Science At-Sea

Exploring Deep Ocean Seamounts

Map: Exploration of Union & Dellwood Seamounts - CCGS Tully 2017

Map: Exploration of Union & Dellwood Seamounts - CCGS Tully 2017

About the Mission

From July 18 to August 1, 2017, a team of scientist from Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducted an exploratory mission to survey and collect the first-ever underwater footage of the Union and Dellwood seamounts, found in Canada’s new Offshore Pacific Area of Interest. The team will be live streaming their research from two kilometers under the sea using their new "BOOTS" drop-camera.

Onboard the Canadian Coast Guard Ship John P. Tully, the researchers studied the oceanographic conditions on and around these two seamounts. Their research helped assess the presence, abundance and distribution of species living around these hotspots of biological diversity. Of particular interest are animals known to inhabit these vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as coldwater corals and sponges. Oceanographic testing included sampling of plankton, environmental DNA, and water for information on nutrients, salinity, temperature and oxygen levels.

This expedition provided insight into these valuable Canadian marine habitats, and helped us better understand other regional seamounts for which data is sparse (including dozens of additional seamounts within this Area of Interest). Data gathered during this mission will inform the planning and management of the future Marine Protected Area.

About Seamounts
Cobb Seamount, Pacific Ocean. Photo credits: DFO & NOAA

Cobb Seamount, Pacific Ocean

A seamount is a mountain rising from the ocean seafloor that does not reach the water's surface (sea level), and thus is not an island. Seamounts provide important habitats for many species of special concern, as well as socially, culturally, and commercially valuable species. Seamounts can have a significant effect on local circulation patterns, altering conditions tens of kilometers away from their summit. Yet, despite considerable scientific and economic interest, relatively little is known about the ecology and composition of seamounts.

The Team
The Team
Chief Scientist
  • Tammy Norgard – Large Offshore Pacific Marine Protected Area Program Head, DFO (Pacific Biological Station)
Oceanographic Work
  • Mary Thiess – Research Biologist, DFO (Pacific Biological Station)
  • Stephen Romaine – Head, Water Properties Group, DFO (Institute of Ocean Sciences)
  • Jessica Nephin - Aquatic Biologist, DFO (Institute of Ocean Sciences)
  • Candice St. Germain – Aquatic Biologist, DFO (Institute of Ocean Sciences)
Acoustic Work
  • Chelsea Stanley - Aquatic Research Technician, DFO (Institute of Ocean Sciences)
Drop Camera Crew
  • James Pegg - Visual Survey Technical Coordinator & ROV Pilot
  • Dr. Cherisse Du Preez – Marine Biologist, DFO (Pacific Biological Station)
  • Katie Gale – Biologist, DFO (Institute of Ocean Sciences)
  • Sharon Jeffery – Aquatic Biologist, DFO (Institute of Ocean Sciences)
  • Dr. Jackson Chu - Postdoctoral Researcher
  • Kim Wallace - Electrical Engineering Technologist, devOcean Technology Ltd.
  • Jonathan Zand - ROV Pilot and Engineer, Ocean Dynamics Inc.
Other Research
  • Luke Halpin - Pelagic seabird survey, Halpin Wildlife Research
About the tools
The "BOOTS" submersible

The Bathyal Ocean Observation and Televideo System, also known as “BOOTS”, is a submersible drop-camera platform. Attached to its body is an array of sub-sea scientific and navigational instruments, including high-resolution cameras, flood lights, and sensors for temperature, oxygen, depth, and more. Towed just above the seafloor by the ship, BOOTS can withstand dives down to 2000 m depths, where it relays data and imagery in real time to a shipboard computer through a long optic cable.

CCGS John P. Tully

CCGS John P. Tully

Photo gallery

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