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May 9, 2012

Getting colder

BY: Carlos Minguell


© OCEANA / Carlos Minguell


Carlos Minguell - Buceador y fotógrafo submarinoOur destination today was several points in the Northern Baltic Proper. ROV started to work on a bottom of loose rocks below 30 m, with almost no mussels and even less fish: none at all. It looked like a submarine quarry, so there wasn’t much work for the scientists to do. Divers did somewhat better: on an 18-m bottom covered in blue mussels, we found some fourhorn sculpin (Triglopsis quadricornis, probably the ugliest fish in the Baltic), a couple of shorthorn sculpin (Myoxocephalus scorpius, which isn’t exactly beautiful either) and several rock gunnels (Phollis gunnellus), which are the local beauty queens.

This will probably be the constant on our way North: the diversity we find in the Kattegat decreases as salinity and water temperature decrease. Let us pull no punches: this is pain in the neck for divers, all the more so because the ROV boys complain if you even open the door in the “Control Centre”, also known as the “Container”, because a cold draught blows in… Wimps.

To end the day, before the inevitable Dredger and CTD, the ROV went down to a small trench, reaching 117 m, where, surprisingly, we found many fourhorn sculpin: scientists counted 45 specimens, which inevitably led the spot to be known as the “180-horn hole”. An unusual number of fish, all the more so in such a deep location. In addition, one single cod, who must have felt a bit odd among so many horns, and a couple of eelpouts (Zoarces viviparus).