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Projects

A Geospatial Assessment of U.S. Atlantic and Gulf ...

Offshore sand resources, e.g., sand shoals, are increasingly being used for beach renourishment, barrier island restoration, and other uses to enhance resiliency of shorelines. However, the impact of sand dredging ...

A Pilot Assessment of Fish Habitat in Choptank Riv...

Fish and shellfish populations depend on healthy habitats. To help understand and manage these habitats in the Chesapeake Bay, we will develop a GIS-based analytical framework that might be used ...

An Assessment of Fisheries Species to Inform Time-...

Environmental windows or moratoria are used by federal and state regulators in resource management to temporarily reduce adverse environmental impacts associated with coastal development. Seasonal restrictions on construction activities can ...

Aquaculture Opportunity Areas for Federal Waters o...

The increasing demand for American-grown seafood and improved technology to farm in the open ocean provides incentive for aquaculture expansion. A recent step toward domestic aquaculture development was the Presidential ...

Assessing the Ecological Function of Shipwrecks, A...

Increased calls for enhancing ocean habitats through artificial reefs and proposals for increasing offshore energy development require science to understand the impact and habitat value of these artificial structures on ...

Assessment of Dredged Material Created Habitat in ...

Summary: We characterized the habitat formed by dredge material disposed in sites designated by the EPA offshore of Fernandina Beach, FL using SCUBA assessments, multibeam mapping, and hydroacoustic sampling of ...

Baseline Assessment of Guanica Bay, Puerto Rico in...

We completed a baseline assessment of the environmental conditions in Guanica Bay, Puerto Rico, to help coastal managers identify the most appropriate restoration projects, and their effectiveness, in support of ...

Benthic Habitat Characterization and Climate Chang...

Cordell Bank, Greater Farallones and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuaries harbor diverse communities of deep-water fish, corals and sponges. Corals and sponges associated with groundfish habitat face many threats, including ...

Benthic Habitat Mapping for Buck Island Reef Natio...

Summary: We developed benthic habitat maps for the Buck Island Reef National Monument, north of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The bathymetry (depth) data we collected was used ...

News

Scientists Test Improved Laser Scanning and Imagin...

NCCOS scientists Chris Taylor and Mike Bollinger deploy the AUV over the side of the research vessel using a crane. Credit: Erik Ebert/NOAA On April 20, 2010, an explosion occurred ...

Story Map on Florida Deep Water Mapping Highlights...

The Florida Coastal Mapping Program (FCMaP) is working in conjunction with NOAA's Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping (IOCM) Program to conduct a new spatial prioritization exercise for Florida waters between ...

Help Scientists Restore Gulf of Mexico Habitats wi...

Photo of deep-sea reef community in Gulf of Mexico, collected as part of the research team’s restoration activities, 2022. Credit: NOAA. Vital seafloor habitats in the mesophotic and deep benthic ...

Deepwater Horizon 2023 Gulf of Mexico Deep Sea Exp...

In 2010, more than 770 square miles of mesophotic and deep-sea habitats were injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In 2023, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the ...

NOAA, USGS Investigate Mesophotic Coral Biology to...

Mesophotic and deep benthic communities were injured across a large area in the Gulf of Mexico by the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill in 2010. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric ...

Report Details Agency Priorities for Mapping Coral...

NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program uses seafloor mapping data to support a variety of coral reef management decisions. To efficiently allocate limited mapping resources, the program needs to prioritize which ...

NOAA Undergraduate Scholar Joins Gulf of Mexico Re...

In 2022, NOAA and partners completed eight expeditions in the Gulf of Mexico in support of four projects designed to help restore mesophotic and deep benthic communities damaged by the ...

New Report Presents Agency Priorities for Mapping ...

NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program uses benthic mapping data to support a variety of management decisions about coral reef ecosystems. To help the program efficiently allocate limited mapping resources, NCCOS ...

Model Identifies Areas in Gulf of Mexico with Pote...

NCCOS, in partnership with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), built a spatial model to identify optimum locations for offshore wind energy in the Gulf of Mexico. The coastal ...

