Exploring Historical Barge and Flying with Chimeras at 120 m depth

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 / Børsa, Trondheim, Norway

Our brand new Blueye Pioneer was finally ready to face the ocean. Along with experienced divers, the drone was exploring a railway construction barge used when building Thamshavnbanen in the early 1900s. Later it was time to test the drone's depth capabilities and endurance. While at the bottom, we got treated with an encounter with a fascinating creature.

The wreck is located about 40 meters from land, and the location is easily accessible by car. It is covering the depth from 25 to 44 meters. Not much is known about the barge wreck in Børsa, but we do know that it has been used for building the "Thamsen Banen" in 1908 at Løkken mining cave. This is the first electrical railway in Norway, and it was used to transport ore from the mine to the harbour. Later the barge was probably also used by the Germans to build the submarine fortress at Dora during World War II.

Ruins of old harbour

Ruins of old harbour

The wreck is located right next to ruins of the old Bakløkk-harbour built by Martin Bakløkk. Most likely the wreck sunk during loading.

The Most iconic part of the wreck is the steering wheel at the aft of the barge. It is about 1 meter tall and looks like a classic pirate ship. The wooden deck has rotted, so now only the steel structure is left. However, the wreck is in good condition and is one of the most famous diving sites in the Trondjemsfjord.

Steering wheel of the barge in the background

Aft section of the wreck

The Most iconic part of the wreck is the steering wheel at the aft section of the barge.

After the wreck was fully explored we continued down into the dark unknown. At about 80 meters depth, a rugose squat lobster was resting on the rocks. The powerful light of the underwater drone was attracting lots of small creatures like shrimps and krill, and the lobster used the opportunity to grab a meal.

Rugose Squat Lobster animation

Rugose Squat Lobster

A rugose squat lobster (munida rugosa) having a snack at 79 m depth as small shrimps dart past.

As we continued down it felt like travelling through space because of all the backscatter from the particles in the water.

At 100 meters we hit the bottom. It was like landing on a different planet.

The muddy bottom created a grey, moonlike, landscape. Out of nowhere a Velvet belly lanternshark (Etmopterus spinax) entered our camera. Wth its quick motions it was hard to follow, but right after a gorgeous Rat fish (Chimaera monstrosa), entered the scene.

Ratfish (Chimaera monstrosa) at 100 m depth

Ratfish (chimaera monstrosa) at 100 m depth

The rabbit fish can grow up to 1.5 m long, and weigh 2.5 kg. The eyes are big with a green lens. On the dorsal fin, the rabbit fish has a mildy venomous spine that can cause painful stings.

Slowly waving its wings like a big dragon, flying through the water. With blueye pioneer's high manoeuvrability, we were able to follow and film the creature at its own phase. This epic moment can be seen in the video below.

Voyage Destination

Børsa, Trondheim, Norway

Rat fish (chimaera monstrosa) filmed at 105 m depth

The rat fish is a type a cartilaginous fish like sharks and rays. It has a long slender body, with large pectoral fins, allowing it to glide elegantly through the water. Music: Sterofloat - Crashed