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Projects

Acoustic Tracking of Fish Movements to Support Hab...

We are monitoring the movement and residence time of fish in several coastal ecosystems. Our objectives are to document habitat preferences of fish, the timing and scales of their mobility, and ...
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An Ecological Characterization of the Marine Resou...

We studied the coastal waters of Vieques, Puerto Rico, looking at fish and bottom-dwelling animals, contaminants in sediments and corals, and nutrient levels in surface waters. We also mapped the ...
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AquaSpace – An Ecosystem Approach to Making Space ...

Aquaculture is a large and growing segment of seafood production because capture fisheries production continues to decline. A major challenge to the expansion of marine aquaculture in most nations is ...
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Are Marine Protected Areas Working in the U.S. Vir...

We used a decade of underwater monitoring data to evaluate the effectiveness of no-take and partial-take Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) located in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the context of ...
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Assessment of Chemical Contaminants in Sediments f...

There is concern about chemical contaminants in the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve (SARI). In 2014, the USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) and ...
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Assessment of Hurricane Impacts to Coral Reefs in ...

In 2017, major hurricanes impacted coral reefs in both Florida and Puerto Rico. We quantified these impacts using diver-based surveys, and our information was used to guide targeted emergency stabilization ...
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Baseline Assessment of Contaminants and Ecological...

We studied the water contaminant levels in the bay and the coral reef ecosystems just outside to develop a baseline environmental assessment of water quality and living marine resources of ...
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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 ...
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Baseline Environmental Assessment off St. John, U....

Watershed restoration projects are being conducted on St. John, USVI, to improve the health of coral reef ecosystems, create jobs, improve island infrastructure, and obtain a better understanding of the ...
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Benthic Habitat Mapping in Puerto Rico and the U.S...

We conducted benthic habitat mapping of shallow-water coral reef areas off Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to inventory the coral reefs and related bottom types. Before this project, ...
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News

Coral Assessment and Restoration Results Released ...

In September 2017, major hurricanes Irma and Maria impacted Puerto Rico (PR) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and caused considerable damage to shallow coral reefs. A newly released NOAA ...
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New Report Evaluates Health of U.S. Coral Reefs

Cover page of Coral Reef Condition: A Status Report for U.S. Coral Reefs. Credit NOAA. NCCOS scientists contributed to the newly released national status report on U.S. coral reefs. Drawing ...
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NOAA Intervention Strategy Seeks to Stem Loss of U...

NOAA Action Plan on Coral Intervention. Credit: NOAA. Rapidly deteriorating environmental conditions are threatening coral reefs worldwide, leading to a re-evaluation of long-standing conservation strategies. In response to recommendations from ...
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Drone Workshop Grows Partnerships in U.S. Southeas...

Last month's Drones in the Coastal Zone virtual workshop kick-started efforts to establish a regional network and community of expertise in the Southeast United States and the U.S. Caribbean. The ...
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Photo Identification Guides for Deep-sea Corals an...

Iridogorgia magnispiralis, southwest Florida escarpment. Credit: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Two new photo identification guides for deep-sea corals and sponges are now available to the public from ...
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New Research Shows Potential Impacts of Climate Ch...

Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata). Credit: Lee Richter, National Park Service. A new modeling study by NOAA scientists predicts the future geographic range and population structure of threatened elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) ...
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Study: Fish Biodiversity in a Caribbean Mangrove B...

A new NCCOS study finds biodiversity in a U.S. Virgin Islands mangrove bay is 30-50% lower than 25 years ago. With partners from the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and ...
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Spatial Analysis Completed to Prioritize U.S. Cari...

NCCOS recently completed the spatial analysis that will guide the prioritization of future seafloor mapping, research, and exploration in the U.S. Caribbean. With input from regional stakeholders, the research team ...
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Products

Maps, Tools & Applications

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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We conducted benthic habitat mapping of shallow-water coral reef areas off Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to inventory the coral reefs and related bottom types. Such an inventory is needed for successful coral reef ecosystem management. This represents the first U.S. coral reef area to be mapped under the purview of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.
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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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The Sampling Design Tool for ArcGIS randomly selects people, animals, objects, or places in a GIS environment to infer status or change. The tool was developed to create and implement a sampling design based on randomized sampling and test different sampling designs to see which is most precise and least costly.
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Data & Publications

2012 Data Summary for the First Island-wide Fish and Coral Assessment in Shallow (1-100′) Hardbottom Habitats of St. Croix, USVI

A collaborative research effort between the NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment’s (CCMA) Biogeography Branch (BB) and the National Park Service South Florida and Caribbean Network (NPS-SFCN) has been inventorying and assessing ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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An assessment of nutrients, sedimentation, and total suspended solids (TSS) in the St. Thomas East End Reserves (STEER)

This is the fifth report from a project to assess land-based sources of pollution (LSBPs) and their effects, and to characterize the biological community with the St. Thomas East End Reserves (Steer) in St. Thomas, USVI. Here we summarize the ...
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An integrated environmental assessment of the St. Thomas East End Reserves (STEER)

The St. Thomas East End Reserves, or STEER, is a collection of Marine Reserves and Wildlife Sanctuaries (MRWS) located on the southeastern end of the island of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. With an area of approximately 9.6 km2 , ...
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Benthic habitat and fish community assessment, La Parguera and Guanica, Puerto Rico, 2011-2012 (NODC Accession 0104343)

These data were collected in order to 1) To spatially characterize and monitor the distribution, abundance, and size of both reef fishes and macro-invertebrates (conch, lobster, Diadema); 2) To relate this information to in-situ data collected on associated benthic composition ...
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Benthic habitat and fish community assessment, U.S. Virgin Islands, 2011-2012 (NODC Accession 0088018)

These data were collected 2011-2012 from select locations on St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John (U.S. VI) in order to 1) to spatially characterize and monitor the distribution, abundance, and size of both reef fishes and macro-invertebrates (conch, lobster, ...
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Benthic Habitat Maps for the Insular Shelf South of St. Thomas and St. John

The insular shelf south of St. Thomas and St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) is an expansive geomorphologic feature with extensive mesophotic coral reefs occurring at 30 to 150 meter depths. These mesophotic reefs are part of a ...
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Benthic habitats of Fish Bay, Coral Bay and the St. Thomas East End Reserve

This report describes the development and assessment of shallow (0-40 m) benthic habitat maps for Fish Bay, Coral Bay and the St. Thomas East End Reserve (STEER) in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The objective of this effort, conducted by NOAA's ...
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Best Management Practices for Marine Cage Culture Operations in the U.S. Caribbean

These Best Management Practices will be useful to many stakeholders. Farm owners and operators can apply them to guide siting and farm management practices. Coastal managers and community planners can use this information to make environmentally responsible decisions about the ...
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