NOAA to Continue Seafloor Exploration in U.S. Virgin Islands

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The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday it will resume its 12-year expedition to map seafloor habitats and identify fish populations in waters around the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The team of scientists will arrive late this week aboard the vessel Nancy Foster to conduct research along the southern coast of St. Croix and the northwest coast of St. Thomas, NOAA said in a statement.

Oceanographer Tim Battista and ecologist Chris Taylor will lead the next step of the expedition, scheduled to end April 7.

The team is expected to use advanced technology, including gliders and remotely operated vehicles with high-definition cameras, to map the Caribbean region, although efforts will also focus on focus on two deep-water areas thought to be home to snapper populations.

NOAA scientists have mapped nearly 3,430 sq. kilometers (1,324 sq. miles) since 2004 and their research partners continue exploring the waters surrounding Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, identifying and mapping critical coral reef and fisheries habitat with sonar and video observations.

For the original report go to http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2380452&CategoryId=13936

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