Scientific Research Expeditions

NOAA Ship Nancy Foster

About once a year, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary works with partner agencies on scientific expeditions on research vessels to monitor conditions and advance basic scientific understanding of fisheries, coral, and other natural resources in the Sanctuary. These cruises are conducted on large research vessels in the NOAA fleet, with the support of NOAA Commissioned Corps Officers. This enables researchers to assess the deepest and most remote waters of the Sanctuary, where major research projects are not possible with smaller boats.

Each research cruise is led by a chief scientist according to a plan that incorporates multiple scientific research objectives. The focus may be on an overarching issue of interest to the Sanctuary, but we work closely with partners in collaborative teams to pursue a diverse portfolio of research questions using the specialized equipment onboard, such as Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), multibeam sonar, and conductivity temperature and depth (CTD) casts. These expeditions are subject to the conditions at sea, and require the science teams to work together to be adaptive and flexible with when and how they collect data and samples or conduct experiments and procedures. Therefore, there is a NOAA tradition of posting updates on the progress of these cruises as they happen, and you can read these -- and find more background information on past cruises -- in the links provided below.

Highlights and Materials on Fish Spawning Aggregation Cruises

Many commercially and ecologically important species of reef fish come together in groups during reproductive events, forming fish spawning aggregations. Understanding where these aggregations form is important for the Sanctuary to ensure adequate protections for fish spawning habitat. Read the Overview...

Mission Logs From Coral Reef Disease and Condition Cruises

Several cruises have focused on coral reef disease and conditions, with scientists looking for trends in reef health and decline, including one of the least understood stressors to reef health — coral disease. Read the Overview...