Our last Nature Live event from the Bahamas was a bioblitz with Helena and Diva. It was great fun as we trawled the beach, against the clock, to find whatever we could for the family-friendly audience.
Above: Helena, Diva and 1 talk to the Nature Live audience in London
(Click images to see them full size)
With yesterday’s shark incident still at the fore of our minds, we set out to recover the 2nd package and to try and find and recover the 3rd package.
We made visual contact with the 2nd package late last night but it was getting too dark to bring it to the surface. So we returned to the spot today and hauled it up on to the boat.
The shark damage was obvious but we got a piece of good news…it hadn’t taken all of the whale bones! We found a small bone still attached to the basket which lifted everyone’s spirits. Helena was particularly excited – even though it was a small piece she will be analysing it under the microscope for any evidence of Osedax.
Above: Helena was very pleased that some of the whale bones had been recovered
After lunch we moved on to the 3rd and final package which was perched on the edge of the Great Bahamian Canyon. If it wasn’t were we left it six months ago then it had slipped into the abyss, far out of REX’s reach. It took nearly 2 hours to locate it and the control room was full of people waiting to catch a glimpse of it in the blue. This is the moment Nick spotted it…
After the initial excitement of finding the package we quickly realised that it would be a challenge to recover. At 55m deep, it was too deep for divers to go down to get it so we had to make sure that REX had a good grip on it so as it didn’t drop as it came to the surface. We carefully raised it to the surface and Nick and Leigh jumped in to retrieve it.
Above: Despite its appearance we were very glad to see our basket!
Using REX meant that we knew, even when the experiment was still on the sea floor, that it too had been visited by a curious/hungry shark as all the whale bones were missing. But this time all the wood was still attached to the baskets. We now know that sharks, if given the choice, don’t like eating wood! The best bit was seeing how many lionfish were surrounding the basket…
That wrapped up our time on the boat and it was great that we managed to recover all 3 experiments using REX, it’s just a shame that sharks got to the them before we could!
Above: This sums it all up beautifully. Lesson #1: Sharks like whale bones.
Tomorrow will be a long day of microscope work but the day after we head out to Blue Hole to drop REX down to nearly 200m. Will we get to finally see sharks instead of just their bite marks?!