Field Initiative Title: Southeast Deep Coral Initiative (SEDCI): exploring deep-sea coral ecosystems off the Southeast U.S.
Abstract

In 2016, NOAA’s Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program started a four-year initiative to study deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems off the Southeast United States. The initiative is a cross-line office effort that includes scientists from NOS, NMFS, OAR and NESDIS, and works in close collaboration with federal and academic partners to collect scientific information needed to manage deep-sea corals throughout the Southeast U.S. Region. This project began in 2016 and will run through 2019.

Why We Care:

Deep-sea corals, also known as cold-water corals, are corals that do not rely on sunlight, and therefore are typically found in deeper waters (>50 m). Deep-sea corals occur in all oceans, and under favorable conditions, form dense aggregations that create habitat for a myriad of species. These ecosystems are some of the richest and most diverse in the deep sea, yet they are often overlooked by managers, scientists and the general public, who may be unaware that rich and diverse communities can thrive in deep waters under the right conditions. While deep-sea coral ecosystems are out of sight and out of mind to most, they are not immune to anthropogenic impacts, as deep-sea trawling, oil and gas exploration, submarine cable laying and ocean acidification threaten these systems much more than their shallow-water counterparts. Deep-water corals are particularly vulnerable to such impacts, because they are typically slow growing and long lived (on the orders of centuries to millennia), and as a result require very long timescales to recover from disturbances. The objective of SEDCI is to study deep-sea coral ecosystems throughout the Southeast United States in order to further the management, conservation and protection of these important deep-water ecosystems.

Left: Thorny tinselfish swimming above a dense aggregation of deep-sea corals at 496 m on the West Florida Slope in an area that is currently being considered for the establishment of a new habitat of particular concern by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. The community was surveyed using ROV Odysseus during a 2017 SEDCI-supported expedition aboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster (credit: NOAA-Pelagic Research Services).
Right: A dense community of black corals and crinoids at 122 m depth on Elvers Bank in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico in an area that is currently being considered for expansion of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. The community was surveyed using ROV Mohawk during a 2017 SEDCI-supported expedition aboard R/V Manta (credit: NOAA-FGBNMS/UNCW-UVP).

What We Are Doing:

SEDCI conducts multiple research expeditions each year, which survey deep-sea coral ecosystems using ships, submersibles and other equipment. Additionally, SEDCI conducts complementary research projects focused on seafloor mapping, species identification, habitat suitability monitoring, environmental monitoring and data mining. These efforts will provide important baseline information that is needed to support management efforts of deep-sea coral ecosystems throughout the Southeast United States.

Benefits/Impact of our Work:

The priorities of SEDCI were developed in consultation with fishery management councils, national marine sanctuaries and other resource managers of the Southeast United States, including partners from the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). There are several proposals for the establishment of new managed areas in deep waters of the Southeast United States, including proposed expansions of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, potential new habitat areas of particular concern in the Gulf of Mexico, and new special management zones in the U.S. South Atlantic. SEDCI expeditions will survey many of these proposed managed areas in 2016-2019, and thereby provide important information that is needed to evaluate these proposals.

Regions of Study:  

SEDCI focuses on studying deep-sea (>50 m) coral ecosystems throughout the Southeast U.S., a region including the U.S. federal waters of the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Bight. This area corresponds to the cumulative extent of the jurisdictions of three fishery management councils, including the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils (CFMC, GMFMC, SAFMC). Furthermore, this area includes numerous areas where deep-water corals are protected, including three national marine sanctuaries, and various other marine protected areas. SEDCI focuses on surveying deep waters in and around these areas in order to support management efforts.

