From August 14 – September 1, GFOE and its partners will be exploring the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS). This three-week expedition will use GFOE’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Yogi and our satellite capability to explore the biodiversity and connectivity processes of mesophotic coral reefs, while bringing it live to the world through the internet. Mesophotic coral reefs are found between 130 and 490 feet where there is little sunlight. Recreational SCUBA divers can only go to 130 feet, so these corals are difficult to study without special equipment.
For the first time, GFOE will enable the National Marine Sanctuaries’ Research Vessel Manta to have a capability for “telepresence,” which streams ROV video live through the internet, showcasing FGBNMS to the public and other scientists as the dives are taking place.
Leg 1 of the cruise will focus on coral connectivity biodiversity and connectivity processes that drive coral reef community structure, function, and persistence in the northwest Gulf of Mexico.
Leg 2 will see the first time mesophotic coral spawning will be observed from start to end in the FGBNMS. This dive will take place on the evening of August 22. Gamete exchange across depths will also be studied.
Leg 3 focuses on black corals, and we will sample and analyze the genetics of any new species of black corals; and employ a new technology to sequence black coral DNA while at sea.
Watch the dives live on our homepage!
Leg 1: August 14-18
In port: August 19-20
Leg 2: August 21-25 – – We will be doing an evening/night dive on Aug 22 starting around 4:30 pm CDT with the potential for other night dives TBD.
In port: August 26-27
Leg 3: August 28 – September 1
Dives will typically be from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Central Time, except for Leg 2. Please note that the last day of each leg is a half-day so that the ship can head back to port for crew rest, refueling and provisioning.