Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Signs of life

Guest Blogger:  Dr. Ben Hodges (WHOI)

At first glance, the Sargasso Sea, where we’ve been working for the past week, seems lifeless.   We haven’t seen any marine mammals, and it’s rare to spot a bird.  Most of the time, all that can be seen looking downward is a blue expanse of very clear water.  The CTD at the bottom of the photo below is quite visible from the surface at a depth of perhaps 20 meters. 

There are fish though, and they seem to be attracted to objects in the water; sometimes, when the CTD comes up from the depths, it brings a few tagalongs with it.

Occasionally, we see flying fish gliding a boat-length or more, just above the waves.  An unlucky few have even landed on the deck of the Endeavor.  And of course, small patches of sargassum, the seaweed that gives the Sargasso Sea its name, float by frequently.

Many of the instruments we’ve been recovering have been here for six months—some for as long as a year.  In that time, lots of gooseneck barnacles and a few small crabs have made them home. 

The Wave Gliders, which stay on the surface, act as small artificial reefs—we spotted large fish swimming beneath them, including a few mahi-mahi several feet long.

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