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RV Maria S. Merian MSM20-4


West Atlantic Cold-water Coral Ecosystems
Trans North-Atlantic Cold-water Coral Studies

◊ 14. March - 07. April 2012
◊ Bridgetown (Barbados) - Freeport (Bahamas)
◊ Gulf of Mexico & Straits of Florida
◊ ROV Cherokee
© ROV Cherokee, MARUM

Organised by

Prof. Dr. Dierk Hebbeln


+49 421 218-65650


+49 421 218-9865650



MARUM II, 3180

Research Program

The expedition with RV MARIA S. MERIAN focused on cold-water coral (CWC) ecosystems in the West Atlantic Ocean. Occurring in water depths of 300-900 m these cousins of the more famous shallow-water corals are still poorly known. The objective of the expedition was on the assessment of the CWC ecosystem distribution, appearance and biodiversity under present and past glacial conditions. The overall aim is to compare the CWC ecosystems of the West Atlantic with the CWC sites of the East Atlantic that have been intensely studied during the past years. The samples and data obtained during the expedition will allow for the first time (1) to reconstruct the spatial & temporal distribution patterns of CWCs in the Straits of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico during the last glacial-interglacial cycle and (2) to put the resulting data in a North Atlantic-wide context by linking them with the available extensive NE Atlantic dataset, and finally (3) to identify the major environmental forcing factors that control CWC growth and development in the North Atlantic realm.
The sampling targets during the cruise comprised CWC mounds along the NE-Campeche Bank (A, Yucatan Peninsula, Gulf of Mexico) and CWC occurrences along the West Florida Slope (B1 & B2) and in the Florida Straits (C1 and C2, Bimini & Great Bahama Bank). For all selected sites station work started with a detailed bathymetric mapping (MBES) and ROV video surveys to characterise the facies and fauna, and to identify the most suited coring sites. Based on this information, positions were defined to conduct a dedicated sampling (gravity cores, box cores, grabs, water samples) and monitoring (CTD) programme within or in the direct vicinity of the observed CWC sites.

Additional Information


Cuise Report