Scientific Cruises Set Sail to Help Restore Open O...

NCCOS and partners are embarking on a series of science cruises to support four long-term restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico. This effort will advance our ability to understand, ...

Products

Maps, Tools & Applications

BIOMappers let you interactively view data, aerial imagery, dive photography, underwater video and related publications developed for the benthic habitat mapping of many U.S. coral reefs. In addition to viewing benthic habitat data, you can examine the attributes of the data and show different thematic representations. Photos and videos taken during dive missions are linked to the location of the dives.
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North Carolina has some of the best conditions to support offshore wind energy in the Southeast U.S. Three wind energy areas (WEA) identified by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) are being evaluated for potential commercial wind energy development: Wilmington-West and Wilmington-East near Cape Fear, and Kitty Hawk near the North Carolina-Virginia border.
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Benthic habitat maps were developed for shallow-water (< 40 meters) areas in and around Fish Bay, Coral Bay, and the St. Thomas East End Reserve in the U.S. Virgin Islands. These maps will help local managers and stakeholders develop place-based action strategies, providing road maps to address key threats to coral reefs in these areas. This effort marks the first time that high resolution depth imagery and digital maps describing over 85 percent of the seafloor are available to local managers.
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NOAA mapped the shallow-water (less than 25 meters deep) coral reef ecosystems of the Florida Keys to support research, conservation, and management activities of state and federal agencies, including the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program.
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A benthic habitat map of coral reef ecosystems around Majuro, an atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands was developed. The maps were created from satellite images and depict coral reefs, seagrass, sand, reef flats, and other ecosystem features in the shallow waters of the atoll. Benthic maps are foundational tools for monitoring, conservation, development planning, stock assessments and other management actions.
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We developed benthic habitat maps for shallow (<30 meters) areas around the main islands of the Republic of Palau to help local managers and researchers develop reef fish management strategies, optimize biological monitoring sampling design, and develop place-based action strategies to address key issues and remedy specific threats to coral reefs. Project PageView Product

We mapped the shallow-water benthic habitats of two areas off southwest Puerto Rico. This effort improves on previous NOAA benthic habitat maps by using more recent imagery, a smaller minimum mapping unit, and a refined classification scheme. The new maps will support ongoing conservation and management efforts in the region, including restoration of Guánica Bay.
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We developed benthic habitat maps for shallow areas (< 30 m) around St. John and moderate-depth areas (30–60 m) south of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. These maps are helping local managers develop place-based strategies to address and remedy specific threats to coral reefs inside Virgin Islands National Park and the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument. Project PageView Product

The online Benthic Habitat Viewer (BHV) database, developed and managed by the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), provides easy access to a large database of underwater imagery characterizing coral reef organisms and habitats. The database holds over 9000 underwater seafloor images, taken during mapping missions from 2004-2006 in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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BIOMappers let you interactively view data, aerial imagery, dive photography, underwater video and related publications developed for the benthic habitat mapping of many U.S. coral reefs. In addition to viewing benthic habitat data, you can examine the attributes of the data and show different thematic representations. Photos and videos taken during dive missions are linked to the location of the dives.
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Data & Publications

2018: a shift in focus in deep-sea explorations

In 2017, the Campaign to Address Pacific Monument Science, Technology and Ocean Needs (CAPSTONE), completed its successful three-year effort to explore deep-sea habitats across the central and western Pacific Ocean. In 2018, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer will shift its geographic ...

A Benthic Terrain Classification Scheme for American Samoa

Coral reef ecosystems, the most varied on earth, continually face destruction from anthropogenic and natural threats. The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force seeks to characterize and map priority coral reef ecosystems in the U.S./Trust Territories by 2009. Building upon NOAA ...

A comprehensive investigation of mesophotic coral ecosystems in the Hawaiian Archipelago

Although the existence of coral-reef habitats at depths to 165 m in tropical regions has been known for decades, the richness, diversity, and ecological importance of mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) has only recently become widely acknowledged. During an interdisciplinary effort ...

