Lophelia II: Reefs, Rigs, and Wrecks (MMS and NOAA OER)
Cruise Summary: June 17 – July 1, 2009
R/V Brooks McCall, AUV Sentry
NOAA Ocean Explorer

In June of 2009 we departed on the R/V Brooks McCall from Freeport, TX on the second reconnaissance cruise of the Lophelia II project. Using the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), Sentry (WHOI), we explored many new sites in hopes of finding sites that we would want to return to with ROV Jason in August.

Differing from remotely operated vehicles (ROV), Sentry is programmed prior to deployment and while underwater it can operate without commuication from WHOI personnel. Sentry has sensors telling it how far above the bottom it is and by using these sensors it can navigate through all the carbonate boulders, dips, and valleys found on the sea floor. As it flies along the bottom on a preprogramed course it takes thousands of pictures and high-resolution multibeam. Scrolling through all the pictures after the dive gave us a great sense of whether the site was one we would want to explore further.