Very rare Norman's smooth-head (Mirognathus normani)
Poromitra capito, another rarity
Squid Gonatus steenstrupi
Author: Uwe Piatkowski (IFM-GEOMAR, University of Kiel) and Mikko Heino (Institute of Marine Research, Bergen)
After steaming southward, leaving behind the dramatic seascapes of the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone, we are now at latitude 51°30'N, some 2400 km directly west of London. We have reached the northern extension of the subpolar frontal zone, the major oceanographic feature separating cold northern water masses from the temperate waters of the south. Much to the delight of everybody, water and air temperatures have risen by several degrees centigrade. This is also manifested in the appearance of temperate zooplankton species that did not occur at northern stations. However, the downside is that the sea is rougher in the frontal system, setting higher demands on the deployment of our sampling instruments.
The highlight of today was a long tow with the Krill-Trawl to 3000 m to sample the deep pelagic fauna close to the seafloor. The deepest layer of the haul, from 3000 to 2000 m depth, yielded a mixture of rare fishes, shrimps and medusae. The most conspicuous catch was a specimen of Norman's smooth-head (Mirognathus normani) in very good condition. This very rare fish is previously known from only two Atlantic locations southwest of Iceland and off western Portugal. Nothing is known about its biology or life-history. Other rare species of the deeper layers were the fish Poromitra caputo and a mysid shrimp of the genus Gnathophausia. As in previous tows the scyphomedusa Periphylla periphylla and the squid Gonatus steenstrupi were common to the nekton community in the upper layers.
Afterwards, the big pelagic trawl was lowered down to the same deep waters to obtain a representative sample of the larger deep pelagic fauna. After more than three hours of towing, the net was hauled in, and the excitement changed to a great disappointment: the net twisted during the haul such that we got no catch at all.