Deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems are widespread throughout most of Alaska’s marine waters. In some places, such as the central and western Aleutian Islands, deep-sea coral and sponge resources can be extremely diverse and may rank among the most abundant deep-sea coral and sponge communities in the world. Many different species of fishes and invertebrates are associated with deep-sea coral and sponge communities in Alaska. Because of their biology, these benthic invertebrates are potentially impacted by climate change and ocean acidification. Deepsea coral and sponge ecosystems are also vulnerable to the effects of commercial fishing activities. Because of the size and scope of Alaska’s continental shelf and slope, the vast majority of the area has not been visually surveyed for deep-sea corals and sponges. NOAA’s Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program (DSCRTP) sponsored a field research program in the Alaska region between 2012–2015, referred to hereafter as the Alaska Initiative. The priorities for Alaska were derived from ongoing data needs and objectives identified by the DSCRTP, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC), and Essential Fish Habitat-Environmental Impact Statement (EFH-EIS) process.
This report presents the results of 15 projects conducted using DSCRTP funds from 2012-2015. Three of the projects conducted as part of the Alaska deep-sea coral and sponge initiative included dedicated at-sea cruises and fieldwork spread across multiple years. These projects were the eastern Gulf of Alaska Primnoa pacifica study, the Aleutian Islands mapping study, and the Gulf of Alaska fish productivity study. In all, there were nine separate research cruises carried out with a total of 109 at-sea days conducting research. The remaining projects either used data and samples collected by the three major fieldwork projects or were piggy-backed onto existing research programs at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC).
|Title||Deep-sea coral research and technology program: Alaska deep-sea coral and sponge initiative final report|
|Authors||Chris Rooper, Robert P. Stone, Peter Etnoyer, Christina Conrath, Jennifer Reynolds, H. Gary Greene, Branwen Williams, Enrique Salgado, Cheryl L. Morrison, Rhian G. Waller, Amanda W.J. Demopoulos|
|Publication Subtype||Other Government Series|
|Series Title||NOAA Technical Memorandum|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Leetown Science Center|