Lophelia II 2012: Deepwater Platform Corals: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Mission Logs

Follow along as participants in the cruise provide updates and reflections on their experiences, the science, the technology, and other elements of the expedition.

  • Mission Summary

    July 13-23, 2012  |  By Jay Lunden

    Mission Summary

    In a little over a week at sea, we visited four deepwater oil and gas production platforms and one subsea installation, surveying these manmade structures for coral coverage and collected high-quality imagery and video, coral samples for genetic work, and water and sediment samples for related ecological studies.

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  • Change in Perspective

    July 22, 2012  |  By Jay Lunden

    July 22 Log

    Let me open with a somewhat shocking statement – I never aspired to be a marine biologist. To me, it was a field far removed from anything a kid growing up in suburban Philadelphia could pursue. Yes, I was always interested in science, especially biology, but always figured I’d become a doctor, or teacher, or maybe even (as unbelievable as this sounds) a bank manager. To put it simply, marine biology was never on my radar as a potential career.

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  • Mud, Mud, Everywhere…

    July 21, 2012  |  By Amanda Demopoulos

    July 21 Log

    Most of the Gulf seafloor is covered with mud, and while this mud may appear devoid of life, it represents a highly diverse ecosystem thriving with tiny, unseen critters. These animals play many important roles, including serving as food for other animals, and through their movements in the mud, allowing oxygen and food to penetrate deeper into the sediment.

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  • A First Date: Radiometric Dating

    July 20, 2012  |  By Brian DeSanti II

    July 20 Log

    Accurate dating of Lophelia pertusa skeletons is important to understand two very important life history characteristics of this deep-sea coral: growth rate and age. During this cruise, I am collecting coral branches from Lophelia on oil and gas platforms to use for radiocarbon dating.

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  • Environmental Niche Models – A New Way to Find Cold-water Corals

    July 19, 2012  |  By Samuel Georgian

    July 19 Log

    One of the issues facing deep-sea scientists is simply how – and where – to find our research subjects. The bottom of the seafloor covers an enormous area, and it’s just not feasible to search all of it. To narrow down the area we have to search, scientists can use environmental niche models.

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  • Color Me Excited!

    July 18, 2012  |  By Christina Kellogg

    July 18 Log

    Lophelia is known to occur in two colors, white and orange. In eight years of doing Lophelia research in the Gulf of Mexico, I’ve only ever seen white colonies. While imaging the Joliet platform on Tuesday, we saw what may possibly be two orange colonies among the many white ones!

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  • Back at Sea

    July 17, 2012  |  By Greg Boland

    July 17 Log

    One of the exciting aspects of this expedition is that biological communities on deep platforms have never been studied before. Although the industry operators see the underwater portions of their platforms regularly, the first science-related observation of Lophelia on a platform was made in 2003 as part of a broader study of deepwater communities for biomedical potentials.

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  • Grow in Culture, Maybe?

    July 16, 2012  |  By Christina Kellogg

    July 16 Log

    Corals have microbes (bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists, and viruses) in their external mucus, tissue, and skeleton. During the Lophelia II project, I have been sampling the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa in the Gulf of Mexico, trying to answer the questions “who are its microbes?” and “what are they doing?”

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  • First Impressions at Sea

    July 15, 2012  |  By Matthew Schmidt and Danielle McKean

    July 15 Log

    Now that we were finally making our transit to the first platform, seeing flying fish and even some sharks along the way, everyone was in a better mood. The day seemed to go by quickly after a fire drill and equipment prep for the dive later that evening.

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  • Blame It On the Rain

    July 13, 2012  |  By Emily Crum

    July 13 Log

    The original plan for the Lophelia II 2012 expedition was to leave Freeport, Texas, on Thursday afternoon. As of Friday afternoon, the R/V Brooks McCall remained moored to the dock. It’s now Saturday evening and we are just getting underway. The delay? We can blame it on the rain.

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