Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Sailing to Save Threatened Coral

A team of researchers are developing a means for protecting vital coral communities from an expanding frontier of thousands of oil platforms pushing deeper into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Temple University biologist Erik Cordes and a team of researchers are developing a means for protecting vital coral communities from an expanding frontier of thousands of oil platforms pushing deeper into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Funded by a four-year grant from the U.S. Minerals Management Services (MMS) — part of the Department of the Interior — and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Cordes and his colleagues are preparing for the third of four Gulf excursions during which they will seek out and map new coral sites.

The cruise into the Gulf — on which Cordes will the co-chief scientist — will take place Aug. 19 through Sept. 12. MMS is providing the science budget, while NOAA is providing its flagship research vessel, the Ronald H. Brown, and the funding for the ROV Jason II, the remotely operated vehicle from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, which can operate at a depth of 6,500 meters.

Cordes said saving and protecting these corals is important because they provide a habitat for diverse species of fish and other organisms, have potential to produce natural anti-microbial and anti-cancer agents and form an important link in the carbon cycle between the shallow, productive surface waters and the deep sea.

“The Minerals Management Service is responsible for managing all of the off-shore oil leases in the U.S.,” said Cordes, an assistant professor of biology in the College of Science and Technology. “The prime objective for them in this project is to develop a better way of predicting where these coral communities might be. When we actually find one of these coral sites, they set up what is called a mitigation area around it and the oil companies are prohibited from drilling within the small area that has designated as a preserve.”

Cordes said the coral areas on the ocean are relatively small; the largest coral community located so far in the Northern Gulf is only a few hundred meters in diameter. “The oil company can move a half-mile away to avoid these coral communities and still hit the same oil reservoir,” he said.

Cordes said the oil companies have been very supportive and cooperative by sharing data, and in some cases, collecting samples for the researchers. “This is a new and interesting challenge for them.”

During the upcoming cruise, the researchers will also visit five shipwrecks and survey some of the existing oil rigs to see if corals are growing on them.

“We’re also going to be using the ROV to collect live corals, maintain them on the ship, then bring them back to our lab here at Temple, where we have a series of experimental tanks set up in our cold room,” said Cordes.

He said they would be testing the environmental tolerances of corals, including growth rates, temperature preferences and reaction to acidification.

“That’s one of the newer, less-publicized concerns about climate change — ocean acidification,” said Cordes. “As you increase CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere, the pH level of the ocean is going down; it’s getting more and more acidic.

Cordes said the increase in acidity is making it harder and harder for corals to lay down their skeleton. “That’s one of the things we’re looking at: how acidic does it have to get before it starts affecting their growth rates.”

Cordes is collaborating on the project with researchers from Penn State, Louisiana State University, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Note to reporters: Cordes will be available via e-mail during the cruise. He can be reached at Telephone interviews during the cruise can also be arranged in advance. Updates on the project will also be available during the cruise via the NOAA’s Ocean Explorer Website:

Preston M. Moretz | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>