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NOAA Ship Nancy Foster Returns to Puerto Rico to Conduct Coral and Fish Habitat Research

March 26, 2009

The NOAA Ship Nancy Foster is returning to Puerto Rico this week to continue a multi-year effort to study coral reef ecosystems and fish habitat in the commonwealth’s near-shore waters.

From March 27 to April 3, researchers aboard the 187-foot oceanographic research vessel will use robot subs and seafloor imagers to examine coral reefs, explore areas where fish gather and spawn, and create detailed maps of the sea floor off Vieques. NOAA is surveying the area at the request of commonwealth agencies and local scientists, who have determined it to be of special ecological significance.

“NOAA is pleased to continue this effort to improve our understanding of Puerto Rico’s coral reefs and seafloor habitats,” said John H. Dunnigan, assistant administrator for NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “We are equally pleased to work alongside our local partners to expand our knowledge of these critically important marine resources.”

Data gathered during the mission will support natural resource management in the federal and territorial waters of Puerto Rico. The overall effort, now in its sixth year, is sponsored by NOAA and the Caribbean Fishery Management Council.

Other areas of Puerto Rico explored by NOAA include the waters around Mona Island and several protected grouper spawning areas along Puerto Rico’s western coast.
                       
Daily mission updates in English and Spanish will be available online.
           
The NOAA Ship Nancy Foster is part of a fleet of research and survey vessels operated by NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. Based in Charleston, S.C., the ship supports a wide variety of coastal oceanographic research projects along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.