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Cruise Report for “Patterns in Deep-Sea Corals” Expedition: NOAA ship Bell M. Shimada SH-15-03
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    Less than 50% of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS) seafloor has been mapped using multibeam echosounders to produce habitat characterizations at a map resolution suitable for resource management (i.e., better than 10-30 meter resolution). This is important because deep-sea coral and sponge communities are known to occur within the Sanctuary (Whitmire & Clarke 2007; Yoklavich et al. 2013). The distribution of these ecosystems could be predicted using habitat suitability models (Guinotte & Davies 2014; Huff et al. 2013) but this has not been done at the level of detail required for the extent of the CINMS in particular. Deep-sea coral ecosystems are known to be fragile and vulnerable to fishing impacts, but their patterns of distribution are still poorly understood, particularly in terms of their habitat affinities, life histories (age and growth), and their vulnerability to impacts such as ocean acidification. A research team from CINMS, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), Office of Coast Survey (OCS), Marine Applied Research and Education (MARE), and W.M. Keck Science Center of Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College, and Scripps Colleges conducted mapping activities and benthic survey operations aboard NOAA ship Bell M. Shimada with Beagle ROV between March 13 and March 22, 2015 in order to address these data gaps (Table 1). Funding was provided by NCCOS, NOAA’s Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program, Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.
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