NOAA Ocean Exploration and Research Program Launches Lophelia II 2009: Deepwater Coral Expedition: Reefs, Rigs, and Wrecks Expedition
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> NOAA Ocean Exploration and Research Program Launches Lophelia II 2009:
> Deepwater Coral Expedition: Reefs, Rigs, and Wrecks
> August 19 - September 12, 2009
> The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ocean
> Exploration and Research Program (OER) has launched the Lophelia II
> 2009: Deepwater Coral Expedition: Reefs, Rigs, and Wrecks Web page on
> its Ocean Explorer Web site.
> In the second year of a four year study, and the third cruise in a
> series of four expeditions to the Gulf of Mexico, Lophelia II 2009 is
> taking place on board the NOAA Ship Ronald H Brown. This expedition is
> using one of the most advanced remotely operated vehicles (ROV) in the
> world, the Jason II from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. With many
> facets to this study, a multi-disciplinary team of scientists from some
> of the leading institutions in the world are working together to
> accomplish a number of goals. The most basic goal of this study is to be
> able to predict deep-water coral distribution in the Gulf of Mexico. The
> NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) and the U.S.
> Minerals Management Service (MMS) are interested in this question to
> better protect these fragile habitats as human activities extend
> offshore into deeper and deeper waters.
> Using high-resolution multibeam bathymetry data collected during
> previous cruises in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists were able make some
> predictions regarding coral distribution and chose the sites for
> detailed experiments that will take place on this cruise.
> The Lophelia II 2009 exploration team will head to a site off the west
> coast of Florida to collect quantitative photographic and physical
> samples of coral communities and genetic samples of the hard coral
> Lophelia pertusa, black corals, gorgonian sea fans, and other associated
> species. They will then move north to examine a never before explored
> cliff face that runs over 1000 m from top to bottom. Stay tuned for the
> results as the team crosses the Gulf from Florida to Texas.
> As the ship heads back to the central Gulf, more detailed work at known
> coral sites will take place. The exploration team will visit Green
> Canyon 852, the site of the coral gardens discovered during the 2007
> mission to explore cold seeps in the Gulf. Here they will deploy
> long-term measuring instruments. They will visit Mississippi Canyon 751
> where many of live corals are growing near a cold seep site and Viosca
> Knoll 906 where large mounds are made up of mostly dead coral. At the
> Mississippi Canyon site a sediment/larval trap will be deployed to
> collect samples that can be analyzed to determine how much food is being
> delivered to the corals, how much they might get buried by sediment, and
> how frequently larvae make it to the site. The final site of the first
> leg is a visit to the largest known Lophelia reef in the Gulf: Viosca
> Knoll 826. Here they will deploy a time lapse camera, as well as
> additional measuring and collecting equipment. The collection will be
> for community structure, genetics, and for the live corals needed for
> experiments back in the lab.
> The second leg of the cruise will involve more investigations of the
> ship wrecks in the area, some known to have large Lophelia colonies on
> them, and some completely unknown! There will be a few artifacts
> preserved from the wrecks, microbiological deployments made, and some
> corals samples taken. Hopefully, this cruise will go a long way towards
> helping predict coral distribution and teach us more about the biology,
> ecology, and geology of these ecosystems.
> Educators working with scientists from the Lophelia II 2009: Deepwater
> Coral Expedition: Reefs, Rigs, and Wrecks developed an Ocean Explorer
> Expedition Education Module (EEM) for the mission. Designed for teachers
> of students in Grades 5-12, the EEM offers an Expedition Purpose,
> Lessons tied to the National Science Education Standards and the Ocean
> Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts, Interactive
> Multimedia Components for students, OceanAGE Career Connections, and
> Other Resources and Links to help educators bring the excitement behind
> this Deepwater Coral Expedition into their classrooms.
> Web logs, written by educators and scientists that capture daily
> activities and discoveries, complete with compelling video and images,
> will be posted within 24 hours of their receipt from the explorers on
> the Ocean Explorer Lophelia II 2009: Deepwater Coral Expedition: Reefs,
> Rigs, and Wrecks Web page. An "Ask an Explorer" feature will also be
> available for students to submit questions to, and receive answers from,
> the explorers during the expedition.
> Join us for a journey to the depths of the Gulf of Mexico - a world few
> have ever seen!
> Susan E. Haynes
> Education Program Manager
> NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
> (401) 289-2810
cell 202 285-3343
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