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September 19-23, 2012
aboard R/V MANTA

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is partnering with LUMCON, UNCW-Wilmington, and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to continue uncovering the secrets of the deepwater communities in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.

The focus of this trip was ROV exploartion at Rankin and 28 Fathom Banks, east of East Flower Garden Bank. Besides the beautiful coralline algae and deep water coral communities encountered, the team came across a mud volcano!


View of the R/V Manta from the perspective of a diver at the surface of the water.
LUMCON partners Paul Sammarco and Dan Beltz assist with Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) operations on deck.

R/V Manta crew
Sanctuary research team
LUMCON researchers
UNCW-Wilmington ROV operators
BOEM researchers


The purpose of this trip was to identify Potentially Sensitive Biological Features (PSBF) in the areas surrounding Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) No Activity Zones (NAZ). The data collected as part of these ROV surveys will then be used to determine if any changes are needed in those designations.

Three people launching an ROV from the deck of R/V MANTA
Launching the ROV.

Launching the ROV for a dive takes many people to help get it safely off the boat! The orange cable runs from the ROV to the boat, providing power to the ROV and a live video feed to researchers on board.

Lance Horn in front of the ROV controls in the dry lab of R/V MANTA
Lance Horn pilots the ROV from inside R/V Manta while watching the live video feed. Notice the orange cable from the back deck feeding in through a special access point in the top left of this image.

The ROV pilot works in air-conditioned comfort inside R/V MANTA. All of the ROV controls are set up in the dry lab, with a live video feed to the galley.

Emma Hickerson sitting in front of a computer inside R/V MANTA
Sanctuary Research Coordinator Emma Hickerson taking notes on the fish and benthic life being observed on video feed from the ROV.

Researchers watch the video feed and take notes on the biology they are observing in real-time. These notes include time stamps and geographic coordinates to help us identify important sections of video that they may want to study further.

Two men installing equipment on an ROV
LUMCON partners installing sampling
equipment on the ROV.

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In addition to ROV dives, sediment samples and water samples were collected. The sediment grab is a large clam-shaped object that is lowered to the bottom on a cable. Once on the seafloor a latch is released, allowing the clam shell to close and capture sediment. Then, it is pulled back to the surface with the sediment inside.

Four people maneuvering a piece of equipment suspended from the hoist by a cable.
Researchers retrieving the sediment sampler.

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weather report observations cool stuff get wet

Orange, branching gorgonian (soft coral) anchored in a bed of sponges and other sea life.
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