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Gray's Reef 2007 Expedition
Mission info July 15 2006

Southeastern Regional Taxonomic Center

Dr. Betty Wenner
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources 

diver at Gray's Reef
Diver at Gray's Reef. (Photo: Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary)
The Southeastern Regional Taxonomic Center (SERTC) is building a curated collection of invertebrates from the South Atlantic Bight (Cape Hatteras to Cape Canaveral). The collection serves as a tissue repository for genetic research and provides specimens for development of taxonomic guides and digital images of specimens to document features that are not available in traditionally preserved material. Since funding began, the SERTC has developed a substantial regional invertebrate collection. 

In 2006, SERTC scientists collected macro-invertebrates during the GRNMS cruise that significantly added to our collection with specimens from the Sanctuary and the surrounding area, where previously we have been unable to sample. Many of the specimens we collected were photographed while alive, to provide high quality images for our taxonomic guides, educational posters and our popular website. Images from that 2006 cruise on the R/V Nancy Foster were supplied to staff at GRNMS for their use.

On the 2007 cruise, we plan to collect infaunal specimens from the GRNMS.  We are especially interested in crustaceans and polychaetes (worms).  Specimens retained during the cruise will be preserved, curated and cataloged for use by SCDNR, other researchers, graduate students, academic institutions, museums, and various educational programs.

The specific goals for this cruise are:

1) To obtain high-quality digital images of infaunal invertebrates for future guides and publications;

2) To obtain amphipod, isopod and polychaete specimens that are under-represented in our voucher collection;

3) To obtain high-quality images of other invertebrates for our digital image library and for use in educational materials, website and public donations. Because we will be sorting material that is collected, we will be able to photograph those taxa that may lose diagnostic characteristics like pigmentation, or contract to the extent that they are difficult to examine;

5) To expand our existing specimen collection with invertebrates from the GRNMS and surrounding waters (5 miles from boundaries); and

6) To target one or two species of octocorals (soft corals) for the SERTC collections.


1) SCUBA -In situ photography and hand collection of specimens will be done within the sanctuary.  Collection will be made with a hammer, chisel, and scissors.

2) A Smith-McIntyre grab will be deployed just outside the sanctuary. "Live rock" collected will be washed to obtain invertebrates and returned to the bottom. The sample will be elutriated and sieved to obtain macroinvertebrates.

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