BOBECO – SCIENTIFIC BLOG (LEG 2) – English version

24 – 9 – 2011

RV Pourquoi Pas departed Brest Harbour at 0700h. Most of Saturday was spent transiting to the Shamrock Canyon.

In the night, multibeam activities were undertaken on Petit Sole Canyon. This was conducted in order to demystify previously obscured bathymetric maps obtained during an earlier sampling campaign on RV Atalante (Figure 10).

Figure 10. Example of bathymetric map obtained by RV Pourquoi Pas? during BOBECO.

Angela Stevenson

 25 – 9 – 2011

Thomas’s Lander 3 was deployed early in the morning in Petit Sole Canyon. The Lander was destined for a ‘non-coral’ area, but it eventually came back with pictures of a beautiful coral area! Here, a feeding frenzy with numerous fish and beautiful coral aggregates were observed (Figure 11).

Figure 11. Imagery of feeding frenzy captured by Lander 4 in coral area in Petit Sole Canyon. (Photo credit: Thomas Linley)

ROV deployment immediately proceeded Lander deployment in Petit Sole Canyon (Dive 471 – 9; Figure 12).

Figure 12. ROV Victor deployment. (Photo courtesy of Michel Gouillou)

Here, an exploratory dive preceded the sampling dive. Sparse coral colonies were found containing L. pertusa, M. oculata. Large quantities of Leiopathes and other antipatharians living in unison with stalked sponges were also observed. Systematic collection of L. pertusa , M. oculata and Narella was conducted for genetic studies; echinoid and Antipatharians (Leiopathes) were collected for ecological and taxonomic studies, respectively. Microbial samples and water samples were obtained. Sponges (Hexadella) were also collected for population genetics.

 Angela Stevenson

 26 – 9 – 2011

Lander 3 was recovered in the evening and deployed again in a non-coral area.

Multibeam acquisition was performed in Sorlingue Canyon. An exploratory dive was initiated at 2300h, and although large cliffs were observed in the area nothing living was observed. The dive was purely exploratory and only minimal samples of high interest were collected, namely an unidentified pennatulid, sediment and Xenophyophora.

Angela Stevenson

 27 – 9 – 2011

The ROV was brought to the surface early this morning. Geophysical instrumentation, such as the SMR 7111 (<500m), Reson 7150 (>500m) and Chirp, were turned on.

Data acquisition was performed in the second region of Petit Sole. Four profiles were obtained from the Chirp (see example in Figure 13) and SMF. Activities terminated at 1037h in order to recover Lander 4.

Figure 13. Example of the Chirp profile.

Coring (CS04) began at 1200h. The first core did not penetrate through the sediment and only 30 cm of coral and sediment were obtained in the core. The second core (CS05) was a success despite poor penetration in the sediment around 65 cm. The sediment found were very compact, cohesive (Cu = 65 kPa) and heavily calcareous.

The ROV was then deployed at 18h24 to obtain bathymetric data from the ROV MMR (‘Module de Mesure en Route’).

Mathieu Veslin

 28 – 9 – 2011

The ROV was recovered at dawn. Data acquisition from the Chirp and SMF (multibeam sounders) was obtained after the dive. Data acquisition with the sounders was stopped during transit to Arc Mounds due to passage through UK Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Mathieu Veslin

The weather significantly worsened upon entry into Irish waters. Despite the high swells and miserable weather, scientists continued with their daily yoga routine (Figure 14).

Figure 14. Scientists engrossed in their daily yoga session. (Photo courtesy of Andreia Braga Henrques)

Additionally, an ‘Ice Breaker’ BBQ took place in the evening in order to welcome the new crew and scientists joining us on board the second leg of the BOBECO mission.

Angela Stevenson

29 – 9 – 2011

Lander 5 was deployed in the morning and reached bottom at 10h15. SMF and Chirp were initiated on Arc Mounds. Eight profiles were obtained.

