We are continuing Hercules dive H1243 on the southern end of Eratosthenes Seamount in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
So far on this dive, we've found hydrothermal seeps and animals living around them, including bacteria, tube worms, sea urchins, snails, clams, and crabs at approximately ~960-980 meters water depth. The seeps are small and typically found in crevices in ancient coral reefs coated by manganese, which turns the reefs and rocks black. There are strange rock structures that look like columnar basalts, a type of volcanic rock, but when we scratch them, they are white inside. The white interior indicates that they are not volcanic, but are probably made of the ancient coral reefs that have turned to limestone.
Perhaps the most exciting discovery was what we believe is a fossilized whale rib cage! We collected samples, video, and still images, and contacted whale experts to continue research on this unexpected discovery.
Hercules and Argus will be recovered tonight at around 2:00am local time (7:00pm Eastern), so that we can transit to Paphos, Cyprus, for a personnel transfer tomorrow morning. After the transfer, we will transit back out to Eratosthenes Seamount and will begin a new dive tomorrow night.
Stay tuned for underwater images from dive H1243, and for our continuing exploration on Eratosthenes Seamount.