Gulf of Mexico Cruise

Funded by: Minerals Management Service (MMS) and NOAA Ocean Exploration

Project:

Sclerolinum collection

4/6/2007 – 6/7/2007

Chief scientists:

C. R. Fisher (PennState University, USA)

B. Carney (Louisiana State University, USA)

Austrian participants:

Irmgard Eichinger, Julia Zekely

Research Vessel NOAA Ship Ronald Brown

ROV Jason II

               

                                            RV Ronald Brown                                                                                    ROV Jason II

The aim of this cruise was to explore and study seafloor communities that live in association with hydrocarbon seeps deeper than 1000m in the Gulf of Mexico. I was invited to collect specimens of a new Sclerolinum species that is part of these seep communities.

Sclerolinum collections

Sclerolinum belongs to the polychaete family Siboglinidae. Siboglinids are remarkable for their symbiosis with endosymbiotic bacteria. During their ontogeny they develop a symbiont housing organ – the trophosome – and reduce their digestive system. From two sites the Alaminos Canyon and the Walker Ridge samples of Sclerolinum were collected to characterize the origin, organization and the cell cycle dynamics of the trophosome of Sclerolinum and the specificity and phylogeny of the symbionts.

Sclerolinum n.sp.

Meiofauna collections

We sampled at various locations the epizooic meiofauna associated with mussel and tubeworm aggregations using ‘Musselpot’ and ‘Bushmaster jr.’ collection devices. With these quantitative collections we will study the abundance, diversity and community patterns of meiofauna from hydrocarbon seeps.

I would like to thank C. R. Fisher for his support. Special thanks to Eric Cordez and Stéphane Hourdez for their help and collaboration. More information about this cruise is provided on the NOAA Ocean Explorer website.