October 11- October 17, 2003
October 12, 2003
David Clague writes:
Taney Cruise Report for dive 627.
We are clearly going to have to rename this cruise as we now have no chance of getting to the Taney Seamounts because of gale force winds and large storm-generated swell from off British Columbia. We began this leg under a cloud of ominous weather forecasts and decided that our chances were greater to be able to dive if we postponed heading west to the Taney Seamounts. We finally departed at 2:30 Sunday heading northwest to Pioneer Seamount, where we dove at dawn Sunday morning. The seas and wind were marginal for a dive, and as they both increased during the morning, the dive was aborted at noon after about 4 hours on the bottom. Despite the short duration of the dive we collected 8 lava samples from outcrops and numerous animals including crinoids, brisingids and other asteroids, ophiuroids, gorgonians, hydroids, clams, a stalked tunicate, and a pycnogonid that forgot to let go of the rock he was hiding on. Other animals observed during the dive included glass sponges, cucumbers, soft corals, anemones, rattail fish, skates, snail darter fish, and featherduster worms. The assemblages are quite different from those on other nearby seamounts with different gorgonians and asteroids, but the same old sponges, cucumbers, anemones, soft corals, clams, and millions of ophiuroids. The lava flows were thick blocky types that we usually see nearer the tops of nearby seamounts. No pillow lavas were observed, reflecting the low-temperature, viscous characteristics of the lava. The common yellow sponge seen on Davidson Seamount in such abundance was not observed, and only a few specimens of the large bubblegum coral were seen, although this may simply reflect that the dive did not reach the summit of the seamount.
After examining an even less promising weather
report, which indicated we were unlikely to be able to dive at either
Pioneer or the Taney Seamounts before Wednesday or Thursday, we made the
decision to head south and away from the storm that is producing the large
swell. By dinner Monday, we should be at Rodriguez Seamount offshore from
Pt. Conception, hopefully having eluded the wind and swells that caused us
to shorten the dive today. More news after we get to Rodriguez and do the
first dive on this previously unexplored seamount.