Project Title: Cold-Water Coral Geographic Database Update for the Gulf of Mexico
Goal or Purpose

To document the distribution and diversity of deep-sea corals (> 50 meters deep) in the Gulf of Mexico by compiling records from state and federal agencies, museums, local research institutes and published reports. Determine if the types of deep-sea corals vary by depth and region in the Gulf of Mexico and whether there are hotspots of diversity and abundance.

Anticipated Management Application(s)

The data will be used to generate maps and predictive models of the location of deep-sea corals in the Gulf of Mexico. The maps will aid marine spatial planning by supporting marine protected area network designs for Gulf waters.

Fiscal Funding:
  • FY 2010 @ $36,000

 
Region(s):
  • Gulf of Mexico Council
Location(s):
  •  None Defined.
Map of habitat-forming deep-water corals (> 50 meters depth) in the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: Dr. Peter J. Etnoyer, NOAA/NOS/NCCOS/CCEHBR
Project Type:
  • Data Mining
Point of Contact: Office of the Point of Contact:
  • NOS NCCOS
Team Members:
  • Stephen Cairns, John Reed, JD Dubick, Enrique Salgado
Project Title: Cold-Water Coral Geographic Database Update for the Gulf of Mexico
Methods/Approach

The goal of the project is to expand the national database of deep-sea coral records with at least 1881 new geo-referenced records of octocorals from the Gulf of Mexico. The new records, which originate from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Texas Cooperative Wildlife Collections, and MMS reports, were compiled by Dr. Peter Etnoyer as part of his (2009) PhD dissertation on the diversity and distribution of octocorals throughout this region.  These and some additional new records of stony corals in the Gulf of Mexico also will be incorporated into the database. In addition to the updated database, results will be summarized in a companion Final Report along with recommendations for future data expansions in other regions such as the southeastern U.S.

Project Results and Management Outcomes

The Deep-Sea Coral Ecology Laboratory (DCEL) at NOS/NCCOS/CCEHBR processed and submitted a total of 10,728 geo-referenced records from 10 different data providers to the DSCRTP in 2014. The records include museum samples from Smithsonian NMNH (n=2289) and Texas Cooperative Wildlife Collections (n = 450), field samples and observations Lophelia II (n=1180, partial) and FLOSEE 2010 and 2011 (n=1005, partial). These are supplemented by photo and video observations from submersible and ROV surveys conducted by FGBNMS (n=3979), NRDA Mesophotic 2011 (n=753), Sustainable Seas 2002 Expedition (n=431), RV Falkor 2012 Leg 004E and 006C (n=366, partial), and Okeanos 2012 Leg 2 (n=257). Of the 10,728 records, images are provides for 1,724 of the records. Metadata for these records will be generated by NCEI as part of NOAA's National Deep-Sea Coral Database.  

This research found that deep-sea coral assemblages vary by depth and region. The highest diversity of Gulf of Mexico octocorals was found in water depths ranging from 50-800 meters deep. The highest abundance of deep-sea coral records was in the Straits of Florida and in the Northwest Gulf of Mexico, near the vicinity of Deepwater Horizon. Highest diversity was also in the Straits of Florida and in the Northwest Gulf of Mexico along the outer continental shelf.

Project Title: Cold-Water Coral Geographic Database Update for the Gulf of Mexico
Internal References:
  •  None Defined
 
Backlinks:
  •  None Defined

FY10_02_image.jpg
Map of habitat-forming deep-water corals (> 50 meters depth) in the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: Dr. Peter J. Etnoyer, NOAA/NOS/NCCOS/CCEHBR