Ocean Research – June
MVP200 Selected for New
Swedish Research Vessel
AML Oceanographic announced that a moving vessel profiler (MVP) is being installed on the Swedish newbuild RV Svea, owned by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). It will be used by the university and the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) for environmental surveys, from monitoring ocean acidification to assessing fish stock.
The MVP will facilitate understanding of the oceanographic dynamics encountered in the Baltic Sea, such as strong halocline layers and anoxic waters. The MVP’s high data density will improve data quality of hydroacoustic measurements and make SMHI’s oceanographic models more accurate.
The MVP200 will collect CTD, dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll-a data continuously in real time.
Discovery of WWII-Era
USS Wasp in Coral Sea
Another historic WWII aircraft carrier has been located thanks to efforts by the crew of Paul Allen’s RV Petrel. The USS Wasp (CV-7) was located 4,200 m below the surface of the Coral Sea.
The Wasp played a pivotal role on multiple fronts during WWII. It was sunk on September 15, 1942 by four Japanese torpedoes from the Japanese submarine I-19 while escorting transports of reinforcements to Guadalcanal. Even after the torpedoes set the carrier ablaze, the men aboard showed a reluctance to leave until all remaining crewmates were safe, and only when assured the Wasp had been successfully abandoned did Captain Forrest P. Sherman leave the burning ship. One-hundred-and-seventy-six men of the 2,248 aboard perished in the attack.
Corals Around Equator
More Bleaching Resilient
In theory, reefs in the warm waters near the equator would be at a higher risk of bleaching than their more temperate counterparts because warmer waters encourage bleaching. But a new study by scientists at UC Santa Barbara and the Florida Institute of Technology has found, surprisingly, that corals in warmer latitudes appear more resilient to bleaching.
Corals host a symbiotic algae whose photosynthesis provides the animal with extra energy. However, when the coral is under stress, it often expels this colorful algae, revealing its white skeleton underneath in the bleaching process.
Kongsberg to Equip
New Belgian RV
Kongsberg Maritime will deliver an integrated suite of subsea technology to a new Belgian research vessel. Already under construction at Freire Shipyard in Vigo, Spain, the advanced new replacement for the RV Belgica is due to be handed over to the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) in October 2020.
Kongsberg Maritime’s delivery for the new vessel is based on a substantial integrated subsea package, comprising scientific, hydrographic, geophysical, SSBL and GNSS positioning systems. Kongsberg will also deliver a full sensor integration solution in addition to various third-party systems.
Oil-Eating Bacteria Found
In Deepest Ocean Trench
Scientists from the University of East Anglia have discovered a unique oil-eating bacteria in the deepest part of the Earth’s oceans, the Marianas Trench, at about 11,000-m depth.
Together with researchers from China and Russia, they undertook the most comprehensive analysis of microbial populations in the Marianas Trench.
The team collected samples of the microbial population at this great depth and found that the proportion of hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria in the trench is the highest on Earth.
These hydrocarbons may help microbes survive the crushing pressure at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. They may also be acting as a food source for other microbes, which may also consume any pollutant hydrocarbons that happen to sink to the ocean floor.
New Deep-Sea Coral Species
Found During US Expedition
DNA analysis has confirmed that Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists and their collaborators at OceanX, the University of Connecticut (UConn) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) discovered two new species of deep-sea corals during a September 2018 expedition in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument, located about 100 mi. from the Northeast U.S. coast.
Utilizing OceanX’s research and exploration vessel Alucia, the team explored and surveyed several of the unique deep-sea habitats in the monument, which includes three underwater canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon.
During the two-week expedition, the scientists collected a total of 29 coral samples in Lydonia Canyon at depths between 369 and 903 m using the submarine Nadir. These were the first human-occupied submersible dives in this canyon since 1982 and only the third deep-submergence mission to Lydonia Canyon.
The two likely new species found in Lydonia Canyon are bubblegum corals, not found in any neighboring canyons.
The researchers found at least 24 coral species and are discovering more through genetic analyses. In total, the team collected some 200 samples of corals, sponges and other marine life during the expedition’s three submersible dives.
The team also tested a new universal barcode for invertebrates during the expedition.
Barcoding is a technique that uses a specific segment of an organism’s DNA to identify different species at the genetic level, rather than by analyzing an organism’s physical characteristics.