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There was very little benthic cover on the 60’ peak, but was quite lush benthic cover at the 80’ peak – dominated by sponges.

October 28-30, 2013
aboard R/V MANTA

This was the inaugural trip for the new Mohawk ROV purchased by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Through a cooperative agreement with the foundation, the University of North Carolin Underwater Vehicle Program (UNCW-UVP) will operate and maintain the ROV and make the vehicle available for other work within the region.


R/V Manta crew
FGBNMS Research Team
UNCW Underwater Vehicle Program Team

Mohawk ROV on the deck of R/V MANTA
The new Mohawk ROV on the deck of R/V MANTA.

Photo: FGBNMS/Schmahl

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ROV Operations

The new ROV is considerably heavier than the old one and must be hoisted by cable using the boat's A-frame.

Two people in hardhats ready the ROV for launch and prepare to attach the lift cable.
Preparing the ROV for launch.
Photo: FGBNMS/Schmahl

The umbilical tethers the ROV to the boat and provides it with power. This cable is also used to transmit videos and photos back to the researchers on the boat.

Two people launching the ROV from the back deck of a boat.
Two people steady the ROV and manage the umbilical
cable as the ROV is lifted by the boat's A-frame.

Photo: FGBNMS/Schmahl

Initial tests with the ROV were conducted in relatively shallow water to make sure everything was operating properly. This provided an opportunity for divers to get in the water with the ROV and take some great photos!

ROV underwater with reef below and umbilical leading to boat at surface
The Mohawk ROV in the water at East Flower Garden Bank with R/V MANTA's silhouette above. Photo: FGBNMS/Schmahl

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ROV underwater with reef below
The Mohawk ROV cruising over East Flower Garden Bank.
Photo: FGBNMS/Schmahl

ROV pilot seated in front of a bank of display monitors
Five different monitors give ROV pilot Lance Horne all the information he needs to operate. Photo: FGBNMS/Schmahl

The science team uses an annotation station on all ROV trips. This is where they can watch a live feed from the ROV and record information about the organisms and habitat they see.

Marissa seated at a table with several display monitors and keyboard with a large screen image on the wall beyond.
Marissa sits ready to record data at the annotation station
set up in the galley.
Photo: FGBNMS/Schmahl

During this inaugural trip, not everything was working as it should, requiring on site trouble-shooting and repairs. This is where the experience of the UNCW-UVP team comes in handy!

Several people stand around a table where computer equipment is being examinesd
Lance Horne and his crewlook at the ROV operating system and make adjustments. Photo: FGBNMS/Hickerson

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HD Imagery

For the first time ever, sanctuary staff were able to get high-definition (HD) imagery from the deep areas of the sanctuary.

Coralline algae zone
This colorful image of the coralline algae zone at East Flower Garden Bank includes black coral sea fans, gorgonian sea whips, green algae, creolefish, threadnose bass, and sunshinefish.

Threadnose bass in deep habitat
Threadnose bass.

Black Coral (Plumapathes pennacea)
Black coral (Plumapathes pennacea).

Pederson shrimp on the branches of a black coral
Pederson shrimp, Ancylomenes pedersoni,
perched on a black coral.

A red bryozoan
A red bryozoan.

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Giant Anemone (Condylactis gigantea)
A giant anemone, Condylactis gigantea, with several small Pederson shrimp hiding among the tentacles.

Brine seep
The brine seep at East Flower Garden Bank. This is where super saline water seeps out of the salt dome that forms the bank and creates an underwater lake.

Unfortunately, some of the sights were less than desireable. Lionfish are apparently making themselves at home in these deep areas where removal is difficult.

Two lionfish in the coralline algae zone
Lionfish were observed throughout the coralline algae habitat.

Lionfish in deep habitat
The lionfish we saw were quite large.

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Personnel Transfer

At the end of the cruise, R/V MANTA met up with the NOAA Ship PISCES to transfer personnel.

R/V MANTA coming up alongside NOAA Ship Pisces
PISCES is a larger class research vessel in the NOAA fleet. Photo: FGBNMS/Schmahl

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There was very little benthic cover on the 60’ peak, but was quite lush benthic cover at the 80’ peak – dominated by sponges.

weather report observations cool stuff get wet

Orange, branching gorgonian (soft coral) anchored in a bed of sponges and other sea life.
National Marine Sanctuary logo - a stylized whale tail above waves