Expedition to explore remarkable deep-sea mountain

MOSS LANDING, California--Biologically rich deep-sea mountains called "seamounts" have long been known to science. The waters around seamounts are incredibly productive-feeding grounds for everything from fishes to sharks, albatrosses, and sperm whales. They may be home to vast fields of sponges and forests of centuries-old corals, deep-water relatives of the tropical corals. But by and large, little is known about what lives on the slopes of these ancient undersea volcanoes.

Beginning Friday, May 17, the secrets of one seamount will be revealed. A team of researchers from four marine science institutions will explore the Davidson Seamount 1,300 meters (4,000 feet) below the ocean's surface off California's Big Sur coast, just outside the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The public can share their daily discoveries through a website created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The expedition will continue through Friday, May 24.

Based on a preliminary survey of the seamount conducted in May 2000 by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), scientists expect both biological and geological surprises. They will use a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to take their closest look ever at the 2,300-meter (7,874-foot) high underwater mountain-the first deep-sea feature to be formally categorized as a seamount.

The expedition will use MBARI's research ship, the Western Flyer, and its state-of-the-art ROV Tiburon, a robotic submersible that can dive 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) below the ocean's surface. In addition to MBARI researchers, the expedition team will include scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and Moss Landing Marine Labs.

The team will travel 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of Monterey to study the Davidson Seamount. Headed by chief scientist Dr. Andrew De Vogelaere, research coordinator for the Monterey National Marine Sanctuary, the explor

Contact: Debbie Meyer
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

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