Kermadec Trench: Snubs and Hags

After a day or so of steaming towards East Cape, we decided that the weather was still too bad to launch any of the gear safely, so we plodded on down to Poverty Bay. This was a good decision. The seas were calm and the sun was out – perfect lander weather.

We deployed our secret weapon – the ‘Latis’ trap, which I was saving for the 7000 meter site – but then thought given the passing of the large trap it was worth a go. We also deployed the abyssal-lander. In fact, we deployed both twice at this site, both to 1000 meters and then to 1500 meters.

Much to our surprise, the traps came in absolutely chock full of snub nose eels and at the shallower site the dreaded hag fish, which leaves an unmistakable slime where ever it goes.

With another great set of samples and some incredible images from the lander, our work here was done and we set course for Wellington.

It has been a great voyage, lots of new depths records, new species for New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone, and of course, a new species of fish. The video footage and the still images now complete our transect of the entire trench. The Abyssal Lander took a total of 6,794 images of the seafloor, which is pretty impressive and now we have images and samples from 1000 metres all the way to 9,900 metres deep, which must be one of the greatest standardized sample and image collection ever taken in one area. We are all pretty pleased.

Likewise, I am very proud of the team I brought on board – they all worked very hard and never broke during the rough weather. Also, I cannot express enough my gratitude to the crew of the Kaharoa who take such pride and professionalism in this type of work.

Time for a cold beer in the sun …

Also, check out the videos from the trip.

This article is repurposed from the Scientific American -original post.

About the Author: Dr. Alan Jamieson is a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, U.K. His research focuses primarily on the use of novel deep-submergence technology for deep-sea biological research, particularly at hadal depths (6,000 to 11,000 meters deep). Dr. Jamieson is the leader of this expedition, which is his tenth one to hadal trenches.