This report summarizes the objectives, accomplishments, and outcomes of NOAA's West Coast Deep-Sea Coral Initiative, funded by the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program. The four-year initiative (2018-2021) was designed to explore, map, characterize, and conduct research on deep-sea coral and sponge habitats in the Pacific Fishery Management Council region, inclusive of waters off California, Oregon, and Washington.
In Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary region within the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, sponges thrive among diverse biological and geological habitats between 16–200+ m deep (i.e., coral reefs and communities, algal nodules, and coralline algae reefs, mesophotic reefs, patch reefs, scarps, ridges, soft substrate, and rocky outcrops). A synoptic guide is presented, developed by studying common sponge species in the region, through direct sampling and in-situ photographic records. This work improves our knowledge of Gulf of Mexico sponge biodiversity and highlights the importance of the region for scientists and resource managers.
This report summarizes fiscal year 2020 and 2021 activities that supported management decisions, improved our understanding of deep-sea coral and sponge communities, and leveraged partnerships to enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness. Operating through NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Habitat Conservation, and funded at approximately $2.3 million annually to support national-scale research, the Program collaborates widely and leverages substantial funding to study the role of corals in support of deep-sea ecosystems.
Have you ever wondered what the seafloor looks like in Alaska? Join us to learn about Alaska's deep-sea coral and sponge habitats, how we study them, and what it's like to be a student intern with NOAA's Deep Sea Coral Research Technology Program.
Shore-based submersible operations, from 2006 to 2020, have allowed us to examine megabenthic assemblages along the island margin of Isla de Roatán from depths of about 150 to 750 m, including repeated observations of the same organisms. These dives were used to photo-document a diverse benthic assemblage and observe the health and condition of the sessile fauna in a well-explored but relatively undocumented area of the Mesoamerican Reef.
This study analyzed alpha and beta diversity of mesophotic coral forests on fourteen topographic banks in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. The objective of the study was to examine differences in structure and community in relation to lease stipulations established by the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management.
Did you know that corals live in the deep, cold waters of Alaska? Come learn about deep-sea corals and sponges, and their importance for underwater communities in Alaska. We will talk about how we study these cold water creatures, how they have adapted to this environment, and how they eat and grow. The webinar is about 60 minutes long with moderated questions and answers throughout. Aimed at grades 2-8, but all ages will enjoy. (Recorded on March 16, 2021) Pam Goddard, Vanessa Lowe, and Rachel Wilborn, NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center Seattle, WA.
This report summarizes fiscal year 2018 and 2019 activities that supported management decisions, improved our understanding of deep-sea coral communities, and prioritized partnerships to enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness. Operating through NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Habitat Conservation, and funded at approximately $2.3 million annually to support national-scale research, the Program collaborates widely to cost-effectively study the role of corals in support of deep-sea ecosystems.
The Pourtalès Terrace is an exposed hard-bottom platform located south of the Florida Keys in 200–450 m depth with a diverse deep-sea coral ecosystem dominated by stylasterid hydrocorals, octocorals, and sponges that supports recreational and commercial fisheries. Here we report analyses of historic Terrace physiographic and geologic data with more recent high-resolution bathymetric and benthic data to statistically derive a benthic community characterization across the Terrace.
We provide the first consideration of larval connectivity among deep-sea sponge populations along the southeastern coast of North America, illustrate the influence of the Gulf Stream on dispersal, and complement published distribution models by evaluating colonization potential.