ROV was deployed in the evening (1633h) and reached bottom at 1720h. MMR-OTUS was acquired at 10m from the bottom to determine coral cover. SMF data was also obtained from the ROV during this dive. Bathymetric data from the ship were then obtained in the same area, but at 50m from the bottom.

Mathieu Veslin

30 – 9 – 2011

The ROV was brought back to the surface at 1600h. We subsequently began transit to recover Lander 5.

Coring began at 1803h. We aimed to core a 4 m thick sedimentary layer at 700 m in a carbonate mound. The first core (CS06) obtained measured 2,97 m and was primarily composed of cohesive carbonate sediment. The second core (CS07) was situated in a carbonate mound. The core obtained was a 6,26m long cohesive carbonate sediment with coral rubble.

Mathieu Veslin

 01 – 10 – 2011

All day transit to Logatchev mound, Rockall Bank.

Angela Stevenson

 02 – 10 – 2011

The dive in Logatchev Mounds started yesterday night at around 2200h. Sampling began after the video transect. At 1030h this morning the lift came up with the first samples (Figure 15). At around 1230h the ROV dive was stopped due to very bad sea conditions, so we received the last samples as well (Figure 16).

Figure 15. ROV recovered after the dive. Scientists check the coral case for sample. (Photo courtesy of Inge van den Beld)

Figure 16. Beautiful samples of coral and crinoids obtained from the ROVs coral case. (Photo courtesy of Inge van den Beld)

Branches of L. pertusa and M. oculata were taken for microbiology and genetic analysis, while Hexadella (a sponge) was sampled for Julie Réveillaud, from Ghent University (Figure 16). Other very interesting samples were taken for taxonomists at Ifremer. Among these samples there were Stylasterid and Anthomastus (two primnoids) and three unidentified hydroids (Figure 17).

Figure 17. Samples processed in the lab: Hexadella sp. and unidentified hydroids. (Photo courtesy of Inge van den Beld)


03 – 10 – 2011

Meteorological conditions prevented further sampling in Irish waters. The tentative dive in the Belgica mounds had to be aborted due to bad weather and heavy swell. As such, RV Pourquoi Pas was forced to move south. The chief scientist decided to return to the Bay of Biscay to explore the lush coral area that Lander 3 accidentally discovered during its deployment in Petit Sole Canyon.

Angela Stevenson

04 – 10 – 2011

Upon arrival in the Sorlingue region, Lander 6 was deployed. The ROV was subsequently deployed in Petit Sole Canyon to explore the coral reef accidentally discovered by Lander 3. Lush coral reefs were discovered during the exploratory portion of the dive. Here, strange morphological types of Narella were collected for taxonomic purposes and then systematic collections of M. oculata and L. pertusa were obtained for genetic work. A large number of echinoids, mostly Cidaris cidaris, were observed and collected for ecological work and future stable isotope analysis (Figure 18).

Figure 18. Cidaris cidaris collected (left), from the coral reef in the Petit Sole Canyon, and subsequently dissected by Angela (right) (Photo courtesy of Michel Gouillou).

A large number of samples are expected to arrive on deck tomorrow morning, in which case scientists will be busy in the laboratory preparing and preserving samples for chemical, taxonomic and genetic analysis.

Angela Stevenson

05 – 10 – 2011

The lift with boxes for microbiology and coral case was recovered at 1000h. This late arrival on deck gave sufficient time for scientists to rest after an early ROV shit (0000 – 0400h or 0400h – 0800h).

The samples eventually arrived on deck at 1000h, and here the show began. L. pertusa, M. oculata, sponges, and urchins were divided among scientists. Olivier and Valerie distributed the different samples while the other scientists waited for sample manipulation.  An impressive bifurcating Narella specimen was sampled for taxonomic analysis. Michel Guillou spent some time photographing this nice organism. Taxonomist, Inge van den Beld, assigned names to an odd sample ; a Hexactinellid sponge.

