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  • 2017

    Mission 2 - Barrel Sponge Research
    Principal Investigator: Joseph R. Pawlik, Ph.D., UNCW
    Dates: 1-10 June 2017

    Dr. Pawlick has been monitoring barrel sponges at Conch Reef since 1997. A major finding of this work has shown that although corals have steadily declined, barrel sponges have more than doubled. In June 2017 the group collected sponge tissue samples for genetic microbial analysis, investigated the role of sponges in cycling of carbon and nutrients on coral reefs, and deployed and tested the novel 3-D modeling imagery technique for quantifying the biomass of benthic organisms using GoPro video.

  • 2016

    Mission 5 - Impacts of Sharks on Coral Reef Ecosystems
    Principal Investigator: Michael Heithaus & Kevin Boswell, FIU
    Saturation: September 7-14
    Total Days: 8

    Download PDF for more on Mission 5

  • 2014

    Mission 1 - Mission 31
    Principal Investigator: Fabien Cousteau
    Saturation: June 1 - July 2
    Total Days: 31

  • 2013

    Mission 2 - Predation and herbivory in coral reef environments
    Principal Investigator: Deron Burkepile, FIU
    Saturation: November 19-24
    Total Days: 6

  • 2012

    Sponges on Florida Coral Reefs: Demographics and Impacts on Water Quality
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Joseph Pawlik, UNCW
    Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Christopher Finelli, UNCW
    Training: May 12 - 15
    Saturation: May 16 - 25

    Sponges are now the dominant habitat-forming animals on Caribbean coral reefs. Among them, the giant barrel sponge, Xestospongia muta, has the greatest biomass on Florida coral reefs. Despite its importance to habitat complexity and reef health, few data existed regarding the basic biology of this massive sponge prior to the start of the PIs’ research program at ARB, including rates of mortality and recruitment, reproduction, growth and age. Like reef corals, this sponge is subject to mortality from anthropogenic impacts (climate change, oil spills), bleaching, and diseases. Additional threats include fishing line debris, which can cleanly slice through sponges during storm events and in high-flow environments. Conservation and management efforts require basic long-term monitoring data on reef sponges to establish baseline demographic information. Moreover, preliminary data suggest that specimens of X. muta filter water at a rate of 97 ml-H2O h-1 ml-tissue-1. With sponges ranging in size from < 100 ml to > 200,000 ml, potential population filtration rates are considerable and demographic changes in sponge populations could have profound effects on reef water quality.

    Beginning in 1997, Pawlik and students established and began monitoring 12 permanent circular plots (16 m diameter) at Conch and Pickles reefs containing over 650 marked X. muta to document sponge mortality, recruitment, bleaching, growth, disease, and damage by debris. Past awards from NOAA have been remarkably productive, resulting in 16 peer-reviewed publications since 2006. Modeling studies have resulted in age estimates of large X. muta within plots at >100 years, and some at other sites at over 2000 years old, placing these sponges among the oldest animals on earth. Stage-based matrix models indicate that populations of X. muta are increasing on Florida’s reefs. Studies of sponge chemical ecology have resulted in a revision of our understanding of Caribbean reef ecosystems and the isolation and identification of bioactive metabolites involved in antipredatory and allelopathic interactions.

    Objectives:

    • Rates of mortality, recruitment, and growth of Xestospongia muta will be monitored in 12 permanent plots at 2 reef locations and at three depths. The same data will be monitored for two additional long-lived sponge species, Geodia neptuni and Agelas conifera, at the same sites, thereby providing a comparative basis for understanding sponge demography on reefs.
    • Pumping and clearance rates of healthy X. muta, G. neptuni, and A. conifera across a range of sizes will be measured to estimate population filtration rates and impacts on coral reef ecosystems.
    • The impact of anthropogenic debris, oil and disease on sponges within permanent transects will be monitored and quantified.
    • The importance of plankton food availability on sponge distribution and abundance will be tested.

    Celebrating 50 Years of Living Beneath the Sea 
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Patterson,
    Training: July 9 - 13
    Saturation: July 14 - 21

    This coming July, science and aquanaut pioneers Drs. Sylvia Earle and Mark Patterson will co-lead an expedition to the NOAA Aquarius Undersea Laboratory located 8 miles off Key Largo, Florida and 60 feet below the surface. Their work has helped broaden our understanding of the oceans and the creatures that live in them.

    This mission is a celebration of 50 years of human habitation of the sea floor. Ever since Jacques Cousteau's 1962 Conshelf I project, humans have been living on the sea floor for purposes of science, innovation and exploration.

    The scientific research conducted by Earle and Patterson during this mission will be focused on the coral reefs and the overall health of our oceans (see details below). In order to share the excitement and inspiration of living beneath the sea, the mission will be available worldwide with a live interactive broadcast from multiple cameras and broadcast specials on Aquarius Reef Base's Ustream channel. The broadcasts will also be made available for schools, science camps, aquariums, and other educational facilities. The advantages of living and working on the seafloor from America's Inner Space Station -Aquarius - will be illustrated by experiments on different corals and algae that cannot be conducted diving from a boat, or from a shore-based lab.

    Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, led the first team of women scientists to use an undersea habitat (Tektite) in 1970. This tireless voice for ocean conservation issues is a pioneer in the use of advanced technology for human exploration of the seas.

    "Being able to study the animals and plants in their home using an underwater habitat gives me the gift of time," says Dr. Earle. "Time to see what these magnificent life forms are actually doing on the reef," she continued. "Time to notice the small and seemingly insignificant that later turn out to be a sea secret. Every time I live underwater I come back with new insights and a hundred new questions," Earle concluded.

    Dr. Patterson, Professor of Marine Science, College of William & Mary, introduced the use of computer technology to the NOAA Hydrolab underwater habitat in 1984. With support from the National Science Foundation and NOAA, he is researching how corals cope with environmental stress from global warming and ocean acidification.

    Dr. Patterson comments: "Aquarius has allowed me to do experiments that can't be done in the lab. During this mission we will use sophisticated instruments to measure the health of coral colonies on the nearby reef. Our results will help predict how corals will cope, or not, as the oceans change."

    Fellow aquanaut, underwater explorer and award-winning filmmaker DJ Roller, will join Earle and Patterson on the expedition. Using his custom designed 3D underwater digital camera system he is able to capture images in resolutions high enough for five-story-tall IMAX screens. Roller and his production team will capture an entirely new view of science and living underwater.

    Roller states, "Living underwater and exploring the ocean as an aquanaut is a life- changing experience that has given me a whole new perspective. I believe the 3D camera system creates a window into another world and has scientific merit as the determination of scale and distance not possible from 2D cameras. Being able to observe relationships between coral and creatures or anticipate things around and behind you is almost impossible with an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle)."

    The aquanaut team has invited participation and visits by national and internationally known scientists, policy makers, conservationists, explorers, and other filmmakers to mark this milestone in the history of human exploration of the ocean.

