We have documented some of the most elusive - and strange-looking - life on earth with a team of scientists working in the Azores. Despite equipment failure and bad weather, during a three-week survey of the rich marine life we filmed and photographed creatures living at depths as low as 700 metres.
Spiral tube worms live in membranous tubes, and have a feathery, filter-feeding crown that can be quickly withdrawn into the tube when danger threatens.
Equipped with state of the art imaging equipment, including a
remoteoperating vehicle and a drop camera, we were able to survey
parts ofthe deep sea that have never been seen by human eyes,
including corals,sponges, a variety of fish, sea slugs and salps
and even deep watersharks.
Ourintrepid expedition leader, Richard Page, who had to overcome
thedisappointment of broken cameras and remote operating vehicles
thatdidn't actually operate, was nevertheless fascinated by what we
"Onlya tiny part of this enormous stretch of the Atlantic Ocean
hasbeen investigated. Like the rest of the world's oceans, we are
only justbeginning to understand what is down there and what impact
we are havingon its survival."
"Everyrecord helps us build up our understanding of these
valuablemarine ecosystems, and we have a much more detailed picture
of someareas of the seabed than we had before. Now begins the
detailedanalysis," said Azores University Marine Scientist
Earlierin the expedition we worked with the International Fund
ForAnimal Welfare (IFAW) collaborated on a whale watching survey of
the area. Justthree months after coming from the whaling grounds of
the Southern Ocean, the teamin the Azores was able to show the
value to the environment -- not to mention theeconomy -- of
Photographs of individualwhales will be added to the regional
photo-id catalogue in the Azores,which is managed by IFAW.
Sowhere to next, Ocean Defenders? Stay tuned for the next leg of
theexpedition as the Esperanza heads towards the Mediterranean.
See even more weird and wonderful images in our Art4Oceans gallery - or make your own!