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Click below to go to the Cruise Logs - (photo credit: Lophelia Coral - Open-File Report 2008-1148 & OCS Study MMS 2008-015)

Deep-sea Cruises 2010 - Cruise 1

Cruise Log: 9/30/2010    

Insights from my first ROV cruise

April Zilg

April is holding a galatheid crab collected on a recent ROV dive at a new location along the West Florida Slope. - click to enlarge
This cruise was my first with an ROV and was instrumental in understanding my thesis work. For my master's research, I will select and map three deep-sea coral mounds located off the Southeastern U.S. and in the Gulf of Mexico. Within these mounds, I will observe and identify the coral species and quantify their abundance, and analyze the community associations with these species. I will then correlate coral abundance and diversity with bottom currents, depth, temperature, and benthic substratum (e.g., high profile rock, live reef, soft sediment). By mapping coral banks in multiple locations, I will be able to understand how the surrounding environment may influence coral cover and associations which will advance our understanding of these valuable ecosystems.

I now realize the capabilities and limitations of submersibles and ROVs thanks to the methods used to acquire the data at sea. This will assist me when it comes time to smooth out previous dive tracks by removing erroneous data. Overall, this cruise has been insightful and full of learning experiences. I've seen a lot of new organisms that I hadn't seen before and it helps me appreciate this delicate ecosystem and the work that I'm doing within it.

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