Wreck and boulder patch
We have done it! We had a successful dive yesterday and were able to collect data from both a shipwreck and its nearest natural hard-bottom habitat.
|Sonar image of the shipwreck and the hard-bottom site.|
There wasn't a ton of stuff living on the boulders, but then again, we were pretty deep - about 80 m. I noted crustose coralline algae, some orange encrusting thing that might be a sponge, and a few hydroids. There were wire corals and feather stars, which I was very excited to see. The boulder patch overall seemed like what I expected for a deep hard-bottom site in the Gulf.
The shipwreck was so close, we didn't even have to recover the ROV to get there. We just transited along the bottom. I have been hypothesizing for several years that the distance that a shipwreck is from its nearest source population (natural hard-bottom habitat) determines what can live there. The closer you are, the more species can arrive. This shipwreck, though, was barren. I saw one little reef fish and absolutely nothing else. Eventually, I handed over control to the archaeologists because there was no biology for me to survey.
|A partial 3D model of the hard-bottom site made from ROV|
footage by Scott Sorset.
It was a great day on the Sea Scout, and I'm excited that we have data!