Deepwater Canyons 2013: Pathways to the Abyss: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Mission Logs

Follow along as participants in the cruise provide updates and reflections on their experiences, the science, the technology, and other elements of the expedition.

  • Highlight Images

    Highlight Images

    View a collection of highlight images from the Deepwater Canyons 2013 expedition, some that have been previously featured on the website, some that have not.

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  • Leg II Comes to an End: Shipwrecks Studies and Historic Preservation

    May 27, 2013  |  By Rod Mather

    Leg II Comes to an End: Shipwrecks Studies and Historic Preservation

    The Deepwater Canyons 2013 project is as populous as it is cutting-edge. It includes multiple disciplines and science objectives addressed on two separate, but interconnected, cruise legs.

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  • Life on Board NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

    May 26, 2013  |  By Alanna Casey

    Life on Board the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

    From the small boat bouncing in the waves, NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown looked like a still platform unaffected by the troughs and crests. The captain of the small transfer boat pulled alongside the Ron Brown and the scientists and crew of both vessels formed a bucket brigade.

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  • Meet the Jason

    May 25, 2013  |  By Lisa Borden

    Meet the Jason

    Jason and Medea are a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) system designed and built by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Deep Submergence Laboratory to allow scientists access to the deep ocean, far beyond the depths a human can go.

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  • Life of a Larva

    May 24, 2013  |  By Maya Watts

    Life of a Larva

    Today's dive covered a vast expanse of a turtled shipwreck. Littering the ship's hull and the surrounding soft sediment were many pencil urchins, named for their thick, pencil-like spines. While excited to see the gun turrets, frames, and boilers, for me the pencil urchins held the promise of producing larvae.

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  • Discovering Shipwrecks: A Bit of Patience Makes All the Difference

    May 23, 2013  |  By James Moore

    Discovering Shipwrecks: A Bit of Patience Makes All the Difference

    The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which is within the Department of the Interior, has the responsibility of overseeing the development oil, gas, and renewable energy industries along the United States’ Outer Continental Shelf. Applied scientific research, therefore, must be implemented to identify potential environmental impacts that may occur from developmental and operational activities associated with these industries, which leads to measures that will eliminate or reduce these impacts. BOEM is also responsible for mitigating the impacts that these industries may have on submerged archaeological sites, such as shipwrecks.

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  • Multibeam and Mosaics

    May 22, 2013  |  By Kasey Cantwell

    Multibeam and Mosaics

    One of the most intriguing things about science at sea is that you are able to travel to remote undersea locations, usually places that few people are ever able to see. With a remotely operated vehicle like Jason, we are able to explore areas and depths that humans could not physically visit.

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  • Partnerships Run Deep

    May 21, 2013  |  By Frank Cantelas

    Partnerships Run Deep

    The current expedition to the Mid-Atlantic Canyons is the most recent in a series over the last decade of successful partnership projects between NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

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  • Unexpected Visitors

    May 20, 2013  |  By Alanna Casey

    Unexpected Visitors

    Today, the Jason remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was taking core samples in the soft sediment of the continental shelf, about 100 meters deep, when an ocean sunfish (Mola mola) swam past!

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  • Teeming Life on Sunken Ships

    May 20, 2013  |  By Kirstin Meyer

    Teeming Life on Sunken Ships

    For my dissertation research at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, I am investigating the role of intermittent hard substratum (underlying layers) in structuring benthic (bottom) invertebrate communities. Structures like drop-stones, underwater cliffs, seamounts, and sunken ships form important habitat for diverse life, including attached (sessile) and motile invertebrates and fishes.

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  • Welcome to Leg 2!

    May 19, 2013  |  By Kasey Cantwell

    Welcome to Leg 2!

    Early on the morning of the May 19th, NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown welcomed a group of 12 new scientists aboard and bid farewell to the majority of the Leg 1 team. Some scientists stayed aboard to help with continuing and completing the biology and geology objectives. 

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  • Canyon Fishes – All About the Habitat

    May 19, 2013  |  By Steve Ross

    Canyon Fishes – All About the Habitat

    Last year we collected over 73 species by trawling and observed and collected many more using the remotely operated vehicle (ROV). We used the data from last year to help guide our fish investigations this year where most of our sampling is in Norfolk Canyon.

