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Seafloor Ecology Expedition 2019 – Log 2

Postdoctoral Fellow Amanda Kahn removes the sample from a sediment trap that was recovered on the expedition.

Seafloor Ecology Expedition 2019 – Log 2

Deep-sea coral observatory

Along with the sanctuary and other collaborators, studies of deep-sea coral and sponge communities at Sur Ridge are becoming a focal area for collaborative deep-sea research around Monterey Bay.  As one element of this partnership, MBARI is initiating a “Deep-Sea Coral Observatory” to help understand various processes that influence the biodiversity, productivity, and vulnerabilities of species inhabiting the coral ecosystem at Sur Ridge. The observatory includes a suite of instruments including current meters that will characterize the flow patterns across the ridge and sediment traps to measure the composition and abundance of sinking organic debris from surface waters. This debris is the major food resource for these deep-water communities. Time-lapse cameras will document changes in the biodiversity of key study sites, and traditional and new sensors will document changes in some physical parameters (pH, O2, temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll) and, we hope, the reproductive and biological condition of corals under observation. Expeditions to the ridge will be used for a variety of focused studies and experiments to understand the growth, survival, and sensitivity of corals to competitors, predators, and human activities, including climate change.

You can bet that we stand to learn quite a bit about the hidden lives of deep-sea coral communities, from the importance of food sinking from above to their vulnerability to changes in ocean conditions associated with climate change.

About Seafloor Ecology Expedition 2019

April 19 to April 24, 2019 – The Benthic biology and ecology group is heading out to study deep-sea communities in three different environments.