Picture of the Paisley seamount recorded with the EM710 multibeam echosounder from Kongsberg Maritime during the survey.
Last week two of these hotspots were visited, the St. Lazarus Bank and the Quirimbas National Park. After finalizing these two regions the vessel arrived in Pemba in the afternoon of the 27th November for a scientific crew change and to refill provisions. While waiting in port, we were visited by Prof. Ze Paula from the University of Lisbon who, without knowing it, brought us a big surprise: An old friend, Hermes Pacule, with whom we had shared many hours studying at the University of Bergen where he took his Master degree. He is now the Director of the newly created Coastal and Marine Environment Research Centre in Pemba. His visit gave us the opportunity to learn more about the Centre and to discuss areas of cooperation, and we agreed immediately to his request to assist in the collection of various fish species for a new fish collection in the Lab.
A new scientific crew
With a new scientific crew onboard “Dr. Fridtjof Nansen” left Pemba on the 29th of November. Our new local cruise leader is Carlos Bento from the National Fishery Research Institute in Maputo (IIP).
Local scientists are curiously waiting to sea what the deep will reveal. The Grab is used to collect samples of benthos material from the ocean floor.
Science is not always easy!
After leaving Pemba Thursday morning we steamed to the Paisley seamount, about 40 nm from the mainland. We have now spent to days and two nights surveying this small offshore area.
A picture recorded with the FOCUS underwater towed body from 400 m depth showing the rocky bottom surface of the seamount.
The seamount is roughed and steep with hard and rocky bottom. Minimum depth is around 300 m sloping off to the deep sea and more than 2000 m depth in the surrounding area. After destroying one bottom trawl on the rocky ground, fishing with hand line for two days, loosing two fish traps due to very strong current and almost catching ourselves with a rope in the propeller the results are not encouraging. No catch, no acoustic fish recordings, and we still do not know what secret creatures are hidden in the deep. Even grab sampling only resulting in almost loosing the grab to the rocky bottom. The last thing we will do is to send down the FOCUS, a large underwater towed body, to inspect the ground and try to record what habitat and potential fish we can find in the deep. This evening we will return to the mainland going south to inspect two coral reefs called the “Primeiras” and “Segundas” Archipelagos. We hope and expect more luck there…
By Jens-Otto Krakstad and Diana Zaera