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Wetlands and Aquatic Research Center - Florida
September 2-8, 2009
Scientists from the Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment (CCMA) Biogeography Branch, in cooperation with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service Panama City Lab and University of North Carolina at Wilmington, collected bathymetry and backscatter data from September 2nd to 8th onboard the NOAA ship Nancy Foster. These acoustic datasets were collected approximately 40 nautical miles off the east coast of Florida, extending from Cape Canaveral to Ft. Pierce, using a multibeam (MBES) sound navigation and ranging (SoNAR) sensor well suited for mapping marine environments between 300 and 800 m deep. The resulting 579 km2 of bathymetry and backscatter imagery will support the characterization, sampling and exploration of a series of deep-water reefs and ridges potentially colonized by the stony coral, Lophelia pertusa. This slow-growing, branching coral may be threatened by the expansion of bottom fishing activities into deeper waters within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. Lophelia pertusa is a potentially ecologically and economically important species because it creates habitat utilized by commercially-valuable fish, such as the wreckfish (Polyprion americanus), blackbelly rosefish (Helicolenus dactylopterus), red bream (Beryx decadactylus) and the conger eel (Conger oceanicus).
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