Two types of ecosystems are typically associated with deepwater hardgrounds in the Gulf of Mexico: chemosynthetic communities and deep-sea coral communities. Hydrocarbon seeps may indicate the presence of undiscovered petroleum deposits, so the presence of these ecosystems may indicate potential sites for exploratory drilling and possible development of offshore oil wells. At the same time, these are unique ecosystems whose importance is largely unknown.

sea anemone
This tiny orange sea anemone is growing on a rock near a natural asphalt site.
Image courtesy of Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007 and Aquapix.

Close-up view of one of the undescribed species of Lamellibrachia that scientists discovered during the Deep Slope 2006 cruise.
Image courtesy of Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007 and Aquapix.

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Lessons from the Deep
Exploring the Gulf of Mexico’s Deep-Sea Ecosystems

October 11-29, 2010

This three-week online professional development offering presents Lessons from the Deep: Exploring the Gulf of Mexico’s Deep-Sea Ecosystems Education Materials Collection, a selection of lessons about deep-sea ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico based on ten ocean exploration expeditions sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Office of Exploration and Research (OER) between 2002 and 2009. Some of these sites are within a few miles of the Deepwater Horizon well. Additional background information will be introduced to participants about the unique geology of the region and behavior of oil in seawater.  The purpose of this professional development offering is to:

  • Provide a foundation for student inquiries into the unique deep-sea ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico, with particular focus on deep-sea corals and cold seep ecosystems and the importance of these ecosystems;
  • Provide an understanding of the technologies used to investigate these ecosystems; and
  • Build capabilities for comparing data from past OER expeditions with new information from ongoing research in the Gulf.

The offering features Keynote Addresses from renowned ocean explorers who have made significant contributions to scientific knowledge of deep-sea ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico. Participants are formal and informal educators, as well as interested members of the public.

Workshop components include online spaces for discussions to further professional development, a collection of resources, discussion rooms for Keynoters to interact with participants, and discussion rooms for teachers of different grade levels.

This offering is a collaboration between NOAA's Office of Exploration and Research and the College of Exploration.

Click here to view the flyer (PDF/109k)

This offering is free for all participants and will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Educators will have the option to receive one "Graduate Extension Credit" from California State University at Fullerton ($100).
Registration form: Click here for WORD document. * Deadline will be Oct. 13.

Another option for participants is to obtain a certificate of completion to reflect 15 hours of professional development. This is not official credit from any instituion. It is acknowledgement from NOAA OER and College of Exploration that a person has participated for at least 15 hours.*

* Note: Participants are responsible for finding out whether or not their educational institution will accept either of these.