OCULINA EXPEDITION 2005
Characterizing a Deep Coral Ecosystem and Assessing the Effectiveness of the Oculina Experimental Closed Area
MISSION DISPATCH 1
October 12, 2005
Cape Canaveral Port Authority, Florida
Ninety students from three Brevard County schools including, Astronaut High School, Rockledge High School, and Stone Middle School, joined Oculina Expedition scientists and crew at the Cape Canaveral Port Authority for a "Port Day" event. Student groups rotated among six stations to learn more about Oculina varicosa and deep water reefs, the OHAPC, ongoing and needed science, research and enforcement vessels, and management of the OHAPC.
At the first station students were given an introduction to deep water O. varicosa reefs by John Reed (HBOI), who was one of the first scientists to visit and study these deep water treasures. Reed discussed the discovery and biology of these spectacular deep water reefs. Notably, Reed has been researching these deep water reefs since 1976 and he talked with students about how the OHAPC has changed over time. Reed also discussed and how deep water Oculina corals are being protected and restored.
Dr. Grant Gilmore who is an ichthyologist with ECOS Inc. manned the second station. Like Reed, Dr. Gilmore has been studying the coral resources within the OHAPC for decades. Dr. Gilmore played underwater nighttime fish (and anthropogenic) sounds that he has collected in situ over the years between the Banana River and the deep water Oculina reefs. In addition, Dr. Gilmore talked to students about fish reproductive behavior and ecology and discussed how this science is important to the management of the OHAPC.
Students boarded the CT Randall, the FWC enforcement vessel, for the third rotation. Lt. Sidor from FWC provided a general overview of CT Randall enforcement activities in the OHAPC. Information on additional CT Randall missions was also presented. The students toured the CT Randall pilot house, engine room, sleeping quarters, and galley (kitchen).
For the fourth rotation, students participated in an interactive ROV demonstration led by Lance Horn and Glenn Taylor, ROV pilots with NURC. Students learned how the ROV operates and the type of information that is collected by the ROV. Many students even had an opportunity to drive the ROV!
At the fifth station, Captain Bren Wade (USA Ships) talked about the primary operations of the Liberty Star, which is the vessel that NASA uses to recover the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB) after space shuttle launches. Captain Wade also discussed the ship's Dynamic Positioning system and dive operations associated with SRB recovery.
In addition, Andy Shepard, mission leader, talked about how the Liberty Star is also equipped to serve as a vessel for research expeditions. Shepard also discussed the goals and objectives of the 2005 Oculina Expedition.
Lastly, students met with Kimberly Iverson (South Atlantic Fishery Management Council) who provided information on the SAFMC's overall management of the OHAPC. In addition, Iverson provided the students with literature on the OHAPC and the fish and coral resources found within this area.