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DISCOVRE - Diversity, Systematics and Connectivity of Vulnerable Reef Ecosystems Project:

The U.S. Geological Survey’s DISCOVRE project brings together a multi-disciplinary team to study the biology, ecology, and connectivity of deep-sea coral environments with the goal of providing the science necessary for their effective conservation and management.


Image courtesy of Deepwater Canyons 2012 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEM

This 5-year multidisciplinary research program will investigate hard bottom habitats, shipwrecks, and submarine canyons on the continental margin of the eastern United States off Virginia and Maryland. Investigators will examine the biological, chemical and physical oceanography in these areas to help understand the community structure, connectivity and trophodynamics of deep-sea ecosystems in submarine canyons.

Research THEMES

By design, the USGS DISCOVRE project is integrated with larger regional efforts involving the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and academic institutions.

Media Inquiries: Amanda Demopoulos, (352) 264-3490,

News & Events

Briefing on Deep Coral Reefs for the Trustee Council for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

On September 18, 2014, Dr. Nancy Prouty of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center gave a briefing to the Trustee Council for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (of which USGS and NOAA are members) and the Department of Justice. The briefing was part of a three day meeting hosted by the NOAA Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research in Charleston, SC. Prouty gave a short presentation on age and growth of mesophotic reefs (light-dependent coral ecosystems living at depths of 60 meters to more than 100 meters) to the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustees of Mesophotic Reefs (specifically the Deepwater Benthic Communities Technical Working Group). The meeting's overall goal is complete documentation for NOAA's Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program (DARRP). (POC: Nancy Prouty,, 831-460-7526).

SPCMSC Researcher chosen for Judging Panel of the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE

XPRIZE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development, has announced the $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE. On the heels of the successful Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE, the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE aims to spur global innovators to develop accurate and affordable ocean pH sensors that will ultimately transform our understanding of ocean acidification. Current sensors are limited in their capacity to detect ocean acidification changes in the deep ocean and in coastal waters, and we cannot assess change unless we understand and measure what is out there. Eighteen teams from around the world have registered for this 22-month competition. SPCMSC research microbiologist Dr. Christina Kellogg has been chosen to be on the five-member judging panel. Judges were vetted by the competition's Science Advisory Board and chosen based on scientific expertise, objective outlook, credibility, and ethical reputation. Judges will award points during several testing phases including laboratory trials, coastal trials, and open ocean trials. The judging panel has the sole authority to declare the winners of the competition, and the final decisions will be announced during an award ceremony in July 2015. For more information on the XPRIZE, visit: (POC: Christina Kellogg, 727-502-8128,

Next-generation Sequencing in Deep Sea Corals On September 3-5, 2014

Cheryl Morrison of the Leetown Science Center was an invited participant in a workshop organized by the genetics group at NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center. The workshop, funded by NOAA's Deep Sea Coral Research Technology Program, brought 20 scientists from the coral genetics community together who have experience with or are interested in using next-generation sequencing to discuss on-going projects, ideas for future projects/collaborations, to facilitate data sharing, and to gain hands-on experience with data analysis pipelines. Morrison gave a presentation on using next-generation sequencing to identify microsatellite markers for connectivity studies in deep sea corals. For more information, contact Cheryl Morrison,, 304-724-4464.

  • Growth rates and ages of deep-sea corals impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. [Journal Abstract]

  • Cultured fungal associates from the deep-sea coral Lophelia pertusa. [Journal Abstract]

  • Megafaunal-habitat associations at a deep-sea coral mound off North Carolina, USA.

  • Impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on a deep-water coral community in the Gulf of Mexico. [Journal Abstact]

  • all publications

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