Exploring Carolina Canyons

Background Information

The essays below will help you to understand the goals and objectives of the mission and provide additional context and information about the places being explored and the science, tools, and technologies being used.

  • Mission Plan

    August 24 - September 9, 2016  |  By Dr. Martha Nizinski

    NOAA Ship Pisces underway.

    Beginning on August 24, 2016, a team of scientists and engineers aboard NOAA Ship Pisces will spend 15 days at sea exploring three deepwater canyons off the coast of North Carolina. Specifically, the team will target Keller, Pamlico, and Hatteras canyons.

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  • Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, Sentry

    By Dr. Carl L. Kaiser

    Sentry being launched from the Atlantis at sunset. This is Sentry’s normal configuration and how it looks on most dives.

    Sentry is a 6,000-meter depth rated autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). AUVs operate without direct human control or connection to the ship and can perform diverse missions, such as sonar surveys, image collection, water chemistry measurements, and magnetic measurements. AUVs are also increasingly used for sample collection.

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  • Submarine Canyons: Discovering Diversity in the Deep

    By Dr. Martha Nizinski

    These corals, including cup corals and bubblegum corals, were found on hard substrate near the edge of a mussel bed while exploring a gas seep area near the northeast submarine canyons.

    Submarine canyons are major geologic features of continental margins that link the upper continental shelf to the abyssal plain. Results of the most recent surveys estimate approximately 9,000 canyons worldwide.

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  • Exploration and Discovery of Deep-sea Coral: A Multi-tiered Approach

    By Dr. Amanda Demopoulos

    Image of a submarine canyon feature that has been colonized by lots of different types of corals and other animals.

    Greater than half of all coral species identified to date are found in the deep sea, at water temperatures ranging from 4-12°C. Much like their relatives in shallow-water tropical environments, deep-sea corals come in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.

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  • Cephalopods: Photobombing Deep-sea Corals

    By Dr. Elizabeth Shea

    Octopus! This Graneledone verrucosa is out for a stroll.

    Cephalopods are encountered in all phases of the exploration. The midwater is the biggest biome on Earth and photos of fast moving cephalopods and fish are rare.

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