Coral Reef NOAA
 
August 22, 2014  

Expedition Explores West Coast Deep-sea Coral Habitats


image of multibeam sonar image of spur and groove reef (coral in pink, sand in blue) with an inset of a fish echogram. The echogram inset shows seafloor features in shades of red and blue. Fish and schools of fish (turquoise) appear against the background of the water (black).  Individual fish and schools can be distinguished, along with their relative size.
Close-up image of the deep-sea coral species, Lophelia pertusa, from the 2008 US Geological Survey mission. Photo credit: USGS DISCOVRE Expedition

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NOAA’s Deep Sea Coral Program, under the auspices of the CRCP, is conducting a month-long expedition exploring deep-sea corals off the US West Coast in and around four national marine sanctuaries. The June 9-July 3 mission is the first of three such cruises planned by the Program for 2010.

The cruise is divided into three legs with the first leg taking place within Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Washington through June 16, the second leg in and around Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries through June 25, and the final leg in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary through July 3.

image of multibeam sonar image of spur and groove reef (coral in pink, sand in blue) with an inset of a fish echogram. The echogram inset shows seafloor features in shades of red and blue. Fish and schools of fish (turquoise) appear against the background of the water (black).  Individual fish and schools can be distinguished, along with their relative size.
ROV during its first dunk test to check equipment and buoyancy. Photo credit: NOAA

NOAA scientists and partners will utilize the 224-foot NOAA Ship McArthur II as a research platform, conducting around-the-clock operations to gain a better understanding of the biology and ecology of deep-sea corals that live in water between 600 and 2,500 feet. They will use an assortment of sophisticated underwater technologies, including remotely operated vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicles to observe, photograph and sample deep-sea corals and associated marine life.

The expedition is part of a coordinated three-year field research effort to begin to better understand the location, distribution, status and health of deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems in order to inform conservation and management actions and meet the requirements of the Magnuson-Steven Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006.

Track the ship or follow the expedition blog for daily updates from this expedition.