From the surface of the water, it’s hard to imagine that a small underwater mountain range with pinnacles reaching as high as 1000 meters above the seafloor is below us.
With the help of an echo sounder and Olex seafloor mapping software, Oceana’s experts were able to create a visual image of a section of “The Pinnacles” off the coast of Alabama, which some people call the “The Alabama Alps.”
As is standard procedure on the first day of a new research operation, the Oceana crew spent time testing the ROV equipment after its long trip from Spain. The reason the Spanish ROV can be used to investigate deepwater areas is because it’s tethered to a weighted line that gives it greater stability and control. A crew of at least six is needed to operate the ROV, including the winch, crane, cable and controls.
The crew also took the opportunity to perform a CTD scan. While a CTD scan will not show if oil is actually in the water column, it does measure the amount of dissolved oxygen at numerous depths, which could have been impacted by the levels of oil in the area surrounding the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Although we were graced with calm seas throughout the day, we all felt the heat and humidity on deck with very little wind.