Every scientist was then busy dissecting the animals. Sandra and Ronan tried to get the polyps of Lophelia pertusa for genetic analysis of the material. Angela looked at the different tissues of the urchins, and was happy to get a closer look at their strange diet. Olivier prepared the first steps of DNA extractions. Valerie and Julie sub-sampled some material for microbiological analyses, or filtered some 800 meters-deep water for further bacterial diversity assessment (Figure 19). Placebo played in the background and the atmosphere in the laboratory was nice.

Figure 19. Jean-Pierre sorting the water samples collected for microbiology analysis. (Photo courtesy of Julie Reveillaud)

The ROV was deployed in the Sorlingue area for a new exploratory dive. Upon arrival on site, very few coral specimens were observed. However, we crossed a few scleractinian corals dispersed on a ridge. We also saw a shark, Lophius piscatorious, and a several crabs. We sampled some specimens of L. pertusa and M. oculata, together with some water for the geochemists Cecile and Eric. The dive finished early in the morning.

Julie Reveillaud


Due to poor weather and high swells, it was confirmed at the scientific meeting that we are not going back to sample in Irish waters. RV Pourquoi Pas is now in transit to an area visited during BOBECO’s first leg, on Lampaul canyon. Here we previously saw some beautiful cliffs that are worth exploring in more details. An exploratory dive was scheduled for the whole night, beginning with SMF and Chirp.

Julie Reveillaud

07 to 08 – 10 – 2011

We started a dive on Lampaul Canyon on the Oct 6th. There was a transect planned, but we were free to go and explore if we saw some nice reefs. However, not much was seen. It started with a nice cliff with oysters and some coral colonies. Later during the dive we crossed some sparse reefs, mostly dead, and sandy areas with single coral colonies. During the dive some nice geological features were observed (Figure 20).

An SMF multibeam transect was performed during the night.

Figure 20. Example of nice geological features observed during the dive in Lampaul Canyon.

Lander 6, that was deployed earlier, was recovered. Due to several mechanical failures in the Lander, Tom had previously had little luck with Lander videos and therefore felt nervous about obtaining results. But fortunately on this dive the lander captured very nice images and great results. There were some nice pictures of fish eating the bait.

Today we are still performing an ROV dive on Crozon Canyon. Although a lot of sand was encountered, a nice reef was found as well. So, we decided to proceed with genetic sampling of L. pertusa and M. oculata for genetic work. Other samples, such as Narella and echinoids were sampled as well.

Upon recovery of the ROV, we conducted a 9m core in Crozon canyon.

In the evening we celebrated the birthday of one of the scientists, Yann. Everyone gave him a little present, like teabags and remains of sampled sea urchins, in memory of his birthday celebration on RV Pourquoi Pas, during BOBECO.

Inge van den Beld

09 to 10 – 10 – 2011

Scientists spent much of Sept 9th and 10th in the lab frantically processing the last samples for future genetic, taxonomic and chemical analysis (Figure 21).

Figure 21. Numerous samples awaiting processing for future chemical, taxonomic and genetic analysis (left). Andreia, Inge, Chris, Eric, and Angela eagerly await sample distribution (right). (Photo courtesy of Michel Gouillou)

A dive in Douarnenez Canyon, right next to CrozonCanyon, was initiated in the evening of Sept 9th. We encountered a vast area that looked like it had once had a lush coral reef, but now only a few living fragments among dense coral rubble. There was evidence of heavy anthropogenic disturbance in the area; large quantities of garbage were observed. However, later on in the night some fields of coral colonies were found and sampled. Young colonies of L. pertusa and M. oculata were sampled for genetic analysis and for coral dating. Narella was collected for Chris’s genetic analysis. Echinoids were also collected for Angela’s ecological work.

Scientists and crew have had a successful mission (Figure 22). Numerous samples were collected throughout the mission and so scientists will be very busy with post-processing of samples obtained during BOBECO, but after four weeks at sea everyone eagerly awaits their return to Brest in order to be reunited with family and friends.

Figure 22. Scientists and crew in the final days of the BOBECO mission. (Photo courtesy of Michel Gouillou)

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