Saturday, February 27, 2010

Suzee & Craig

I think it's about time that I told you about the robot on board. We have a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) named Suzee. Suzee goes into the water, attached to the ship by a cable, and explores the sea floor.

Suzee has a camera and a movable arm for taking samples. She's operated by Dries Boone,  Katrien Heirman, and Lieven Naudts from Ghent University in Belgium. Dries says that controlling the ROV is a lot like playing a video game!

Here's a photo from a recent dive. Did you know that so many different things lived deep in the ocean? I didn't know that corals could survive in such cold water.

The feathery things are called crinoids, commonly referred to as sea lilies. The curly ones are brittle stars, and the bulbous pink and blue creatures are tunicates. You can also see a few sponges and soft coral.

It turns out that at least half of the deep water species in the ocean have never been described. That means they don't have names, and nobody knows anything about them. I think that's a little scary. But the cool part is that if you're a biologist, you have an excellent chance of finding a new species here. My friend Craig Smith, from the University of Hawaii (who identified all of the species in the photo for me), has personally collected hundreds of species that were totally new to science. He even has
three species named after him!

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