and excerpts below are taken from The NOAA Ocean Explorer page
on the NOAA website. Please click on either image or the url:
below to see the full Mission Plan found on the NOAA Ocean Explorer
In 2001, the National Marine Sanctuary
Programs "Islands in the Stream" expedition explored
deep-water habitats from North Carolina to the coast of Belize.
Building on this work, the NOAA Office of Ocean Explorations
"Islands in the Stream 2002: Exploring Underwater Oases"
will host four scientific investigations geared toward learning
more about high-relief areas along the continental shelf break
and slope from the eastern coast of Florida to North Carolina
an area known as the South Atlantic Bight. These important
and understudied habitats peppered throughout the region provide
critically important habitat for a wide variety of marine organisms.
The expedition will use the R/V Seward
Johnson and the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible, owned and operated
by the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution (HBOI), to provide
researchers direct access to this rarely seen underwater world.
Investigators also will use a variety of sampling techniques to
complement the videotape and still images collected by the submersible.
By extending their research into unknown areas, scientists and
natural resource managers will have the opportunity to gather
information that will be useful for developing new and innovative
ideas for habitat and resource protection.
Each project will be conducted by groups
of interdisciplinary investigators led by scientists from the
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, North Carolina
National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the Harbor Branch Oceanographic
Institution (HBOI). Read on to learn more about each of these
July 28-August 5
George R. Sedberry
Senior Marine Scientist
Marine Resources Research Institute, SCDNR
Characterization of Deep Reef Habitat, with Particular Emphasis
on Discovery, Exploration and Description of Reef Fish Spawning
Populations of economically valuable reef fishes have been
declining for at least two decades in the South Atlantic Bight
region, affecting the food chain from the top predators down
to the bottom-dwelling invertebrate communities. The goal of
this project is to discover and explore spawning locations of
reef fishes in the area,
and to describe how underlying features
and oceanographic processes interact to provide habitat for associated
Scientists will use a submersible to
collect video and still images of the shelf-edge reefs, as well
as samples of sediment, rocks, and marine organisms for further
analysis. Sidescan sonar will be used to determine characteristics
of bottom topography at scales larger than the submersible can
explore. In addition, traditional sampling methods such as towing
nets, measuring conductivity, temperature and density of water,
and grabbing sediment samples using instruments deployed from
the deck of the ship, will be used to help identify potential
spawning habitats and to further characterize these reefs. The
results will support protective management strategies to sustain
the exploited fish species that utilize these spawning locations.