Primary Contacts:  

Peter Etnoyer, NCCOS (peter.etnoyer@noaa.gov)
Tom Hourigan, DSCRTP (tom.hourigan@noaa.gov)  
Heather Coleman, DSCRTP (heather.coleman@noaa.gov)



Fiscal Funding:
  • FY 2016 @ $402,000
  • FY 2017 @ $720,000
Total Funding:

$1,122,000

 
Region(s):
  • South Atlantic Council
  • Gulf of Mexico Council
  • Caribbean Council
Location(s):
  • East Florida Coast
  • Flower Garden Banks
  • North Carolina Canyons
  • Oculina Bank
  • Puerto Rico
  • West Florida Slope
Map showing the three geographic regions where the Southeast Deep Coral Initiative (SEDCI) will operate in 2016-2019. Areas where deep-sea corals are protected through fishing restrictions are shown in orange (credit: NOAA).
Point of Contact: Office of the Point of Contact:
  • NOS NCCOS
Participating Offices:
  • NESDIS NCEI
  • NMFS NEFSC NSL
  • NMFS SEFSC
  • NOS FGBNMS
  • NOS NCCOS CCEHBR
  • NOS NCCOS CCMA
  • OAR OER
Field Initiative Title: Southeast Deep Coral Initiative (SEDCI): exploring deep-sea coral ecosystems off the Southeast U.S.
Internal References:
 
Backlinks:

Presentations and Outreach Materials: Deep-sea corals of the Southeast U.S.: insights from NOAA’s National Database of Deep-Sea Coral & Sponges. Poster presentation. 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting. Portland, Oregon
Hourigan, T.F. *, McGuinn, R.P., Etnoyer, P.J., Wagner, D., Dornback, L.M., Poti, M.D., Coleman, H.M.

Overview of the Southeast Deep Coral Initiative (SEDCI)
Primary Overview of the Initiative ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

VIDEO: Living in the dark: expedition in search of deep-sea corals
Video courtesy of Ralf Meyer, Green Fire Productions

VIDEO: Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary R/V Manta 2017 expedition
Video courtesy of Eric Glidden, Undersea Vehicle Program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

SPECIES PHOTOS: Deep-sea coral images from the Southeast U.S. Region

SPECIES PHOTOS: Deep-sea fish photos from Southeast U.S. Region

SPECIES PHOTOS: Deep-sea sponge photos from Southeast U.S. Region
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

FEATURE STORY: NOAA broadcasts live exploration of deep-sea habitats in Gulf of Mexico
NOS Weekly News Story. April 19, 2018

FEATURE STORY: NOAA begins mission to explore deep-sea habitats in Gulf of Mexico
NCCOS News Story. April 12, 2018

FEATURE STORY: NCCOS research featured at Ocean Sciences Meeting
NCCOS News Story. February 27, 2018

FEATURE STORY: NCCOS Charleston supports deep-sea telepresence explorations by NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
NCCOS News Story. December 21, 2017

FEATURE STORY: Successful second year of NOAA initiative to study deep-sea corals in the U.S. Southeast
OAR Hub News Story. November 29, 2017

FEATURE STORY: NOAA’s deep-sea coral study in U.S. Southeast completes second year
NCCOS News Story. November 28, 2017

FEATURE STORY: NCCOS Hosts Deep-Sea Coral Identification Workshop
NCCOS News Story. August 10, 2017

FEATURE STORY: Taxonomic guide of Bermuda’s black corals published
NCCOS News Story. November 13, 2017

FEATURE STORY: Southeast Deep Coral Initiative: successful second year of deep-sea coral explorations off the Southeast United States
Deep-Sea Life, issue 10. November 2017

FEATURE STORY: Multiple expeditions to explore and map deep-sea coral ecosystems in the Southeast United States in 2017
Deep-Sea Life, issue 9. May 2017

FEATURE STORY: NOAA multi-year effort to study deep-sea corals in the Southeast US
OAR Hub News Story. April 21, 2017

FEATURE STORY: Southeast Deep Coral Initiative: NOAA multi-year effort to study deep-sea corals
NCCOS News Story. April 6, 2017.

FEATURE STORY: Deep-Sea Coral Initiative in the Southeast: first-year successes
NOS Weekly Update. January 12, 2017.

FEATURE STORY: Successful first year of NOAA’s Deep-Sea Coral Initiative in the Southeast
NCCOS News Story. January 12, 2017.

FEATURE STORY: New NOAA four-year research initiative to study deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems in the Southeast United States
Deep-Sea Life, issue 8. November 2016.

SEDCI Operation Area
Map showing the three geographic regions where the Southeast Deep Coral Initiative (SEDCI) will operate in 2016-2019. Areas where deep-sea corals are protected through fishing restrictions are shown in orange (credit: NOAA).

Lophelia

Black Coral
Field Initiative Title: Southeast Deep Coral Initiative (SEDCI): exploring deep-sea coral ecosystems off the Southeast U.S.

PC-1605: August 24-September 4, 2016   Chief Scientist: Martha Nizinski 

  1. survey canyon and inter-canyon slope environments to characterize benthic habitats and identify areas of coral presence;
  2. conduct multibeam mapping in canyon and slope areas where data are missing or incomplete;
  3. assess geological features to characterize canyon morphology;
  4. conduct CTD sampling; and
  5. collect water samples and monocore samples during specific CTD casts.


DFH-30: September 4-8, 2016   Chief Scientist: Emma Hickerson

1. to continue documenting the biological communities on Parker, Bryant, Bouma, Rezak, Sidner, and Elvers banks - all of which are under review for the proposed boundary expansion of the FGBNMS.

2. to analyze the benthic habitat in the areas of interest by conducting transects using a forward-facing still camera and video camera mounted to the ROV to capture high resolution imagery and video, following DSCRTP protocols.

3. to collect samples of mesophotic black corals and octocorals for analysis by researchers from CUNY and UTRGV, respectively.


NF-1708: August 13-31, 2017  Chief Scientist: Peter Etnoyer (Leg 1: August 13-24) and Daniel Wagner (Leg 2: August 27-31)

1. conduct benthic surveys using a deep-water remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in areas that have been proposed for the establishment of new habitat areas of particular concern (HAPC) on the West Florida slope;

2. collect biological specimens of deep-sea corals, sponges and their associated taxa using the manipulator arm of the ROV;

3. collect multibeam bathymetry and backscatter data in areas that have not yet been mapped at a high resolution, focusing on areas of the West Florida slope and peripheries of existing coral HAPCs in the South Atlantic Bight;

4. collect water samples and CTD data to support ongoing studies on seawater carbonate chemistry;

5. opportunistically collect water column acoustic data to characterize the relative abundance of pelagic fishes of the region.

PC-1704: August 28-September 8, 2017   Chief Scientist: Martha Nizinski

  1. Survey canyon area and inter-canyon slope habitats using the AUV Sentry; with concurrent sampling of environmental factors (i.e. depth, salinity, turbidity and hydrography) to characterize benthic habitats and identify areas of coral presence;

  2. Conduct mapping operations in areas where multibeam data were missing or incomplete;

  3. Assess geological features and characterize canyon morphology;

  4. Collect CTD data, as well as sediment and water samples;

  5. Assemble a database of seafloor photographs to identify benthic species and assess faunal diversity, abundance and distributions; and

  6. Assemble maps of geo-referenced coral locations and associated data.


DFH-32 and 33: September 21-October 1, 2017   Chief Scientist: Emma Hickerson

  1. Capture video and imagery of sites of interest;

  2. Explore unknown sites;

  3. Conduct transect surveys according to DSCRTP protocols and;

  4. Collect biological specimens of mesophotic corals, sponges, and associated taxa.


EX1803: April 11-May 3, 2018  Science Leads: Adam Skarke and Daniel Wagner

  1. Explore and discover vulnerable marine habitats – particularly high-density deep-sea coral and sponge communities
  2. Explore areas relevant to resource managers such as Essential Fish Habitats, Habitat Areas of Particular Concern, and national marine sanctuaries and their proposed expansion areas
  3. Explore the diversity and distribution of benthic habitats – including bottom fish habitats, chemosynthetic, and deep-sea coral communities
  4. Investigate the geology of the Gulf of Mexico
  5. Explore U.S. maritime heritage by investigating sonar anomalies and characterizing shipwrecks
  6. Acquire a foundation of ROV, sonar, and oceanographic data to better understand the characteristics of the water column and the fauna that live there
  7. Collect high-resolution bathymetry in areas with no (or low quality) sonar data
  8. Engage a broad spectrum of the scientific community and public in telepresence-based exploration and provide a foundation of publicly accessible data and information products to spur further exploration, research, and management activities


LeadsRaven Blakeway, Andrew Shuler, Enrique Salgado, Peter Etnoyer

The objective of this project is to create a series of photographic guides to mesophotic and deep-sea corals in the Southeast Region. The guide will consist of high-quality, in situ photos of deep-sea corals, but may also contain on-deck images of sampled organisms, images from light microscopes, and scanning electron microscope (SEM). The photo guide(s) will be shared widely via a web-accessible platform (NOAA portals, Deep-Sea ID, and World Register of Deep-Sea Species), in order to provide tools that can be used by the broader scientific community, as well as for education and outreach purposes.

LeadDan Dorfman, Jake Howell, Andrew Shuler

This projects seeks to create a web-accessible GIS geodatabase (linked here) that includes information from previous deep-sea explorations in the Southeast Region, including (1) submersible/ROV dives, (2) mapping surveys, (3) museum collections of deep-sea corals and sponges, (4) deep-sea coral habitat suitability models, and (5) boundaries of marine managed areas. This geodatabase will also be used to document the research efforts  conducted by SEDCI throughout the greater Southeastern US region. The digital atlas will place the SEDCI initiative within the context of past research. Additionally, the geodatabase will show areas which need to be sampled, surveyed and mapped in the future.

Lead: Peter Etnoyer

This project proposes standard, low-cost methods to measure temperature at mesophotic depths (30-150 m) and aragonite saturation in deeper water (300-1500 m) adjacent to deep-water coral aggregations in order to generate new public data. This project will deploy 9-12 new temperature sensors in the Flower Garden Banks region and the U.S. Caribbean, from 40-150 m depth, in order to extend the vertical range of present studies over the course of 1-2 years. The data will augment ongoing shallow-water temperature records to answer the question, how deeply in the water column do surface anomalies penetrate? 

The project will repeatedly deploy a CTD-rosette to 1500 m depth for a series of water column profiles from the shelf break to the shelf slope collected over a two-year time frame. Our goal is to perform laboratory water chemistry for ocean acidification parameters (pH, TA, DIC, salinity, nutrients) for 12-24 water column profiles (100-200 water samples) collected over the course of the two-year field research time frame.

Lead: Matt Poti and Peter Etnoyer

Models are expected to serve as a valuable integrative tool for the SEDCI. This effort will include:

1 the application of existing predictive habitat models developed at NCCOS from 2011-2013 to site selection and cruise planning,

2 the development of new models to bring all three sub-regions of the Southeast to a similar level,

3 the testing and validation of model predictions,

4 the use of models to help synthesize and generalize results of field surveys. 

Lead: Andy David

This project will work collaboratively with Puerto Rican deep snapper fishery to deploy low- cost, simple underwater video cameras along with deep-water line-fishing gear to explore bottom habitats associated with these deep-water fisheries. The goal of the project is to use a simple, low-cost method to glean some introductory information about important deep-water habitats to help focus more in-depth habitat characterization research in the future.

Lead: John Reed

This project will support personnel to review, analyze, and compile previously collected video and still image data from benthic surveys of deep-sea coral and sponge communities (azooxanthellate deep-water corals and sponges that occur deeper than 50 m depth) that were collected during NOAA-funded research expeditions in order to incorporate these observations into the National Database of Deep-Sea Corals and Sponges.

Lead: Tim Battista

This project will review previously collected ROV data at depths between 50-300 m in the U.S. Caribbean. Deep-sea coral and sponge records from the video data will be retrieved and formatted for submission to the National Database of Deep-Sea Coral and Sponges.

Lead: Raven Blakeway and Emma Hickerson

NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary has been investigating the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico since 2001 and possesses an extensive record on mesophotic coral ecosystems that exist in the region. Environmental data and geo-referenced photos of benthic habitat and biology existing from previous investigations, as well as investigations scheduled to take place in 2017 and 2018 will be used to generate habitat characterizations maps, as well as predictive habitat models in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico. While a significant amount of data has been generated, there continues to be expansive areas that remain unmapped and lack ground truthing evidence. The planned cruises will help fill in some of these data gaps following DSCRTP protocols.

The underwater features for which habitat characterization maps will be generated include the following banks: Horseshoe, MacNeil, Rankin, 28 Fathom, Bright, Geyer, Elvers, McGrail, Sonnier, Bouma, Bryant, Rezak, Sidner, Alderdice and Parker.

The primary objectives for this project include to (1) conduct habitat data analysis of historic photo transects collected at the sites listed above, (2) conduct analysis on imagery collected in planned 2017/2018 cruises according to the FGBNMS habitat scheme, (3) generate habitat maps that accurately represent the environments found on the seafloor features of interest using a habitat suitability model, and (4) input density and species data into the DSCRTP data portal.

Lead: Sandra Brooke

This project will ensure that the deep-sea coral data and habitat information collected during the 2005 East Florida R/V Edwin Link expedition that was used in a graduate thesis is prepared as a manuscript for peer-review and is formatted and submitted to the DSCRTP National Database in a format consistent with the database.

Lead: Charles Messing and Brian Walker

Prepare and submit a peer-reviewed manuscript from data generated during a 2011 research cruise funded by NOAA and CIOERT that provide data on deep-water coral and sponge occurrence and densities, and general deep-water benthic assemblage characterization and distribution off the Southeast U.S. coast (east coast of Florida and Florida Keys).

EX1711: November 29-December 21, 2017  Science Leads: Diva Amon and Charles Messing

  1. Explore and discover vulnerable marine habitats – particularly high-density deep-sea coral and sponge communities
  2. Explore areas relevant to resource managers such as Essential Fish Habitats, Habitat Areas of Particular Concern, and national marine sanctuaries and their potential expansion areas
  3. Explore the diversity and distribution of benthic habitats – including bottom fish habitats, chemosynthetic, and deep-sea coral communities
  4. Investigate the geology of the Gulf of Mexico
  5. Explore U.S. maritime heritage by investigating sonar anomalies and characterizing shipwrecks
  6. Acquire a foundation of ROV, sonar, and oceanographic data to better understand the characteristics of the water column and the fauna that live there
  7. Collect high-resolution bathymetry in areas with no (or low quality) sonar data
  8. Engage a broad spectrum of the scientific community and public in telepresence-based exploration and provide a foundation of publicly accessible data and information products to spur further exploration, research, and management activities

PC-1802: May 12-24, 2018  Chief Scientists: John Reed and Stacey Harter 

The goal of the cruise is to gather additional data on habitat and fish assemblages in six of the South Atlantic marine protected areas (MPAs) and Oculina Experimental Closed Area (OECA) as part of a long term sampling program to document changes in these areas before and after fishing restrictions are implemented.  The scientists will conduct ROV and multibeam sonar surveys inside and outside six MPAs as well as inside and outside the OECA in the south Atlantic to assess the efficacy of this management tool to protect species of the snapper grouper complex and Oculina coral.  The southernmost boundary of the work areas will be Port Canaveral, FL while the northern-most boundary will be Cape Hatteras, NC. 

 

EX1806: June 13-July 2, 2018  Science Leads: Leslie Sautter and Cheryl Morrison

  1. Acquire data on deepwater habitats in the southeast U.S. continental margin to support priority science and management needs
  2. Identify, map, and explore the diversity and distribution of benthic habitats, including fish habitats, deep-sea coral and sponge communities, chemosynthetic communities, and biological communities that colonize or aggregate around shipwrecks
  3. Investigate biogeographic patterns of deep-sea ecosystems and connectivity across the southeast U.S. continental margin for use in broader comparisons of deepwater habitats throughout the Atlantic Basin
  4. Map, survey, and sample geologic features within the southeast U.S. continental margin to better understand the geological context of the region and improve knowledge of past and potential future geohazards
  5. Explore U.S. maritime heritage by identifying and investigating sonar anomalies as well as characterizing shipwrecks
  6. Collect high-resolution bathymetry in areas with no (or low-quality) sonar data
  7. Acquire a foundation of ROV, sonar, and oceanographic data to better understand the characteristics of the water column and the fauna that live there
  8. Engage a broad spectrum of the scientific community and public in telepresence-based exploration and provide a foundation of publicly accessible data and information products to spur further exploration, research, and management activities

NF-1804: June 27-July 14, 2018  Chief Scientist: Tim Battista

This cruise will be conducting the twelfth year of an ongoing scientific research mission funded by NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program. The purpose of the cruise will be to collect swath bathymetry, acoustical backscatter, ROV optical validation, fishery acoustics, and Slocum Glider deployments within coastal waters of Puerto Rico.

