**This blog entry orginally appeared on the website oceanspaces.org.**/p>
In early September our team of biologists, engineers and GIS specialists mobilized a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) aboard the R/V Miss Linda, an ex-trawl fishing vessel, in preparation for baseline surveys of north coast MPA’s. After two long days of pulling wires and welding equipment into place, the ship was made ready for deployment. Over the next several weeks we will be surveying the deep waters of select MPA’s from Crescent City to Fort Bragg.
The ROV we are using is called the Beagle and it was named after the ship Darwin sailed upon. The ROV Beagle is equipped with seven cameras, three sonars and many sensors that allow us to study deep water communities to depths up to 1,000 meters. The video and still imagery collect during this survey will provide a wealth of information about the current ecological condition of these newly implemented MPAs and will provide a baseline from which future changes can be monitored.
The north coast network of MPA’s are the last to be implemented in the state and we are excited to be a part of this monitoring effort. Our team has conducted similar surveys as part of MPA baseline monitoring programs statewide, but for most of us this survey hits home a little more. As members of the north coast community we are excited to have this opportunity to explore the productive waters within our own backyard. Many of the locations we are about to visit have never been seen before.
Our month long survey starts at the Point Saint George Offshore SMCA. From there we will be moving to the Reading Rock SMR, a unique offshore reef that rises up from the sea floor to break the surface with only a small rock that is visible form shore on a clear day. As the survey moves south past Cape Mendicino, we will dive the ROV deep, over 400 meters, into the Mattole Canyon SMR. Our journey will end at the Ten Mile SMR just north of Fort Bragg.
*Note: The title was changed from the original published piece to include “Part 1: Mobilization.”