Field Initiative Title: Northeast Deep Sea Coral and Sponge Initiative
Abstract

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.

Fiscal Funding:
  • FY 2013 @ $800,000
  • FY 2014 @ $800,000
  • FY 2015 @ $779,000
Total Funding:

$2,379,000

 
Region(s):
  • New England Council
  • Mid-Atlantic Council
Location(s):
  •  None Defined.
Acadian redfish and Primnoa corals were observed at outer Schoodic Ridges in the Gulf of Maine on a 2014 research cruise.
Point of Contact: Office of the Point of Contact:
  • NMFS NEFSC
Participating Offices:
  •  None Defined.

IMG_2323.jpg
Acadian redfish and Primnoa corals were observed at outer Schoodic Ridges in the Gulf of Maine on a 2014 research cruise.
Field Initiative Title: Northeast Deep Sea Coral and Sponge Initiative

During a 15-day cruise on 10-24 June 2013, the project team surveyed three major canyons (Ryan, Powell, and Munson), one minor canyon, and two intercanyon slope areas using the WHOI towed camera system TowCam.

In 2013, the project team also participated on the second half of an Okeanos Explorer expedition, from July 31 to August 16, to conduct 15 ROV surveys in five major canyons (Nygren, Heezen, Oceanographer, Lydonia, and Welker), one minor canyon, tow intercanyon sites, tow USGS target sites, and Mytilus Seamount.

During a 12-day (5-16 August 2014) cruise to the Mid-Atlantic canyons, the project team surveyed six major canyons (Washington, Accomac, Wilmington, Spencer, Lindenkohl and Carteret) and one minor canyon (Leonard) using the WHOI towed camera system TowCam.

In 2015, a final TowCam cruise completed this project by surveying the remaining major canyons in the region.

Working on both sides of the Hague line, we surveyed four priority areas during a 14-day cruise aboard FSV Henry Bigelow (18 June – 1 July 2014). Sixteen ROV dives were conducted: four dives in Jordan Basin; two in Nygren Canyon, three in Heezen canyon, two in Corsair Canyon, four in the Northeast Channel Coral Conservation Area, and one dive in a minor canyon between Nygren and Heezen canyons.

This project collected seafloor imagery via transect surveys around unexplored and underexplored priority sites in the Gulf of Maine including Western Jordan Basin, Mount Desert Rock, Outer Schoodic Ridge, off Monhegan Island. 

This project accomplished three cruises: 1) 11-24 July 2013 aboard the R/V Connecticut using the Integrated Seafloor Imaging System 2 (ISIS-2) towed camera system. 2) 23 July - 6 August 2014 aboard the R/V Connecticut using the Kraken 2 ROV. 3) July 2015 aboard the R/V Connecticut using the ISIS-2 towed camera system.

We propose to sample sea pens during peak recruitment period for redfish to investigate the potential relationship between sea pens and larval redfish in US waters. 

Over the course of the 3-year field effort, NCCOS will lead the development and application of predictive habitat modeling, validation and ground-truthing of model predictions, and development of model-derived map products.   This effort will be tightly integrated with field survey efforts and will result in iterative updating of model products over the course of the 3-year project, culminating in a final set of high-resolution models with a comprehensive accuracy assessment and map products suitable for use in management and conservation planning. 

During the June, 2014 ROPOS cruise to the Northeast Atlantic Canyons, tissue samples of squat lobsters (N=6), Paragorgia arborea (N=3) and Primnoa resedaeformis (N=18) were taken for genetic analysis. DNA will be extracted from these samples using the Puregene DNA Tissue Kit (Gentra Systems). Primnoa resedaeformis samples will be genotyped at twelve microsatellite loci following methods in Morrison et al., 2015. Paragorgia arborea samples will be genotyped at nine microsatellite loci following methods of Coykendall et al., 2015. This project is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Cheryl Morrison at USGS.