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science and exploration

RESEARCH EXPEDITIONS IN GRAY'S REEF

In 2013, research expeditions aboard the NOAA ship Nancy Foster allowed scientists to conduct a variety of projects, such as acoustic fishery biomass surveys, diver fish censuses, invertebrate density and abundance measurements, and habitat mapping with multi-beam sonar. Aboard Gray's Reef R/V, Joe Ferguson, scientists were also able to conduct a project aimed at quantifying predator-prey relationships of fish-eating animals. An open house event was held in port to invite community members aboard the Nancy Foster for an informative guided tour on current research activities at Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary.

photo of a research vessel.


UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS TESTING IN OLYMPIC COAST NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY

In tests to evaluate human safety, costs and noise impacts to marine wildlife, NOAA deployed an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) within Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The UAS monitored seabird nesting colonies, sea otters and marine debris on remote beaches, offshore rocks and islets. Video and still photography were captured from the PUMA and Quadcopter systems. Project partners included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA UAS Program, NOAA Marine Debris Program, Quinault Indian Nation, Quileute Tribe, and Olympic National Park.

photo of a scientists and an unmanned aircraft.


DEEP REEF EXPEDITION YIELDS NEW DISCOVERIES

In May 2013, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument conducted NOAA's first dedicated, closed-circuit, rebreather expedition in order to explore the mesophotic coral ecosystems of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. A rebreather is a scuba device that produces no bubbles and allows a diver to breathe his/her own air over again. This work is at the forefront of NOAA's diving and exploration programs. These deep coral reefs (40 to 80 meters or more) are virtually unexplored, and have yielded many unexpected discoveries. Among these are more than 70 new species of algae, a 25% increase in the number of fishes known from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the highest levels of endemism known of any marine ecosystem on Earth.

photo of fish in reef


FOLLOW THAT BIRD: TAGGING GREAT SHEARWATERS

When Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary researchers attached satellite tags to ten great shearwaters in the summer of 2013, they were surprised by the results. The technology revealed the long-ranging, Gulf of Maine-wide transits of the birds. From the three months of archived data, scientists will study movements, life cycle, and feeding and foraging habits of these important sanctuary seabirds and identify hotspots of biological activity. This dataset further expands our knowledge of the sanctuary ecosystem, which serves as a sentinel site for the Gulf of Maine.

photo of person releasing a bird


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