Sea Technology

JAN 2018

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www.sea-technology.com January 2018 | ST 37 taxonomy and genetics, along with quantitative analyses of the video and photo data, will allow for a more precise characterization of the diversity and relative abundance of the mesophotic communities of Cuba, as well as a better understanding of the connectivity of Cuban reefs with the Sister Sanctuaries in the U.S. and elsewhere in the Caribbean. NOAA OER hosted a signature website during the en- tire expedition, which included 21 mission logs describ- ing the mesophotic reef sites and discoveries, along with numerous ROV in-situ photos and highlight video. You can learn more at http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explo- rations/17cuba-reefs/welcome.html. ST Review&Forecast Ocean Science and Technology = Security for Today and Tomorrow By Jon White President and CEO The Consortium for Ocean Leadership W hen I say "ocean se- curity," what comes to mind? I'm not talking about wearing a life jacket while aboard a boat or keeping an eye on one's cellphone while splashing in the surf. What I am talking about is the merging of science and security when considering our ocean. Just as a sol- id foundation enables a house to withstand winds and rains, so too does a strong understanding of ocean sci- ence keep us secureā€“in terms of our national, homeland, food, water, energy and economic security, as well as our human health and safety. In 2017, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) used this concept to help people understand that no mat- ter how far they are from the coast, the ocean plays a significant role in their lives and livelihoods. Here are a few ways we did that. Food Security. COL's annual public policy forum ad- dressed the challenge of safely nourishing our global pop- ulation. "Feeding the Future: An Ocean of Opportunity" focused on the ocean's role in a changing world with an ever-growing population. Feeding the expected 10 bil- lion by 2050 will require doubling our global agriculture (a task that cannot be accomplished through terrestrial methods alone); sustainable fishing and aquaculture can and must play a role. Forum participants developed recommendations to improve food security (e.g., identi- fying core challenges) and food safety (e.g., increasing aquaculture production by determining the appropriate trophic level on which to concentrate production efforts). Energy Security. The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2017. An ocean science-focused quiz bowl competition, the A total of 345 mesophotic benthic samples were col- lected during this expedition; preliminary analyses in- dicate that some are new species and new records of depth or distribution. So far, there appear to be at least 10 sponge species new to science. Many sites had abun- dant corals, possibly some of the greatest densities in the Caribbean. For example, the mesophotic reef crest at Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) had extensive fields of coral (Agaricia spp. and Orbicella faveolata), forming overlapping sheets on the steep slope. In general, the Cu- ban mesophotic corals appeared quite healthy with little signs of human impact. Only a few corals showed signs of disease; lost or discarded fishing gear was relatively uncommon and were limited to longlines and traps from artisanal fishermen. Only one station appeared heavily impacted, possibly from nutrient pollution. The biggest concern, however, is that there were relatively few large grouper. Some sites had a few grouper, but very few sites had many. The invasive lionfish was also present at most sites down to depths of 153 m, but at relatively low num- bers compared to mesophotic reefs in the southeastern U.S., such as Pulley Ridge. The presence of lionfish at greater depths makes it difficult to effectively control the species and tentatively could populate reefs downstream in the U.S. Approximately 22 percent of the Cuban shelf is des- ignated as marine protected areas (MPAs), and many of the dives were within these MPAs. The team identified at least four sites that are not protected, but are strong candidates for MPA status. Some had dense cover of corals or populations of grouper and snapper that may indicate spawning aggregations and essential fish and coral habitat. Many of the species found in Cuba's me- sophotic reefs are also present at the downstream Sis- ter Sanctuaries in the U.S., which suggests connectivity between the sites. Further analyses of the specimens for Group photo of the leg two scientific party posing with the Sub-Atlantic Mohawk 18 ROV, owned by the National Ma- rine Sanctuary Foundation and Flower Garden Banks and operated by the Undersea Vehicles Program at the Universi- ty of North Carolina Wilmington.

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