school of fish in background
Skip to page Header home about your sanctuary visiting your sanctuary education science management news and events protecting resources image library document library Get Involved advisory council partners NOAA logo - a circle with a stylized seabird in flight; background is dark blue above the bird and light blue below the bird.

blank spaceFind us on Facebook

     Follow @fgbnms on Twitter


Skip to Main Content
Science Home    Research    Monitoring    Habitat Characterization
Research Projects    Expeditions    Tools & Technology
Research Publications/Chronology


Coral Connections in the Gulf

August 21-September 2, 2011
aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster

Click on a name below to learn more about that scientist.

Lindy Arbuckle - TAMUG
Kevin Buch - TAMUG
Christine Buckel - NOAA
Randy Clark - NOAA/NCCOS
Brian Degan - NOAA/NCCOS
Erik Ebert - NOAA/NCCOS
Doug Kesling - UNCW
Roger Mays - NOAA/NCCOS
Matt Rittinghouse - NOAA/NCCOS
Will Sautter - NOAA/NCCOS
Marc Weekley - FGBNMS
Paula Whitfield - NOAA/NCCOS

For a general overview of this expedition, please visit the Nancy Foster Cruise 2011 page.

To learn more about the daily activities of the expedition, please visit the Daily Logs page.


If you would like to ask the scientists about their expedition activities, please email us at They won't be able to answer all of your questions, but will try to address several in their daily logs.

Please also visit our Ask the Scientists page to see what questions they have already answered.


Lindy ArbuckleLindy Arbuckle
Marine Biology Student
Texas A&M University at Galveston

Lindy Arbuckle is currently a Marine Biology major at Texas A&M at Galveston (TAMUG), who will graduate in December 2011. She plans to continue her education by attending graduate school. Lindy is a TAMUG AAUS Scientific diver and a NAUI Dive Master, and has NAUI certifications in Decompression Techniques and Helitrox. Lindy also has formal training in reef fish assessment techniques and has worked as a volunteer diver in support of FGBNMS long-term monitoring projects. Lindy will serve as a stand-by and safety diver, providing important in-water and surface dive support.

Kevin BuchKevin Buch
Diving Safety Officer
Texas A&M University at Galveston

Kevin joined Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG) as faculty and Diving Safety Officer in November 2005. He oversees all of TAMUG’s underwater activities and is active in research collaborations with NOAA, Texas Parks and Wildlife and other gulf coast institutions. Kevin is also on the Marine Biology and General Academics faculties, and currently teaches courses in reef community and coral reef assessment techniques as well as diving leadership courses (NAUI Divemaster and NAUI Instructor). Prior to joining TAMUG Kevin served as Assistant Science Director for the Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS) on Lee Stocking Island in the Bahamas, and as a Research Specialist with Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS). He has logged over 400 dives in FGBNMS and other parts of the Gulf of Mexico. Kevin’s work has included everything from counting sea grass shoots to using technical diving techniques to survey deep reef fish communities, and he frequently supports research projects involving in-water reef fish surveying and censusing.

Christine BuckelChristine Buckel
Biological Science Technician

Christine Buckel is a biological technician and technical diver at the NOAA lab in Beaufort, NC. Since 2001, she has worked on several projects examining marine habitats of artificial reefs, live rock and coral reefs off North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico and Navassa National Wildlife Refuge.  She holds a master’s in marine science from the University of California at Santa Barbara and specializes in studying anthropogenic and natural impacts to marine habitats. 

Randy ClarkRandy Clark
Marine Biologist

Randy Clark is a marine biologist with the NCCOS Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment's (CCMA) Biogeography Branch and is located at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. His interests include applying landscape ecology techniques to marine and estuarine environments to help understand the abundance and distribution of organisms, primarily fish, and their affinities to benthic and/or pelagic habitats.  He is a scientific diver for NOAA and is involved with coral reef ecosystem monitoring in Puerto Rico, St. Croix and St. John, USVI.  He graduated from Texas A&M at Galveston with a master’s in wildlife and fisheries science.

Brian DeganBrian Degan
Research Technician

Brian is a Research Technician at the NCCOS Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research in Beaufort, NC.  Since coming to the Beaufort Lab, Brian has participated in numerous dive research missions throughout the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and southeastern United States. Dive missions have ranged in scope from monitoring marine protected areas to documenting the red lionfish invasion. Brian's main research interests are fish morphology, phylogeny, and fish habitat utilization. His role this mission will be to conduct visual fish surveys and he hopes to see just one marbled grouper.

