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Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Deep-Sea Coral Investigations

Project Goal

To analyze imagery obtained by Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) in order to document and understand the biological components of deep-sea coral communities in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Geographic Location

Northwestern Gulf of Mexico

Approach

Local species identification guides generated by the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS) were used to inventory images taken during the 13th Deep Fish Habitat Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Cruise to reefs and banks in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico. A database of 536 high-resolution digital still images was created and each image was inventoried for its biological components and zonation. A selection of this information was then added to the FGBNMS interactive mapping tool, providing geo-referenced ROV dive tracks and images.

Results

The geo-referenced photo-log with species identifications and habitat descriptions was created for the images obtained during this ROV cruise. In addition, an interactive mapping tool displaying this information for research and public information was designed. This database and marine spatial planning map tool are dynamic, and will continuously be updated as additional information is obtained.

Importance to Management

This project aided the FGBNMS with their management review process, contributing to the proposed boundary expansion efforts. In addition, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), will use the information generated from this project, in conjunction with previous similar projects, in a re-evaluation of their designated No Activity Zones (NAZs).

Links

 Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary mapping tool: http://www.ncddc.noaa.gov/website/google_maps/FGB/mapsFGB.htm
(Follow this link and select "ROV Dives" in the left column, then double click on a track to view example images from that dive with habitat classifications and species identifications.).

Fiscal Year 2009 Funding

$15,000

Point of Contact

Emma Hickerson, Emma.Hickerson@noaa.gov
Marissa Nuttall, Marissa.Nuttall@noaa.gov