deepseasgroup - news

Some brief news items about the deepseas group's activities - if you would like more information on any item please follow the links in the text or contact us (see also NOCS news archives, and media contact).


The 13th Deep-Sea Biology Symposium will take place in Wellington, New Zealand from 3-7 December 2012. The symposium website is now open. Registration will open in February 2012. See you there !
PAP Cruise 2011

The 2011 visit to the Porcupine Abyssal Plain Sustained Observatory site will take place on RRS James Cook cruise 062. The cruise will service the Observatory system at PAP and carry out a large-scale survey of the seafloor environment and fauna. A daily blog of the cruise's progress will appear on the NOC website home page (see Expeditions Blogs, lower left of page).
Cruise blog

James Cook cruise 060 will be exploring interesting habitats in the Rockall Trough - follow the cruise blog.
INDEEP project launched

The International Network for Scientific Investigations of Deep-Sea Ecosystems (INDEEP) was recently launched in New Orleans. It will initially (2011-2013) be funded by Fondation Total, and will focus on global biodiversity and functioning of deep-sea ecosystems to improve sustainable management strategies. INDEEP aims to capture the momentum of collaboration generated during the Census of Marine Life. The project office will be managed locally by Maria Baker, with the website ( hosted at NOC.
Isis accident

The ROV Isis was badly damaged in an accident during RRS James Cook cruise 055 (see NOC News item). Despite this setback, the deepseas team onboard are carrying on with their exploration of the first hydrothermal vents to be discovered in the Southern Ocean - see how they are coping on the cruise blog.
Scotland's Deep-Sea Life

Daniel Jones and Andrew Gates have published a book on the deep-sea life of Scotland and Norway. Drawing on photographs from the extensive SERPENT Project collection, they illustrate the marine life of the deep-waters to the north and west of the UK. (Publisher's website).
CoML Workshop

Although the Census of Marine Life is ending, its main themes remain important. We hosted a Census of the Diversity of Abyssal Marine Life workshop to investigate the links between global ocean primary production, deep-sea benthic biomass (map opposite) and deep-ocean biodiversity.
PAP Special Issue

A special issue of the journal Deep-Sea Research II detailing our work at the Porcupine Abyssal Plain Sustained Observatory (PAP-SO) site has just been published. For more information see NOC news item and our PAP-SO website.
MAREMAP launch

A new seafloor mapping partnership between NOC, BGS and SAMS was launched at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. See our Seafloor and Habitat Mapping Group website and NOC news item for more details.
Discoveries continue

Despite cutting other projects the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has announced that the Discovery replacement project will continue - and produce RRS Discovery IV in time.
Blessed release

ROV Isis has come to our rescue. Our brand new amphipod trap failed to return from its very first deployment. Amphipods, shrimp-like creatures, are the scavengers of the deep and easily caught in baited traps. We use a mooring to put the traps on the seafloor, on acoustic command the mooring should release its ballast weight and float back to the surface - this time it didn't happen. Cue the Isis rescue mission. Using forward looking sonar Isis located the mooring. Then using its manipulator arm gave the trap a nudge. This freed the jammed ballast weight and allowed the trap to float free - the photograph opposite shows the moment the trap began to rise, leaving the ballast weight on the seafloor.
International symposium underway

The 12th Deep-Sea Biology Symposium is now underway in Reykjavik - the deepseasgroup are well represented at the meeting (see list of talks).
Diving Mid-Atlantic

RRS James Cook cruise 048 carrying the NOC ROV Isis and a deepseas team is heading for the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to carry out a diving programme around the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone. You can follow their progress on the cruise blog (see also ECOMAR project website).
Visit "The Deep"

The Natural History Museum, London has a major new exhibition on the deep sea that will run 28 May-5 September 2010. NOC and particularly the SERPENT Project have contributed to the exhibits. Honorary deepseas group member Professor Phil Weaver gave the opening speech (more on NOC news).
Back to PAP

A deepseas team are aboard RRS James Clark Ross for the 2010 visit to the Porcupine Abyssal Plain - follow their blog (see also PAP website).
Now we are at NOC

