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from the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Sustainable Seas Expeditions,
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Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
SSE Accomplishments Report

Technicians synchronize watches with pilots Dana Wilkes and Annette Hoffman in an attempted two-sub dive. Visibility and launch timing problems subsequently forced the mission to be scrubbed. (Photo credit: Bob Steelquist)

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary staff spent months organizing and preparing for the 1999 Sustainable Seas Expeditions. The Olympic Coast Expeditions had three primary objectives: 1) collect information to better characterize sanctuary resources and habitats; 2) bring this information "home" to the average citizen and in turn encourage a marine conservation ethic; and 3) test the effectiveness of using submersibles for inventorying sanctuary resources.

Mechanical difficulties and adverse weather interrupted the missions, disappointing investigators and hindering their scientific investigations. However, all participants were seasoned veterans of logistical problems that occur while working in remote and exposed coastal areas, and they took things in stride. Project scientists intend to follow up on the research projects in forthcoming missions.

One planned project involved using DeepWorker to conduct surveys of benthic habitats exposed to different degrees of bottom trawling. Unfortunately, due to ship mechanical problems and some launching difficulties with the

DeepWorker preparing to dive off Chibadehl Rocks, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Tatoosh Island is visible in the distance. (Photo credit: Bob Steelquist)

submersibles, this assessment of seafloor communities had to be postponed. However, video transects were conducted at alternate sites off Cape Flattery, the northern most sanctuary boundary, where scuba divers conduct similar surveys in shallower waters. This confirmed that DeepWorker is an appropriate tool for benthic habitat assessments and extended one video transect half way across the continental shelf. Similarly, a project to use two DeepWorkers simultaneously to record fish behavior for future population estimates was not conducted as planned, but the proof of concept was confirmed.

Two scheduled science projects were not conducted at all. One combined exploration and science that would have been the first video survey of the Juan de Fuca Canyon. Mechanical problems and poor weather scrubbed this mission. Also, dives planned along a cold-seep area to examine geological formations and biological communities must wait for another year.

One of the greatest achievements of Sustainable Seas Expeditions in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary this first year is the demonstration that multiple agencies and individuals can work together in difficult circumstances. The sanctuary offers a big thank you to all involved. This includes personnel from the U.S. Navy ship Discovery Bay and our research partners from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Geological Survey, and National Marine Fisheries Service.

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary's Expeditions operations crew. Clockwise from upper right: Andy Palmer, Tatoosh skipper; Ed Bowlby, Mission Coordinator, pilot and Research Coordinator; Mary Sue Brancato, pilot and Resource Protection Specialist; Carol Bernthal, Sanctuary Superintendent; Annette Hoffman, WDFW biostatistician and pilot; Tom Jagiello, WDFW fish biologist and pilot; Bob Steelquist, pilot, Mission Log Coordinator and Education Coordinator. (Photo credit: Bob Steelquist)

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