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  • The Mystery of the Giant Cup Corals

    May 17, 2013  |  By Sandra Brooke

    The Mystery of the Giant Cup Corals

    We first found the coveted Cockscomb coral at about 700 meters in Baltimore Canyon. These were truly giant specimens, measuring up to 8 centimeters across with thick heavy skeletons. We didn’t find many of these prized species last year, so they were top of the target list during this cruise. 

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  • Deep-sea Corals: Diving into the Past

    May 16, 2013  |  By Brendan Roark and Nancy Prouty

    Deep-sea Corals: Diving into the Past

    While most of our colleagues are searching for brightly colored corals and mysterious microscopic bacteria, we seem to be the only ones to jump to our feet when the remotely operated vehicle stumbles upon a dead-looking skeleton peaking out from the fine silt-sediment.

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  • NOAA Corps Officers of the Ronald Brown

    May 14, 2013

    NOAA Corps Officers of the Ronald Brown

    Study of the mid-Atlantic deepwater canyons’ ecology and history requires a dedicated team of people and resources to get scientists in a position to begin their work. Perhaps the most important element is the research vessel and its crew, in this case NOAA Ship Ron Brown and its NOAA Corps Officers.

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  • Molecular Tools for Taxonomy

    May 13, 2013  |  By Katharine Coykendall and Cheryl Morrison

    Molecular Tools for Taxonomy

    Preserving biodiversity is a central tenet in conservation biology and often cited as a goal in recovery and management plans for threatened or fragile ecosystems. Before we can ascertain if we are doing a good job in protecting the biodiversity of a region, we need to know what’s there.

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  • Coral Gardens: Forests of the Deep

    May 11, 2013  |  By Cheryl Morrison, Nancy Prouty, and Brendan Roark

    Coral Gardens: Forests of the Deep

    Two octocoral (sea fan) species we see often in the mid-Atlantic canyons are Paragorgia arborea and Primnoa resedaeformis. These species are some of the largest and most widely distributed of the deep-sea octocoral species. When they occur in high densities, they are often referred to as "coral gardens."

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  • Trawling for Science

    May 10, 2013  |  By Steve Ross

    Trawling for Science

    Underwater vehicles cannot stay on the bottom indefinitely nor can they collect every type of sample needed. We use a variety of gear specific to different needs and many types of nets are included in our arsenal of sampling gear.

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  • Discovery of a New Deep Chemosynthetic Community

    May 8, 2013  |  By Deepwater Canyons Project Science Team

    Discovery of a New Deep Chemosynthetic Community

    After several days of lost dives due to bad weather and making dives under difficult conditions, we are today in calm seas exploring an area that was discovered last year during a NOAA mapping cruise. While conducting a seafloor survey, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer found bubbles coming from the seafloor at a site south and offshore of Norfolk Canyon; they thought these bubbles may indicate a new methane seep site, but they had no way of verifying this idea.

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  • Life in Transition

    May 7, 2013  |  By Amanda Demopoulos

    Life in Transition

    The deep sea is rich with life, from fish to invertebrates to microbes. Hidden within the mud and rocks are numerous small animals that are almost invisible to the naked eye. While small, they represent a major component of deep-sea diversity.

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  • Carrying On in Rough Seas

    May 5, 2013  |  By James Connors

    Carrying On in Rough Seas

    In lieu of daily ROV dives, the science team has busied itself with an array of observation and sampling methods originally scheduled during the night.

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  • Host or Habitat?

    May 4, 2013  |  By Christina Kellogg

    Host or Habitat?

    Like humans, corals have bacteria that live in them and on them. These bacteria are a natural part of the coral’s biology and are necessary for the health of the coral. However, we are still in the early stages of understanding which bacteria are present and what they are doing for the corals.

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  • Overview of Norfolk Canyon

    May 2, 2013  |  By James Connors

    Overview of Norfolk Canyon

    In 2012, the Deepwater Canyons project focused primarily on surveying and sampling Baltimore Canyon, with a smaller amount of work done in Norfolk Canyon. The reverse is true of this year’s exploration: targets in Norfolk Canyon will comprise the majority of our days at sea.

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  • "High Operational Tempo"

    April 30, 2013  |  By James Connors

    High Operational Tempo

    From the moment the NOAA Ship Ron Brown left the pier in Charleston, South Carolina, this morning, life has been moving at a very rapid pace.

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Check out mission logs from previous expeditions:

Visit the Deepwater Canyons Blog  from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences   for additional logs from the ship!