Hi there, welcome to today’s update on life aboard the RV Belgica. My name is Aisling Robinson and I just finished my final year as an undergraduate in NUI Galway studying Marine Science. Taking part in this survey has been a very exciting experience for me as it is unlike any I have had before. As my thesis was mainly biologically focused, I had little knowledge of marine geology and I am thoroughly enjoying learning so many new things everyday!
So, this morning the seismic surveying ceased shortly after breakfast and at 9am it was time to begin conducting the ROV surveys. Unfortunately, during the first deployment an issue occurred and the ROV was forced to return to the surface. However, our amazing technicians from the Flemish Marine Institute (VLIZ) had everything back up and running in no time. Once back in the water, the ROV was used to conduct visual observations of the bedforms. These observations were first made in a moat, and then as the ROV moved across the crest, differences could be seen. Differences in areas were highlighted by the bedform, in some areas there were really well defined ripples that showed how the current was moving, and other areas demonstrated flat plains on the seafloor. The differences in current were also noted by our ROV pilot Robin, who could feel the strength of the currents against the ROV. It was seen that in the moats there were strong currents but these were diminished as the ROV moved over the crest. The BlueView camera on the ROV was also used during this survey as a high resolution multibeam system, mapping the topography of the seafloor. Overall, the survey lasted approximately five hours.
During this survey amazing footage and digi-stills were taken of the seabed for later analysis. We also observed many exciting sea creatures including a colourful variety of fish, crabs, urchins and anemones, along with the odd sea star, chimera and one friendly shark! Sadly, we also saw a fair amount of litter throughout the area, further illustrating the major issue of pollution in our waters 😦
Overall, I think it is safe to say this was a very successful ROV survey and that the analysis of the findings will yield very interesting results.