Wednesday, 3 September 2008

An update and more trawl pictures

We've been fighting against a "fresh breeze" (it certainly was rather fresh when I went and stood at the front of the ship!) most of the day, and the ship's speed has been 7 knots or so. We're now steaming inshore at a little over 9 knots. Raymond has calculated that we're about 12 hours behind schedule as a result of the slow steaming and all the waiting around we did for that CTD station during the rough weather.

The ship is moving around quite a lot today; there is a strong swell coming from one direction, and a rather choppy sea driven by the wind in the other that ends up with us being gently tossed around. There's been a lot of hammering and angle-grinding going on around us as crew continue their everlasting battle against rust on the outside of the ship which does not help my headache, at all!

The ship's position is currently here.

I mentioned I would try and upload some more pictures from the deep trawl, so, as promised:

Hairy sponge: this sponge stands about 30-50cm high. The tufts sticking out of the top of it are silica (glass) - essentially, this sponge makes fibreglass! If you've ever worked with fibreglass, you'll know how it gets into everything and is very itchy. Touch this at your peril! Some of the catch evidently got up close and personal with some of these, as a lot of them had these silica spicules embedded in them. Incidentally, it looks very similar to (if not the same as) a species that I have seen on footage from below about 135m in Sodwana Bay, South Africa, where, with a team of German scientists, we surveyed the coelacanth population and associated biota. We nicknamed them "hairy sponges" because of these tufts.

These rather funky-looking sharks are probably Deania profundorum.

These are oxeye dories, Oreosoma atlanticum. I don't think whoever named this species ever saw an Oreo cookie!

Edit: Indeed, I don't think Oreos had even been invented in 1829, when this species was first named by Cuvier!

Lots and lots of grenadiers... Most of the fish on that table are grenadiers; we saw 3 distinct taxa, but I wasn't at all happy assigning a firm name to any of them. Grenadiers (Family Macrouridae) are a right bugger to identify in my opinion!

The reddish/pinky-looking fish close to the camera is a Chaunax not quite like those described in the book I refer to most often (Smith's Sea Fishes); I'm not sure if it's a so far undescribed species or something that has a name but isn't in the book! Chaunax is basically a type of anglerfish. We caught quite a few of them in 2003 in the Mozambique channel when we trawled on the bottom in fairly deep water. At my end of the table are all the more unusual fishes, some of which I had seen before and was able to identify to species or at least genus fairly fast. It always helps to have worked with and seen a few species in a particular family. Incidentally, my T-Shirt says "Stand Back: I'm going to try Science!".

These fishes are Beryx splendens. Some of them were over 40cm in length.

It looks like we're getting too close to Madagascar again - the connection keeps dropping. I will end here for now before I get frustrated!

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