Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
2017 Gray's Reef Research Cruise Photos
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Gray's Reef Research
Expeditions 2017

Friday: June 23, 2017
Log Day 15

Chris Hines
Gray's Reef Deputy Superintendent
Savannah, GA

Slippery dick wrasse.

Slippery dick wrasse.
(Photo: Marybeth Head, NOAA).

Today we steamed back to Savannah and Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS) staff welcomed the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster and her crew back to port in Historic Downtown Savannah on the west end of River Street.

The scientists aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster mission successfully completed all of the research they set out to do! With excellent weather conditions and visibility throughout the trip.

A quick recap of the mission from Chief Scientist Kim Roberson:

  • The dive teams completed 359 dives and logged over 147 hours underwater.

  • 72 sites were visited, and three of those sites were in a previously unexplored part of the research area.

  • 600 nautical miles of split beam acoustic surveys were completed over day and night periods at eight sites in GRNMS and partial cycles at two outside sites.

  • Approximately 168 hours of day-night time-lapse video has been collected. Eight species of soft coral were collected for DNA sequencing of microbial symbionts.

  • 83 benthic sessile invertebrates were documented, with 536 quadrats and 134 square meters surveyed.

  • 68 fish and mobile invertebrate surveys were conducted.

All of this hard work and data collection serves to inform GRNMS staff about the sanctuary, increasing understanding of the environment and improving management decision-making.

Guests register for NOAA Ship Nancy Foster open house tour.

Guests register for NOAA Ship Nancy Foster open house tour.
(Photo: Jody Patterson, GRNMS)

After the ship arrived in Savannah, GRNMS staff and the ship's crew hosted more than 100 guests at the annual NOAA Ship Nancy Foster open house. Visitors were eager to learn about the research and operations conducted during the prior two-week cruise. The ship's NOAA Corps officers, dressed to the nines, provided detailed accounts of life onboard a research vessel to the tour guests and outlined the ship's capabilities.

Tour guests also heard from the expedition's chief scientist along with NOAA Team Ocean science divers who participated in the cruise. They gave detailed accounts of the marine life they observed in the sanctuary and offered context as to why GRNMS studies these animals in this protected ocean habitat.

Tulip snail.

Tulip snail.
(Photo: Tim Henkel, VSU)

The research mission and open house were both very successful this year, thanks in large part to all of the scientists, volunteers, staff, and crew that make this a reality! This mission's information helps us immensely at Gray's Reef as we continue to try and make sure the sanctuary stays the special place that it is. We truly could not do our work protecting Gray's Reef without the large, dedicated, enthusiastic, fun, and hard-working team.

Until next year, fair winds and following seas.


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