Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Science section includes Seafloor Mapping, Oceanography, Deep Sea Coral and Sponges, Wildlife Research, Coastal Habitats, Citizen Science, Ecosystem Processes, Research Surveys, and Research Assets
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Science section includes Seafloor Mapping, Oceanography, Deep Sea Coral and Sponges, Wildlife Research, Coastal Habitats, Citizen Science, Ecosystem Processes, Research Surveys, and Research Assets
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Science section includes Seafloor Mapping, Oceanography, Deep Sea Coral and Sponges, Wildlife Research, Coastal Habitats, Citizen Science, Ecosystem Processes, Research Surveys, and Research Assets Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Science section includes Seafloor Mapping, Oceanography, Deep Sea Coral and Sponges, Wildlife Research, Coastal Habitats, Citizen Science, Ecosystem Processes, Research Surveys, and Research Assets

Rainier Survey of Quinault & Quileute Canyons 2016

IOCM-OCNMS NOAA Ship Rainier Seafloor Survey 2016
Nancy Wright - Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
Ashley Chappell, Adam Reed - NOAA Integrated Ocean & Coastal Mapping
Paul Turner – NOAA Office of Coast Survey

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the Quinault and Quileute Canyons seafloor mapping.
Figure 1: A 2013 spatial prioritization exercise identified three offshore areas on Washington Coast that require immediate seafloor mapping. In 2016 Rainier mapped the larger part of Offshore Area 2 - the Quinault and Quileute Canyons. (Image: NOAA NCCOS)

Coastal planners, fishery managers, and oceanographic researchers received important seafloor and water column data from the special survey of Quinault Canyon completed in May 2016 by the NOAA Ship Rainier.

The survey, a collaboration between Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and NOAA’s Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping program, grew from a 2013 seafloor mapping prioritization exercise among coastal stakeholders from federal and state (Oregon and Washington) agencies, tribes, and academia. The group prioritized offshore areas where seafloor mapping is needed due to poor understanding of canyon depths, seafloor structure, and benthic habitats required for responsible marine research, monitoring, and management. Offshore Area 2 – Quinault and Quileute Canyons – was selected for Rainier’s first mapping survey. These are unexplored canyons, significant natural features influential on the local ecosystem and oceanography, which are targeted by commercial fisheries.

An onboard scientific team of experts from the College of Charleston, University of Washington, and Oregon State University contributed to the NOAA-led multi-disciplinary survey project, gathering data for a host of research projects and ocean management activities. The survey collected swath bathymetry, acoustic backscatter and water column data for the location of methane plumes – all critical data for:

  • regulatory decisions on coastal development;
  • benthic habitat mapping and seafloor characterization for sustainable fisheries initiatives, and to assess fishery stocks and critical spawning aggregation locations;
  • resolution of multiple-use conflicts;
  • baseline information to determine marine chemical and biological signatures or contamination levels;

Bathymetry and backscatter data from this 2016 Rainier survey are available at https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/nos/W00001-W02000/W00306.html . Oceanographers at University of Washington and NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab are reviewing the water column data for methane seeps and plumes.

Survey technicians onboard the Rainier
Figure 2: Survey technicians onboard the Rainier, mapped more than 500 methane plumes (yellow) on the shelf, rim, and slope of Quinault Canyon. Prior to the Rainier’s, survey, only five plumes (red) were known from the area. (Image: Susan Merle)

 

 



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