Continuing our long traditional of name changes, we are now at the National Oceanography Centre. The deepseas group remains as it has always been, a partnership between NERC and University of Southampton staff and our shared postgraduate students and visitors. (NOC).
A new Discovery

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has awarded a contract for the construction of a new ocean-going research vessel. The ship, likely to be named RRS Discovery (4.0), will replace the current RRS Discovery (3.5) - more at NOCS & NERC.
Cayman Trough vent expedition

A deepseas team are off to hunt for hydrothermal vents in the depths of the Cayman Trough. They have an online diary. See also NOCS news item.
Worms from beyond the grave

The deepseas team exploring Southern Ocean hydrothermal sites (see below) have found a whale skeleton that is home to the famous Zombie Worm - a bone eater [more].
Forams from hell - well hadal zone at least

Getting to the bottom of things, Andy Gooday and a UK-Japanese team have just published their observations of forams, single-celled creatures, living 7-miles down at the deepest point in the world's oceans - the Challenger Deep. The team used the remotely operated vehicle Kaiko from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) to collect their samples.

For more on the story - click here.
12th DSBS registration open now

See the Mid-Atlantic Ridge - the easy way

Registration for the 12th International Deep-Sea Biology Symposium in Iceland is now open, visit:

Hope to see you there.
Southern Ocean Vents Cruise - new black smokers discovered !
A deepseasgroup team is on board RRS James Cook cruise 042 - hunting for hydrothermal vents in the Southern Ocean. They will be using the NOCS ROV Isis to carry out the first ever studies of Southern Ocean vent sites - to compare and contrast their animal life with those of the better known Pacific and Atlantic vent sites.
You can follow the cruise via an informal cruise diary blog available on: - a second blog is available on:
Classroom@Sea - the NOCS science outreach site.
And they are on Twitter too -
New "DOO" web site

We have a new web site: for Deep-Ocean Observatories. For those of a technical bent, this is our first Joomla! web site. Joomla! is the content management system that will drive the new NOCS web site. Something those of us at NOCS will see and hear a lot more about in the months ahead.
In the news again !
Henry Ruhl contributed to the BBC Radio 4 Material World programme dealing with deep-ocean observatories following the "go live" of the Neptune Canada cabled network of observatories. For more on our observatory efforts see:
Deep-Ocean Observatories | Porcupine Abyssal Plain Observatory
DEEPSEAS Team in the news
Paul Tyler and Alan Hughes have been busy responding to various media enquiries following a Census of Marine Life press release promoting new deep-sea species discoveries. Paul and Alan appeared on several TV news programmes. Alan also ventured on to BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio 4's flagship science programme 'Material World' (podcast available to download).
Deep-sea haggis discovered

Three new species of deep-sea haggii have been described (Protista, Rhizaria, Gromia) by a DEEPSEAS team. The new gromiids were discovered in the deep Weddell Sea (some 9,000 miles from the Scottish Highlands). Read more ...
ABYSS2100 on the website
Supported by the Total Foundation, Abyss2100 investigates the effects of CO2, temperature and pressure on invertebrates to better understand deep-sea biodiversity in a world of climate change. Our Pressure Lab facilities can make a unique contribution in this field.
Climate change @ PAP ?
The possible impact of climate change at the PAP-SO site has been published in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. See abstract
2009 a deep-ocean odyssey
Alan Hughes and Claudia Alt had an odyssey to Norway to join a MAR-ECO outreach event. Alan described benthic ecology to the invited schools audience and via a live web broadcast.
The Atlantic single-handed
A DEEPSEAS team of one is aboard RRS James Cook for Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT) cruise 19. The first attempt at adding seafloor biology to the AMT, the SHRIMP camera system will study seafloor life at several sites on a North-South transect of the Atlantic Ocean. AMT website
Thar She Blows !
Blue whale sighted at PAP! Although a whale was our logo for many years, we don't often report our whale sightings. A cruise to the Porcupine Abyssal Plain Sustained Observatory (PAP-SO) has just made a confirmed (via the Sea Mammal Research Unit) sighting of a Blue Whale.
The RRS James Cook has set sail again. This time heading for the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone as part of the NERC-funded ECOMAR project with a DEEPSEAS Group team onboard. ECOMAR is part of the MAR-ECO project. You can follow their progress on the ECOMAR cruise diary.
PAP cruise - RRS Discovery 341
Back to the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (PAP). This cruise will examine surface ocean, mid-water and seafloor processes, and service the PAP-Sustained Observatory system. This is our 20th year of operations at the PAP-SO site! For more information: Classroom@sea | EuroSITES OUTREACH | PAP-SO website.
12th Deep-Sea Biology Symposium, Iceland
The symposium website is available as:

