Monday, September 20, 2010

On the underwater topography of the southeast Azuero Peninsula

First, for context, a colored bathymetric map of Panama.

Zooming in, a simplified diagram showing the 200, 1000, 2000 and 3000 meter isobaths.
Zooming in further, the Google Earth image showing two notable points of our September 11 deep water pelagic trip: our stops that produced Tahiti Petrel and Wedge-tailed Shearwater.
These stops were not serendipitous, but were carefully planned atop seamounts, underwater mountains.
The most productive one, 45 km east-southeast of Punta Mala, has its summit at 91 meters deep, but is surrounded by 1000-meter depths. The Wilson's and Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrels were seen about halfway to that spot, maybe at 300 m depths. We suspect the other mound, with a 37-meter deep summit was not in deep enough waters (around 500 m). There is a third seamount, about 45 km west-southwest of Punta Mala, also at the 1000 m isobath, that remains unexplored. Heading in that direction would allow us to swing by Islas Frailes, as a bonus.
Finally, some eye candy: the data from the final map overlaid on the pretty colors of the first.

1 comment:

Jan Axel & Gloriela said...

Great stuff Darien. In the map I can see an area looking like a submarine canyon half way between Punta Mala and Piñas (other premier pelagic site), just south of the Pearl Islands... it could works as a corridor for transient pelagic birds. Other point of interest is the Burica Peninsula. We still need to know a lot about pelagic trips in Panama!

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