RRS James Cook JC124

Cruise summary report

Cruise Info. 
Ship name (ship code)RRS James Cook (740H)
Cruise identifierJC124
Cruise period2015-08-09 — 2015-08-13
Port of departureSouthampton, United Kingdom
Port of returnSouthampton, United Kingdom
ObjectivesJC124-125-126 focussed on the Whittard Canyon, south-west of Ireland and the UK.Submarine canyons are the main transport pathways between the shelf and the deep sea, and are often considered biodiversity hotspots. Their irregular topography provides different niches for a large variety in faunal communities. However, studying these communities and the underlying processes is a major challenge. Whittard Canyon has several sections with near-vertical or overhanging walls. Using the ROV Isis and AUV Autosub6000, we were be able to obtain a correct picture of these environments in true 3D.

The aims of the cruise were:
- To carry out further habitat mapping at different resolutions in Whittard Canyon, to increase understanding of the system and to test the predictive habitat models built within CODEMAP using data from 2009
- To test and apply sideways multibeam mapping, in order to develop a true 3D habitat model of the canyon
- To revisit key habitats in the canyon in order to establish potential changes over the last 6 years.
- To measure the water column structure in the Eastern Branch of Whittard Canyon, to allow the inclusion of oceanographic parameters in the predictive habitat models.

Besides the overall CODEMAP aspect, there were two additional short sections to this expedition. JC124 comprised 3 days at the start of the cruise, and 2 days later on, aimed at collecting seabed data for the UK Government (DEFRA, JNCC and CEFAS) in the rMCZ 'Haig Fras' and 'The Canyons'. Also for this work we used the AUV and ROV - the Canyons are located directly next to Whittard Canyon. The work there will be integrated with the Whittard Canyon work. JC126 covered 3 days at the end of the cruise, and was aimed at the technical trials of a novel vibrocoring system for the ROV.

NB. Datasets collected are listed on the record for JC125
Chief scientistVeerle A Huvenne (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton)
ProjectCompex Deep-sea Environments: Mapping habitat heterogeneity As Proxy for Biodiversity (CODEMAP)
Cruise reportRRS James Cook JC124 cruise report jc124_125_126.pdf (28.15 MB) 
Ocean/sea areas 
GeneralCeltic Sea
North East Atlantic Ocean (limit 40W)
SpecificHaig Fras. Whittard Canyon.