Exploring Ancient Coral Gardens
Davidson Expedition, January 26 - February 4, 2006

February 3, 2006
Davidson Seamount Expedition Log: Day 9

NOAA/MBARI Objectives: Explore “Long Ridge,” biology transects, measure currents, Niskin water samples, biology sample collections.

Today was another surprising and exciting day of exploration. ROV Tiburon transited well over 3.5 kilometers (more than 2 miles) in about 9.5 hours. We transected and sampled several ridges, valleys, and cones on the way to our final destination, a peak in 1500 meters water depth at the southern portion of the ridge. We sampled a variety of corals, including the bamboo coral Keratoisis, the precious coral Corallium, and the bubblegum coral Paragorgia. We also sampled an unusual coral which none of us had ever seen before, which always makes for a truly exciting day. We saw several pink snailfish, large white trumpet sponges, goiter sponges, yellow and white ruffled sponges, a stalked tunicate, little yellow tunicates, several species of primnoids, basket stars, crinoids, and many species of sea stars. We also found a foreign Coca-Cola bottle! The dive ended at an amazing cone-shaped peak, which had a very dense population of basket stars. The basketstars were so dense that they covered many of the corals that were living on the peak too. One Paragorgia was so thickly shrouded in basketstars that you could barely see its branches in some places.

A primnoid coral is on the lower left and an unusual coral (name to be determined) is on the lower right.
Some of the marvelous corals that we have been able to examine during this expedition. Paragorgia arborea is the pink coral to the upper left (this is the one covered with basketstars mentioned in the text above).


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