Tuesday, 12 February 2013

7 - Go Team Biology!

The first biology dive took place over the weekend. It was a fantastic opportunity for Team Biology to observe the fauna of the Von Damm Vent Field and collect samples for future analyses back on dry land. We used this opportunity to conduct video surveys of the vent field to reveal the spatial distribution of the animals, and we hope that in the future we can determine if the patterns we observe now change over time.

We also collected a variety of animals from the vent field. These included fish, snails and shrimp. Although it was wonderful to watch the animals in situ the best bit of the dive was when the ROV returned to the ship and we got to see the animals for real.

Snails, fish and shrimp at Von Damm vent
The deep Cayman vent fields are really exciting for the biologists onboard because of their depth and isolation. Most of the species we’ve collected so far are known only from these vents, and we have already found and described several new species.

On future dives we aim to collect and examine more species to gain a better understanding of the colonies of creatures living here and to compare them with those living at different vents around the world. This will really help us to comprehend the dispersal and evolution of species in the deep sea. We’ll also be comparing what lives at the Von Damm and Beebe Vent Fields, seeing whether animals disperse between them, and investigating their life cycles in the deep ocean.

By Verity Nye.

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