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R/V MANTA 2013

R/V MANTA is an important tool for sanctuary research, but also serves as a regional asset.

Below are some of the highlights from R/V MANTA activities not specifically associated with sanctuary research cruises.

Click on a picture below to see a larger, hi-resolution image
Photo credits: FGBNMS
unless otherwise noted

Preparations for New ROV
October 23, 2013

Operating a new ROV with improved technology required some upgrades to operating systems on board R/V MANTA.

Wiring panel inside R/V MANTA

Camera Array Recovery
July 31-August 1, 2013

Earlier in the summer, a NOAA Fisheries camera array was lost off the Texas coast near Corpus Christi. R/V MANTA crew, sanctuary divers, and technical divers from Texas A&M Galveston were asked to recover the lost gear since they had the appropriate equipment and expertise for the job.

A group of people gathered around a large camera array on the deck of a boat
The recovery crew. Photo: Blue Star Marine
A large, round metal framed cage with several cameras inside.
This camera array and all of its data were recovered from the Gulf of Mexico through a cooperative effort with TAMUG divers.
R/V MANTA Captains Mike and Darrell posing with a recovered camera array on the deck of the boat
Captains Mike and Darrell were instrumental in locating and recovering the lost camera array. Photo: Blue Star Marine

July 15-16, 2013

MOCNESS, Multiple Opening and Closing Net with an Environmental Sensing System, is a high-tech sampling net that allows researchers to collect multiple samples from different sections of the ocean during a single haul. Each section of the sampling net can be independently opened or closed for sampling. Texas A&M University at Galveston deployed theirs for the first time using R/V MANTA.

A metal frame and other mechanical parts laid out on a worksroom floor for assembly.
Assembling MOCNESS for testing on board R/V MANTA with
TAMUG biology students.
Three people hoisting the MOCNESS sampling equipment onto the boat using the A-frame
Loading MOCNESS onto R/V MANTA.

June 28, 2013

A team of scientists and technicians from the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG), Department of Oceanography, and Texas A&M-Galveston used the NOAA research vessel MANTA to test their new Slocum gliders. The yellow, missile-shaped devices are autonomous underwater vehicles that operate by using an internal pumping system to change the buoyancy, allowing it to move horizontally and vertically... Read More

Visit the TAMU GERG Gliders Facebook page to follow their work.

Two underwater gliders sitting in racks on the floor.
Two Slocum underwater gliders stored in floor racks awaiting deployment from R/V MANTA

June 10-14, 2013

The FGBNMS research team worked with partners from Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW), and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), along with volunteers from Texas A&M University at Galveston, to characterize habitat that falls outside of BOEM's currently designated No Activity Zones in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, but may contain potentially sensitive biological features (PSBF).

A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was used to explore and document these locations over seven separate trips, collecting images that will be analyzed to help characterize habitat diversity.

The study visited a total of fourteen banks, including; 28 Fathom, 29 Fathom, Alderdice, Bouma, Bright, Elvers, Geyer, Horseshoe, McGrail, Parker, Rankin, Rezak, Sidner, and Sonnier. Now that data collection is complete, the FGBNMS research team will be working to process images for statistical analysis. 

Side view of the Phantom S2 ROV used for deep water exploration.
This was the last trip for the Phantom S2 ROV on board R/V MANTA. This ROV has been a real workhorse for the sanctuary for many years.
Displays and equipment set up on counter tops inside R/V MANTA
This is what the ROV "cockpit" looks like on board R/V MANTA. Several different displays and tools allow the pilot to operate effectively in unknown territory.
ROV image of the seafloor at Bouma Bank
This is a typical image taken during ROV operations at Bouma Bank. After the trip, each image was analyzed to identify all of the biology present. If you zoom in on this image you can see a couple of arms from a Pompom Sea Star just above the laser light markers.
Pompom Sea Star (Coronaster briareus)
This diagnostic image of a Pompom Sea Star, taken on a previous ROV exploration, was used to help identify the Pompom Sea Star seen in the image from Bouma Bank to the left.

Trip Prep
May 31, 2013

It's the little things that keep things running smoothly. Food, fuel, clean linens, etc. must all be taken care of before each trip.

Woman holding fuel hose while fueling a boat
Deckhand Julia O'Hern fueling up R/V MANTA in
preparation for the next trip out.

UT Geology Class
May 20-24, 2013

The University of Texas (UT) marine geology and geophysics field class used R/V MANTA to teach graduate and undergraduate students techniques in marine geology and geophysics data collection with hands-on training, and collect background scientific data near Galveston, TX. Data collection included use of a small MCS airgun/streamer system, CHIRP acoustic reflection, and gravity coring.

Bright yellow piece of equipment sitting on deck of R/V MANTA
CHIRP Sonar towfish used by UT students to learn more about bottom geology in the Gulf of Mexico.
Students gathered around a computer in the dry lab of R/V MANTA
Students gathered around a computer in the dry lab to observe the sub-bottom profiling data being collected by the towfish.
R/V MANTA backing up to the dock at the end of a day at work.
R/V MANTA backing into her slip at the TAMUG dock at the end of a day 3 with the UT students.
Workers wearing hardhats on the back deck of the boat as they retrieve equipment from the water
Students retrieving the CHIRP towfish using the overhead winch on R/V MANTA. (Image: John Goff, UT Marine Geology)
Students deploying a piece of equipment from the deck of R/V MANTA
Students deploying a seismic streamer on day 4. (Image: John Goff, UT Marine Geology)
Students with a large reel of cables on the back deck of R/V MANTA
UT students hauling a seismic streamer back aboard R/V MANTA at the end of day 4.
Port side of R/V MANTA with Captain Mike at the outside controls on the upper deck.
Captain Mike steers R/V MANTA away from the dock from an outside steering station at the start of day 5.
Group photo of students and crew on the port side of R/V MANTA
Group photo of the May 2013 University of Texas Marine Geology and Geophysics Field Course participants along with captain and crew of the R/V MANTA. (Image: Nancy Ford, UT Marine Geology)

Vessel Maintenance
May 6-9 2013

Every year, R/V MANTA has to be pulled out of the water to remove encrusting growth from the hull and jets. Too much growth slows down the vessel and impedes jet functions. Sanctuary staff did all of the hard labor this year!

R/V Manta being hoisted out of the water
R/V MANTA came out of the water on Monday.
Encrusted port side jet on R/V Manta
Jet drives needed a thorough cleaning.
Clean starboard side jet on R/V Manta
After a lot of scrubbing, pressure washing, and repainting, the jet drives were ready to go again.
R/V Manta being lowered back to the water after cleaning
R/V MANTA was back in the water on Thursday, in record time. Way to go team!

Boat Tours

R/V MANTA spends a lot of time at sea, but every once in a while we are able to take a small group on a tour when she is dockside.

Several students talking to NOAA Corps officer on boat
Home school students talked with LTJG Weekley about vessel operations 3/18/13.
Boy scouts checking out the captain's seat on R/V MANTA
Boy Scouts toured the MANTA on 5/18/13 in preparation for a trip to Sea Base in Florida.

weather report observations cool stuff get wet

Juvenile blue tang (fish).  Bright yellow body with irridescent blue marking around eye and at top edge of dorsal fin.
National Marine Sanctuary logo - a stylized whale tail above waves