Bermuda has been hosting a special mission to the depths of the sea this summer; a team of Nekton scientists, assembled from almost a dozen marine institutes, have been deploying a variety of pioneering marine technologies to explore the secrets of the deep blue. Perhaps the most exciting gadgets are the crewed Triton submersibles which can take researchers as deep as 4000m. A key aim is to map the uncharted seabed around Bermuda and study some of the species that live there.
Other technologies used include Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) which will gather physical, chemical and biological data enabling the creation of a new method to assess ocean health. Technical divers worked in tandem with the submersibles down to 100 meters as they studied the Bermuda seamounts.
The Nekton team carried out some of the longest cross-depth transects ever completed. The team explains, “The waters around Bermuda are home to the most northerly Atlantic shallow-water coral reefs, which could hold important information about vulnerability to ocean temperature change.” The mission also examined the impact of the invasive lionfish and the effects of plastic rubbish in the ocean.
The expedition crew wrapped up last week with some incredible discoveries under their diving belts, including fossilised beaches (left over from a time in the Ice Age when sea levels were way lower) and a forest of black coral, including several species new to science.
Nekton say, “Bermuda provides a unique opportunity for historical comparison, as it was the location for the first crewed deep ocean exploration. William Beebe and Otis Barton made their deep dive in the 1930s and their data will be a reference point for measuring change.”
As the team analyse their data, more exciting findings are expected, so watch this space.