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Seas

 

For additional information on the Sustainable Seas Expeditions, click here.

Investigations

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Channel Islands

Flower Garden Banks

Monterey Bay

Cordell Bank

Gray's Reef

Olympic Coast

Florida Keys

Gulf of the Farallones

Stellwagen Bank


Accomplishments Overview

DeepWorker is the one-man submersible used to explore and study the sanctuaries during the Sustainable Seas Expeditions.

A total of 138 DeepWorker submersible dives were conducted in nine national marine sanctuaries during the 1999 Sustainable Seas Expeditions. Despite the fact that the number of dives dedicated to scientific research was limited (30 dives were dedicated to research, 61 to exploration), the newly trained pilots became familiar with the new equipment. This will make future research operations much more productive. Notable is that several sites accomplished at least some of their science goals. The Channel Island National Marine Sanctuary complemented DeepWorker dives collecting qualitative data with ship-based sidescan sonar operations. At Stellwagen Bank, observations were made at a number of sites selected from U.S. Geological Survey-produced high resolution images of the sanctuary. Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary conducted the first extensive night dives of the Expeditions and documented extraordinary fish diversity. Pilots there also explored an area near the continental shelf break, filming another series of low relief rock outcrops that are home to many of the same species found in the sanctuary, as well as a number of rare species. In the Florida Keys, scientists and resource managers were able to explore a relatively unknown, but biologically rich area of the Dry Tortugas. They also demonstrated that deep water transects can be accomplished using DeepWorker and existing tracking technology. At the Flower Gardens, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) documented coral spawning on deep portions of the reefs. Scientists also studied a unique brine lake and overflow canyon to compare discharge rates with data collected prior to 1980 and in 1993. Submersibles were also used to document fish and other populations. The quality of the work was significantly enhanced by the ability to combine tracking systems with recently acquired U.S. Geological Survey high resolution bathymetric data on a geographical information system (GIS) platform in real time.

The first year of operations also required considerable time for developing launch and recovery procedures under a variety of conditions, ship capabilities, and available equipment. Once in the water, the submersible's systems were assessed for their effectiveness in conducting research in the sanctuaries. Emphasis was placed on learning to use camera systems and the DeepWorker as a platform for conducting video transects and observing interactions among species occupying unique habitats.

In the Year 2000 Sustainable Seas Expeditions field season, scientists and resource managers plan to focus their research efforts, visiting fewer sites for longer periods of time. This strategy should yield valuable information for sanctuary site characterization efforts, provide researchers with data to complement ongoing research, and provide a more comprehensive evaluation of the DeepWorker submersible's capabilities.

The sanctuaries that participated in the 1999 Expeditions have provided brief accomplishment reports in the following pages. The nature of accomplishments vary considerably by sanctuary depending on the ability to launch DeepWorker due to weather conditions and sea states. Select a sanctuary above to view its Sustainable Seas Expeditions report and photographs.

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