Acoustic tracking of reef fishes to elucidate habitat utilization patterns and residence times inside and outside marine protected areas around the island of St. John, USVI

This technical memorandum describes a developing project under the direction of NOAA's Biogeography Branch in consultation with the National Park Service and US Geological Survey to understand and quantify spatial patterns and habitat affinities of reef fishes in the US ...

An ecological characterization of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary region: Oceanographic, biogeographic, and contaminants assessment

This ecological characterization represents the continuation of an ongoing partnership between the National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) and the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment (CCMA). The purpose of this collaboration is to ...

An evaluation of marine mammal surveys to support Washington State's Marine Spatial Planning process

The objective of this report is to identify and evaluate existing datasets related to the distribution of marine mammals along the Northwest coast of the United States which can support Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) by the State of Washington. In ...

An introduction to NOAA's National Database for Deep-Sea Corals and Sponges

NOAA's Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program (DSCRTP) is compiling a national database of the locations of deep-sea corals and sponges, beginning in U.S. waters. The DSCRTP will make this information accessible to resource managers, the scientific community, and ...

Application of the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS) to Deep-Sea Benthic Surveys in the Northeast Pacific: Lessons from Field Tests in 2015

The Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS) is a comprehensive, standard terminology published in 2014. The standard is intended to unify habitat classification efforts, in order to allow for broader integration and comparison of data. The standard is well-developed, ...

Assessment of dredged material created habitat in the South Atlantic Bight - Fernandina Beach Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site (ODMDS)

The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) collaborated with EPA Region 4 Water Protection Division of Coastal and Marine Resources and Wetland Enforcement Section to assess Ocean Dredge Material Dump Sites (ODMDS) as essential fish habitat off the coast ...

Azooxanthellate? Most Hawaiian black corals contain Symbiodinium

The ecological success of shallow-water reef-building corals (Hexacorallia: Scleractinia) is framed by their intimate endosymbiosis with photosynthetic dinoflagellates in the genus Symbiodinium (zooxanthellae). In contrast, the closely related black corals (Hexacorallia: Anthipatharia) are described as azooxanthellate (lacking Symbiodinium), a trait ...

General Pages

Coastal and Marine Planning

Coastal and marine planning science analyzes and supports the allocation of the spatial and temporal distribution of human uses in coastal and marine areas to balance social-economic and ecological objectives ...

Habitat Mapping and Characterization

Maps that depict and characterize the physical features and arrangement of seafloor habitats are the foundation forcoastal management and decision-making. NCCOS habitat mapping provides cutting-edge spatial data and modelson seafloor ...

Image Analysis, Artificial Intelligence, and Deep Learning

NCCOS analyzes imagery to characterize underwater habitats, from the species and substrate level, to large-scale ecological community. Imagery may be collected from remote sensing platforms such as uncrewed systems payloads, ...

Mapping Coordination and Spatial Prioritization

Providing accurate geospatial map products to clients is one of NCCOS's principal objectives, but doing so requires having a thorough understanding of the target users' mapping requirements, and strong coordination ...

Mapping Data Visualizations and Online Tools

NCCOS specializes in developing multiple types of visualizations, ranging from static products to those that are interactive. Static products like maps, figures, or infographics synthesize information into discrete, understandable, and ...

NCCOS Monitoring and Assessments

Coastal and inland communities rely on NCCOS for an understanding of threats to their environmental resources. Our products and services help communities ensure the security of their water supplies, the ...

Predictive Habitat Modeling

Predictive habitat modeling is the process by which relationships are mathematically defined between habitats (e.g., sand with seagrass) and associated environmental or geographic variables (e.g., depth, slope, distance to the ...

Remote Sensing and Signal Processing

Maps showing the depth, shape, and texture of seabeds or lakebeds provide the first indicators of the geological types and biological composition of benthic habitats. NCCOS adopts NOAA and international ...

Uncrewed Systems for Mapping

Uncrewed systems, or more commonly UxS, encompass a wide array of vehicle types—aerial, terrestrial, or marine (surface and underwater)—and associated elements, such as sensors and communications software, that can execute ...

NOAA Internship Opportunities

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