room was a hive of activity during the early hours of the morning and throughout the day as a downward facing HD camera was placed on the ROV, recording video footage and photographs of the habitats and ecosystems colonising the Piddington Mound. At 970m below the sea surface, there is no light reaching these depths, however, we are lucky enough to illuminate this darkness for a few minutes to get an amazing glimpse of this hidden world!

Photo of Piddington Mound taken from ROV HD camera

Photo of Piddington Mound taken from ROV HD camera

This cold-water coral carbonate mound is completely covered with a range of different corals, sponges, crabs and several species of fish. The ROV is hovering at 3m above the surface of this mound (at one stage almost coming in close contact with an unsuspecting octopus!).

This footage will be used to create a virtual map (mosaic) of this area. Our next task is to take samples of organisms and sediment (using box cores) for analysis in the lab from an adjacent area.

During our time off, we have also taken up whale watching and spotting a few jets of spray rising above an otherwise flat, calm ocean surface. The jets of spray are blows from the whales and we got photos of whales breaching (jumping out of the water) in the distance. Photo ID suggests they are beaked whales which have only been sighted a few times in Irish waters. We really know so little about the deep ocean.

Further updates to come, keeping you posted on the progress on-board!

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