    Mission Science Objectives

    The aquanaut scientists will be investigating the biology of corals and sponges on the reef. The reef near Aquarius has changed greatly over the last few decades and now is dominated by sponges not corals.

    Sponges have been on the planet half a billion years and evolved before corals, and yet and we know very little about them; thus there is great interest in learning how they affect the health of the reef. They also may be a source of bioactive compounds that might be developed into drugs. Sponges are filter feeders, pumping enormous volumes of water through their bodies. The entire water column over a reef passes through the bodies of the sponges every 24-36 hours! They filter the water to extract food particles as small as bacteria. The scientists will be making measurements of the pumping rate of sponges and measuring their metabolic rate using dye experiments and a special underwater instrument made in Denmark. The dye pumping is incredible and will be captured in a compelling way by Roller's custom designed 3D underwater digital camera system.

    Corals are under stress world-wide from habitat degradation and global warming. The scientists will be using the same instrument that measures sponge metabolism to also make measurements on the corals, during the day and also at night when the coral's feeding structures, the polyps, are expanded. At night corals turn into amazing predators and catch tiny animal plankton. This is also very visual; the plankton are attracted to dive lights and will be video recorded as they feed while metabolic measurements are taken. During the daytime, the group will also be measuring the photosynthetic performance of the corals using another underwater instrument made in Germany. Even though corals are animals, they have microscopic algae living inside them that help feed the coral colony, so during the hours of sunlight the coral symbiosis behaves like a plant. It is this symbiosis that is in trouble from global warming. When the temperature gets too hot over a reef, the algae inside leave the coral and the colony turns white, a phenomenon called coral bleaching. If bleaching events last too long, the corals die. Coral reefs world-wide are in trouble and they may be the first major ecosystem to dwindle and disappear as the planet warms. In addition to the above, the aquanaut team will be trying to capture some images and data that haven't been gathered before from an underwater habitat:

    The group hopes to catch one of the gigantic goliath groupers that live around the laboratory in the act of making a booming sound for which these fish are known. These fish, the largest on Caribbean coral reefs - up to 7 feet long and weighing up to 1000 pounds - have enormous heads. When these fish feed, they expand their cranium in a few hundredths of a second to almost twice the original volume. The resulting pressure drop inside the mouth serving as a vacuum to suck in the prey as the water rushes in from the front. The fish then closes its gill covers during the feeding event. The cause of the sound is still not completely understood but the scientists have a theory: During feeding a cavitation bubble forms and collapses inside the head. Cavitation bubbles form when the pressure drops so low that the water in the fishes mouth turn to a gas (water vapor) for a split second. Then, as the water rushes in, the bubble collapses and makes a sound that can be felt inside your chest. Here's the cool part-for a microsecond as the bubble collapses, the temperature at a point inside the fishes mouth is most likely hotter than the surface of the sun! The goliath groupers in the vicinity of the habitat are habituated to humans and would make great subjects for some experiments to try and capture this phenomenon.

  • 2011

    Sponges on Florida Coral Reefs: Demographics and Impacts on Water Quality (2011)
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Joseph Pawlik, UNCW
    Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Christopher Finelli, UNCW
    Training: June 6 — 10
    Saturation: June 14 — 23

    Sponges are now the dominant habitat-forming animals on Caribbean coral reefs. Among them, the giant barrel sponge, Xestospongia muta, has the greatest biomass on Florida coral reefs. Despite its importance to habitat complexity and reef health, few data existed regarding the basic biology of this massive sponge prior to the start of the PIs’ research program at ARB, including rates of mortality and recruitment, reproduction, growth and age. Like reef corals, this sponge is subject to mortality from anthropogenic impacts (climate change, oil spills), bleaching, and diseases. Additional threats include fishing line debris, which can cleanly slice through sponges during storm events and in high-flow environments. Conservation and management efforts require basic long-term monitoring data on reef sponges to establish baseline demographic information. Moreover, preliminary data suggest that specimens of X. muta filter water at a rate of 97 ml-H2O h-1 ml-tissue-1. With sponges ranging in size from < 100 ml to > 200,000 ml, potential population filtration rates are considerable and demographic changes in sponge populations could have profound effects on reef water quality.

    Beginning in 1997, Pawlik and students established and began monitoring 12 permanent circular plots (16 m diameter) at Conch and Pickles reefs containing over 650 marked X. muta to document sponge mortality, recruitment, bleaching, growth, disease, and damage by debris. Past awards from NOAA have been remarkably productive, resulting in 16 peer-reviewed publications since 2006. Modeling studies have resulted in age estimates of large X. muta within plots at >100 years, and some at other sites at over 2000 years old, placing these sponges among the oldest animals on earth. Stage-based matrix models indicate that populations of X. muta are increasing on Florida’s reefs. Studies of sponge chemical ecology have resulted in a revision of our understanding of Caribbean reef ecosystems and the isolation and identification of bioactive metabolites involved in antipredatory and allelopathic interactions.

    Objectives:

    • Rates of mortality, recruitment, and growth of Xestospongia muta will be monitored in 12 permanent plots at 2 reef locations and at three depths. The same data will be monitored for two additional long-lived sponge species, Geodia neptuni and Agelas conifera, at the same sites, thereby providing a comparative basis for understanding sponge demography on reefs.
    • Pumping and clearance rates of healthy X. muta, G. neptuni, and A. conifera across a range of sizes will be measured to estimate population filtration rates and impacts on coral reef ecosystems.
    • The impact of anthropogenic debris, oil and disease on sponges within permanent transects will be monitored and quantified.
    • The importance of plankton food availability on sponge distribution and abundance will be tested.

    Coral Reef Landscape Responses to Ocean Acidification
    Principal Investigator: Marc Slattery, University of Mississippi
    Training: July 5 — 8
    Saturation: July 12 — 21

    The consequences of ocean acidification may be the most serious threat facing coral reef ecosystems in the coming decades. Increased atmospheric CO2 crossing the air-sea interface has resulted in about a 30% increase in ocean acidity over pre-industrial era levels. Once CO2 is absorbed by the ocean, a cascade of chemical reactions makes it more difficult for marine organisms to build carbonate shells, calcify, and maintain various physiological processes. Thus, understanding the mechanisms of ocean acidification can help predict future impacts and provide potential mitigation strategies.

    While ocean acidification may be the next big problem for coral reefs in general, there are areas within a coral reef landscape that naturally experience slightly acidified conditions. Basic metabolic processes within the confined low-flow crevices of the reef can lead to a build-up of CO2 and a consequent decline in pH. Sponges are relatively common members of these crevice communities, as well as on the open reef, so comparative studies of the same species from acidified crevices and nearby reef surfaces can provide insights into the abilities of these important species to adapt to acidified conditions. For example, prior exposure to acidified conditions might increase the fitness of sponges compared to their relatives from a non-acidic environment. Alternatively, exposure to acidification may increase the susceptibility of these species to other stressors on coral reefs, such as disease or bleaching. Many of these stress responses are manifested at the level of protein expression that directly impacts physiological function. Thus, data acquired from these comparisons can highlight specific biomarkers of stress and/or adaptation that can direct future research and conservation strategies.

