An octopus reaches out to touch the robotic arm of Human Occupied Vehicle (HOV) Alvin (with Scripps Oceanography PhD student Jen Le on board) earlier this week during the ROC HITS Costa Rica Margin Expedition funded by the National Science Foundation and led by Chief Scientist Erik Cordes from Temple University.
Scripps researchers are participating in the cruise aboard Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's R/V Atlantis to better understand the relationship between methane seeps and the broader deep sea. A methane seep is a spot where the clear, combustible gas naturally percolates through seafloor sediment, supporting a chemosynthetic ecosystem.
"Octopi are a great example of larger fauna that we often see near seep communities," writes artist and expedition liaison Lily Simonson. "This site was off the coast of Costa Rica, 1,000 meters down, near a site we call 'Mussel Beach,' whose methane seeps support abundant yeti crabs and mussels. We have been transplanting rocks from active seep sites to inactive sites, to determine what fauna might favor the different conditions."
Aboard are deep-sea specialists biological oceanographer Lisa Levin; biologist Greg Rouse, curator of the Benthic Invertebrate Collection at Scripps; and Benthic Invertebrate Collection manager Charlotte Seid.