Final Report for Deepwater Atlantic Habitats II

TDI-Brooks International Inc. has completed the final report for Contract M17PC00009, issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), titled “Deepwater Atlantic Habitats II: Continued Atlantic Research and Exploration in Deepwater Ecosystems with Focus on Coral, Canyon and Seep Communities.” This report is the final deliverable of the BOEM contract called Deep SEARCH, conducted in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Initially, the study was a five-year, collaborative scientific research program focused on the Outer Continental Shelf between Virginia and Georgia. The COVID crisis extended the program for more than 18 months. The region’s deep-sea coral, cold-seep and canyon communities as habitats of focus were surveyed. The overarching goal was to improve understanding of the functional role of these three habitat types in order to advance scientific knowledge and inform future management decisions. The intended application of the new science was to develop better predictive capacities for the community types encountered.

The sites were studied during five directly supported cruises, with detailed site descriptions of the geological, physical, chemical and biological conditions encountered. The results from six additional cruises conducted through collaboration with the ADEON project and NOAA-OER also contributed to the Deep SEARCH database. The research results, analyses and findings include the oceanographic, geological and geochemical setting of canyons, seeps, and coral environments; deep-sea soundscapes; community structure and trophic function, from microbes to fishes; population connectivity; life history of selected species; habitat suitability modeling deep-sea corals and seeps; and educational outreach to the public.

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