    Our objectives are to: 1) identify acidified micro-habitats throughout Conch Reef and survey their fauna for physiological differences relative to conspecifics from non-acidified micro-habitats, 2) transplant paired sponges from acidified and non-acidified habitats to sites with additional stressors to assess the impacts of prior acidification exposure on health, and 3) determine the additive effects of climate change stressors, specifically acidification and increased temperature, on sponge and coral physiology. We will utilize state-of-the-art proteomic technologies to examine protein stress biomarkers within these sponges. Furthermore, we will take advantage of the unique test-bed capabilities of Aquarius to evaluate the suitability of novel in situ pH chemo-sensors to perform accurate measurements at ecologically relevant spatial scales over temporal periods of minutes, days, and months. Our results will help determine the roles that ocean acidification will play in the coral reef landscapes of the future, and will aid scientists in efforts to mitigate the impact of this threat to coral reef health.


    Ocean Acidification: Controls on Reef pH
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Chris Martens, UNC Chapel Hill
    Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Niels Lindquist, UNC Chapel Hill
    Training: Aug 1 — Aug 5
    Saturation: Aug 9 — 18

    Watch and listen Dr. Martens on YouTube talk about acidification and its effect

    Knowledge of the present and potential future threats of ocean acidification to coral reef ecosystems is critical to planning for their preservation and mitigating damage associated with global-scale pH changes. Can we accurately monitor pH and the carbonate system in coral reef environments? How can pH variability and changes in the carbonate system resulting from global-scale change be differentiated from higher frequency shifts resulting from local-scale processes occurring immediately adjacent to corals and other important calcifiers? Our research team, including marine chemists, coral reef ecologists, and physical oceanographers, is focused on obtaining accurate measures of how near-bottom benthic boundary layer (BBL) respiration processes interact with global ocean acidification to impact coral reef calcification rates. Focusing on the lower regions of the BBL where water quality parameters and chemical characteristics are dominated by local processes and slow diffusion rather than rapid advective mixing will be critical for understanding the impact of pH on calcification rates of corals because their recovery through the survival and growth of young recruits residing within the region of the BBL must occur from the bottom-up. Changes in the total dissolved inorganic carbon (ΣCO2), carbonate alkalinity (CA), CO2 fugacity (pCO2) and pH in the near-bottom BBL involves complex interactions of sources and sinks dominated by daily cycles of photosynthetic processes of benthic seaweeds and cynaobacteria versus the nearly constant, high respiration of sponges. Our new, Aquarius- or surface ship-tested instrumentation provides a unique opportunity to conduct in situ measurements of carbonate system and pH values with state-of-the-art precision. Knowledge of the in situ rates of benthic respiration processes and their impact on local pH has been virtually non-existent but is likely of substantial importance given the great abundance and biomass of sponges on Florida and Caribbean coral reefs and their high metabolic rates. In addition, the impacts of increasing macroalgal and cyanobacterial mat biomass needs to be investigated. Coral reef managers need to be aware of a distinction between pH changes associated with global-scale ocean acidification and local sponge- or algal mat mediated changes so as to implement effective strategies for mitigating impacts.


    Manipulating Herbivore Diversity to Restore Coral Reefs
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Hay, Georgia Institute of Technology
    Training: September 6 — 9
    Saturation: September 13 — 22

    Watch and listen to Dr. Mark Hays talk about herbivore diversity and restoring coral reefs

    Herbivory plays a crucial role in structuring coral reefs and in selecting for algal traits that deter herbivores. Recent studies note dramatic among-species variance in the susceptibility of herbivorous fishes to seaweed chemical and structural defenses; these differences can translate into dramatic direct effects of herbivore diversity on seaweeds, indirect effects on corals, and changes in the structure and function of coral reefs. I propose continuing use of the Aquarius to determine experimentally how herbivore diversity may be managed to conserve and restore reefs.

    In previous investigations, we demonstrated that herbivore diversity affected the function and structure of coral reefs. The mix of two specific species of herbivorous fishes decreased macrophytes by 54-76%, increased corallines by 23-117%, increased coral growth by 22%, and prevented coral mortality in mixed-herbivore compared to either single-herbivore treatment. When we enclosed redband parrotfish vs. ocean surgeonfish in large cages affixed to coral reefs, the surgeonfish prevented recruitment by several chemically noxious seaweeds, but enhanced the growth of calcified algae, while the parrotfish suppressed calcified algae, but some chemically defended seaweeds flourished. Repeating this with two species of parrotfish demonstrated that two species suppressed seaweeds more than single species, but the differences were not as dramatic and princess parrotfish produced effects more like ocean surgeonfish than redband parrotfish (suggesting that functional groups based on taxonomy or jaw morphology will be inadequate to predict community level effects). I now propose finishing this contrast by assessing different species of surgeon fishes (year 1) and by contrasting mixed species of fishes versus differing densities of Diadema (year 2). Present data suggest that specific mixtures of herbivores are critical for suppressing macrophytes and enhancing coral cover. Thus, the particular biodiversity of herbivores may be as important as the density or mass of herbivores in determining the structure, function, and health of reef communities. We know too little of the species-specific effects of reef herbivores, how effects of multiple species sum to produce an overall effect, or which particular mix of reef herbivores is critical for suppressing aggressive seaweeds and maintaining reef function. Much evidence shows that removing herbivores leads to reef decline, but our last NURC grant appears to be the first experimental demonstration that replacing specific mixes of herbivores can reverse this trend and facilitate the survival and growth of reef corals.

    This proposal seeks to acquire the information needed to optimize this approach to coral reef restoration. If most reef herbivores are ecologically redundant, then one species may substitute for another. However, if ecologically important herbivores differ considerably in their response to seaweed defenses, then particular mixes of herbivores may be crucial in maintaining ecosystem function and may need focused management and protection.

    This hypothesis will be evaluated by building large enclosures on reefs near the Aquarius in the Florida Keys, enclosing specific fishes, mixes of fishes, and mixes of fishes versus differing densities of grazing urchins to determine (1) their long-term effects on community structure, (2) which seaweeds are most damaging to corals and which herbivores best control these species, (3) how small mobile species and recruiting juvenile fishes that can move through the cage mesh (amphipods, crabs, etc.) respond to these community changes, and (4) how algal chemical and mineral defenses generate the mechanisms driving these changes. These findings, when coupled to our earlier studies, should provide new tools for restoring Caribbean reefs.

