Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef Expedition 2014
Mission Information
 

Wednesday: April 30, 2014
Log Summary

Sarah Fangman
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
Chief Scientist

The 2014 Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary expedition aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster is complete and we can now look back at what we accomplished. Our objectives for the expedition were ambitious and broad, and we feel that we made great progress in achieving our goals.

R/V Sam Gray approaches NOAA Ship Nancy Foster.

R/V Sam Gray approaches NOAA Ship Nancy Foster.
(Photo: Jamie Morris)

Our first task was to collect multibeam data for the entire expanse of the sanctuary, which we were able to do by spending the first four days of the mission focused on this task. Divers joined the expedition to begin their activities on the fifth day, and wasted no time before getting in the water. One team of divers worked to conduct fish surveys while a second team dove on acoustic telemetry array. This second team removed instruments deployed back in August, and installed new instruments in their place, allowing us to continue to detect fish tagged with acoustic transmitters. Within a few days the entire array was complete, allowing the dive team to move on to marine debris surveys.

Diver locates marker pin.

Diver locates marker pin.
(Photo: Richard LaPalme)

The last time the marine debris surveys had been completed was in 2009, so the first challenge for divers was to locate the marker pins that had been deployed in the sand in 2007. In the seven years since, a community of organisms has made the pins home, and so they no longer looked like markers, but instead looked like the rest of the reef! So to find and identify these was a bit of a chore - but the team of divers was up to the task and relocated eight of the nine marine debris site markers. We were amazed to have only one site where we could not find the pin after seven years!

Loggerhead sea turtle.

Loggerhead sea turtle.
(Photo: Amy Rath)

On all dives, surveys were conducted for lionfish and sea turtles. Interestingly, no lionfish were observed at the thirty seven different sites visited by divers. We suspect this was related to the cold water temperatures. We did observe seven loggerhead sea turtles during the cruise, and collected video footage for possible individual identification.

Gray's Reef Expedition 2014 - Science Team.

Gray's Reef Expedition 2014 - Science Team.
(Photo: ENS Carmen DeFazio)

All of this work was made possible by a dedicated team that came together from many places and organizations, and with the support of an incredibly capable command and crew of the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster. We are extremely grateful to everyone involved for their support of this work, and your interest in our expedition!


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