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Deepwater Program: Lophelia II, continuing ecological research on deep-sea corals and deep-reef habitats in the Gulf of Mexico

December 11, 2017

The deep sea is a rich environment composed of diverse habitat types. While deep-sea coral habitats have been discovered within each ocean basin, knowledge about the ecology of these habitats and associated inhabitants continues to grow. This report presents information and results from the Lophelia II project that examined deep-sea coral habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. The Lophelia II project focused on Lophelia pertusa habitats along the continental slope, at depths ranging from 300 to 1,000 meters. The chapters are authored by several scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, University of North Carolina Wilmington, and Florida State University who examined the community ecology (from microbes to fishes), deep-sea coral age, growth, and reproduction, and population connectivity of deep-sea corals and inhabitants. Data from these studies are presented in the chapters and appendixes of the report as well as in journal publications. This study was conducted by the Ecosystems Mission Area of the U.S. Geological Survey to meet information needs identified by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.