  • 2010

    Aquarius Coral Restoration/Resilience Experiments (ACRRE)
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Margaret Miller, NOAA Fisheries
    Training: June 7 — 11
    Mission: June 15 — 24

    In recent years, the capacity to culture corals and the availability of ‘rescued’ corals in South Florida has grown. Consequently, there is interest in utilizing these available corals over a wide range of transplant/restoration/restocking applications, given the poor state of coral populations in the region. This mission is our third in conducting a controlled transplant experiment to explicitly compare the performance of corals of two primary reef-building species (Montastraea faveolata and Acropora cervicornis) from different source populations (including lab-cultured, field nurseries, and wild-collected) when transplanted to a common fore-reef environment, the Aquarius undersea lab site in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Fragments from different source populations have been transplanted in mono-source and multi-source blocks to examine potential detrimental effects between ‘local’ and ‘foreign’ corals. A smaller number of fragments have also be transplanted to a nearby shallow site (Conch shallow) and an alternate deep site (Molasses) to ‘calibrate’ performance responses measured at the Aquarius site (60 ft) to shallow depths where restoration transplants would be more likely. Performance of the transplants is being evaluated by a wide range of parameters (e.g., growth, survivorship, photosynthesis, surface microbial community composition) and related to the genotype of each fragment.

    In addition to surveying, measuring growth, photographing, sampling mucous, and measuring photosynthetic performance on the transplants, much of our mission will be focused on a set of experiments on feeding ecology of two important corallivores that impair transplant success. The feeding behaviors of both snails (Coralliophila abbreviata) and fireworms (Hermodice carunculata) will be intensively observed and the worms’ potential to serve as a coral disease vector will be tested.

    Results of this project will enable improved success of coral restocking efforts and better management decisions in permitting such activities.


    Acidification Project
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Chris Martens, UNC Chapel Hill
    Co-Principal Investigator: Dr.Niels Lindquist, UNC Chapel Hill
    Training: July 6 — 9
    Mission: July 13 — 22

    Knowledge of the present and potential future threats of ocean acidification to coral reef ecosystems is critical to planning for their preservation and mitigating damage associated with global-scale pH changes. Can we accurately monitor pH and the carbonate system in coral reef environments? How can pH variability and changes in the carbonate system resulting from global-scale change be differentiated from higher frequency shifts resulting from local-scale processes occurring immediately adjacent to corals and other important calcifiers? Our research team, including marine chemists, coral reef ecologists, and physical oceanographers, is focused on obtaining accurate measures of how near-bottom benthic boundary layer (BBL) respiration processes interact with global ocean acidification to impact coral reef calcification rates. Focusing on the lower regions of the BBL where water quality parameters and chemical characteristics are dominated by local processes and slow diffusion rather than rapid advective mixing will be critical for understanding the impact of pH on calcification rates of corals because their recovery through the survival and growth of young recruits residing within the region of the BBL must occur from the bottom-up. Changes in the total dissolved inorganic carbon (ΣCO2), carbonate alkalinity (CA), CO2 fugacity (pCO2) and pH in the near-bottom BBL involves complex interactions of sources and sinks dominated by daily cycles of photosynthetic processes of benthic seaweeds and cynaobacteria versus the nearly constant, high respiration of sponges. Our new, Aquarius- or surface ship-tested instrumentation provides a unique opportunity to conduct in situ measurements of carbonate system and pH values with state-of-the-art precision. Knowledge of the in situ rates of benthic respiration processes and their impact on local pH has been virtually non-existent but is likely of substantial importance given the great abundance and biomass of sponges on Florida and Caribbean coral reefs and their high metabolic rates. In addition, the impacts of increasing macroalgal and cyanobacterial mat biomass needs to be investigated. Coral reef managers need to be aware of a distinction between pH changes associated with global-scale ocean acidification and local sponge- or algal mat mediated changes so as to implement effective strategies for mitigating impacts.

    Oil Spill Monitoring Initiative

    In addition to the NURC-funded Ocean Acidification project, we will initiate a hydrocarbon oil spill monitoring project at Aquarius Reef Base, utilizing the light hydrocarbon monitoring capabilities of both our underwater mass spectrometry and Seaguard multi-sensor platform systems. Our cabled underwater Membrane Inlet Mass Spectrometer, TETHYS, is the same instrument now in use in the northern Gulf of Mexico for oil plume detection. Our Seaguard platforms will be equipped with light hydrocarbon sensors used in our gas hydrate projects from the northern Gulf of Mexico and with a new Contros Non-Dispersive Infrared (NDIR) sensor on loan to us from a private German company.

    Establishing Oil Spill Monitoring Capabilities at Aquarius Reef Base

    Our initial plans for developing an oil spill monitoring capability are to document hydrocarbon concentrations in contaminated (from boating activities) local waterways and in the water column of the outer reef tract in order to establish background levels prior to the arrival of any materials from spills. A major part of the effort will be to establish the capabilities of existing Aquarius Reef Base (ARB) platforms including the Life Support Buoy (LSB) for Aquarius to enable a continuous monitoring capability in the coming years.


    Sponges on Florida Coral Reefs: Demographics and Impacts on Water Quality (2010)
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Joseph Pawlik, UNCW
    Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Christopher Finelli, UNCW
    Training: August 9 — 13
    Mission: August 17 — 26

    Demography of Reef Sponges

    Sponges are now the dominant habitat-forming animals on most Caribbean coral reefs. Unlike corals and some macroalgae, sponges do not have calcified skeletons, and are less likely to be affected by ocean acidification due to global climate change. The Caribbean barrel sponge, Xestospongia muta, is a large and common member of the Florida coral reef community and has been called the “redwood of the deep”. Despite its prominence, high biomass and importance to habitat complexity and reef health, few data existed regarding the basic biology of this massive sponge prior to our research, including rates of mortality and recruitment, reproduction, growth and age. Like reef corals, this sponge is subject to bleaching, diseases, and subsequent mortality. Additional threats to this and other sponge species include fishing line debris, which can cleanly slice through sponges during storm events and in high-flow environments. Using the Aquarius habitat beginning in 1997, Dr. Pawlik and students established and began monitoring 9 permanent circular plots (16 m diameter) at Conch reef containing over 600 marked X. muta to document sponge mortality, recruitment, bleaching, growth, disease, and damage by debris. Using repeated digital photographs of sponges taken over 6 years, we have modeled growth to estimate ages of large sponges within our plots at >100 years, and very large X. muta at other sites at over 2000 years old, placing these sponges among the oldest animals on earth. We applied stage-based matrix modeling to our long-term monitoring data to study the demographics of X. muta, and determined that populations of this important species are increasing on Florida’s reefs. For this Aquarius mission, we will extend our monitoring program to include staking, tagging and photography of two additional species of prominent reef sponges within our permanent plots, Geodia neptuni and Agelas conifera.

