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NATIONAL CORAL REEF MONITORING PROGRAM CRUISE
There was very little benthic cover on the 60’ peak, but was quite lush benthic cover at the 80’ peak – dominated by sponges.

September 2-6, 2013
aboard R/V MANTA

The purpose of this trip was data collection for the NCCOS, CRCP, and SEFSC National Coral Reef Monitoring Program (NCRMP).

This program is designed to standardize the way coral reef monitoring data is collected and capture information on both the fish and coral populations, providing a broad spatial snapshot of the reef's condition.

Divers conducted surveys on a total of 80 sites at both East and West Flower Garden Banks.

Participants

R/V Manta crew
Sanctuary research team
Texas A&M Galveston AAUS divers

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Water Quality

Woman using electronic equipment to take temperature and salinity sample off the back of a boat.
Researcher Kim Edwards uses a hand held instrument to measure temperature and salinity at the surface.
Photo: FGBNMS/Embesi

Woman leaning off boat platform to collect a water sample.
Kim Edwards collects water samples as part of the NCRMP ocean acidification project. Photo: FGBNMS/Embesi

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Data Collection

For this study, divers conduct data collection along a line-point-intercept transect, recording information about what they see at specific points along the tape.

A measuring tape running across a coral reef. A single fish swims near the tape.
This tape measure is marked every 20 cm. These are the designated observation points for the transect.
Photo: FGBNMS/Embesi

Part of the NCRMP study includes the observation and recording of juvenile corals, also known as coral recruits.

A finger pointing at a very small brain coral surrounded by sand.
A diver points out a tiny Pseudodiploria coral recruit.
Photo: FGBNMS/Eckert

Observations

In addition, random fish surveys are conducted and general observations are noted.

Tiger grouper with a dark face being cleaned by small neon gobies
A tiger grouper, with an unusual color pattern, is being cleaned by several small neon gobies. Photo: FGBNMS/Eckert

A brain coral with a damaged area across the middle
This symmetrical brain coral (Pseudodiploria strigosa) shows damage caused by fish biting, most likely from parrotfish. Photo: FGBNMS/Nuttall

A large octopus tucked into a crevice with a cowrie snail in front
This common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) is attempting to drag a measled cowrie (Cypraea zebra) into its den for dinner. Photo: Matt Stout

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Lionfish

Invasive lionfish, both large and small, continue to be a notable presence on sanctuary reefs.

Three lionfish on a coral reef
This trio of large lionfish don't seem at all concerned
about divers.
Photo: FGBNMS/Nuttall

Small lionfish pictured next to a dive knife for size reference
This juvenile lionfish is just over an inch in length. The dive knife in the picture is used as a size reference.
Photo: FGBNMS/Eckert

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There was very little benthic cover on the 60’ peak, but was quite lush benthic cover at the 80’ peak – dominated by sponges.

weather report observations cool stuff get wet


Orange, branching gorgonian (soft coral) anchored in a bed of sponges and other sea life.
   
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