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A quick note from all on board the Norwegian research vessel G.O. Sars. We are making good progress with the first of two MAREANO cruises to be undertaken this year, and are now mid-way through the second and final leg of this research cruise.
By Margaret Dolan (NGU) & Børge Holte (IMR)
Scientists on board include geologists, biologists, chemists, oceanographers and data engineers from the Geological Survey of Norway and the Institute of Marine Research.
We have been lucky with the weather throughout the cruise so far, with generally calm seas making for favourable working conditions and good spirits. We have also been fortunate with the scientific equipment, with virtually no technical hitches so far. The scientific progress is made easy by the experienced crew on board who take care of the ship and deck operations. Its not always easy to tow a high resolution video rig like our CAMPOD at 1.5 m over the seabed at 0.5 knots but they make it look effortless, even with difficult currents, winds and waves to cope with.
We are now working in an area called Troms III in the southern Barents Sea off northern Norway. While the first leg of the cruise investigated the central part of this area (and Nordkapp bank further east) in this second leg we have concentrated on the area on and around Teistengrunnen (see map) in the north, the shelf edge in the west, and will finish up on Fugløybanken in the south. Up until the time of writing (Sunday evening, 8th August) we have we have completed 20 video stations of which 4 are so called full stations where we also use MAREANOs full suite of sampling equipment including grabs, cores, trawls and sleds. The depth of waters we are working in ranges from around 250 to nearly 1000 m.
Some tasters of our video observations so far are shown
(other images and news from this cruise can be found on the Norwegian pages)
The Troms III area offshore Troms (northern Norway) being studied during the MAREANO summer cruise 2010. This map shows planned video and full stations.
This picture is taken on the middle of Teistengrunnen and indicates the rich fisheries of the Barents Sea. Thousands of amphipods attracted by the light of the CAMPOD video rig have formed a swarm which also makes a wall of food for any nearby cod and other fish who fancy a snack!
Often the seabed is flat and without shelter. Boulders, like the one here at 240 m depth on the west of Teistengrunnen provide shelter and favourable conditions for various creatures of all different sizes. Here we see how soft corals and sponges, among others, gather together in the shelter of one of these boulders.
In deeper and colder water we often find these spectacular basket stars. This one has settled on boulders in a slide area 950 m deep on the continental slope west of Teistengrunnen, where it filters food particles out from the water column using its long arms.
The ever battle-ready Munida squat lobster is always ready to defend its territory! Here we see one at 250 m depth on Teistengrunnen.
As on previous MAREANO cruises this time we have also seen numerous trawlmarks along the seabed. Having been disturbed from their original locations large sponges are often found lined up along the base of these tracks, probably with less access to food particles which they filter from the water, than they would otherwise have access to in a more elevated location.
Here the video rig Campod landed on a small trawlmark in a flat area of the Barents Sea at 940 m depth.