Southeast Deep Coral Initiative: Exploring Deep-Sea Coral Ecosystems off the Southeast U.S.

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.

  • Summary Report for Leg 1 of the SEDCI 2017 Research Expedition

    August 31, 2017  |  By Dr. Peter Etnoyer

    A tinselfish swims among Lophelia thickets at Okeanos Ridge on the West Florida slope. Tinselfish (Family Grammicolepididae) were one of the more commonly observed fish species around 500 meters depth.

    NOAA Ship Nancy Foster docked in St. Petersburg on August 24, culminating Leg 1 of the expedition. Team members gathered for a photo, the deck crew off-loaded ROV Odysseus, scientists organized and packed, the ship’s crew prepared for Leg 2.

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  • Better Looking Maps Give Models Some Relief

    August 26, 2017  |  By Matt Poti

    Colonies of bamboo coral (left), lace corals (center right), sea whip (right), and Leiopathes glaberrima black coral (back) at the proposed Habitat Area of Particular Concern site known as North Reed. Also shown is a blackbelly rosefish, with green lasers dots 10 centimeters apart.

    Over the past five years, NOAA has developed regional models that predict which areas of seafloor habitat can support various types of deep-sea corals. Maps of 'habitat suitability' for these areas inform conservation and management of deep-sea corals and identify potential targets for future mapping and exploration.

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  • Into the Belly of the Beast: An Inside Look at Nancy Foster’s Engine Room

    August 25, 2017  |  By Mallory Brooks, Leah Fine, & Katie Geddes

    The engineering department of NOAA Ship Nancy Foster. From left to right: CME Tim Olsen, 1AE Carlito Delapina, 2AE Kyle Williams and JUE Joe Clark.

    Motoring across vast expanses of ocean requires a dedicated crew, hard work, and powerful engines. Join Tim Olsen, Chief Machinery Engineer of NOAA Ship Nancy Foster, on a tour to showcase the machinery that makes all of this work possible.

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  • Illuminating the Deep: The ROV Odysseus

    August 23, 2017  |  By Edward Cassano, Mallory Brooks, Leah Fine, & Katie Geddes

    ROV pilot and engineers Kris Ingram and Paul SanAcore preparing ROV Odysseus for a dive on the West Florida slope.

    On the first leg of the Southeast Deep Coral Initiative expedition, scientists used the remotely operated vehicle Odysseus operated by Pelagic Research Services, to survey deep-sea coral ecosystems on the West Florida slope aboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster.

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  • Making Deep-sea Coral Famous

    August 21, 2017  |  By Heather Coleman

    Ralf Meyer aboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster.

    The Southeast Deep Coral Initiative has an ally on the expedition to the West Florida slope. Ralf Meyer of the non-profit Green Fire Productions joins the team on this mission to document findings as well as the scientific process at work. Learn more about what motivates him to tell the story on film.

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  • All Hands on Deck: Captain’s Log

    August 20, 2017  |  By Captain Donn Pratt

    Left to right: ENS Lee Shoemaker, ENS Sara Thompson, ENS Brandon Tao, Capt. Donn Pratt, ENS Hillary Fort, ENS Keith Hanson, and LCDR Tony Perry III on the bridge of NOAA Ship Nancy Foster, transiting from port out to sea.

    The primary mission of NOAA Ship Nancy Foster is to support scientific operations and provide a platform to collect data using many different scientific methods. The ship’s company is divided into departments with different, yet equally important, functions to make the ship run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

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  • Deep-sea Conservation in U.S. Waters

    August 19, 2017  |  By Heather Coleman

    A deep-sea coral garden in Madison-Swanson Marine Reserve off the west coast of Florida, protected in 2000.

    If you have been following our expedition mission logs, you know that we are striving to learn more about deep-sea coral genetic linkages and reproductive patterns. But did you also know that our mission aims to survey the seafloor to document where corals are found within areas currently considered for habitat protection in the Gulf of Mexico?

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  • Ever Wondered How Corals Make Babies?

    August 18, 2017  |  By Sandra Brooke

    Thickets of living and dead Lophelia pertusa colonies at Many Mounds on the West Florida slope at 500 meters depth.

    Corals can reproduce in a number of ways: colonies can be all male or all female, they can be hermaphroditic with males and females in the same colony, they can release eggs and sperm directly into the water, or they can brood larvae that swim or crawl to a nearby home when ready to settle and grow.

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  • Who’s Your Coral Daddy?

    August 17, 2017  |  By Katharine Coykendall

    A robotic arm of the ROV Odysseus, operated by Pelagic Research Services, removing the cap from a sampling quiver in preparation to carry a coral fragment to the surface.

    Advances in genetic tools can help us understand how individuals react and adapt to environmental stress such as temperature change, ocean acidification, and pollution.

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  • ‘Many Mounds’ Astounds

    August 16, 2017  |  By Sandra Brooke, Peter Etnoyer, & Heather Coleman

    A rare sighting of orange Lophelia pertusa located at 500 meters depth at Many Mounds on the West Florida slope. The vast majority of L. pertusa in North American waters are stark white, like the colony to the right in this image.

    A moratorium in the eastern Gulf limited commercial exploration off the coast of Florida, where NOAA and university researchers are now surveying promising areas of deep coral habitat. The most extensively visited section of the West Florida slope is a site called “Many Mounds.” Exploration of the on the current mission was not disappointing!

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  • You Don’t Know “Squat” ... Lobster, So Let Me Introduce You

    August 15, 2017  |  By Morgan Kilgour & Heather Coleman

    Squat lobster Eumunida picta hanging out under a carbonate ledge at 450 meters depth on Long Mound of the West Florida shelf.

    Squat lobsters are commonly seen in the deep sea, and their characteristic claws-up pose is often a welcome sight for researchers searching for coral communities. They are the photo-bombers of the deep!

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  • Rockin' Wall

    August 14, 2017  |  By John Gray, Peter Etnoyer, & Heather Coleman

    A goosefish (Lophiodes beroe) encountered on low relief hard bottom seafloor at 415 meters depth at Long Mound on the West Florida Shelf.

    Our expedition is equipped with a science class remotely operated vehicle (ROV) capable of exploring the deep sea. Today’s ROV dive was spectacular due to favorable weather and oceanographic conditions and due to the hard work of our mapping team and NOAA Ship Nancy Foster’s officers and crew.

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  • Deep-sea Research: Always a Learning Experience

    August 13, 2017  |  By Heather Coleman

    Paul Sanacore, BGL Leslie Allen, and Erik Hodges readying the ROV Odysseus, operated by Pelagic Research Services, to descend in a survey on the West Florida Shelf.

    In an environment as challenging as the deep sea, research techniques take time and practice to produce results. Deep-sea researchers adapt to the challenges of the deep by using tools such as submarines and robots.

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