Alvin being loweredR/V AtlantisSentry being lowered

OctocoralsPreviously unexplored brine seepLophelia corals


Cruise on the R/V Atlantis

April 27 to May 15, 2014

HOV Alvin and AUV Sentry  


Dr. Erik Cordes helmed this expedition to the Gulf of Mexico as Chief Scientist of the R/V Atlantis cruise. We made 14 dives on the HOV Alvin reaching down to just over 1000m depth, and the AUV Sentry was deployed for 15 of its own dives. One aim of the cruise was to investigate transitions between neighboring cold seep and coral habitats through macro- and meiofauna community samples collected with Alvin and fine-scale mapping using Sentry's high-definition downward-looking photos and water chemistry sensors. Samples were also collected for shipboard experiments including testing the effects of oil and dispersant exposure on octocorals and examining the influence of deep sea sponges on nutrient cycling in the water column.

Acid Horizon logo

Arguably the star of this cruise, however, was the Supercoral. Much of our research, including collections and experiments from this cruise, seek to learn more about the response of reef-building Lophelia corals to ocean acidification. In particular, we are hoping to find particular genotypes of Lophelia that can tolerate lower pH levels so that we would have strong candidate organisms to help us restore a reef in the future if needed. The science and search for this Supercoral was captured through an amazing outreach opportunity in the documentary Acid Horizon. A small film crew joined us on the 19 day cruise to record our scientific methods and communicate our goals for protecting the environment. The documentary is scheduled to be released in 2015 and will spread knowledge about deep sea research to a wide audience!