Esperanza Heads South to Dutch Harbor with New Insights


Location of Pinnacles Remains a Mystery

A Dall's porpoise (top) gives Michelle Ridgway in DeepWorker a sendoff before her dive to 1,700 feet at Zhemchug Canyon in this surreal looking image. Hundreds of Dall's porpoises were present around the ship during the expedition. (Video still by David E. Guggenheim)

A Dall’s porpoise (top) gives Michelle Ridgway in DeepWorker a sendoff before her dive to 1,700 feet at Zhemchug Canyon in this surreal looking image. Hundreds of Dall’s porpoises were present around the ship during the expedition. (Video still by David E. Guggenheim)

The Esperanza began its 2-day steam south and endured gale-force winds and 15-foot seas along the way, but all are well and grateful for the successes along the way. The team achieved a total of 25 sub dives during the expedition, well-exceeding expectations for this part of the world where weather is typically unforgiving.

The team collected nearly a Terabyte (1,000 Gigabytes) of high-definition video, photographs and other data, now being archived, cataloged and distributed. Also collected were numerous coral, sponge, and other invertebrate samples which are being prepared for distribution to scientists around the world for further analysis.

Despite intense effort and late-night searching, the Esperanza was never able to locate the pinnacles reported to be in the Zhemchug Canyon area, pinnacles which are reported to rise within 20 feet of the surface. The team was prepared to scuba dive and video/photo-document these features, however this mystery will have to wait for a future expedition.

Zhemchug Canyon has revealed a diverse ecosystem with interesting and complex interrelationships. It’s also a location where large numbers of squid can be found at depth. Read more on David Guggenheim’s OceanDoctor blog.

The Esperanza is carrying two manned submersibles, a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) and an international research team to the Bering Sea for a three week survey of Zhemchug and Pribilof Canyons,to map and document deepwater corals living at depths of more than 1,000 feet. The expedition was conceived of and is being led by Greenpeace.

Images from Dive #24 in Zhemchug Canyon

Video stills by John Hocevar, 9 August 2007

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