April Program

With NOAA Okeanos Explorer to the Deep Gulf of Mexico
Charles G Messing, Ph.D., Nova Southeastern University

From 29 November to 21 December 2017, Professor Messing accompanied NOAA’s research vessel Okeanos Explorer to use the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer to explore deep-sea habitats and associated marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. The 17 ROV dives ranged from depths of 300 to 2,321 m and investigated deep-sea coral and sponge communities, bottom-fish habitats, canyons, shipwrecks, and chemosynthetic habitats such as methane seeps, asphalt seeps and brine pools. Operation goals included surveys of areas identified by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary for baseline data to inform conservation priorities and possible expansion of managed areas. The expedition observed hundreds of different species of invertebrates and fishes, from carnivorous sponges to chimaeras, some never or rarely observed in their natural habitat, and collected dozens of specimens, including a few species new to science. Scientists from around the world participated via telephone or chatroom, and the video feed from the ROV on the seafloor, accompanied by Charles’ and colleagues’ narration, was transmitted live via the Internet and viewed by over a quarter of a million people.

Dr. Charles G. Messing is Professor of Marine Science at Nova Southeastern University. His research centers on the evolution, taxonomy and ecology of living crinoids (sea lilies and featherstars) and on the ecology of deep-sea coral communities and rocky-substrate habitats. He has also been involved in assessment of both shallow and deep-water habitats for fuel pipelines, fiber-optic cables, artificial reefs, and beach renourishment. Charles has led 14 deep-sea submersible expeditions funded by NSF and NOAA, and led or participated in over 30 other research and educational expeditions as far afield as Papua New Guinea and the Bahamas. He has written or co-authored 61 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and has 47 years’ experience as a scientific illustrator. Currently, he is also a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution and at Scripps Institute of Oceanography and has been a repeated Visiting Scientist at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris. He has also written or hosted several science educational television programs. More at http://charles-messing.squarespace.com/

Charles G. Messing, Ph.D.
Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences
Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography
Nova Southeastern University