Pulley Ridge- Understanding Coral Ecosystem Connectivity

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August 14-28, 2015

The Pulley Ridge- Understanding Coral Ecosystem Connectivity Project is funded by NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, in partnership with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Marine Fisheries Service’s Southeast Regional Office, the Gulf of Mexico Regional Collaboration Team, CIOERT, and CIMAS (Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies).

The project represents a collaboration of over 35 scientists at 11 different universities, led by the University of Miami.

August 13-29, 2013

The second year of the Pulley Ridge- Understanding Coral Ecosystem Connectivity Project, a five year study to investigate the role that the mesophotic reefs of Pulley Ridge (off the southwest coast of Florida) may play a roll in replenishing key fish species, such as grouper and snapper, and other organisms in the downstream reefs of the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas (Figure 1). Mesophotic reefs are coral reef environments found at depths ranging from 30-40 m to greater than 100 m in the Gulf of Mexico where sufficient light enables certain reef-building corals (i.e. corals with symbiotic algae growing in them) to survive. Mesophotic reefs support a diversity of populations of algae, sponges, corals, other invertebrates and fishes. Read More about the 2013 cruise...

 August 14-28, 2014

The third year of the Pulley Ridge- Understanding Coral Ecosystem Connectivity Project, is focused on investigating the role that the relatively healthy deep, mesophotic reefs of Pulley Ridge (off the southwest coast of Florida) may play in replenishing key fish species, such as grouper and snapper, and other organisms in the downstream reefs of the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas. Because of the well-documented decline of Florida’s reefs, it is important to identify, protect, and manage sources of larval reef species that can help sustain Florida’s reef ecosystems and the tourism economy that depends on it. Read more about the 2014 cruise...

August 22-September 4, 2015

This was our fourth and final research cruise of the Pulley Ridge- Understanding Coral Ecosystem Connectivity Project, Pulley Ridge as part of this five-year study to investigate the role that the relatively healthy deep, mesophotic reefs of Pulley Ridge may play in replenishing key fish species, such as grouper and snapper, and other organisms in the downstream reefs of the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas. To better understand the benthic mesophotic communities and fish populations, we use a remotely operated vehicle to characterize these habitats with video and still photographs.

To date, we have completed the analysis of data from the first three research cruises (2012-2014). We have identified 216 species of macro-invertebrates and algae. These consist of 102 species of Porifera (sponges); 27 Scleractinia (hard corals); 19 Octocorals (sea fans); 5 Antipatharia (black corals); and various mobile taxa such as crabs, snails, sea stars, and sea urchins (Figure 1), as well as 31 species of algae (green, red, and brown seaweeds).  Read more about the 2015 cruise...