Project Title: Small Project: Photographic guide of deep-sea corals in the Southeast US
Project Summary

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, World Register of Deep-Sea Species and SMarTaR-ID), in order to provide tools that can be used by the broader scientific community, as well as for education and outreach purposes.

Anticipated Management Application(s)  None Defined
  •  None Defined.
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Project Title: Small Project: Photographic guide of deep-sea corals in the Southeast US

High-quality in situ photographs were collected by several previous deep-sea explorations in the Southeast Region. These include expeditions aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to Puerto Rico in 2015, the E/V Nautilus to Puerto Rico in 2013 and 2014, the R/V Walton Smith to Gulf of Mexico in 2014, the R/V Falkor to the Gulf of Mexico in 2012, the R/V Seward Johnson to the East Florida Shelf in 2005, as well as ongoing expeditions to the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary aboard the R/V Manta. Images of these expeditions have either been secured and published already (e.g., octocorals in Etnoyer et al. 2016; Quattrini et al. 2014; black corals in Opresko et al. 2016) or are available through the OER Digital Atlas. Additional images of deep-water fauna will be collected during new research expeditions that will be undertaken as part of the SEDCI in 2016-2019. These images will be reviewed to select the highest quality images that show organisms inhabiting deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems, focusing on habitat-forming taxa like corals and sponges, but also including their associates. These images will then be identified to the lowest possible taxon in consultation with taxonomic experts at various institutions including the National Museum of Natural History, Texas A&M University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University, the University of Puerto Rico and others.

Initially, image files will be named with the species name, depth in meters, location and photograph credit (e.g., Carijoa riisei, 62 m Roughtongue Reef, NOAA), and placed on a shared Google folder accessible to the Science Team of the SEDCI. For this purpose all species names will be checked against the World Register of Marine Species. Prior to each expedition funded by the SEDCI, the complete set of images will be uploaded onto an iPad or other tablet to help onboard scientists with species identifications. For this purpose, images will be grouped by broad taxonomic groups (e.g., corals, sponges, arthropods and fish), as well as geographic area (i.e., Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, Caribbean) in order to facilitate identifications. Upon completion of the project, short descriptions of each species will be composed. The species descriptions and in situ photographs will then be summarized in a NOAA Technical Memorandum or alternative publication (e.g., Marine Sanctuaries Conservation Series).

Project Results and Management Outcomes  None Defined

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