Discoverer Deep Seas

Mission 2

Images | Videos

Location: Discoverer Deep Seas
Position: Gulf of Mexico
Depth: 10,000 ft
Dates: 2004
Industry Partners  
Gas & Oil Company Chevron
ROV Operator: Subsea7
Rig operator: Transocean
SERPENT Representatives: Dr. Ian Hudson, Ben Wigham, Professor Gil Rowe

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Field reports from the Discover Deep Seas continue to fascinate SERPENT scientists with images of rare marine life. The latest offerings from Tony Kastropil and his crew show chemosynthetic life on the seabed with interesting communities of cold seep mussels, sponges, corals and tube worms. The project continues to provide a focus for researchers in both the UK and the USA. The collaboration between Transocean, Chevron Texaco and Subsea 7 highlights the potential for ROV observations in the offshore sector during active oil and gas opertaions, and the depths in the Gulf of Mexico are sure to produce more exciting forms of life.

Eco Highlights

Chemosynthetic life, based around cold seeps in the Gulf of Mexico, use chemical energy provided by a methane seep for their energy needs. The mussel beds are characteristic of this environment, and provide a great habitat for other life to exist. Holothurians have been seen within the mussel beds feeding on what appears to be bacteria!!

Other animals seen in close proximity to the seep are irregular spatangoid urchins, ploughing through the mud. These echinoderms, close relatives of the holothurian, primarily feed upon the deposited mud on the seafloor, leaving characteristic tracks where ever they go. Further relatives of these echinoderms are sea stars. These sea stars have very different shapes and colours between species and they can be both deposit feeding and predatory.

Living within the coral and sponge are small crustaceans. These white crabs are most likely Galatheid crabs, with long slender claws suited for picking and collecting small items of prey and bacteria from within the mussels.

Cold seep mussels   Seep tube worms
Cold-seep mussels   Seep tube worms & coral
Tube worms and anemone   Galatheid crab
Tube worms & anemone   Galatheid crab

To find out more about chemosynthetic life visit the Census of Marine Life ChEss project website.

Gulf of Mexico location map Dr Ian Hudson

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