The next area we investigated was the Lampaul canyon. Here we started at over 2,000m depth and followed the canyon up its axis, getting shallower and shallower. Our main interest here was geological. I know very little about this side of things but even I could see sudden changes in the rocks of the area. There were several very large steps along the canyon with periods of open sediment between them. At the lower end, the rocks were dark and angular. Some with such clean crisp edges that they looked artificial. The area was very clean with not much food to support life. All that was visible were very large barnacles that grew along these sharp rock edges. Life was clearly tough down there. Only those barnacles right on the most prominent edges were able to scrape a living. This resulted in chains just one barnacle thick following the edges of the rock surfaces. Highlighting the edges of these dark rocks with a fine line of bone coloured barnacles. Further up the slope there was a transition into pale sandy-brown rocks. These weathered very differently; their surfaces were smoothed and pockmarked.
Further up, where more food was available falling from the surface waters, life became more abundant. Some of the sheer cliff faces were covered in life. Although this wasn’t a dedicated sampling dive we did have the time to sample some of the more spectacular things that we saw; such as an enormous soft coral. It has the very accurate common name of the Red Tree. This huge specimen was about 4ft high. Beautiful.
This dive marked the end of the 1st leg of the BoBEco cruise, the leg investigating the Bay of Biscay. While in port some of our French hosts were kind enough to take some of us to La Palue at Crozon to see some more of Brittany. Some sampled the surf, some took the chance to be still for a while and doze in the sun. It was only a day but has recharged us for the second leg. During the day in Brest we exchanged personnel and readied ourselves for the next leg. We are now back out to sea and heading north. Our first stop is still within French waters but we will work our way north, heading towards the continental slope to the west of Ireland.