This expedition aims to continue work previously conducted by the U.S. West Coast Deep-Sea Coral Initiative and the EXpanding Pacific Research and Exploration of Submerged Systems (EXPRESS). To date, the majority of seafloor characterization has focused on nearshore and shallow areas. Thanks to Nautilus’ deep-water mapping and visual survey capabilities, this mission will explore areas with critical data gaps in need of immediate management decisions.
Over this 11-day expedition, we will acquire new seafloor mapping data in Arguello Canyon and the area to the west of the Santa Lucia Bank, located within the nominated Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. National marine sanctuaries are charged with conserving and managing the living and non-living resources within their boundaries deemed to be of irreplaceable national significance. Our work in this region will help to identify these vital assets and inform decisions regarding the proposed protected area.
Additional seafloor mapping, visual surveys, and sample collections through this Nautilus mission will strengthen our understanding of the presence, distribution, condition, and connectivity of deep sea coral and sponge habitats.