Hudson Canyon AUV Cruise
This story entered on 10th Oct, 2007 03:07:30 PM PST
A scientific team from NOAAs Undersea Research Program (NURP)
at Rutgers University, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington
and NOAAs National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology
(NIUST) worked with NIUSTs 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.
Name: John D Tomczuk
Tel: (301) 734-1009