Live deep-sea ROPOS dives at the Museum – Part 1

Deployment of the ROPOS from the research vessel CCGS Hudson.

Deployment of the ROPOS from the research vessel CCGS Hudson. © DFO

On July 8, 2010, a multidisciplinary team of marine scientists left Halifax Harbour with the mission, among other things, to explore the seafloor in deep water areas never visited before. They used a remotely-operated vehicle called ROPOS to dive at great depths off the continental shelf of East Coast of Canada.

I’m Jean-Marc Gagnon, Chief Collection Manager of Invertebrates Collections at the Canadian Museum of Nature, and having spent years studying deep-water, soft-bottom communities, I had a great interest in seeing live videos of their exploration. I also thought the public would enjoy the experience.

Original expedition route off the Canadian East Coast onboard the CCGS Hudson. Exploration of Site 5 (Tobin’s Point) had to be cancelled due to a number of unexpected delays.

Original expedition route off the Canadian East Coast onboard the CCGS Hudson. Exploration of Site 5 (Tobin’s Point) had to be cancelled due to a number of unexpected delays. © DFO

So I arranged with the scientific team to have the video feed from this unmanned submersible, which were sent live by satellite through the internet, shown at the RBC Blue Water Gallery at the museum in Ottawa. I provided live interpretation on site and communicated with the scientific crew on the ship from time to time using Skype.

During their 21-day scientific cruise, the team explored three regions: The Gully, off the Scotian Shelf; Flemish Cap, off the nose of the Grand Bank of Newfoundland; and Orphan Knoll, north east of the Grand Bank. At the Museum, we mostly looked at videos from Flemish Cap and Orphan Knoll. Most dives were at depths of 2000-3000 metres along the continental slope.

In my next posts, we’ll look at the deep-sea communities living there.

About Jean-Marc Gagnon

Curator, Invertebrate Section, Canadian Museum of Nature. Conservateur, Division des invertébrés, Musée canadien de la nature. President, Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (2010-2012) (www.spnhc.org)
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