Exploring the Gulf’s Underwater Mountains - Oceana USA
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September 12, 2010

Exploring the Gulf’s Underwater Mountains

It was an exciting day yesterday on the Latitude, as Dustin reports. We owe a hearty thank you to Nautica, who is making this leg of the expedition possible.

Saturday, September 11

The heat and humidity did not divert the Oceana crew from the important task at hand today.

After running a few more quick tests on the Spanish ROV, the crew sent it down for its first operation. Positioned near the “Alabama Alps,” the ROV was lowered nearly 250 feet to the ocean floor.

As strong underwater currents tried to move the Oceana Latitude from the operation site, expedition leader Xavier Pastor worked closely with the ships’ crew to ensure that all the necessary measures were taken to keep us on course.

Here’s Xavier Pastor:

Xavier Pastor in Oceana Latitude ROV Control Room September 11, 2010 English from Oceana on Vimeo.


The biggest excitement came later in the afternoon. The ship was moved directly above the southern tip of the “Alabama Alps” and the ROV was once again carefully lowered.

Scientist-in-charge, Dr. Michael Hirshfield, worked quickly to identify the various species as the ROV footage was projected onto the TV monitors above. The small underwater mountain range was covered in black cup coral, and sea whips and zigzag corals were scattered across its landscape. The ROV also spotted a moray eel, bigeye and butterfly fish, and crinoids and basket stars.

While this last ROV operation lasted nearly an hour, the crew could have spent all day surveying this unique underwater landscape, which we plan to do tomorrow.

Here are some of the photos from today: