The Gulf of Mexico has been at the forefront of international news since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010. This region, with its unique climate and underwater habitats, has been the focus of many NOAA Ocean Explorer expeditions since the program's inception in 2001. Below are links to the expeditions conducted by OER in the Gulf of Mexico between 2001 and 2009.
October: Scientists explored the North American Florida Middle Grounds for traces of early human occupation on a submerged late Pleistocene landscape.
August: Scientists returned to the Gulf of Mexico to collect data related to cold water corals: their habitats, their levels of genetic connectivity, and the distribution of their communities.
September: Scientists used a combination of remote sensing, quantitative community collections, and genetic analyses to further our understanding of cold water corals and the communities associated with them.
July: A team of Maritime archaeologists returned to the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico to study the inundated late pleistocene landscapes and how these features may give clues to Florida's first Snowbirds.
June: This year's mission revisited previous discoveries and explores new areas in the Gulf of Mexico.
May - June: Scientists conducted the first systematic exploration of hydrocarbon seep communities in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
August - September: Scientists returned to explore the benthic creatures of the Northern Gulf of Mexico, hoping to continue an astonishing array of discoveries, including that of a fluorescent shark, fluorescent methane hydrates, and a new species of large deep-sea squid.
August: The science team used advanced camera systems and light-tight traps to explore the benthic creatures of the Northern Gulf of Mexico - one of the most geologically complex regions on the planet.
July-August: Scientists ventured into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico to learn the long-term effect of manmade structures on the deep sea, and conversely, the effect of the environment on those structures.
September - October: An interdisciplinary scientific team spent 12 days exploring deep sea coral habitats in the Northern Gulf of Mexico.
September: A team studied marine organisms found in deep water habitats in the Gulf of Mexico as potential sources of new drugs.
February: A student team studied the reproductive biology and biochemistry of cold-seep mussels and various other seasonally reproducing deep-sea animals.
June - October) An exploration team explored and studied the communities of animals found around deep-sea oil seeps to improve our understanding of the lush habitats that thrive in the absence of sunlight.
May - August: Scientists explored coral reef and hard-bottom communities throughout the Gulf of Mexico. A special focus was the effects of currents on the life cycles and migration patterns of various species.