Ready for 2500 feet
I have been holding out on writing a blog post the past few weeks, hoping to get in a dive with Karl at some point so I could post some new footage! It’s been almost two months since the last video dive. Unfortunately, the tourists have been a-knockin’ and the steady stream of nascent deep-sea enthusiasts has been keeping me out of the water. Blarg.
One reason that I’m itching to get back in the water is that we’ve got another piece of equipment to test out – a LCD screen for Karl’s pilot sphere, so he can actually see what I’m filming. The current situation is something tantamount to never-ending parallel parking attempt: back up, tuuurrrnnn the wheel, pull forward – no, no, no start all over again. Because I’m filming with a prime lens, I can’t zoom. So I’m basically yelling back to Karl to inch forward, pull back, or try and hover. Luckily, he’s been doing this for 15 years, so he’s pretty darn good at maneuvering smoothly. But still – the prime lens does not have the focal length flexibility to maintain focus at really close ranges, so we’ve had some blurry blobs on camera when the sub has gotten too close to the subject. Two things would help solve this problem: 1) an LCD screen in Karl’s sphere, which is attached to the DSLR and 2) a zoom lens with a shorter focal length (e.g. 28 mm). We’re working our way up to the lens, so until then – we’ll see what we can do with the LCD.
In other news, the videos from our dives are officially up on the Ocean Footage website! Search for “deep sea” clips and all of the videos posted on this blog, plus more, will pop up. Just another good reason to get back in the water…
We’re planning to do a dive on Monday, July 8th – this is when moonset coincides with sunset, plus it’s the day of a new moon. Animal activity is heightened around the setting and rising of the sun and moon, and a new moon means that deep-water species may migrate to relatively shallow waters. This happens to a certain degree already: some species stay deep during the day and migrate vertically at night. The reason? To decrease the chance of detection by predators. A new moon means that very little light will be penetrating the ocean, allowing some deep-species to rise up to more shallow depths.
We used this logic for our last two dives, and got some pretty spectacular results – a whole new suite of creatures on each dive. I’m hoping for this again, especially since we’re planning to go to 2500 feet – the deepest I’ve ever gone, a depth Karl hardly ever goes to, and a couple hundred feet closer to the abyssopelagic zone. This zone is different from the mesopelagic zone where lights still reaches, and the collection of animals at this depth is highly divergent from the more shallow meso- and epipelagic zones.
July 8th will not only be a great day for diving but also be a great day for the future of ocean exploration in Roatán. The Schmidt Ocean Institute (as in Eric Schmidt – previous CEO of Google) is currently conducting multibeam mapping and hydrothermal vent exploration near the spreading center of the Cayman Trench. This mid-ocean ridge is the deepest and slowest spreading ocean ridge in the world – and it’s not too far away from Roatán. Because of Karl’s past scientific collaborations with NOAA scientists, there is an interest in the deep-water coral communities here. So on Monday, the RV Falkor, a 300 foot research ship, will be mapping up to a depth of 1000 meters off the northwestern coast of Roatán. I’m talking super-high resolution of the ocean floor. As in…if you ever need to find your long-lost computer desk that you tossed over the side of your boat, RV Falkor has got you covered. That’s insane resolution.
So who knows what they will uncover with this multibeam sonar mapping, but it should give us some great ideas for new locations to explore. Maybe there are some fantastic areas of deep-water coral just sitting here, underneath our noses! Or completely undiscovered deep-sea communities or seamounts. It’s exciting to think about…
Before I wrap this up, I’d like to leave you with one short clip. This is a video we took on our second dive back on May 14th. I mentioned this in another blog post, but just to jog your memory: we had been cruising at around 1,000 feet with the lights off (remarkably, you can still see quite well even at this depth). In front of us, there appeared to be a moving blur. Switching on the lights, Karl yelled down that he had never seen anything like this before – an enormous school of fish at 1,000 feet. They split up into different groups as we approached, but for about 30 seconds, they flooded the viewport window for a spectacular display of glistening energy.
Hoping to encounter something equally spectacular on Monday!
One Response to “Ready for 2500 feet”
[…] to our static 50 mm prime lens that we’ve used all year. Reason number two? You may recall my post from last July which briefly recounted the expedition of The Schmidt Ocean Institute’s RV Falkor. While […]