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West Coast Deep Sea Coral Cruise
From June 9 - July 3, the NOAA Ship McArthur II will explore deep-sea coral habitats in depths along the west coast of the United States from Washington's Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and along deep water regions of California between Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones, and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuaries.
|Map of the location of the expedition. Click here for a larger image.
Surveys will occur in sanctuaries and adjacent waters with a remotely operated vehicle, an autonomous underwater vehicle and a manned submersible throughout the different legs of the cruise.
The marine region off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California accounts for about 7 percent (778,628 km2) of the total area of the U.S. Economic Exclusive Zone and and contains areas of deep-sea coral. NOAA manages five national marine sanctuaries on the west coast: the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones, Cordell Bank, and Olympic Coast. All contain deep-sea corals.
NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program
is charged with coordinating the implementation of deep sea coral activities, which is primarily authorized by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) (U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). The MSA was reauthorized in 2006 and it included a new requirement to establish a Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program .
The goals for the cruise include surveying deep sea coral and sponge communities from Washington to southern California and includes investigating inside and outside NOAA Essential Fish Habitats (EFH), characterize the distribution and abundance of deep sea corals, establish baseline water quality conditions as it relates to deep sea corals (ph).
Stay with us during this expedition and check back to see updates from the field.
|Christmas Tree Coral (upper right), unidentified coral (possibly Lophelia) lower left. (Photo: Jennifer Bright)