This gallery contains images from the MAGIC-CoralFISH cruise in the Northern Ionian Sea that took place in April 2010. The MAGIC project is concerned with 'MApping Geohazard along the Italian Coast'. A major component of the CoralFISH cruise was the deployment of two different landers - one from NIOZ and the other from Oceanlab (University of Aberdeen). Click on any of the images to see a bigger picture.

All images © CoNISMa

The R/V Universitatis, and some of its crew. Sandrine made an inviting perch for the feathered visitor.
The box corer (first 2 photos) takes samples of the seafloor that preserve the layered structure as best as possible. Some of the corals sampled here (e.g. the Madrepora oculata in middle photo) will be used for genetic analysis, some will be analysed for data to use in food web modelling, and others were being kept alive to tranfer to an aquarium that will be attempting to cultivate them.
Once the corals and other epibenthic fauna (i.e. creatures that live on the seafloor) were removed the box corer samples were washed and sieved (last two photos) to collect the in-sediment fauna. Assessment of the benthic biomass may indicate whether or not CWC regions are areas of high biodiversity or not.
The NIOZ lander was successfully deployed 4 times (2 on and 2 off coral areas). Attached to the lander is a video camera, an acoustic current meter, a flourometer and a turbidity sensor (these latter two give a measurement of the plankton and detritus in the water column). All were programmed to record information at certain time intervals.
In contrast to the NIOZ lander, Oceanlab's BRIL (Biogenic Reef Ichthyofauna Lander) doesn't rest on the seafloor, but floats slightly above it. It has a camera, sensors for measuring current, pressure and conductivity (which are used to calculate depth and salinity), bait and a reference measuring cross (above the ballast in the 4th photo, and clearly visible in the last photo). The lander is held down by ballast (4th photo) that is released via an acoustic signal, allowing the buoys (the 4 orange floats) to raise it to the surface for retrieval.