Top: Ocean scientists inside the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible travel to deep-sea coral ecosystems up to 914 m (3,000 ft) below the ocean's surface. Photo Credit: © Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at FAU. Bottom: The robotic arm of the Jason, a remotely operated vehicle, collects several stalks of black coral from the seafloor. Photo credit: Lophelia II 2010 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEMRE
Exploration and Research of Deep-Sea Coral and Sponge Ecosystems
NOAA's undersea research capabilities, in cooperation with academic, federal, and international partners, have put NOAA at the forefront of deep-sea coral exploration and research. Recent research has begun to reveal the extent and ecological importance of deep-sea coral communities and the threats they face, thereby catalyzing conservation actions. NOAA mobilizes expertise from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), National Ocean Service (NOS), and National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS) to understand these unique ecosystems.
Exploration and Research Objectives:
- Locate and characterize deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems
- Understand the biology and ecology of deep-sea corals and sponges.
- Understand the biodiversity and ecology of deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems.
- Understand the extent and degree of impact to deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems caused by fishing and other human activities.
- Understand past oceanic conditions and predict the impacts of climate change using deep-sea corals.