During the DEEP ROVER submersible dives from KAHAROA my job as a fisheries biologist is to help identify the species we see filmed on the video screen. My specialty area is research on deepwater fish species and so I'm particularly interested in identifying and observing fish from 600-900 meters.
While the main aim of the survey is to try to locate and film the giant squid, I am really excited to have the opportunity to view the species we film during the search. I have been working in this field for several years, and to be able to see the fish in their natural habitat and not as lifeless forms on the deck will be fantastic. Normally, by the time some deepwater species have been caught in the net and hauled up onto the deck, their eyes are very bulbous, their stomachs often everted, and with their swim bladder over inflated, their bodies can be unnatural looking. Colours too are different between the surface and at 800 meters.
What will be particularly interesting will be seeing the deepwater fish orange roughy - my specialist species. This species is bright orange coloured, but camouflaged and hard to see in the dark deep ocean. Also, to see the lantern fish with their illuminated photophores and other fish with luminescent lures, to observe species in their own environment with fins and tail functioning and their bodies oriented as we can only guess, and the benefits to observe feeding behavior and prey items, will be fantastic. The other aspects of the project provide an interesting experience. Seeing how the submersible operates and how the filming is carried out both from the submersible and on board KAHAROA with the BBC team, has made the days spent at sea this week very worthwhile.
Most of my work has been on deepsea fishing trawlers and on our NIWA research vessel TANGAROA. We carry out trawl and acoustic surveys to measure the size of the fish stocks, and we make biological measurements on the fish - length, sex, reproductive state, and feeding. This new area of science that I am experiencing with international teams is quite a different opportunity.
National Institute of Atmospheric and Water Research (NIWA)