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science and exploration

Mapping Resources at Risk

photo of coral Sanctuary staff partnered with Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to complete the first three of seven planned expeditions to document biological communities found on low-profile (less than 3 meters), hard-bottom features associated with selected reefs and banks in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. The areas of interest lie outside the current "no-activity zones" designated by BOEM, but are potentially sensitive to activities related to oil and gas development. Characterization of these features will aid in the management of offshore energy resources. Resources were leveraged during the expeditions by collecting samples for another study to explore the diversity and distribution of black corals in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.

Identifying Ecologically Significant Areas

Last year, a process was developed to identify and establish Sanctuary Ecologically Significant Areas (SESAs) within offshore federal waters. SESAs will help direct future research, monitoring and management efforts towards special areas containing diverse, biogenic and benthic habitats vulnerable to seafloor disturbance. NOAA is identifying SESAs using the best available scientific information. Research, conservation and fishing groups have been highly engaged in the process and have provided valuable input.

Marine Science: Battle of the Atlantic

photo of divers underwater In 2012, Monitor NMS conducted a series of complex maritime archaeological surveys off North Carolina searching for and documenting sites associated with the Battle of the Atlantic in WWII. This project began a systematic survey of 47 potential targets of interest identified in 2011, which may represent new finds. As part of the Battle of the Atlantic survey, Monitor NMS completed high resolution, 3-D multibeam surveys of two WWII wreck sites off Cape Lookout, N.C. In addition to remote sensing, divers conducted in-water assessments documenting eight known wreck sites.

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