• Arc
  • Pisces
  • Deep Coral
  • Deep Coral
  • Deep Coral
  • Crab

Extreme Corals 2011:  NOAA Expedition to Assess Deep Coral Ecosystems off the Southeast US


Deep-sea corals do not require sunlight or warm water to live, unlike shallow tropical corals that rely on symbiotic algae for nutrition and thus need light to grow. Both deep and shallow coral ecosystems provide essential habitat for fish and other marine life. Recent research has revealed the extent and ecological importance of deep-sea coral communities and the threats they face. Sound management of these ecosystems requires scientifically based information on their condition.  In 2008, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council designated the largest marine managed area on the U.S. east coast to protect deep coral ecosystems from North Carolina to Florida.

In 2009-2011, NOAA’s Deep Sea Coral Science and Technology Program is partnering with several federal and academic partners to explore deep sea coral ecosystems off the Southeast U.S.  Research objectives of the multi-year science plan include to map and characterize coral and fish populations in and adjacent to the new managed areas.  Previous expeditions including Life on the Edge 2009 and Extreme Corals 2010 explored deep coral ecosystems from North Carolina to Florida.

The 2011 expedition aboard the NOAA ship Pisces departs Jacksonville, FL on May 31, 2011 and will return to Fort Lauderdale, FL on June 11.  The exploration asset is the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), Arc, operated by NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Benthic Resources Group, La Jolla, CA. The focus of the 2011 expedition will be to explore hard grounds out to 500 m depth off south Florida, with emphasis on assessing areas that are near coral habitat, but still open to bottom fishing activities (Allowable Fishing Areas), and assessing the water column community associated with deep coral habitat.

Learn more and follow the expedition through the following resources:

For more information on Extreme Corals 2011, contact Andrew Shepard.