Scientists explore the deep and dark secrets of the Gulf of Mexico

Scientists on a mission to explore the darkest depths of the Gulf of Mexico are using modern techniques to reveal the secrets of ancient deep-sea corals that help show why these organisms are worthy of protection.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is venturing through the Gulf, using remotely operated vehicles to study animals, underwater landscapes and geological features, all in an effort to better understand the unique ecosystems here. From the end of 2017 until May, NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer made three trips to the Gulf, with researchers photographing and recording their discoveries on video.
For example, after a trip in December to explore the coral ecosystems, the researchers produced a video, “Architects of the deep,” with remarkable footage and an explanation of how corals serve the ecosystem.
“Deep-water corals are extremely important because they are architects of the complex habitat,” says co-scientist Charles G. Messing in the video. “They build three-dimensional structures that can be harnessed by other organisms from fish and crustaceans, including commercial species, worms, microscopic organisms, sponges, mollusks, whatever, all these organisms can find homes, shelter, food, etc. in these deep-water coral habitats. ”
Messing, a professor of marine science at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, adds that the trip may have revealed a new species of coral.
Discoveries in the Gulf over the past few years by NOAA and other explorers have helped lead to a proposal to protect some of these special ecosystems. It is expected that the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council, which rules fishing in the Gulf’s federal waters, will vote in June whether to restrict the use of harmful fishing equipment in up to 15 hot coral spots. Some corals grow for thousands of years and, once damaged, can take centuries to recover, if at all.
To help conserve coral ecosystems, sign the Pew Charitable Trusts action alert here or send your comments to council members here.
Your voice could help safeguard the health of the Gulf of Mexico and its vital and varied marine life

Mangat Media

Rajbir Mangat

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