Reed, John; Stephanie Farrington; Andrew David; Stacey Harter; Heather Moe; Lance Horn; Glenn Taylor; Jason White; Joshua Voss; Shirley Pomponi; Cristina Diaz; Dennis Hanisak
Characterization of Mesophotic Coral/Sponge Habitats and Fish Assemblages in the Regions of Pulley Ridge and Tortugas from ROV Dive during R/V Walton Smith Cruises of 2012 to 2015
"This report summarizes the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) surveys during four cruises from 2012 to 2015 which characterizes the mesophotic coral reef ecosystems at Pulley Ridge and Tortugas. This research is part of a grant funded by the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science award NA11NOS4780045: Connectivity of the Pulley Ridge - South Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem. The University of Miami ship R/V Walton Smith was used along with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) Super Phantom ROV and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF) Mohawk ROV. The cruises were a collaboration of the University of Miami, HBOI-CIOERT, NOAA Fisheries, and the UNCW-CIOERT Undersea Vehicles Program. This project documents and characterizes the mesophotic benthic habitat, benthic macrobiota, and fish populations within and adjacent to Pulley Ridge Habitat Area of Particular Concern (PR HAPC) and at sites adjacent to, but outside, of the North and South Tortugas Ecological Reserves (TERs), and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS). Ultimately these data may be used to better understand the long-term health and status of these important mesophotic ecosystems. These data will be of value to the regional Fishery Management Councils, NOAA OER, NOAA NCCOS, NOAA Fisheries, NOAA Mesophotic Reef Ecosystem Program, NOAA Deep-sea Coral Research and Technology Program (DSCRTP), NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP), and NOAA Marine Sanctuaries for management decisions on these habitats and managed key species."