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NF -10-03-USVI Characterization of Seafloor Habitats of the U.S. Caribbean (EK60)
The Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment (CCMA) will be conducting the eighth year of an ongoing scientific research mission onboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster funded by NOAA?s Coral Reef Conservation Program. The purpose of the cruise will be to collect swath bathymetry and acoustical backscatter, as well as fishery acoustics data in high priority areas in the U.S. Caribbean. Scientists will collect high resolution multibeam and acoustic fisheries data in midwater depths approximately 30 to 1000 meters so as to continue to characterize seafloor habitats within all U.S. States, Territories, and Commonwealths. The objective of this project is to collect a multibeam bathymetry dataset with 100% seafloor ensonification, along with multibeam backscatter suitable for seafloor characterization. Fishery acoustics data will be collected to characterize broad-scale fish abundance, biomass, and utilization patterns, as well as to locate and document fish spawning aggregations. Multibeam data will be collected to conform to IHO Order 1 (<100m) and Order 2 (>100m) accuracy standards. The strategies developed for each survey area will take into account the minimum depths, general bathymetry, and time allotment. The delineation and identification of seafloor habitats will be assisted by the use of a moderatedepth Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and drop camera. The vehicle has video and frame camera capability to depths of 300 meters and will be used to point sampling within areas mapped during this mission.