Deep Water Biodiversity – Bear Seamount (Western New England Sea Mounts)

Years and/or cruise dates:
27 Nov – 8 Dec 00
16 Jul – 2 Aug 02
13-23 May 03
2-11 Jun 04
11-22 Apr 05
12-22 Jun 06

Research goals and objectives:
The project objectives are to explore the biodiversity in the vicinity of Bear Seamount and to collect nekton (especially fish and cephalopod) specimens, tissues and photographs in bottom and midwater samples from the maximum depths possible. Ancillary objectives included collection of specimens and tissues from other groups of animals and observations on the distributions of marine mammals, turtles and seabirds.  Additionally, the cruises provide educational experience in deep-sea biology to students from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, as part of the Cooperative Marine Education and Research (CMER) program.

Location or area of research:
Western North Atlantic in the vicinity of Bear and Physalia Seamounts, and nearby continental slope.

Principle Investigator

Michael Vecchione
NOAA – National Marine Fisheries Service, National Systematics Laboratory
NMFS National Systematics Laboratory
National Museum of Natural History, MRC-153
Smithsonian Institution
P.O. Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012 USA
phone: (202)633-1751
fax: (202)357-2986

Other contributors:
Elizabeth Shea, Delaware Museum of Natural History.
Karsten Hartel, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard.
Eric Lazo-Wassem, Yale Peabody Museum.
John Galbraith, NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center.
Jon Moore, Florida Atlantic University
Tracey Sutton, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution.

Project Description

Summary of:
Funded by NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center.  This is a series of cruises to explore the nekton biodiversity on and around Bear Seamount.  By conducting the cruises at different times of year in multiple years, the program hopes to sample some of the temporal variability that may characterize the seamount.  To date, the cruises have sampled when the region was affected by a Warm Core Ring (water of southern origin) and by the cold Western Boundary Undercurrent (northern origin).  Sampling methods include large, double-warp midwater and bottom trawls.  Comparisons will be made with the neighboring continental slope and with the mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR-ECO study).  The southernmost stations of MAR-ECO, at ca. 41.5º  N, are near the latitude of Bear Seamount (just south of 40º N), and one question being addressed is the possibility that seamounts serve as “stepping stones” that provide opportunities for some organisms to cross the Atlantic abyssal plain. 

Related work in progress (publications, research cruises, additional research, analysis or collaboration):
MAR-ECO project.

Final Products/Links

Moore, J.A., M. Vecchione, B.B. Collette, R. Gibbons, K.E. Hartel, J.K. Galbraith, M. Turnipseed, M. Southworth, and E. Watkins. 2003.  Biodiversity of Bear Seamount, New England Seamount Chain: Results of exploratory trawling. J. Northw. Atl. Fish. Sci.31:363-372.
Moore, J.A., M. Vecchione, B.B. Collette, R. Gibbons, and K.E. Hartel. 2004.  Selected fauna of Bear Seamount (New England Seamount Chain), and the presence of "natual invader" species. Arch. Fish. Mar. Res. 51(1-3):241-250.
Sutton, T.T., and K. Hartel. 2004. New Species of Eustomias (Teleostei: Stomiidae) from the Western North Atlantic, with a Review of the Subgenus Neostomias. Copeia, 2004(1):116–121.

General website link: