Project Title: 2018 R/V Manta expedition 2 to proposed expansion areas of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
Project Summary

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.

Anticipated Management Application(s)

NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is engaged in a sanctuary expansion proposal to protect additional critical habitat in the Gulf of Mexico. The sanctuary currently encompasses only three among dozens of reefs and banks scattered along the continental shelf in the Northwestern Gulf. The banks surveyed during this expedition contain critical ecosystems made up of nationally and ecologically significant features and biological communities. Survey sites were selected to support proposed boundaries and address concerns expressed by stakeholders.

Location(s):
  • Gulf of Mexico
Point of Contact: Office of the Point of Contact:
  • NOS FGBNMS
Project Title: 2018 R/V Manta expedition 2 to proposed expansion areas of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
Methods/Approach

On September 6-10, 2018 the SEDCI supported a five-day expedition aboard the R/V Manta. Led by Emma Hickerson, the expedition surveyed banks in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico using the ROV Mohawk operated by the UNCW-UVP. Funds provided by the SEDCI paid for five days of ship time of the R/V Manta, which leveraged five days of ROV operations at no additional cost to the project. During the expedition, 21 ROV dives were completed to depths between 80-126 m. These dives targeted five different banks around FGBNMS (Alderdice, Parker, Sidner, Rezak and Bouma) and focused on collecting information to characterize the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico, including sites within proposed expansion of the FGBNMS (ONMS 2016). Still images will be processed by Raven Walker (FGBNMS) to quantify the benthic fauna on the banks. Additionally, 37 coral samples and 32 algae, sponge and invertebrate samples were collected during the expedition. Mercer Brugler at the City University of New York (CUNY) will process the black coral samples for taxonomic and phylogenetic analyses. David Hicks at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) will process the octocoral samples for genetic analyses.

Project Results and Management Outcomes  None Defined

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