Deep Dives at Zhemchug Canyon Reveal Corals, Intricately Woven Ecosystem

Before rough seas rolled in on Tuesday, the team aboard Esperanza was able to complete six manned submersible dives and three ROV dives at Zhemchug Canyon, considered the largest canyon in the ocean. The subs worked close to their maximum depth of 2,000 feet while the ROV worked at its deepest depth ever, around 3,000 feet. Numerous coral species were present and documented throughout the dives.

Zhemchug Canyon has also revealed an intricate ecosystem whose inhabitants depend upon small holes or rises in the otherwise flat, silty bottom, including “flatfish holes,” depressions made by halibut, flounder, sole and skates, and drop-stones, rocks and boulders that fall from melting icebergs above. Read more about this unique place on David Guggenheim’s OceanDoctor blog. Read more

Esperanza Sets Sail from Dutch Harbor: Bering Sea Expedition Under Way

DeepWorker submarines aboard Esperanza as the ship heads north into the Bering Sea, leaving the Aleutians behind. (Photo by David E. Guggenheim)

DeepWorker submarines aboard Esperanza as the ship heads north into the Bering Sea, leaving the Aleutians behind. (Photo by David E. Guggenheim)

The Expedition to the Bering Sea officially got under way as the M/V Esperanza departed Dutch Harbor, Alaska on Friday, July 27 at 4pm Alaska Daylight Time. The Esperanza will steam through the night — for roughly 15 hours — to its first destination, Pribolof Canyon near the Pribolof Islands in the Bering Sea. The first DeepWorker dives are scheduled for Saturday morning.

In June, an international team of researchers and conservation specialists recently completed a week of intensive training and preparations for this Greenpeace-led expedition to Alaska’s Bering sea. The Esperanza is carrying two manned submersibles, a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) and the research team to the Bering Sea for a three week survey of Zhemchug and Pribilof Canyons, specifically to map and document deepwater corals living at depths of more than 1,000 feet. Read more

Next-Generation Aquaculture: The Future of Fishing on Planet Earth

This next-generation land-based recirculating aquaculture facility in northern Denmark supplies 20 percent of the eel consumed by the European market. (Photo courtesy of Aquaculture Developments, LLC)

After being nearly ignored for decades, marine conservation issues are increasingly at the forefront of the environmental agenda today, thanks in large part to the report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and subsequent U.S. Ocean Action Plan as well as the results of the independent Pew Oceans Commission, and current actions of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. The similarity of the findings of these efforts has been striking, recognizing that urgent steps are required to restore marine ecosystems. Among the most serious problems cited is overfishing and the recognition that U.S. fisheries are increasingly unsustainable and many populations will take decades to recover.

Of course, this trend is not limited to the U.S. and global overfishing is viewed as one of the principal causes of the loss of integrity of marine ecosystems and is considered a major factor in the decline of coral reef communities. Read more