Day 7: Sargassum Sanctuaries

The AUV Mary Anne’s mission yesterday provided more photos of deep sea corals on Physalia.  In addition to more black corals, other octocorals, such as bamboo corals, have been identified.  Meanwhile, the scientific team, led by Dr. Peter Auster of the University of Connecticut, has spent some time investigating marine life just under the surface.  We have been travelling amid mats of sargassum, carried up from the Sargasso Sea, thousands of miles to the south.  As the photos below show, not only do these mats host their own little ecosystems, such as the schools of tiny fish that travel with the mats, feeding on them and using them as sanctuaries from predators, but they also help fuel the larger ecosystem, including the mahi-mahi, blue runners, filefish, and almaco jacks pictured below.

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