Erik EbertErik Ebert
Biological Science Technician

Erik Ebert is a fisheries acoustic technician at the NCCOS Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research in Beaufort, NC.  He graduated from Cape Fear Community College in 2009 with a degree in marine technology and has worked for NOAA for the past three years. The major focus of his research is underwater remote sensing applications for understanding fish and habitat relationships.

Doug KeslingDoug Kesling
Manager of the Advanced Diving Technology Program
University of North Carolina Wilmington

Doug Kesling is currently the manager of the Advanced Diving Technology Program at the Center for Marine Science at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, which has integrated into NOAA's new Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research and Technology (CIOERT) also located at UNCW and FAU/Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. The new CIOERT will utilize submersibles, ROV's, AUV's, enriched air nitrox and trimix open-circuit diving technology and rebreathers in support of NOAA's marine research directives.

Roger MaysRoger Mays

Roger Mays is the unit diving supervisor and small boat operations coordinator at the NCCOS Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research in Beaufort, North Carolina. In 1978, he earned a fisheries science degree from North Carolina State University. Roger began his NOAA career with the National Marine Fisheries Service in 1989 focusing on a reef fish program working with stock assessments. Over the course of his career he has worked as a port agent, boat operator and a diver. After he moved to the National Ocean Service, he spent many hours conducting in situ fish counts of reef/hard bottom species at Florida Keys and Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuaries, and in North Carolina. 

Marc WeekleyMatt Rittinghouse
Research Technician

Matt Rittinghouse is a marine biology research technician who joined NOAA's Coastal Center for Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research (CCEHBR) Coastal Ecology program in 2010.  In May of 2010, he graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. His primary research is focused on deep-sea octocoral taxonomy, but he will be assisting with fish acoustics data capture, processing, and seafloor habitat characterization for this mission. 

Will SautterWill Sautter
Acoustic Mapping Specialist

Will Sautter is an acoustic mapping specialist who joined the NCCOS Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment's (CCMA) Biogeography Branch, as a contractor with Consolidated Safety Services, in 2011. He graduated from Appalachian State University in North Carolina with a bachelor’s in geology, and he is specialized in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and SONAR systems. Will has experience in seafloor mapping from Alaska to the Virgin Islands, and currently is working on maps for NOAA's U.S. Deep Coral Assessment. He also has experience working in the South Atlantic fisheries stock assessment with the snapper-grouper complex. His role for this mission will be to produce backscatter imagery of the multibeam sonar surveys, which will be used by marine spatial analysts to classify the bottom types and the habitats of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

Marc WeekleyMarc Weekley
Vessel Operations Coordinator
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

LT Weekley joined the NOAA Corps in 2006, and after his training class in New York, was assigned to NOAA Ship Nancy Foster for his first sea assignment.  He spent two years aboard the ship, working on various projects from Massachusetts to Puerto Rico.  He detached from the ship to spend a year at the South Pole. Upon returning, he put in for Vessel Operations Coordinator for the Flower Garden Banks Sanctuary in Galveston, TX.  LT Weekley has spent a little over a year in Galveston and has made frequent trips out to the Sanctuary as a support diver. He is going out on this cruise as a support/safety diver and will also assist with topside operations, and hopes to get some augment time on the bridge.

Paula WhitfieldPaula Whitfield
Marine Biologist

Paula is a Research Ecologist with the NCCOS Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research in Beaufort, NC. Her research interests include the characterization and monitoring of marine communities in temperate hard-bottom reef habitats and shipwrecks in water from 20 to 240 feet deep. One of her primary areas of research is to understand how physical factors such as water temperature can influence the distribution of marine communities including the invasive lionfish off the North Carolina coastline. Paula has been conducting research off North Carolina since 2000 and diving recreationally since 1980. On this mission she will be involved in characterizing the number and size of the fishes that inhabit Flower Gardens Banks National Marine Sanctuary, this is her first time conducting research in this sanctuary.

weather report observations cool stuff get wet

Orange, branching gorgonian (soft coral) anchored in a bed of sponges and other sea life.
National Marine Sanctuary logo - a stylized whale tail above waves