To date a lot of our trench sampling has been from the Kermadec Trench off the North Island of New Zealand. We have so far achieved over 50 deployments from depth between 1000m and 9900m. All the samples (particularly amphipod crustaceans and fish).
On this cruise, or ‘voyage as they say in NZ, we will sample across the South Fiji basin and into the New Hebrides Trench. This is significant as all of the previous trench work has compared trenches that are very isolated from one another (e.g. Japan, Kermadec and Peru-Chile etc). What we want to look at it whether trench fauna are endemic at the individual trench level, or trench provincial level. In the case of New Hebrides and Kermadec they are geographically very close (in the same province) yet partitioned by the Kermadec Fore arc (1000m deep) and the abyssal South Fiji Basin.
The exciting this is there are some data suggesting that trench fauna in neighbouring trenches are genetically diverging but the missing piece of the puzzle is how long have they been separated? If we could find out if and when there was a time the Kermadec and New Hebrides were joined then we will have a starting point to marry up with what we find.
The questions were are trying to answer are essentially along the lines of what lives in the New Hebrides Trench?,Are they the same species that live in the Kermadec Trench, if so how are they connected?, to what degree are the New Hebrides Trench communities endemic? Do the same rules that apply to a reealy deep trench still hold in a relatively shallow trench?, and so on.