San Juan Seamount. Ocean Exploration Trust and NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Andrew Thurber Camera

Cruise title: Characterizing Benthic Communities  Across Mineral-rich Marine Biomes off Southern California

Partners: Schmidt Ocean Institute and NOAA Exploration & Research

Lead PIs:   Lisa Levin, Paul Jensen, Greg Rouse (All Scripps Institution of Oceanography) and Kira Mizel (US Geological Survey)

Location: Pacific Ocean, 32-33ºN    117-119ºW 

Dates: 26 July – 6 August 2021

About

To facilitate decision making regarding uses of poorly studied offshore environments, we propose to generate baseline descriptions of community structure across mineral-rich ecosystems associated with phosphorites and iron-manganese crusts in the Southern California Borderland (SCB). We will use video transects and CTD, water, rock, sediment and faunal sampling with the RV Falkor and ROV SuBastian to characterize (a) fish, benthic megafauna and macrofauna associated with these habitats, including infauna and invertebrates attached to mineral surfaces, (b) taxonomic and functional diversity of associated microbial communities including sediment, mineral surface, and invertebrate-associated microbes using next generation amplicon and metagenomic sequencing, and (c) biodiversity-derived ecosystem services associated with mineral resources. We will recover substrate colonization experiments and will generate 3D topological models of multiple sites. 

We hope the resulting information will inform conservation and blue economy resource trade-offs within deep waters.

RV Falkor. Image courtesy of Schmidt Ocean Institute.

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