Wow time really does fly when you’re having fun! Today we spent our time at Hodgkin’s Seamount and what an amazing day it was. I know I’ve been saying this everyday so far, but seeing firsthand the abundance of life at these seamounts is incredible. I started my watch just as we started the second photo mosaic of the day, and wow it could not have been placed in a better spot! If you were following along on the live stream you will recall the “rock party”. This one rock was just jam packed with corals, sponges, a nudibranch, and a cute little nuu octopus. That’s what healthy oceans are all about. Speaking of healthy oceans, I can’t get over how blue the water is out here. I initially thought it was just the reflection of the boat on the water, but the big blue is just really blue out here!
My favorite part of the night is after the ROV’s come up and we process all the samples taken from the dives. It’s always quite the buzz in the evening on the aft deck around 7:30 on dive days, that’s when you get to see all the specimens being transferred into containers. They’re then brought into the Wet Lab for pictures and preservation. I’m normally a tunicate kinda gyal, but today there was a soft coral sometimes referred to as a mushroom coral (reminds me of Super Mario) and a branching bush-like sponge that I think are the coolest little animals sampled today. The mushroom corals literally look like mushrooms with their retractable polyps that hangout when they feed. While the branching bush-like sponge was deduced to possibly being from the genus Asbestopluma, we won’t know for sure until the sample is genetically tested and checked out by the pro’s onshore. If it is from the genus Asbestopluma, then the sponge is carnivorous, making this innocent looking underwater branch the ultimate camouflage.
It’s been a year since I’ve graduated with my Bachelors degree in Marine Biology- also a year since my last lab class. One forgets minor details every once in awhile, such as its probably wise to keep your gloves on while washing out containers that contained sponges and coral just moments ago. The sponges we collected today were two types of glass sponge, made up of silica spicules, a “glass-like structure” that create their skeletons. Coral have a defense mechanism on the end of their polyps known as nematocysts that sting, not as bad as stinging nettle, but irritating to your forehead after you rub it unknowingly-muh. Tomorrow we’re back at SGaan Kinghlas – Bowie Seamount, join the livefeed and say hello!