Latest news

Chemosynthetic ecosystems uncovered


An international team of HERMIONE scientists led by the Max Plank Institute, Germany, have been undertaking research on chemosynthetic ecosystems in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Mud volcanoes, fluid and gas seeps and wood falls at the Nile Deep Sea Fan and Anaximander area are being photographed, sampled and mapped as scientists aboard the RV Maria S Merian try to understand more about how these ecosystems function. From 25 October to 14 December 2009 the team will be using high-tech equipment, including an ROV, AUV and heat-flow measurement tools, to examine different aspects of these environments and collect important data. Find out more about their discoveries and the challenges the scientists they face at


CoralLab set up in the Azores

corallab A new laboratory has been set up to investigate the responses of deep-sea cold-water corals to environmental changes under controlled conditions. The lab has been installed at the Institute of Marine Research centre of the Department of Oceanography and Fisheries, University of Azores. One of the important uses of this lab will be to simulate the increases in temperature and seawater acidification that are predicted as a result of climate change. With these conditions simulated in the lab, scientists will be able to carry out experiments to understand how climate change may affect corals in the future. Corals have already been collected from the Pico-Faial Channel in the Azores, and are acclimatising well in their new home. Observations of coral behaviour are currently being made, which will be used as “baseline” data with which to compare experimental data later on.


Could sharks show the extent of human impacts in the deep-sea?


The Polytechnic University of Marche-CONISMA (Italy), in collaboration with CSIC (Spain), CEFREM (France) and University of Azores (Portugal) has begun research on anthropogenic impacts on deep-sea organisms. Deep-sea sharks were caught by trawl aboard the DEEP III research cruise along the Catalan margin, Spain, and were analysed to determine their sex, maturity, stomach contents and the levels of different contaminants (such as heavy metals) in their tissues and organs. The data will provide crucial information on the levels of contamination in top-level predators along deep-sea margins, and will help scientists to understand the extent to which anthropogenic impacts can be observed in the deep sea.


RV Poseidon adventure to the Norwegian reefs


HERMIONE scientists have recently returned from a month-long cruise aboard the RV Poseidon exploring coral reefs along the Norwegian margin. The scientists were keen to obtain data from a range of coral environments, so they used the submarine JAGO to explore reefs from the far north of Norway (Korallen, NE Tromsø), to the far south (Oslofjord). The main aims of the cruise were to collect coral samples for ecophysiological experiments, age determination, and genetic and interconnectivity studies. Apart from the occasional challenges thrown up by the unpredictable weather, the cruise was largely successful and the scientists are now back on dry land analysing their results.


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