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Wetlands and Aquatic Research Center - Florida
Cruise Log: 10/23/2008
Leg 2 Summary: Mapping Summary
Steve W. Ross, Chief Scientist
Over the last few days, we have mapped an area of the continental slope covering about 47 x 4.5 km or about 222 sq km. These are the first maps of such detail for this area. In fact, most of the US outer continental shelf and waters beyond are very poorly known. The most prominent feature we saw is a long scarp about 30-50 m tall running north-south nearly the whole length of our survey area. Seaward (westward) of this scarp are numerous (perhaps thousands) of scattered mounds and ridges about 5-20 m tall. Many of these may be dead or living deep-sea coral features, but proving that will have to wait until we can visit them next year. This area is quite different from the Gulf of Mexico deep reef habitats we examined earlier this month and those we have worked on off the southeastern US. Comparing these ecosystems will provide insight about how these systems form, are maintained, and their status (growing, declining, young, old).
Now comes the months of data reduction which we have already started in numerous labs: Leetown, WV; Washington, DC; Texel, the Netherlands; Oban, Scotland; Wilmington, NC; Gainesville, FL; St. Petersburg, FL; Chapel Hill, NC. Potentially other colleagues will also join us as we unravel the gigabytes of data and thousands of specimens collected. We hope to continue to provide updates on this work over the next 3-4 years. Who knows what we will DISCOVER.
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