    Pumping Rates of Sponges and Water Quality

    Dr. Finelli and his students have preliminary data that specimens of X. muta filter water at a rate of 97 ml-H2O h-1 ml-tissue-1, or about 100-times their own volume every hour. With sponges ranging in size from < 100 ml to > 200,000 ml, potential population filtration rates are considerable and demographic changes in sponge populations could have profound effects on reef water quality. For this Aquarius mission, pumping and clearance rates of healthy and diseased X. muta, G. neptuni, and A. conifera across a range of sizes will be measured to estimate population filtration rates and the effects of disease on filtration. These data will ultimately be useful in determining the overall effect of sponges on reef water quality.

    Monitoring for Oil Spill Impacts

    Conservation and management efforts require basic long-term monitoring data on reef sponges to establish baseline demographic information. These data may also be critically important for understanding future effects of the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the reef communities of the Florida Keys. In addition to the decade-long monitoring database on X. muta, Pawlik’s group has survey data and tissue samples from the sponge community on Conch Reef, and this Aquarius mission will include additional surveys of sponges, corals and fishes.


    Aquarius 2010: If Reefs Could Talk
    Principal Investigator: James Lindholm, NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program
    Training: October 4 — 8
    Mission: October 12 — 21

    In October 2010, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries will host a mission in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) entitled Aquarius 2010: If Reefs Could Talk. This mission will be conducted in partnership with the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Aquarius Reef Base located in Key Largo, Florida, and be supported by researchers from the University of Connecticut and California State University. By incorporating both scientific research and educational programs into this multi-disciplinary mission, the ONMS will bring the science of ocean conservation and the underwater world to communities nationwide. Science program themes during this mission will include biodiversity, climate change and technology for field science. During live broadcasts each day, scientists and educators will work together to highlight key issues about each of these themes and explain how they relate to the nations ocean resources and every American. Topside and saturation diving will support both science and education components of the mission. The three major themes are outlined below:

    Biodiversity

    Critical to the integrity of any natural system is the condition of all components that comprise that system. In natural ecosystems, one measure of this is biodiversity, or simply said, what is out there, where is it, and how much is there? During Aquarius 2010: If Reefs Could Talk, mission staff will explore aspects of biodiversity on the reef around the Aquarius underwater laboratory. Aldo Leopold once said "To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering." True to this advice, mission staff will study the cogs and wheels, that is the biodiversity, that makes up the ecosystem of this special area, as well as the connections between them, all of which determine the health of the natural system.

    Climate Change and Ocean Acidification

    The topic of climate change is on the forefront of most aspects of our society. During Aquarius 2010: If Reefs Could Talk information and discussion on climate change will be integrated throughout all of our science and education activities. A goal of this mission will be to promote a better understanding of climate change by using National Climate Literacy Principles to help participants of the mission understand, and be engaged in, exploring the impacts of climate change on natural resources, and its implications for marine conservation.

    Technology Testing and Training

    Throughout the mission, education and science staff from across the sanctuary system will use current technologies to successfully complete their tasks during the mission. Some of the technologies that will be highlighted in the mission include: the Aquarius habitat, hydro- acoustic mapping systems, and underwater communication systems. Further, demonstrations of other new technologies will be held throughout the mission. These demonstrations will serve to train ONMS staff and enhance scientific monitoring capabilities underwater. These tests will also be integrated into the education programming to provide participants a look at the technology used for scientific research in an underwater environment. The highlighted technologies will include technical diving systems, underwater communication systems, AUVs and ROVs, diver propulsion devices, 3D imaging and display systems, and a newly developed spherical video system.


    Manipulating Herbivore Diversity to Restore Coral Reefs
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Hay, Institute of Technology, Georgia
    Training: November 1 — 5
    Mission: November 9 — 18

    Watch and listen to Dr. Mark Hays talk about herbivore diversity and restoring coral reefs

    Herbivory plays a crucial role in structuring coral reefs and in selecting for algal traits that deter herbivores. Recent studies note dramatic among-species variance in the susceptibility of herbivorous fishes to seaweed chemical and structural defenses; these differences can translate into dramatic direct effects of herbivore diversity on seaweeds, indirect effects on corals, and changes in the structure and function of coral reefs. I propose continuing use of the Aquarius to determine experimentally how herbivore diversity may be managed to conserve and restore reefs.

    In previous investigations, we demonstrated that herbivore diversity affected the function and structure of coral reefs. The mix of two specific species of herbivorous fishes decreased macrophytes by 54-76%, increased corallines by 23-117%, increased coral growth by 22%, and prevented coral mortality in mixed-herbivore compared to either single-herbivore treatment. When we enclosed redband parrotfish vs. ocean surgeonfish in large cages affixed to coral reefs, the surgeonfish prevented recruitment by several chemically noxious seaweeds, but enhanced the growth of calcified algae, while the parrotfish suppressed calcified algae, but some chemically defended seaweeds flourished. Repeating this with two species of parrotfish demonstrated that two species suppressed seaweeds more than single species, but the differences were not as dramatic and princess parrotfish produced effects more like ocean surgeonfish than redband parrotfish (suggesting that functional groups based on taxonomy or jaw morphology will be inadequate to predict community level effects). I now propose finishing this contrast by assessing different species of surgeon fishes (year 1) and by contrasting mixed species of fishes versus differing densities of Diadema (year 2). Present data suggest that specific mixtures of herbivores are critical for suppressing macrophytes and enhancing coral cover. Thus, the particular biodiversity of herbivores may be as important as the density or mass of herbivores in determining the structure, function, and health of reef communities. We know too little of the species-specific effects of reef herbivores, how effects of multiple species sum to produce an overall effect, or which particular mix of reef herbivores is critical for suppressing aggressive seaweeds and maintaining reef function. Much evidence shows that removing herbivores leads to reef decline, but our last NURC grant appears to be the first experimental demonstration that replacing specific mixes of herbivores can reverse this trend and facilitate the survival and growth of reef corals.

    This proposal seeks to acquire the information needed to optimize this approach to coral reef restoration. If most reef herbivores are ecologically redundant, then one species may substitute for another. However, if ecologically important herbivores differ considerably in their response to seaweed defenses, then particular mixes of herbivores may be crucial in maintaining ecosystem function and may need focused management and protection.

    This hypothesis will be evaluated by building large enclosures on reefs near the Aquarius in the Florida Keys, enclosing specific fishes, mixes of fishes, and mixes of fishes versus differing densities of grazing urchins to determine (1) their long-term effects on community structure, (2) which seaweeds are most damaging to corals and which herbivores best control these species, (3) how small mobile species and recruiting juvenile fishes that can move through the cage mesh (amphipods, crabs, etc.) respond to these community changes, and (4) how algal chemical and mineral defenses generate the mechanisms driving these changes. These findings, when coupled to our earlier studies, should provide new tools for restoring Caribbean reefs.

  • 2009

    Manipulating Herbivore Diversity to Restore Coral Reefs
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Hay, Georgia Institute of Technology
    Training: November 2 — 6
    Mission: November 10 — 19

    Watch and listen to Dr. Mark Hays talk about herbivore diversity and restoring coral reefs

    Herbivory plays a crucial role in structuring coral reefs and in selecting for algal traits that deter herbivores. Recent studies note dramatic among-species variance in the susceptibility of herbivorous fishes to seaweed chemical and structural defenses; these differences can translate into dramatic direct effects of herbivore diversity on seaweeds, indirect effects on corals, and changes in the structure and function of coral reefs. I propose continuing use of the Aquarius to determine experimentally how herbivore diversity may be managed to conserve and restore reefs.

    In previous investigations, we demonstrated that herbivore diversity affected the function and structure of coral reefs. The mix of two specific species of herbivorous fishes decreased macrophytes by 54-76%, increased corallines by 23-117%, increased coral growth by 22%, and prevented coral mortality in mixed-herbivore compared to either single-herbivore treatment. When we enclosed redband parrotfish vs. ocean surgeonfish in large cages affixed to coral reefs, the surgeonfish prevented recruitment by several chemically noxious seaweeds, but enhanced the growth of calcified algae, while the parrotfish suppressed calcified algae, but some chemically defended seaweeds flourished. Repeating this with two species of parrotfish demonstrated that two species suppressed seaweeds more than single species, but the differences were not as dramatic and princess parrotfish produced effects more like ocean surgeonfish than redband parrotfish (suggesting that functional groups based on taxonomy or jaw morphology will be inadequate to predict community level effects). I now propose finishing this contrast by assessing different species of surgeon fishes (year 1) and by contrasting mixed species of fishes versus differing densities of Diadema (year 2). Present data suggest that specific mixtures of herbivores are critical for suppressing macrophytes and enhancing coral cover. Thus, the particular biodiversity of herbivores may be as important as the density or mass of herbivores in determining the structure, function, and health of reef communities. We know too little of the species-specific effects of reef herbivores, how effects of multiple species sum to produce an overall effect, or which particular mix of reef herbivores is critical for suppressing aggressive seaweeds and maintaining reef function. Much evidence shows that removing herbivores leads to reef decline, but our last NURC grant appears to be the first experimental demonstration that replacing specific mixes of herbivores can reverse this trend and facilitate the survival and growth of reef corals.

    This proposal seeks to acquire the information needed to optimize this approach to coral reef restoration. If most reef herbivores are ecologically redundant, then one species may substitute for another. However, if ecologically important herbivores differ considerably in their response to seaweed defenses, then particular mixes of herbivores may be crucial in maintaining ecosystem function and may need focused management and protection.

    This hypothesis will be evaluated by building large enclosures on reefs near the Aquarius in the Florida Keys, enclosing specific fishes, mixes of fishes, and mixes of fishes versus differing densities of grazing urchins to determine (1) their long-term effects on community structure, (2) which seaweeds are most damaging to corals and which herbivores best control these species, (3) how small mobile species and recruiting juvenile fishes that can move through the cage mesh (amphipods, crabs, etc.) respond to these community changes, and (4) how algal chemical and mineral defenses generate the mechanisms driving these changes. These findings, when coupled to our earlier studies, should provide new tools for restoring Caribbean reefs.

  • 2008

    Aquarius Coral Restoration / Resilience Experiments (ACRRE)
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Margaret Miller, NOAA Fisheries
    Training: June 2 — 6
    Mission: June 9 — 18

    Coral rescue and transplantation have been commonly undertaken in cases where they have been damaged or dislodged by human activities or natural events. However, very little is known about the underlying biological reasons why one coral may survive and grow beautifully when transplanted to a reef while another may sicken and/or die. These variations in performance between different source corals are particularly important to understand in the current context of rapid environmental changes in reef environments and our continuing observations of rapid coral loss.

    The Aquarius Coral Restoration/Resilience Experiments (ACRREs) are aimed to increase our understanding of why and how some corals may perform much better as transplants than others. Coral fragments from different sources, including healthy wild colonies from nearby reefs, rescued corals from far-away reefs, and corals that have been cultured in aquaria or field nurseries will be transplanted together to a single location, a “common garden”, at the Aquarius Reef Base. Each transplant will be evaluated in many different ways to understand how their genetic or physiological status may determine their ability to thrive in their new home. We hope to continue this experiment over a long time frame so that the resilience of the transplants can be examined during natural disturbances such as warm water bleaching or disease outbreak events that happen episodically.

    The results of this study will help scientists and reef managers to plan, permit, and execute coral rescue and transplantation/restoration project more effectively. We will learn what sources of corals can be most successful in enhancing depleted reef populations both in the short term by transplantation, and in the longer term by understanding better what genetic or other biological conditions of the coral aid in their resilience to the changing reef environment.


    Role of Sponges in Nitrogen Cycling and Total Respiration in Coral-Reef Ecosystems
    Principal Investigator: Dr.Niels Lindquist, UNC Chapel Hill
    Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Chris Martens, UNC Chapel Hill
    Training: September 8 — 12
    Mission: September 16 — 25

    The great abundance and diversity of sponges on Florida coral reefs can rival that of reef building and soft corals, but with recent declines in coral cover throughout the Caribbean, including the Florida Keys, many reefs have undergone dramatic shifts from coral to sponge and seaweed dominance. Corals must now live in environments in which the metabolisms of other abundant organisms, like sponges, dominate energy and nutrient flows on reefs thereby contributing substantially to the quality of reef water and its ability to promote coral survival and robust growth. The exceptional capacity of sponges to pump and filter seawater up to 100,000 times their own volumes each day potentially allows them to substantially alter concentrations of particulate and dissolved organic matter and nutrient elements in surrounding waters. For example, our UNCW-NURC and NSF funded research is showing that sponges metabolize to ammonium and nitrate much of the nitrogen in the particulate and dissolved organic matter they consume. Simultaneously, their high respiration rates substantially reduce levels of dissolved oxygen in the seawater they filter. Thus, the tremendous volumes of seawater many sponges exhale are hypoxic, rich in dissolved inorganic nitrogen, and likely sponge-produced toxins, all of which can harm corals both directly and indirectly.

    Our 2008 studies will combine the expertise and talents of marine ecologists and chemists and physical oceanographers to examine nutrient element and chemical cycling for a greater number of coral reef sponges that differ in basic biological characteristics, such as the presence or absence of large, internally hosted populations of diverse microorganism that greatly expand the breadth of potential chemical transformations occurring within sponges. Using the exceptionally long underwater excursion times provided by the Aquarius Reef Base Observatory, we will deploy newly developed underwater systems for (i) continuously monitoring sponge pumping rates and changes in the concentrations of ecologically important chemicals in the seawater they filter, and (ii) tracking chemicals expelled by sponges as the chemicals mix and travel toward neighboring organisms. Field assays will also be conducted to examine how chemicals in seawater exhaled by sponges affect the growth, health and survival of neighboring corals and seaweeds. Because sponges are a major component of benthic communities in diverse tropical, temperate and polar marine habitats, a quantitative understanding of important chemical processes occurring within sponges and chemical fluxes between sponges and their surrounding communities are crucial for defining their roles in regulating the quality of critical marine habitats, such as coral reefs.


