Giant Anemone

At the Flower Garden Banks, the giant anemone (Condylactis gigantea) is found only in the deeper areas, not on the reef crest. In other areas of the Caribbean, this species is found in shallow areas. The reason for this difference is unknown. Click image for larger view.

Gulf of Mexico Deep Sea Habitats 2003

September 21 - October 2, 2003

An interdisciplinary scientific team spent 12 days exploring deep-sea coral habitats in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. The occurrence of deep water corals in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) has been documented for some time, and the evidence indicates that they may be widely distributed in this fragile region that is heavily utilized by the oil and gas industry.

Some topographic features in the GOM have been identified as crucial spawning sites for commercially important fishes and reef-building deep-water corals, yet little is known about the abundance, extent, and diversity of these coral systems or their inhabitants. Due to the extensive human activity in the GOM, there is an urgent need to gain an understanding of these fragile and potentially valuable resources so that appropriate management strategies can be developed.

There was great potential for discovery during this exciting expedition, so follow this enthusiastic group of scientists during their journey to explore the deep-water habitats of the Gulf of Mexico!

Updates & Logs

Click images or links below for detailed mission logs.

October 3 Log Oct 3 Students and teachers tour the vessel during the Port Call.

October 1 Log Oct 1 The science team completes its last dive in search of Lophelia coral beds.

September 30 Log Sep 30 Read the confessions of a Maverick Marine Biologist: The Wondrous World of Deep Reef Fishes

September 29 Log Sep 29 See some of the most exciting collections of the exploration, in which beauty can be deceiving.

Sept 24 Log Sep 24 Scientist document the painted squat lobster--a new species in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sept 23 Log Sep 23 Flying the Innovator ROV up a slope reveals a changing substrate and a variety of creatures.

Sept 22 Log Sep 22 The challenges of exploration and an unscheduled trip to Venice, Louisiana.

Sept 21 Log Sep 21 The first meeting of the scientific team occurs even before the ship leaves the dock.