There is great excitement in the video operation room onboard, where geologists, biologists, chemists, engineers and computer specialists from the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU) and Institute for Marine Research (IMR), and several G.O. Sars crew members, are watching intently as the first video footage of the cruise streams live from the seabed. This is videofilm number 1 501 in the series since the MAREANO programme was launched in 2005.
The video rig "Chimeara" lands nicely at the bottom and as the camera pans around we get a good overview of the environment, bottom type and animals present before setting off on a 700 m long transect line, towed gently at a speed of 0.7 knots with Chimeara flying just above the bottom. Unfortunately we will have to wait to see what lies ahead, high water pressure at 206 m depth means sea-water has found its way into the vulnerable electric motor that controls the tilt function of the camera housing. Salt water and advanced electronics do not go well together but luckily our team of engineers is on hand to make the necessary repairs. Ten hours later the problem is fixed and we are back in action to complete the dive. We have also now continued to other sites without further problems
In MAREANO's decade-long history, around 1050 line kilometers of seabed video have been filmed. That is the equivalent of half the length of Norway! On this cruise we plan to cover a distance of 44 km.
MAREANO often invites guests to take part in its cruises for mutual benefit. This time three researchers from the Portuguese Institute for the Ocean and Atmosphere are joining us. The experience they gain from participating in the MAREANO cruise will be brought forward in any future mapping of the Portuguese continental shelf and underwater mountains.
On board the research ship G.O. Sars the seabed is studied thoroughly on a big-screen streaming live from the seabed. On-line logging includes describing sediment types, benthic terrain and biological communities and their distribution on the seabed in the eastern Barents Sea. All video footage is recorded continuously on board, backups taken and preparations made for further handling of the data.
After completing the cruise the video films are analyzed in more detail by IMR and NGU. The results are used to map the bottom types, biodiversity, and distribution of benthic communities as well as signs of damage to the seabed by fishing activities (such as trawl marks). Sampling using equipment other than video provides information on the seabed particle composition, the possible presence of contaminants, and on species that are related to certain environmental conditions and/or bottom types.