Over the last 3 weeks we’ve stopped at over 130 sites on the Chatham rise, deployed our equipment over 160 times and recorded species from 144km of sea bed.
Tangaroa’s track for January.
Last night we collected data from a few sites on Mernoo Bank. The footage we recorded probably some of the busiest we’ve seen yet. The site was a shallow rocky outcrop, absolutely covered in sponges and fish. The most curious of creatures we saw here however were a swarm of mysids.
The pink swarm on the left is thousands and thousands of tiny mysid crustaceans. The colour on the rocks below is a variety of sea sponges.
These are tiny crustacean critters, a bit like shrimps or krill. On camera it looked like a swarm of insects clouding our vision. The swarm followed our camera for much of the transect and our team suspected they could be attracted to the lights on the DTIS.
As we’ve swept across the rise we’ve seen a spectrum of marine life. Some sites can be as simple as bioturbation in mud, or crowded and chaotic as the coral/sponge communities on sea mounts. We’ve had sites occupied by schools of sharks and other fish. Other sites on flat terrain have less biodiversity but are covered with brittle stars, echinoids or even giant forams.
Brittle stars (Ophiuroids).
One of the sites was so densely covered in these pale pink urchins called Gracilechinus multidentatus that one was caught in our multicore.With only 3 days left until we get back to port we’ve been blessed with excellent weather helping us recover from last week’s stormy patch. Fingers crossed we can bring it home with us! We were able to spend some time soaking up the sun on the bow yesterday between sites. It’s going to be strange getting used to life without the seas motion under your feet all the time.
Exciting times when the multicore brings up more than just mud.
BLAKE NIWA Ambassador 2016