by Dr. Sandra Brooke, FSUCML faculty
The ROV operations center with National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry on the left, Lew Lamar (Camera Technician) and Steve Firman (ROV pilot)

The ROV operations center with National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry on the left, Lew Lamar (Camera Technician) and Steve Firman (ROV pilot)

Monday was another day of strong currents and high winds at Pulley Ridge so we decided to try our luck over at the Tortugas Ecological Reserve (TER). We focused on the western wall of the TER in an area that is outside of the current protected area, but has been proposed to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) as a potential Habitat Area of Particular Concern. The ROV struggled with strong currents, but we managed to complete a dive along the reef and saw some large boulder corals, gorgonians and sponges, typical of the Tortugas reefs as well as lots of fishes including large grouper. After completing our dive at this site, we moved to another location along the wall and saw a similar reef community. Towards the end of the dive we were joined by a pod of spotted dolphins that swam around the ROV for several minutes then followed us to the surface where they played around the bow. Tomorrow we will try a different part of the Tortugas a little further south, if the weather holds…

Atlantic spotted dolphins swam by the ROV and the ship outside the Tortugas Ecological

Atlantic spotted dolphins swam by the ROV and the ship outside the Tortugas Ecological