The ROV ISIS: Turning on the lights in the Deep Sea

If you’ve been following the Deep Links website and Twitter feed then you must have stumbled upon many deep-sea pictures and videos, including the Sea Pen versus ROV video and some incredible deep-sea coral gardens. All these images are possible thanks to an intricate piece of machinery on board the RRS James Cook: the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) ISIS. Continue reading

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The Deep Sea: Strange but not completely unpredictable

The seafloor can be so rich and diverse in animals and habitats that it has often been compared to tropical rainforests but, conversely, the seafloor can be so lacking in larger more visible animals that it has also been likened to deserts (Snelgrove and Grassle, 1995). Not only is the biodiversity hugely variable between areas of the seabed, but the particular species and communities that inhabit these areas can be almost unpredictable, almost… Continue reading

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Human Activities in the Deep Sea

For thousands of years humans have been travelling the world’s oceans and using their resources. These days, activities in the deep sea include oil and gas extraction, shipping, fishing and exploratory work for seabed mining. The industries built around these activities provide not only important resources and services to support the growing demands of modern society, such as oil and gas for fuel and the transport of goods, but also provide millions of jobs as well as food security for many. Continue reading

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Introducing the Beasties!!!

While we have told you a bit about this project, about connectivity, vertical distributions and Marine Protected Areas MPAs), we have not yet properly introduced you to our target species. So, here is a little bit about our best friends on this trip: Parastichopus tremulus (a sea cucumber), Cidaris cidaris (a pencil urchin), Lophelia pertusa (a reef forming stony coral), and Acanella arbuscula (a bamboo coral). With these beasties come a few others we are getting to know: Madrepora occulata (another stony coral), Solenosmilia variabilis (yet another stony coral), Eunice norvegica (a polychaete worm), and an animal affectionately known as Ophiuroid 1 (a brittle star).
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Beyond Biology: Making the most of our coral collection

By now, if you have been following the other Deep Links blogs, you will hopefully have become familiar with one of the main purposes of the expedition: collecting deep-sea organisms to examine genetic connectivity between different deep-sea populations. But there is another way in which we can use the corals we have collected, to help us learn how the oceans and climates of the past were different to those of today. I am a palaeoceanographer (that is, I study past oceans), so far specialising in cold-water coral research, and since joining the ship I have been on the lookout for samples of stony (properly called ‘scleractinian’) corals that could help me. Continue reading

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Life aboard the James Cook: fulfilling a masters student’s bucket list

Walking up to the RRS James Cook as a newbie seafarer 3 weeks ago, I was firstly taken aback by the sheer enormity of it. Stretching 89.20m in length and 18.60m in width, it’s certainly an impressive sight. Being my first cruise, I excitedly strolled up the gangway eager to explore my new home for the next few weeks. I had not expected to be greeted with such a bright open dining area, carpeted floors, cinema, bar/entertainment area, sauna, gym and my own cabin! It was practically luxury aboard this reputed scientific research vessel. I felt that as a master’s student, I could not be luckier.

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From Seamount to Surface – Sampling the Deep!

I thought sunsets were orange, yellow at a push. I was wrong. Being at sea on night shift, I get to see the hundreds of shades of purples, reds, blues and greens revealed as the Sun scatters every colour across the glassy horizon of Rockall. That is how I start my day.

sunset pics blog

Sunsets from the RRS James Cook

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