The Orphan Knoll is a deep-sea orphaned piece of the North American continental crust that is topped by large mounds of debatable constitution. The geological investigation of these mounds, using the Remotely-Operated Vehicle (ROV) ROPOS and C.C.G.S. R/V Hudson, will be used to create the first extensive biological survey of the Orphan Knoll. A single coral species, Desmophyllum cristagalli was found in 1978, but nothing since then. The purpose of this research is to determine the megafaunal (coral and sponge) species distribution and their respective habitat (surface geology) on and around the Orphan Knoll, while determining the geological composition / origin of the underlying hard substrate.
The Orphan Knoll is not commercially fished, but the surrounding Flemish Cap, Sackville Spur, Grand Banks areas are heavily fished. The Orphan Knoll was designated as a Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem (VME) in 2007, by the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), in-order to be pro-active in preserving suitable deep-sea coral and sponge / megafaunal ecosystems and their habitat (Precautionary Principle). This mission and analysis, will also fulfill the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) commitment to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 61/105. This exploratory mission will be the first verified biological survey of Orphan Knoll, and will hopefully solve the geological mystery of the mounds' composition and origin.
Al, Dalhousie University, Geological Survey Of Canada