DFH-35: July 21-26, 2018   Chief Scientist:  Emma Hickerson
  1. Explore priority unknown and known sites
  2. Conduct DSCRTP transects
  3. Collect samples for mesophotic corals

This expedition will conduct Remotely Operated Vehicle operations at multiple banks in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico currently undergoing review for potential FGBNMS expansion. The researchers will capture HD video and high resolution imagery of sites of interest, explore unknown sites, conduct DSCRTP transects, and collect samples of mesophotic corals.

DFH-37: September 6-10, 2018  Chief Scientist: Emma Hickerson

  1. Explore priority unknown and known sites
  2. Conduct DSCRTP transects
  3. Collect samples for mesophotic corals

This expedition will conduct Remotely Operated Vehicle operations at multiple banks in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico currently undergoing review for potential FGBNMS expansion. The researchers will capture HD video and high resolution imagery of sites of interest, explore unknown sites, conduct DSCRTP transects, and collect samples of mesophotic corals.

Lead: George Sedberry

This project will analyze ROV video recorded from deep-sea coral habitats off South Carolina and Georgia during a cruise aboard the NOAA Ship Pisces in 2010. Videos will be analyzed by substrate type, and fishes and sessile invertebrates enumerated within each type. Descriptive statistics and multivariate analyses will be used to determine associations among fish species and between fish species and habitat types.

Leads: Chuck Fisher, Penn State University; Ian MacDonald, Florida State University; Stephanie Sharuga, NOAA 

This project obtained deep-sea coral and chemosynthetic organism presence and absence data in the vicinity of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill prior to the spill. This data will be used to produce habitat suitability models for deep-sea corals and chemosynthetic ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico.

Data Sets:

Chuck Fisher: ECOsystem impacts of Oil and Gas Inputs to the Gulf (ECOGIG). Multi-year project that visited the same marked sites near the Macando well to assess health of the corals at each site over time.

Ian MacDonald (at TAMU during this study): Mississippi-Alabama Pinnacle Trend Ecosystem Monitoring (MAPTEM). Four-year program to characterize and monitor microhabitat on the Mississippi/Alabama outer continental shelf.

Stephanie Sharuga (at LSU during this study): Characterization of deep-sea benthic megafauna in the vicintiy of the Macando well. 

Lead: Brendan Roark

In collaboration with Texas A&M University: Based on previous experience working with black corals from the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and the Southeastern United States doing proxy development, we have the capability to develop centennial to millennia long records of changes of trophic dynamics, nutrient source changes and ocean circulation changes. Samples from the west Florida Shelf will fill a gap in the regional reconstruction of environmental changes in the Gulf of Mexico over the last several millennia.

Lead: Adam Skarke

In collaboration with Mississippi State University: This project will support personnel to design an automated system for the digital mapping of seafloor substrate observed in video data acquired during dives of the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. Specifically, personnel will create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and design associated scripts in the Python programming language to extract seafloor substrate and navigational data from ROV video annotations. The script will plot the data as color-coded substrate maps, and generate polygon files with associated values for area swept and substrate composition. The substrate classes will be categorized with Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS). The source data will be chatroom and environmental sensor observations (real time annotations) from NOAA Okeanos Explorer dives with ROV Deep Discoverer. The annotations are created in Ocean Networks Canada’s (ONC) SeaTube v2 software by scientists participating in NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer expeditions. The result of the project will be a SOP documenting workflow and a set of ‘Python scripts’ that extract required data from the annotation records, to generate digital maps for each ROV dive and plot the dive tracks and ROV survey areas using color-codes for substrate composition. These products will allow end users to visualize geospatial relationships within NOAA ROV video data in a new way, with a degree of automation that was not previously possible.

Lead: Peter Etnoyer

This project will estimate carbonate saturation from 60 water samples along West Florida Escarpment in 2017, collected between 50 and 500 m depth while aboard NOAA ship Nancy Foster. From these data, the project will produce new graphics showing depth profiles of carbonate saturation, total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in and around deep-sea Lophelia reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. The purpose is to determine whether Lophelia reefs are growing in oversaturated or undersaturated carbonate conditions, and how this varies by depth and time of day. The water chemistry data will be analyzed by United States Geological Survey and processed under contract with Dr. Jay Lunden at Temple University.