Dive 02: Engineering and Cultural Heritage
April 13, 2018

Dive 02: Kraken Attack

While exploring an unidentified shipwreck on Friday the 13th during Dive 02, we encountered two octopods, Muusoctopus johnsonianus. Read the full video caption here. Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Gulf of Mexico 2018. Download larger version (mp4, 43.1 MB).

We were fortunate again to have good weather for Dive 02. We launched the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) at 8:15 AM CDT, and reached the bottom at approximately 9:35 AM CDT. The engineers finished testing ROV updates about 90 minutes later. This meant we were able to explore another nearby submerged cultural heritage site, one that was much smaller than the wreck we surveyed yesterday. This shipwreck was first discovered in 2006 by industry mapping surveys. While conducting inspection of industry operations a few years later, ROV operators unexpectedly came upon the shipwreck site and took a few low-resolution photographs. The vessel type and time period of the shipwreck are currently unknown, and therefore ROV Deep Discoverer conducted the first scientific investigation of the site in order to gain more information about it.

The wreck was first observed at approximately 11:30 AM CDT. The ROV approached the shipwreck from what appeared to be the stern and then conducted a reconnaissance survey, proceeding around the wreck in a clockwise rotation. The wreck was a portion of a wooden vessel with a limited number of metal items inside that may be related to propulsion or steering (e.g., prop shaft or rudder post). In consultation with Bureau of Ocean Energy Management marine archaeologists, the ROV pilots and navigator began a mapping survey of the wreck. The survey pattern should lend itself to creating a 3-D visualization of the wreck site. After the completion of the survey, the shoreside archaeology team requested additional close-up reconnaissance of specific parts of the wreck. Upon completion, the ROV transited westward of the wreck attempting to locate additional related debris, but none were found.

The most commonly observed animals on the shipwreck included Munidopsis squat lobsters, hydroids, sponges, tubeworms, polynoid scale worms, and zoanthids. A rattail, a Halosauridae fish, and two individuals of the same species of octopus (Muusoctopus johnsonianus) were also observed within close proximity of the wreck; they exhibited what appeared to be aggressive behavior, and one was observed burying into the sediment, a behavior that was previously unknown for this species.