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New Guidance for Standardized Deep-Sea Observations

Deep sea corals observed with a remotely operated vehicle during the project in the Pacific. Credit: NOAA.

A new NCCOS report analyzes the application of the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS) in Deep-Sea benthic surveys in the Northeast Pacific. The CMECS is intended to unify habitat classification efforts, in order to allow for broader integration and comparison of data. Habitat classification is important because it helps to identify deep-sea corals, hydrocarbon seep communities, and other vulnerable marine ecosystems. The study, conducted in 2015 in the northeast Pacific Ocean, used CMECS as a tool for deep-sea benthic visual surveys using remotely operated vehicles.

Results showed that CMECS components could be incorporated into deep-sea benthic surveys with minor changes to standard operating procedures while making the data more accessible. Key recommendations from the study were to add CMECS components to existing dive logs and post-cruise summaries; and to develop a ‘crosswalk’ of environmental values (depth, temperature, salinity, oxygen) into CMECS categories. NOAA has set a milestone to use best practices and standards, such as CMECS, so there is a timely need for guidance toward the deep-sea research community about how to apply this methodology. The study was funded by the NOAA Office of Habitat Conservation, with cooperation from Office for Coastal Management, Ocean Exploration Trust and the NOAA Office of Exploration and Research.

For more information, contact Peter.Etnoyer@noaa.gov

NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 228, 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.

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