A scientific team sets out to explore natural and artificial reefs in the deep Gulf of Mexico using remotely operated vehicles equipped with hi-definition video cameras and other sampling gear. The scientists are part of a four-year collaborative study in search of deep-sea corals, including the reef-forming Lophelia pertusa. They explore the ocean to 2300 meters depth, finding and collecting Lophelia coral in relict and active chemosynthetic cold-seep environments, on oil rigs, and World War II shipwrecks ranging from 300-800 meters depth. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurs in the third year of the study, demanding a rapid response to assess reef condition 300-1500 meters below the surface slick.
Video courtesy of the Lophelia II Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEM.