2016 Deep Corals & Oil Cruise (Sep-Oct 2016)
There are two main objectives for this cruise. We are re-imaging corals that have been visited at least once a year for the last 6 years to document how corals are recovering from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. This work is providing an unprecedented time series of coral growth and species interactions in the deep sea. We are also investigating how corals and their microbial associates are responding to natural oil and gas exposure. In order to do this, we are visiting sites that have natural oil and gas seepage. We then select corals that are near and far from those natural seeps and ask how they differ in the way they express their genes, what metabolites they make and what type of microbes they associate with. We think that the microbes may play an important role because they provide a link from the corals to other members of the ecosystem. We are thus also sampling microbes in the water column and sediment wherever we sample the corals. Towards the end of each leg of the cruise, we will also sample corals and keep them alive to transport to our labs and conduct further experiments on their response to oil and dispersant exposure.
USGS personnel and ECOGIG principal investigators, postdoctoral associates, and graduate students from the Cordes, Baums, Fisher and Joye labs are on this cruise.
See cruise photos here