This second expedition took place on board the RRS James Cook, - research vessel of the UK Nature Environment Research Council operated by the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton -, from 7 November 2011 (Cape Town) to 21 December 2011 (Port Elizabeth).
The main focus of this expedition was to investigate benthic assemblages (communitiy of organisms which live on, in or near the seabed) on seamounts of the southwest Indian Ridge, whereas the first cruise in late 2009 focused on the pelagic ecosystems (community of organisms which live in the water column not close to the bottom).
The study sites lie along the central part of the South West Indian Ridge and include seamount features in the 'Coral', 'Bridle' and 'Atlantis Bank' Benthic Protected Areas (BPAs). Two other seamounts were sampled along the intervening ridge sections, the heavily fished Melville Bank in the south and the Sapmer seamount in the north, resulting in a total of 5 sampled seamounts which were sampled during the 2009 cruise (see map of project area).
Following surveys, benthic sampling was undertaken by means of 3 techniques: Remotely operated vehicle (ROV) video transects, ROV sampling and corers. The ROV KIEL 6000 from IFM-GEOMAR was used on board the RRS James Cook.