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Hudson Canyon AUV Cruise
This story entered on 10th Oct, 2007 03:07:30 PM PST

A scientific team from NOAA’s Undersea Research Program (NURP) at Rutgers University, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and NOAA’s National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology (NIUST) worked with NIUST’s new Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Eagle Ray to explore close-up for the first time the head of Hudson Canyon on a NURP-sponsored cruise of the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown 8-23 August 2007.

The head of Hudson Canyon is important because it is a fishing hot spot inferred to contain essential fish habitat that supports a regional commercial and recreational fishery (i.e. lobster, long fin squid, silver and red hake, black sea bass, and corals). In fact, the New England Fisheries Management Council recently declared the head of Hudson Canyon a Habitat Area of Particular Concern for this reason. Hudson Canyon is the largest submarine canyon on the U.S. Atlantic continental margin and is of comparable size to Monterey Canyon on the U.S. Pacific continental margin, which is part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Bathymetric mapping of portions of the canyon head with the new AUV improved the resolution of seafloor features to reveal diverse habitats on the living scale of lobsters, fish and corals. Profiling of physical properties of the water column with instruments mounted on the AUV and lowered from the ship reveal currents in the canyon. These currents apparently carry nutrients supporting a canyon ecosystem that transport warm salty water impacting ocean circulation on the adjacent continental shelf. Analysis of water samples recovered in the canyon detected methane originating from decay of organic matter and possibly from dissolution of gas hydrates present in the underlying sediments.

Dr. Peter Rona of Rutgers, who served as chief scientist on the cruise will present a paper co-authored by the scientific team on scientific results of the cruise at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting this December.

Contact information
Name: John D Tomczuk
Tel: (301) 734-1009


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Updated: October 15, 2007