Deep Search Scientists & Crew Depart for Offshore Mid-Atlantic

Deep Search Scientists & Crew Depart for Offshore Mid-Atlantic
Illex squid swim above an octopus (Bathypolypus) in Keller Canyon, off the coast of North Carolina. Image courtesy of NOAA/OER, Windows to the Deep 2018

August 17, 2018

DEEP SEARCH scientists and crew ship out for a two-week expedition to the U.S. mid- and south Atlantic coast beginning Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, for the next phase of the DEEP SEARCH project. Learn more about DEEP SEARCH here. Aboard the research vessel Atlantis, they will explore deep-sea coral, canyon, and gas seep ecosystems. Fieldwork began last September under the National Oceanographic Partnership Program. Seven academic institutions, including Temple University, plus the USGS, and TDI Brooks International are collaborating on the project, which will shed light on little-known natural resources of the deep ocean off the United States’ southeast coast from Virginia to Georgia.

Deploying the manned deep-ocean research submersible Alvin, owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the scientists will collect water, sediment, and benthic faunal samples, and imagery of benthic habitats. The research will increase knowledge of U.S. continental margin geology, the types of communities found on the seafloor, and the mid-water communities that interact with those seafloor communities.

Last September’s excursion included seafloor mapping and used the autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry offshore North Carolina, confirming the presence of chemosynthetic organisms at suspected seeps for the first time. The researchers noted large numbers of fish clustered around rocks within the same area. This excursion will examine fish distribution to determine how different species respond to localized features.

BOEM, NOAA, and the USGS began planning the study in 2015. Coincidentally, it overlaps with BOEM’s proposed 2019–2024 National Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which may or may not result in Atlantic leasing. No decisions have been made, yet new information from this study could be useful in pre-leasing or post-leasing decisions, such as those affecting sensitive habitats that are the focus of this study.

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This story originally appeared here

Story posted August 20, 2018 from Chris D'Angelo, Huffington Post reporter, onboard the Atlantis 

Photo on front page: A conversation between Chief Scientist Erik Cordes and Professor Mandy Joye on the R/V Atlantis about the goals of the DEEP SEARCH program, funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Video created by Ivan Hurzeler and Erin Henning.

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