We made it through a successful first 24 hours of Hercules dive H1244, and plan to stay in the water at least overnight, if not longer! The northern area of Eratosthenes Seamount has been mostly flat and featureless, with the exception of one 50 meter-high vertical rise in bathymetry. As we move south, we are zigging and zagging to the east and west to ensure we cover as much area as possible.
The deeper waters on the northern slope, at approximately 1,500 meters had hundreds of gouges that we have been finding on the seafloor, as well as larger biological burrows. We believe that the gouges are the result of beaked whales swimming down to the seafloor and taking a bite. Beaked whales are quite elusive creatures and very poorly studied. We collected data to create a high-resolution image of an area where there were a lot of gouges. We then took two push cores of sediment so we can study what types of animals live inside the seafloor, on which the beaked whales might be eating.
We will continue this dive into tomorrow, as we move to the south. We are planning to end the dive in the southeastern corner of Eratosthenes Seamount after high-resolution mapping some of the hydrothermal seeps that we discovered in 2010 and revisited last week.