We arrived at Dellwood Seamount early in the morning after the night crew finished their mapping of the seamount area. The ROV’s were quickly in the water for our first dive of the expedition! The nice thing about the E/V Nautilus (besides feeling like you have an outside cabin on BC Ferries!) is that it has onboard a pair of ROV’s Argus and Hercules. This duo allows us to explore great depths of the ocean and provides the opportunity to explore and document previously unknown areas. This dive we spent 12 hours traversing the seafloor taking video and pictures of all the deep-sea life we encountered.
I started my first watch shift of the expedition in the control van for the ROV’s at lunch time. I sat in the communication’s seat of the science row, along with Brett Jameson, who is our data logger for the shift and Tammy Nogard, our Chief Scientist for the expedition. During my watch we saw coral gardens, sponges, starfish, rockfish, sablefish … just to name a few things. Live samples were taken of a few organisms we encountered, these were mainly those that have been seen on previous expeditions but have been difficult to properly identify. This is common for deep sea critters, as they have only started receiving major attention by scientists and the public in the past 50 years or so. Along with the fact that they are a challenge to get to without the proper equipment!
First Wet Lab
After the dive was complete, I was tasked to recover some water samples that were taken off the side of the ROV Hercules in the Wet Lab of the ship. These water samples are used to take environmental DNA eDNA sampling near coral and sponge environment. This is an exciting emerging technology that filters all the DNA out of a water sample and references DNA from of known species. Essentially, when an organism sheds some skin, leaves some goop, etc. in the water, we are able to pick up traces of the DNA and compare it to a database of DNA that will allow us to find the exact species or family the sampled DNA belongs to! Science is amazing! We then began the task of preserving all the samples taken and documenting them with pictures. This is an extremely important step, as many organisms lose their colour after being placed in preservatives. It’s been quite the day at Dellwood Seamount, my marine biologist heart is ecstatic to be here.