Previous mapping expeditions' data and test fishing trips led scientists to believe an extensive site of Bamboo Corals existed off the coast of Oregon, USA, close to the California border. Wonderfully tall, complex colonies on the striking skeletons (that really are reminiscent of bamboo) were found as soon as the ROVs landed on the seafloor, 1130m underwater. Many corals had tipped over, or broken, and been preyed on by starfish, crabs, nudibranchs and other nibbling neighbors. A closer look at these slow-growing corals hopes to answer outstanding questions scientists have about this environment and the colonies that live there.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and an important commercial resource that fuels many elements of our lives on land. Scientists are beginning to understand the complex and varied ways methane fuels life beneath the sea as well. Nautilus will study methane seep habitats along the length of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, from southern British Columbia to northern California. Several sites along the Washington coast are well-studied ecosystems fueled by gas hydrate - a crystalline, consolidated chemical ice made of methane.