Biodiversity and Ecology of the Hatton-Rockall Basin MPA

Members of the MASTS Deep-Sea Forum (SAMS, UoAbdn, BGS, MSS) will be setting sail on board the MRV Scotia on the 16 July 2015 to the Hatton-Rockall Basin. Here the research team will be exploring the region for “birds nest” sponge aggregations (the only example in UK waters) through to chemosynthetic fauna, potentially inhabiting cold-seep/gas hydrate systems in the region.

The team will be using a variety of equipment including Marine Scotland Science’s high definition camera system, SAMS’ epibenthic sled, Oceanlab’s lander with skull attached (see image) and BGS’ gravity corer. This equipment plus others will enable us to try and locate the potential cold seep site and then sample the fauna inhabiting the region. The deep sea forum are also supporting a variety of student’s work through this cruise. Two students will be on board;

  1. PhD student Amy Scott-Murray (Oceanlab) will be undertaking virtual specimen archiving using photogrammetry, and
  2. Chris Welch (SAMS) will be collecting samples to look for microplastics in the Hatton-Rockall Basin.

In addition, 3 other students will have samples collected for them:

  1. Matthew Snape (SAMS) will be looking at the macrofaunal assemblages from either the cold seep or the sponge bed
  2. Kieran Tulbure (Heriot-Watt University) will be assessing the meiofaunal community from the region
  3. Lloyd Potts (University of Aberdeen) will look at Site specific DNA- and RNA-based biomarkers to monitor low-level oil pollution and test the effectiveness of bioremediation approaches.

This proposed work will be the first time that the Hatton-Rockall Basin has been investigated in a coordinated multidisciplinary way, using expertise from across the MASTS institutions. It would build on initial work undertaken by MSS and would also provide further information on the Marine Protected Area that has been set up in the region.  

Coordinated by:

Bhavani Narayanaswamy (SAMS), Francis Neat (MSS) Heather Stewart (BGS) & Alan Jamieson (UoAbdn)