SPCMSC scientists Christina Kellogg and James Evans will go to sea as part of the Coral Propagation Technique Development Project, a part of the Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities (MDBC) Restoration effort.
Coral Microbial Ecology Team participates in Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities Restoration expedition to Gulf of Mexico
During the cruise, Kellogg and Evans will collect and preserve samples of multiple species of mesophotic corals to generate benchmark microbiome data and to determine effects of different collection containers on sample integrity. Mesophotic and deep benthic communities (MDBC) are vast and complex ecosystems on the ocean floor that are a foundation of Gulf of Mexico food webs. More than 770 square miles of deep-sea habitat and 4 square miles of mesophotic habitat were injured by the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill.
The most direct approach to restoring MDBC is to facilitate the growth of new corals of the same species as those damaged by the DWH oil spill. The objective of this pilot project is to develop techniques that can be used for direct restoration of MDBC at a scale that is meaningful relative to the injury to these communities. The project proposes both field and lab work to test a variety of methods and substrates to enhance coral recruitment and growth, and to test a variety of coral propagation techniques, including fragmentation and transplantation.