Whether used or not, we produce quite a lot of data that’s immediately available to the public with some immediate information returns. For instance in this canyon cruise, we’ve identified sensitive coral habitats that were not known before, and located them accurately which was not known before. We’ve identified a methane cold seep, which we thought was in this canyon but now we know it is for sure. My colleague and I, Dr. Brooke will go back after this cruise and draw boxes around these areas and propose to the Management Councils that these areas be protected and we’ll have information to back that out.
What I do for the most part is provide scientific information to our policy department so that the policy amendments that they are requesting from Congress are scientifically defensible. I also hold the conservation seat for the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council and I work with the Fisheries Management Councils to advocate for and provide scientific information for protection primarily of deep coral habitats but also other vulnerable ecosystems.
The Councils are very receptive to this kind of information and have used our data like this before so that is of an immediate benefit to the public. Quite often in this kind of work, the sorts of things that we collect and that this diverse team collects, appear to be esoteric and not useful but it’s amazing how in the future people look back on these kinds of collections and say: “Oh, I am really glad they collected that”. We didn’t know that was useful but now it is of vital importance.