Sunday, September 30, 2012

NRDC scientist heads out to survey canyons southeast of Georges Bank

DSC00006.JPGBrad Sewell of Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is heading out to explore underwater life in the canyons southeast of the Georges Bank.  - GWC

I’m about to set out on the 125-foot Scarlett Isabella (above) with team of scientists and engineers from the Waitt Institute, the University of Connecticut, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to undertake the first ecological investigation of two Atlantic seamounts, two of just four seamounts in U.S. Atlantic waters. We will then explore several nearby “submarine” canyons that cut into the southern flank of Georges Bank southeast of Cape Cod, again cataloging for the first time the life at the bottom of these ocean features. 
Seamounts and submarine canyons typically teem with all types of marine life – from vast schools of squid and mackerel to whales, tunas, and sharks – because of strong localized currents and upwellings that bring in and trap food (and sweep away wastes). The rocky walls and crevices of seamounts and canyons are frequently home to rare deep sea corals, some of which have been growing for hundreds, even thousands of years, in depths from several hundred to several thousand feet, splashes of color beyond sunlight’s reach.