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July 30-31, 2010
aboard the R/V MANTA

The purpose of this expedition was to begin data collection as part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) in response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.


R/V Manta crew
Sanctuary research team


The sanctuary research team installed initial semi-permeable membrane devices (SPMDs) at Sonnier, East and West Flower Gardens, and Stetson Banks. These instruments are used to detect the presence of any hydrocarbons in the water. Sediment samples were also collected as part of the effort. 

A diver scoops up sand from the seafloor using a small container.
Emma Hickerson collecting a sediment sample during
a later cruise.
Photo: Schmahl/FGBNMS

We also downloaded the Seabird water quality instruments at East Flower Garden, West Flower Garden, and Stetson Banks. These instruments record temperature and salinity at depth. 

The divers were loaded with tasks, so unfortunately no photographs were taken.


Water temperature was 84F (20C) on the reef at East and West Flower Garden Banks and 82F (28C) at Stetson Bank.  Horizontal visibility ranged from 60–90 ft (19-27 m).


Golden smooth trunkfishInteresting wildlife sightings included a golden smooth trunkfish at Sonnier Bank, and a female manta ray at West Flower Garden Bank. 

There was a green layer of brackish water (29 ppt salinity at the surface) for the top 20 ft (6 m) at Stetson Bank, and the mooring lines were covered in amphipods. 

We also observed at least 7 fishing vessels stop by Stetson Bank during the morning. 

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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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