Surveying deep-water habitats off US West Coast

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Research cruise surveys deep-water coral, sponge, and fish habitats off U.S. West Coast.

Scientists used underwater vehicles to survey deep-water coral and sponge habitats and collect baseline data on essential fish habitat during a month-long cruise along Oregon and California. The expedition was part of a new federal/non-federal partnership, Expanding Pacific Research and Exploration of Submerged Systems (EXPRESS). It was jointly planned by NOAA, BOEM, and USGS. The NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada left Newport, Oregon, on October 11, 2018, and docked in San Diego, California, on November 8. Participants surveyed 15 sites. Results will guide decisions about managing fisheries and offshore energy and mineral resources. Highlights included discovery of potential new species, visits to areas surveyed in 2005 to monitor changes caused by Essential Fish Habitat closures, and water sampling to measure nutrient availability and other properties that affect corals and sponges.

Underwater photo of a rocky outcrop with many multicolored corals growing on it.

Corals and sponges near La Cruz Canyon, offshore of south-central California.

A woman standing at a table in a laboratory places small clear plastic vials into a plastic baggie.

 Nancy Prouty prepares water samples.