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NOAA Begins Mission to Explore Deep-sea Habitats in Gulf of Mexico

Published on: 04/12/2018
Research Area(s): Marine Spatial Ecology / Coral
Region(s) of Study: Waterbodies / Gulf of Mexico
Primary Contact(s): daniel.wagner@noaa.gov
image of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. Credit: NOAA

Yesterday, scientists began a 23-day mission aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to collect baseline information on poorly understood deep-sea habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. The team is acquiring data on priority exploration areas identified by ocean management and scientific communities.

Despite the gulf’s proximity to major human population centers and its large industrial footprint, most of its deep waters are unexplored. Past explorations have revealed a variety of habitats, including deep-sea coral gardens, submarine canyons, gas and oil seeps, mud volcanoes, and submerged cultural heritage sites.

The telepresence-enabled expedition will use remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to survey deepwater areas, and broadcast high-definition video in real-time over the internet. The ROVs are equipped with state-of-the art cameras and lighting that enable observations in never-before explored areas of the deep sea.

NCCOS affiliate Dr. Daniel Wagner will serve as the expedition’s science co-lead and will provide live commentary of all ROV dives, which are scheduled to occur daily from April 12 to May 2 from approximately 9 AM to 5 PM EST. Interested parties can follow the expedition by watching the live video feeds, or by visiting the expedition’s website.

For more information, contact Daniel.Wagner@noaa.gov.  

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