My name is Rénald Belley and I’m a PhD student in marine biology at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. I’m part of the Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe), a partner of NEPTUNE Canada. This partnership gave me this great opportunity to come aboard the R/V Thompson to sample some of the NEPTUNE Canada sites. Using the remotely operated vehicle ROPOS, I collect and study deep-sea soft-sediments, a.k.a. mud. For this reason, I’m now known on board as the Mudman.
The main reason why I’m interested in the animals that live within the sediment (a.k.a. infauna) is that approximately 70% of Earth's surface is covered by oceans and that most seafloor areas are soft-sedimentary habitats. This means that soft-sedimentary habitats are the largest on Earth! This being said, deep-sea soft-sedimentary habitats lying below 200+ meters of water are heavily under-studied. We know very little about the animals that live in this mud and most of the species living there remain unknown to science. In fact, most estimates show that 99% of the bottom-living (benthic) species are still unknown. Therefore, these soft-sedimentary habitats represent a large pool of unknown biodiversity and one of my goals is to extend our knowledge of these species a step further. To do that, I’m studying the interactions between these animals and their environment, in other words, how the species living in the mud influence their environment. By doing so, I hope to shed some light on the importance of these animals to their ecosystems and for the well-being of humans. This study will ultimately help us to better protect and sustainably use our oceans.
If this interests you, stay tuned to the NEPTUNE Canada blog. I’ll tell you more about these amazing creatures living in the sediment and how we collect them with ROPOS, one of the world's most advanced remotely operated vehicles.