Monday, July 15, 2024

TDI-Brooks Completes Delivery of Deepwater Atlantic Habitats II

TDI-Brooks Announces Availability of BOEM Contract Report “Deepwater Atlantic Habitats II”

TDI-Brooks Reveals Groundbreaking Findings in Deepwater Atlantic Habitats Study

TDI-Brooks has just released the long-awaited report for Contract M17PC00009, conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The report, titled “Deepwater Atlantic Habitats II: Continued Atlantic Research and Exploration in Deepwater Ecosystems with Focus on Coral, Canyon and Seep Communities,” is now available online for public viewing.

The study, initially slated as a five-year research program focusing on the outer continental shelf between Virginia and Georgia, was extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing an additional 18+ months of valuable data collection. Throughout the extended period, TDI-Brooks conducted thorough surveys of deep-sea coral, cold-seep, and canyon communities in the region, with the ultimate goal of enhancing predictive capabilities for these ecosystems.

Several significant findings emerged from the study, including the discovery of the Richardson Reef Complex, now recognized as one of the largest cold-water coral reef complexes in the world. Additionally, the research team uncovered remarkable seeps along the continental shelf edge, characterized by incredibly high rates of methane release and oxidation, which fuel biological productivity supporting local pelagic communities.

Pamlico Canyon was identified as a hotspot for coral diversity, with high overall diversity of infauna and dense sediment infauna populations at depth. The study also highlighted the high connectivity among different habitat and community types in the region, such as interactions between mid-water organisms and the benthic zone of the Richardson Reef Complex.

Moreover, the unique oceanographic conditions in the study area, influenced by the Gulf Stream, play a crucial role in shaping the various communities and promoting trophic and genetic connectivity within the ecosystem. The study revealed how these currents contribute to the adaptive resilience of deep-sea corals in response to rapidly changing environmental conditions.

By addressing major data gaps in poorly understood deepwater ecosystems, TDI-Brooks has provided valuable insights that will inform regional management strategies going forward. The release of the report marks a significant milestone in advancing our understanding of deep-sea ecosystems and underscores the importance of continued research and exploration in these vital marine habitats.

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