North to Alaska!

On March 4th a trailer truck pulled out of UConn Avery Point with two containers and a winch totaling about 27,000 pounds of oceanographic gear, headed for Seattle, WA, mobilization site for NURTEC’s latest expedition – “Deepwater Exploration of Glacier Bay National Park” (GBNP) in Alaska. One container was the Center’s ROV control van and the other housed the Kraken2 ROV and tons of support gear, tools, spares etc. The mission is being led by Dr. Rhian Waller from the University of Maine and is sponsored by NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER).

Truck with NURTEC ROV gear
A trailer truck getting ready to leave UConn Avery Point for Seattle, Washington

The K2 ROV will be deployed at night off the contracted support vessel Norseman II to explore the deeper waters of the park, collect video, digital stills and select samples of deep water organisms for subsequent genetic and age data analyses. During the day SCUBA will be used to explore and sample the shallow waters of GBNP that are unique in that they support cold water corals that normally grow in much deeper water.  This phenomenon is due to freshwater runoff that is laden with brown colored tannins that block the penetration of sunlight, creating conditions similar to much deeper water.

The Norseman II support vessel
The Norseman II
Rainbow on the way to Glacier Bay
Panorama of a rainbow on the transit to Glacier Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NURTEC ROV team arrived in Seattle on March 10th and began to mobilize all of the gear onto the Norseman II, before setting sail north to Alaska. The four day transit along the spectacular Inside Passage provided additional time to tweak all systems for the upcoming two-weeks of challenging dive operations. The mission began with test dives on March 18th with the first full day of ROV operations taking place the following evening with a successful dive that included collecting many deep-water coral samples.

NOAA’s OER is providing detailed, day by day Mission Logs of the expedition on its Ocean Explorer website.

 

March 21, 2016 Report

The K2 ROV completed the third successful dive exploring the East Arm of Glacier Bay National Park.  Deep water corals measuring 1-2 meters across were sighted on the dive.  The team is now steaming towards the West Arm for a dive in the Johns Hopkins Inlet.

The East Arm of Glacier Bay
The calm waters of the East Arm of Glacier Bay
K2 ROV
K2 ROV on deck after a dive in Glacier Bay National Park