Olympic Coast Coral Expedition now online

primnoa_rockfish_ocnms.jpg While we wait for Craig and the crew to reboot the MBARI ROV, I should note the NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration just recently posted expedition logs for the Olympic Coast 2006 Exploration for Deep-Sea Coral Communities off the coast of Washington State.

The homepage for the expedition is here at NOAA-OE. The same expedition is presented in a somewhat different format, with more background material and more pictures, here at the National Marine Sanctuary website.

This Olympic Coast cruise was important for several reasons: 1) Large aggregations of the deep scleractinian Lophelia pertusa were identified and sampled on the Washington Coast. Lophelia is thought to be rare in the Pacific; 2) large colonies of Primnoa sp. and Paragorgia sp. gorgonian corals were found in relatively shallow (100-650m) nearshore waters along the continental shelf; and 3) some these colonies were found broken and overturned, and wrapped in fishing gear. Some of these areas are now closed to fishing under the essential fish habitat designation.

Congratulations to Principal Investigators Ed Bowlby and Mary Sue Brancato of NOAA’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Dr. Jeff Hyland of the National Center for Coastal Ocean Science for a successful cruise and a fruitful expedition.