Project Title: Small Project: Environmental monitoring of deep-sea coral habitats
Project Summary

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.

Anticipated Management Application(s)

This work will help establish a baseline to assess seasonal environmental change in the Western Atlantic deep sea. Warming seas and acidifying oceans are a source of concern for fisheries management and marine conservation, but too little information is available from deep-sea coral environments to assess the vulnerability of corals to deep-water climate change and the vertical range and extent of any threats to coral health. The SEDCI will benefit from the environmental monitoring project through increased human capacity to measure climate change parameters in deep water and through better understanding of the potential impacts of climate change on deep-sea coral ecosystems.

Location(s):
  • Caribbean
  • Gulf of Mexico
Point of Contact: Office of the Point of Contact:
  • NOS NCCOS
Project Title: Small Project: Environmental monitoring of deep-sea coral habitats
Methods/Approach

This project will deploy several new temperature loggers in the Flower Garden Banks region and the U.S. Caribbean, in order to extend the vertical range of present monitoring studies associated with Coral Reef Watch. The loggers will be deployed over the side of the boat or with an ROV in a low-relief area with few obstructions. The loggers will be recovered using an ROV or burn wire releases. Temperature data will be downloaded and plotted for reports, then uploaded to public repository at NOAA Coral Reef Watch website.

The SEDCI ocean acidification project plans to deploy a CTD-rosette to 1500 m depth for a series of water column profiles at intervals on the order of 5, 25, 50, 100, 150, 250, 500, 1000, 1500 m depth aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster expedition in August 2017. Samples will also be opportunistically collected aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in 2018 and 2019, if possible. Water samples will be shipped following established safety guidelines by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) for water chemistry measures, working in coordination with Southeast Ocean and Coastal Acidification Network (SOCAN).

A workshop held by SOCAN in March 2017 established shellfish (primarily oysters), shallow and deep coral reefs as key species for environmental monitoring of aragonite saturation in marine environments. The SOCAN workshop specifically identified a need to collect water samples directly adjacent to cold-water scleractinian corals. This was identified as the top priority for deep-sea corals. Sampling at Lophelia pertusa reefs (300-800 m depth) and Oculina vericosa reefs (~80-100 m) off the coast of Melbourne, FL and near the Gulf Stream are a priority. Water and biological samples could be feasibly accomplished using the ROV Deep Discoverer aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. Dr. Kim Yates (USGS) can provide supplies needed for water sampling, including chemicals, and can analyze samples for carbonate chemistry. Through this SEDCI project, aragonite saturation data will be downloaded and plotted for reports and then uploaded to public repository at AOML. The project will seek partnerships with the NOAA Ocean Acidification program, SOCAN, and others, in order to leverage additional resources for this project and accomplish shared goals.

Project Results and Management Outcomes  None Defined
Project Title: Small Project: Environmental monitoring of deep-sea coral habitats
Internal References:
  •  None Defined
 
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