Registration will open in January 2010 on that homepage. Please remember to bookmark the link! We will see you there.
Whittard Canyon ROV cruise
A large DEEPSEAS Group team are onboard RRS James Cook for cruise 36, studying the geology and biology of the Whittard Canyon using the NOCS ROV Isis. You can follow the team's exploits via the Classroom@sea cruise diary page. This is our first cruise under the new EC-funded HERMIONE (Hotspot Ecosystem Research and Man's Impact on European Seas) project that follows on from the successful HERMES project. See also Leighton Rolley's blog (look for JC036 BLOG entries down righthand side).
HyBIS to the rescue
The hydraulic benthic interactive sampler (HyBIS), a DEEPSEAS and G&G development project, rescued a benthic lander during a trial of this new system. The lander, from Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, was located and grappled by HyBIS and safely dragged back to the surface.
Vents and seeps in the Southern Ocean
The ChEsSo cruise (RRS James Clark Ross 224) sets off 12 January 2009 with a DEEPSEAS team aboard - hunting for chemosynthetic communities around Antarctica.

You can follow their progress via the CLASSROOM@SEA project website.
12th Deep-Sea Biology Symposium
7-11 June 2010, Reykjavik, Iceland
The next international gathering of deep-sea biologists is set to be in Iceland during 2010. Professor Jörundur Svavarsson of the Institute of Biology, University of Iceland has nobily agreed to take on the challenge. We wish him well.

The venue is the stunning Askja building of the University of Iceland. We hosted the last Symposium here in Southampton; if you would like to see what went on then - click here.
Benthic Crozet Meeting
NOCS hosted the latest Benthic Crozet project meeting. From DGGEs to demersal fish and data management there were 14 presentations - project partners can access copies of the presentations in the secure area of the project website. [More...]
Angola Survey
A DEEPSEAS team, together with some old friends from SeaStar and Oceanlab, have recently returned from an environmental survey off Angola, carried out on behalf of BP.
ECOMAR cruise
The busy summer continues - a DEEPSEAS team is back aboard RRS James Cook for an ECOMAR cruise. The team will be surveying and beginning biological investigations of four study areas around the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. A cruise diary is available.
HERMES cruise
Mud volcanoes and canyons

Immediately following the Isis trials cruise (see below) RRS James Cook began the HERMES cruise. Leg 1 investigated mud volcanoes in the Gulf of Cadiz, legs 2 and 3 studied canyons off Portugal and Ireland. Isis worked very well and we acquired some excellent images and video of a wide range of deep-sea organisms and undertake a number of novel in situ experiments (see cruise diary).
Isis Trials
Brian Bett and Ben Boorman sailed on RRS James Cook from NOC for ROV Isis trials prior to HERMES cruises (see above). The ROV and its new elevators were successfully tested at c. 4800m on the Biscay Abyssal Plain.
AUV - Habitat Mapping
Building on our success in fitting a camera system to AUTOSUB, Dan Jones has won CASEE funding to use the Fetch AUV for habitat mapping. This is a collaboration with Professor Mark Patterson (Virginia Institute of Marine Science).
NOCS Pressure Lab
The Pressure Lab facilities are now up and running - ready for hyperbaric experiments ashore and at sea.
The website for the Deep-ocean Long-term Observatory System is now live:
Isis 1st science mission
A DEEPSEAS Team are onboard RRS James Clark Ross in the Antarctic, taking part in the first science mission of the UK deep submergence remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Isis.
In the NEWS
SERPENT made the news, with Brian Bett interviewed on BBC Radio 4's lead science programme The Material World. The discussion also covered Census of Marine Life projects, including ChEss.