< 2018 Annual Report Image by Ben Erwin

ROV pilot helps discover sunken ship

More than 23 years ago, MBARI Chief ROV Pilot Knute Brekke was part of a crew set to sail on the American Heritage, an oil-industry supply ship, but the ship sank. In 2018, Brekke was on hand and able to identify the ship when it was found in Santa Monica Bay, off the coast of Southern California.

The wreck of the American Heritage was heavily colonized by deep-sea sponges and other animals. But the name of the boat was still partly visible at the bow.

In May 2018, MBARI researchers went to Santa Monica Bay and surveyed the seafloor as part of a larger mapping project. The maps clearly revealed a 60-meter-long (200-feet-long) shipwreck lying on the seafloor almost 700 meters (2,300 feet) below the ocean surface. Four months later, in September 2018, MBARI geologist Charles Paull led a research expedition using the research vessel Western Flyer and ROV Doc Ricketts to investigate faults and submarine canyons in this same area. But they were also on the lookout for the mysterious sunken ship. Brekke was operating the ROV when they dove on the shipwreck, now covered in sponges. Eventually the team spotted the letters A, M, E, and R on the bow of the boat. Then they knew it was the same ship Brekke was set to sail on all those years ago.

Long-armed crabs reach out for food

Strange crabs with arms four to six times as long as their body are found living among deep-sea corals.

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