THE STUNNING DEEP SEA DIVERSITY OF THE BEAR SEAMOUNT
by Dr. Michelle Staudinger,
Univ. of Missouri - Columbia and National Climate Change, and stationed at the Wildlife Science Center, VA, USA
On Wednesday August 29th, the NOAA Ship Pisces left Newport, Rhode Island and headed east-southeast towards the Bear Seamount (39°55’N 67°30’W) for a 10 day research cruise. The Bear Seamount is an extinct undersea volcano located south of Georges Bank, inside the US economic zone, and is one of the 30+ seamounts that comprise the New England Seamount chain. Most of what we know about the fauna around Bear Seamount has been gained since the year 2000 from a series of eight research surveys; prior to 2000 however, this seamount was considered one of the most understudied in the world.
As was true of past research expeditions, the primary goal of this survey is to document and collect fishes, cephalopods, and crustaceans living in mesopelagic and bathypelagic habitats using mid-water and bottom trawls deployed at 600 – 1500 meters, and 1,000 meters or greater, respectively.
What’s sets this survey apart from the rest of the series is that previous surveys were exploratory and this will be the first to collect quantitative data on community composition, and net catchability. Specimens will be archived in the collections at the National Museum of Natural History, Peabody Museum, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and the Fish Collection at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. There are also several graduate students and post-doctoral researchers onboard that have sacrificed their Labor Day weekends to collect data and samples for various research projects…