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Deep Sea Coral Research & Technology Program—Research Projects
In 2009, NOAA started conducting deep-sea coral research in U.S. waters using advanced underwater technologies to better understand deep-sea coral habitats and help inform fisheries management decisions. We are conducting three-year field efforts in each of seven regions to research, map, and characterize deep-sea coral habitats in selected regions. In addition to these field activities, the Program is also funding targeted analyses to integrate existing research on—and known locations of—deep-sea corals; conducting workshops to further identify management-driven deep-sea coral exploration and research needs and to identify the minimum requirements to address deep-sea coral data and information management needs; analyzing the distribution and intensity of fishing practices that may impact these corals; and improving the reporting and analysis of bycatch of deep-sea corals caught in commercial fishing activities. Click on any of the projects below to learn more about our work
Planning Workshop for the State of Deep-Sea Coral and Sponge Ecosystems Report (2011)
Three-year Field Research Project (2012-2014)
This three-year study of deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems in Alaska was designed to support fishery managers with spatially explicit and quantitative scientific findings so they can make informed decisions to reduce bycatch, conserve habitats, and maintain sustainable fisheries. The research results are expected to be incorporated into the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s five-year groundfish essential fish habitat (EFH) review, Aleutian Islands Fishery Ecosystem Plan, and Ecosystem Considerations report--an annual summary of new information about the Alaska marine ecosystem for the Council. In the first two years of the initiative, scientists surveyed areas in the Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska to characterize coral and sponge communities as well as associated fish populations. Several surveys were conducted in cooperation with fishing industry participants on fishing vessels.
2013 Gulf of Alaska Primnoa Coral Survey: The two-week cruise aboard the fishing vessel Alaska Provider collected high-definition videos and samples using a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) to characterize the distribution and ecology of red tree corals.
2012 Aleutian Islands Coral Survey: The cruise aboard the fishing vessel Sea Storm used a drop-camera system to document coral presence/absence and abundance at 106 sites in eastern and central Aleutian Islands.
West Coast Region
Three-year Field Research Project (2010-2012)
Designed in consultation with the Pacific Fishery Management Council, this research gathered information needed to better understand the location, distribution, status, and health of deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems to inform conservation and management actions. The research produced data to inform the Council’s five-year review of measures to protect groundfish Essential Fish Habitat, as well as contribute to improving the management within NOAA’s five West Coast National Marine Sanctuaries.
2012 Gulf of the Farallones Cruise: This cruise used an ROV to survey areas in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, revealing abundant coral and sponge habitats never seen before in the sanctuary, including a large colony of Christmas tree coral on Cochrane Bank.
2011 Bodega Canyon Cruise: Using an autonomous underwater vehicle, this cruise photographed parts of the canyon that have never before been explored.
2010 West Coast Deep-Sea Coral Expedition: Cruise aboard the NOAA Ship McArthur II to explore deep-sea coral habitats in and around several of the national marine sanctuaries from Washington's Olympic Coast to the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California.
Pacific Islands Region
Three-year Field Research Project (2015-2017)
A workshop will be held in 2014 to set research priorities for the three-year fieldwork beginning in 2015.
Three-year Field Research Project (2013-2015)
The Northeast Deep Sea Coral and Sponge Initiative commenced in 2013 to locate and characterize the coral and sponge communities in the Northeast region. Through data mining, developing a habitat suitability model, acoustic mapping, and visual surveys, the northeast regional science team has generated extensive new findings of coral and sponge habitats in the first year of the initiative, and provided much needed contemporary data to resource managers in the region.
2013 Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition: With partial support from the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program, this cruise conducted exploratory investigations on the diversity and distribution of deep-sea habitats and marine life along the Northeast U.S. Canyons and at Mytilus Seamount, located within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone.
Determination of the Impacts of Trap Fishing on Mid-Atlantic Benthic Habitats, with Emphasis on Structure-Forming Invertebrates - A Collaboration with the National Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (2013)
South Atlantic Region
Three-year Field Research Project(2009-2011)
In coordination with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, mapping and research efforts focus on requirements to locate and map locations of deep-sea corals and conduct research to provide key information needed to protect deep-sea coral habitats in this region.
Extreme Corals 2011: Cruise to explore hard grounds out to 500 meters depth off the coast of southern Florida, with emphasis on assessing areas that are near coral habitat, but still open to bottom fishing activities.
Life on the Edge: Extreme Corals 2010: Cruise surveying deep-sea coral ecosystems from Pourtales Terrace off the Florida Keys to the Jacksonville, Florida. Included lithoherms that were recently designated as protected areas.
2009 Southeast Submersible Cruise: Cruise off Cape Canaveral, Florida, to examine deep-sea coral ecosystems and compare them with non-reef environments.
Gulf of Mexico Region