Florida Shelf Edge Exploration (FLoSEE)

Rapid Response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Three months after the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, and before extensive oil impacts reach shelf-edge reefs in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research and Technology (CIOERT) is conducting a rapid response, multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional expedition to assess the impacts of the DWH oil spill on Florida’s mesophotic and deepwater ecosystems. CIOERT’s expertise, tools, and technologies will address critical research needs associated with the DWH oil spill and potential impacts on the health of diverse ecosystems off Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

Photo of Grouper on mesophotic reef off Key West.

Grouper on mesophotic reef off Key West (FLoSEE expedition).

CIOERT’s 2010-11 Science Plan, developed before the spill began in April 2010, included a multi-disciplinary science expedition to study deep coral and live bottom reefs along the shelf edge of Florida, from the Cape Canaveral to the Alabama border. In response to the spill event, the mission has been moved up to begin July 9 aboard FAU/HBOI’s R/V Seward Johnson. Scientists will use the research submersible Johnson-Sea-Link (JSL) to address critical research needs associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the potential impacts on the health of diverse shelf-edge ecosystems and new ocean resources.

Photo of Johnson Sea-Link

Harbor Branch/FAU support ship Seward Johnson and Johnson Sea Link submersible (HBOI).

Working closely with technicians trained in Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) protocols, the expedition will characterize sub-surface spill properties and identify impacts on deep-reef resources. The expedition is closely integrated with other NOAA missions, complementing them in information collected and areas sampled.