    Ocean acidification in the coral reef ecosystem: Measuring pH change from the surface to seafloor
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Chris Martens, UNC Chapel Hill
    Co-Principal Investigator: Dr.Niels Lindquist, UNC Chapel Hill
    Training: October 6 — 10
    Mission: October 14 — 23

    During October 2008 a team of scientists working with private industry and expert underwater technicians will live in the Aquarius undersea research station for over a week to undertake the first saturation mission to study ocean acidification and its potential impacts on coral reef ecosystems. The team will be lead by Drs. Chris Martens and Niels Lindquist of UNC Chapel Hill. The Aquarius Reef Base is owned by NOAA and operated by UNC Wilmington.

    The impacts of global warming on the ocean and its ecosystems are a matter of worldwide alarm and much speculation; they are also a priority for the nation’s ocean research agenda. Corals are particularly sensitive to ocean temperature and chemistry. While we are making progress in understanding the impacts of rising temperatures on coral reefs, far less is known about the effects of the sea’s changing chemistry, in particular rising ocean acidity. Recent research has confirmed that as concentrations of carbon dioxide have increased in the atmosphere so too have levels in the ocean and this has led to a slight lowering of the ocean’s pH. It is a phenomenon now widely known as ocean acidification. Along with affecting widespread biological processes, ocean acidification is expected to specifically impact organisms, which create shells or skeletons of calcium carbonate. Evidence, mainly from laboratory experiments, suggests that the calcification rates of many such organisms will decrease as the ocean’s pH declines. Scientists estimate, based on these results, that calcification rates in the ocean could decrease by 60% within the 21st Century. This could have a huge impact on corals and the structures and ecosystems they create. However, controlled experiments in the laboratory simplify the impacts of ocean acidification and probably neglect a wide range of presently unknown environmental, biological, and ecological influences.

    With access to the Aquarius Reef Base (the world’s only underwater laboratory) the team led by Martens and Lindquist will tackle this alarming problem for the first time while living right on the seafloor. The goal of the mission is to determine how pH changes hourly, daily, and over a week within the reef ecosystem throughout the water column and particularly near the seafloor where most corals and other calcifying organisms live. New, state-of-the-art instruments and technologies will be deployed to examine the roles and impacts of corals, sponges, and other organisms on water chemistry and to provide the first in situ, long-term measurements of acidification within a reef ecosystem. These data will lay the foundation for studying the impacts of ocean acidification on reefs worldwide and potentially produce technology for widespread use.

  • 2007

    Mission 6 — If Reefs Could Talk
    Principal Investigator: Kate Thompson, National Marine Sanctuary Program
    Training: September 10 — 14
    Mission: September 17 — 25


    Mission 7—Role of Sponges in Nitrogen Cycling and Total Respiration in Coral-Reef Ecosystems
    Principal Investigator: Niels Lindquist, UNC Chapel Hill
    Training: October 8 — 12
    Mission: October 15 — 24

  • 2005

    Mission 3 — The role of Hydrodynamics in Determining Nutrient Fluxes to Conch Reef
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Stephen Monismith
    Training: July 5 — 8, 11
    Mission: July 12 — 21


    Mission 4 — Sponge production and recycling of new nitrogen in coral reef
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Chris Martens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Mission: August 15 - 24


    Mission 6 — Movement Behavior of Fishes: The Role of Scale and No–take Protection in the Conch Reef SPA/RO
    Principal Investigator: Dr. James Lindholm, PIER
    Training: October 31 — November 4
    Mission: November 7 — 18

  • 2004

    Mission 2 - A Multiscale Investigation of Physical/Biological Coupling on the Florida Keys Reef Tract
    Principal Investigator: Dr. James Leichter, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
    Training: June 7-11
    Mission: June 14-23


    Mission 4 — Sponge Production and Recycling of New Nitrogen in Coral Reef Ecosystems.
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Chris Martens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Training: August 2-6
    Mission: August 9-18


    Mission 5 — The physiological ecology of symbiotic dinoflagellates across a depth gradient: Understanding the influence of physical and biological factors on photosynthetic processes and population distribution
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Warner, University of Delaware
    Training: September 7-11
    Mission: September 13-22


    Mission 7 — Herbivore Resistance to Seaweed Defenses and the Effects on Reef Community Structure
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Hay, Georgia Institute of Technology
    Training: November 1-5
    Mission: November 8-17

  • 2003

    Mission 1 — A Study of Population Dynamics of Scleractinians on Conch Reef: A Demographic and Population Genetics Approach
    Principal Investigator: Mary Alice Coffroth, SUNY-Buffalo
    Training: May 12-16
    Mission: May 19-28


    Mission 3 — Flow Modulated Metabolism: Connection with Coral Bleaching and Reef Oxygen Crises?
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Patterson, College of William and Mary
    Training: July 7-11
    Mission: July 14-23


    Mission 4 — Responses of Benthic Macroalgae to High Frequency Upwelling on the Florida Reef Tract
    Principal Investigator: Dr. James Leichter, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
    Training: August 4-8
    Mission: August 11-20


    Mission 5 — Biogeochemical Control on The Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopic Composition of Marine Sponges Along Natural Environmental Gradients
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Chris Martens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Training: September 8-12
    Mission: September 15-24


    Mission 7 — Herbivore Resistance to Seaweed Defenses and The Effects on Reef Community Structure
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Hay, Georgia Institute of Technology
    Training: November 3-7
    Mission: November 10-19

  • 2002

    Mission 2 - A Study of Population Dynamics of Scleractinians on Conch Reef: A Demographic and Population Genetics Approach
    Principal Investigator: Mary Alice Coffroth
    Saturation: April 15-24, 2002
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 4 - Global Climate Change & Coral Recruitment: The Interactive Effects of Temperature and Ontogeny on the Biology of Porites Astreoides Larvae
    Principal Investigator: Pete Edmunds
    Saturation: June 10-19
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 6 - Reef Fish Census and Tagging Studies Related to Marine Protected Areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS)
    Principal Investigator: Billy Causey, FKNMS
    Saturation: August 19-28
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 8 - Flow Modulated Metabolism: Connection with Coral Bleaching and Reef Oxygen Crises?
    Principal Investigator: Mark Patterson
    Saturation: November 11-20
    Total Days: 10

  • 2001
    Mission 1 - Ecology of Deep-Water Reef Sponges
    Principal Investigator: Joe Pawlik, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
    Saturation: May 21-27
    Total Days: 7

    Mission 2 - Near-Bottom Nutrient Fluxes on the Florida Keys Reef Tract
    Principal Investigator: Jim Leichter
    Saturation: June 18-27
    Total Days: 10

