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

January 26, 2006
Davidson Seamount Expedition Log: Day 1

0800 hours and we're steaming towards Davidson Seamount! We left dock at 0700 hours after a frantic and successful day yesterday packing up the ship and getting ready for this expedition. It will take us about 6 hours to get to Davidson where we will start our operations. There was an unexpected addition to our sampling regime as we decided to add another current meter to our equpment in order to get a better sense of the currents around and above Davidson Seamount. This meter will be on a mooring about 800 meters off of the bottom and looking down. Kudos to the entire group of folks who worked long and hard yesterday to build the mooring to make this happen. We will start our day by deploying both this mooring and the bottom current meter. Stay tuned to see how this adventure unfolds!

The first part of the expedition is like most others - the science party gets together with the ships crew to go over the ship, safety, and the ever-popular try on the survival suit exercise. We are all very excited about finally getting out here after months of planning (see the essay on collaborations on the NOAA Office of Exploration website). On the way to Davidson Seamount we were greeted by several pods of Pacific white-sided dolphins, Dall's Porpoises, and northern right-whale dolphins which played in our bow wave, giving us quite a show. We arrived at Davidson Seamount around 2:30 PM and deployed two moored current meters, which will allow us to determine the velocity and direction of the prevailing currents in the water column above Davidson Seamount. The information obtained from these current meters will help us to understand more about the distribution of the corals that we'll be seeing throughout this expedition. We launched the remotely operated vehicle Tiburon just after dinner this evening with the hopes of deploying one more current meter, testing several manipulator-held current meters, and sampling bamboo corals. Unfortunately we experienced very strong currents at a depth of 1500 meters and were only able to test the manipulator-held current meter as our bottom time was very limited. Before aborting the dive at around 8 PM we observed several species of coral including Acanthogorgia, Anthomastus ritteri, Antipathes, Corallium, Keratoisis, and Parastenella. We also observed several different sponges including a very large white trumpet sponge which had several brisingids clinging to it. Other organisms encountered on this brief visit to the sea-floor included a few species of King crab (Lithodidae), a dense aggregation of basket stars (Gorgonocephalus), and several different species of sea star. Today's dive has generated much excitement, and we are looking forward to tomorrow.

Getting the current meter ready for deployment off of the back deck of the Flyer.

- Lonny Lundsten

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