Lucille and the NOAA Fisheries AUV team, together with partners from NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries, are searching for deep water corals in Bodega Canyon, an undersea feature located north of the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of northern California.
We have completed three successful dives so far in three days operations on the National Marine Sanctuaries research vessel, the R/V Fulmar. Lucille, the AUV, has performed very well. We dived on three different sites. The first was at the northwest edge of Bodega Canyon and the second site was at the southeast edge of Bodega Canyon. From these dives it is apparent that the Canyon is primarily sediment rock and rubble. This mud-draped area does not have any corals while there are some scattered sponges. Guy Cochrane of the U.S. Geological Survey has already used these data to refine his habitat map. Today, we moved to the slope southwest of Cordell Bank and this area also is mud draped with scattered outcrops of sedimentary rock. There were soft corals (Anthosmastus ritteri) on exposed rock. Tomorrow we are planning a dive in deeper areas toward the mouth of the Canyon.