    Mission 3 - Biology of Stomatopod Crustaceans
    Principal Investigator: Roy Caldwell
    Saturation: July 16-25
    Total Days: 10

    Mission 4 - Understanding the Physiology and Ecological Impact of the Brown Alga Dictyota on Coral Reefs in the Florida Keys
    Principal Investigator: Kevin Beach
    Saturation: August13-22
    Total Days: 10

    Mission 5 - Coral Monitoring and Evaluation of Advanced Diving Techniques to Support National Marine Sanctuary Programs
    Principal Investigator: Billy Causey, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
    Saturation: September 11-19
    Total Days: 9

    Mission 7 - Understanding Fish Movement and Their Behavior in Marine Protected Areas
    Principal Investigator: Greg Stone, New England Aquarium
    Saturation: November 12-18
    Total Days: 7
  • 2000

    Mission 2 - Ecology of deep-water reef sponges
    Principal Investigator: Joe Pawlik, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
    Saturation: May 15-24
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 3 - Near-Bottom Nutrient Fluxes on the Florida Keys Reef Tract
    Principal Investigator: Jim Leichter
    Saturation: June 12-21
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 4 - Effects of Water Flow and Prey Behavior on Coral Feeding
    Principal Investigator: Ken Sebens
    Saturation: July 10-19
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 5 - Rapid Response Projects in the South Atlantic Bight, Gulf of Mexico and Florida Keys
    Principal Investigators: Steve Gittings & Steven Miller
    Saturation: August 14-23
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 6 - Physiological Ecology, Growth and Reproductive Biology of Halimeda Across a Gradient Depth
    Principal Investigator: Celia Smith
    Saturation: September 11-20
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 8 - Multiscale Measurements of Hydrodynamics and Nutrient Transfer Over Coral Reefs
    Principal Investigator: Chris Finelli
    Saturation: November 6-15
    Total Days: 10

  • 1999

    Mission 1 - Mass Transfer in Corals: Effects of Turbulent Flow
    Principal Investigator: Dave Wethey
    Saturation: June 14-23
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 3 - Light on and Above Coral Reefs Imaging, Signaling, and Effects of Stress
    Principal Investigator: Tom Cronin
    Saturation: August 9-18
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 4 - Habitat Specific Differences in Sponge Growth: The Role of Scope for Growth and Phenotypic Plasticity
    Principal Investigator: Mark Patterson
    Saturation: October 11-14
    Total Days: 4


    Mission 5 - Physiological Ecology, Growth and Reproductive Biology of Halimeda Across a Depth Gradient
    Principal Investigator: Celia Smith
    Saturation: November 8-17
    Total Days: 10

  • 1998

    Mission 2 - Deep-Water Coral Reef Monitoring at Conch Reef
    Principal Investigator: Steve Gittings
    Saturation: August 4-10
    Total Days: 7


    Mission 3 - Carbon Budgets, Growth and Sexual Reproduction by Halimeda Across a Depth Gradient
    Principal Investigator: Celia Smith
    Saturation: August 25-28
    Total Days: 4

  • 1996
    Mission 2 - Comparative Taphonomy of Life, Death and Fossil Caribbean Coral Assemblages, Key Largo, Florida
    Principal Investigator: Been Greenstein
    Saturation: May 20-29
    Total Days: 10
  • 1995

    Mission 1 - The Effects of Sponges on Water Column Process: Implications for the Management of Coral Reefs
    Principal Investigator: Mark Patterson
    Saturation: May 25-31
    Total Days: 7


    Mission 2 - The Photic Ecology of Coral Reef Environments and the Impact of Human Activity Upon It.
    Principal Investigator: Tom Cronin
    Saturation: June 19-28
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 3 - Spatial Heterogeneity and Coral Recruitment: Ecological Implications and Physiological Adaptations
    Principal Investigator: Pete Edmunds
    Saturation: July 18-26
    Total Days: 9


    Mission 4 - Spatial and Temporal Variability in On-Shore Flux: Pulsed Delivery of Nutrients, Plankton and Larvae to Conch Reef by Internal Waves
    Principal Investigator: Mark Denny
    Saturation: August 15-23
    Total Days: 9


    Mission 5 - Suboxic/Anoxic Diagenesis in Reef Frameworks and Resulting Nutrient Fluxes
    Principal Investigator: Frank Sansone
    Saturation: November 11-17
    Total Days: 7

  • 1994

    Mission 1 - Environmental/Biological Correlates of Differential Susceptibility to Annual Bleaching with Porites astroides
    Principal Investigators: Jaap / Steven Miller
    Saturation: April 19-28
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 2 - Comparative Taphonomy of Life, Death and Fossil Caribbean Coral Assemblages, Key Largo, Florida
    Principal Investigator: Ben Greenstein
    Saturation: May 19-28
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 3 - Effects of Flow Velocity, Zooplankton Abundance, and Piscivory on the Feeding Rates of Planktivorous Fish
    Principal Investigator: Laurie Sanderson
    Saturation: June 18-27
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 4 - Survivorship and Chemical Defenses in Larvae and Juvenile Sponges: Effects of Fishes and Mesopredators
    Principal Investigator: Niels Lindquist / Joe Pawlik, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
    Saturation: July 23-August 1
    Total Days: 10


    Depth Dependent Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation on the Productivity and Action Spectra of the Hermatypic Coral, Montastrea annularis
    Principal Investigator: Mike Lesser
    Saturation: August 19-28
    Total Days: 10


    Effects of Water Movements on Corals: Particle Capture, Prey Behavior, and Growth Rate
    Principal Investigator: Ken Sebens
    Saturation: September 17-26
    Total Days: 10


    The Ecological Significance of Vegetative Fragmentation by 'Halimeda': Mechanisms Along a Depth Gradient
    Principal Investigator: Celia Smith
    Saturation: October 16-25
    Total Days: 10


    Effects of Internal Waves at Conch Reef: Pulsed Temperature and Nutrient Variability, and Metabolic Response in a Hermatypic Coral
    Principal Investigator: Denny
    Saturation: November 12-15
    Total Days: 4

  • 1993

    Mission 2 - Effects of Water Movements on Corals: Particle Capture, Prey Behavior, and Growth Rate
    Principal Investigator: Ken Sebens
    Saturation: September 20-29
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 3 - Dynamics of Fertilization in Tropical Reef Fishes
    Principal Investigator: Chris Peterson
    Saturation: October 13-22
    Total Days: 10


    Mission 4 - Patterns of Coral Recruitment and Juvenile Mortality with Depth on Conch Reef/Geological and Groundwater Monitoring Studies
    Principal Investigator: Robbie Smith / Gene Shinn
    Saturation: November 3-7
    Total Days: 5


    Mission 5 - Effects of Internal Waves at Conch Reef on Temperature and Nutrient Variability in Several Reef Micro Habitats
    Principal Investigator: Denny
    Saturation: November 17-22
    Total Days: 5