Day Two: Benham Rise Expedition - Oceana Philippines
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May 25, 2016

Day Two: Benham Rise Expedition


Day 2: May 25, 2016

Morale is high on the ship. We had successful operations today, all finishing early or on time and delivering high quality pictures. 

Today was the first time we deployed the three baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVS). A BRUVS is made up of a metal frame with a bag full of bait and two cameras and a light in waterproof housings. After the BRUVS is lowered over the side of the ship, it sinks to the bottom of the ocean and (hopefully) attracts marine critters with the delicious smell of bait. 

Deploying the BRUVS ©Oceana/Margot Stiles

One of our teammates woke up at 4:00 am and went straight to the kitchen to look for rotten fish to serve as bait in the BRUVS. The smellier, the better. The rest of the crew was up by 5:00 am, and we reached our study area by 8:30. We deployed the BRUVS for their inaugural journey and hoped for the best. As it turns out, our bait must have been just the right amount of rotten because, when we retrieved the BRUVS at 3:30 in the afternoon, one bait pole was bent and the bait bag was lost. Clearly someone enjoyed our snack!

While the BRUVS were luring species into the camera sight in the depths, the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) team expertly navigated the camera/robot setup over Benham Bank’s live terrain. The ROV shows real-time footage on board, so our team watched excitedly as the ROV glided over a slope covered with all manner of marine life including corals, soft sponges, algae and fish.  It was quite a sight to see this array of marine life at Benham Rise in real-time, and know that it is all living and breathing right below us. (You can see more photos of marine life we’ve seen at Benham Rise on our Flickr page.)

Benham life ©Oceana/Karl Hurwood

After the ROV was pulled back on the ship, it was time for the technical divers to shine. The bottom current for the day was 30 cm/s, which was good news for the divers. Too strong a current out in open water and they wouldn’t be able to safely dive. The divers descended to a miraculous 60m (197 ft) below the surface and captured some incredible images of the life on Benham Rise, including the hawkfish (Cirhitichthys falco) below. It really is stunning to see the type of life the ocean can support at such depths.

Hawkfish (Cirhitichthys falco) ©Oceana/Karl Hurwood

At 5:30 pm, we wrapped up activities in the water and reviewed our footage. Now it is time to rest up for another day of exploration tomorrow.

Goodnight from Benham!

Margot and Mar