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Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems

In 2006, CSCOR broadened the Coral Reef Ecosystems Studies (CRES) program to include research on deeper light-dependent coral ecosystems referred to as mesophotic coral ecosystems. The goal of the Deep-CRES program is to provide sound science to enable effective ecosystem-based management of mesophotic coral ecosystems. The key objectives of this research are to improve the understanding of the processes that regulate these ecosystems and to assess their vulnerability to exploitation and human disturbance. Intermediate depth, mesophotic coral ecosystems, typically found at depths ranging from 30-40 m and extending to over 150 m in tropical and subtropical regions, are poorly understood because of the difficulties of sampling this depth with conventional SCUBA techniques. Advances in technical diving methods and instrumentation, such as mixed gas diving, autonomous underwater vehicles and remotely operated vehicles, are increasingly providing easier access to study these ecosystems. More on mesophotic coral ecosystems.

Two projects have been funded under the Deep-CRES program, Deep-CRES Caribbean and Deep-CRES Hawaii. For more information contact Kimberly.Puglise@noaa.gov.