[Coral-List] Operation Laser Line 2006

J. Michael Nolan mnolan at rainforestandreef.org
Wed Nov 8 15:07:29 EST 2006

Thought some could be interested. Thanks.

Mike Nolan

We are proud to announce that the "Operation Laser Line 2006" expedition 
site has launched on NOAA's Ocean Explorer website at:


Operation Laser Line 2006 will embark on a 6-day research cruise from 
November 8-13, utilizing the only commercially-available laser line scan 
system in the world to survey several sites off the coast of Maui.

Coral reefs are one of the most biologically-productive ecosystems on 
Earth, and benefit humans in a variety of ways that include protecting 
shorelines from erosion and storm damage, supplying foods that are 
important to many coastal communities, providing chemicals which have 
medical uses, and providing recreational and economic opportunities. 
Even though they provide numerous benefits to humans, many coral reefs 
are threatened by human activities.

While maps have been created which show where various reef habitats are 
located, these maps are unable to provide detailed information needed 
for effective management of complex coral reef systems. Side-scan sonar 
techniques are able to cover large areas, but cannot distinguish 
individual organisms in communities of fish, algae, and invertebrates. 
Video and photographic data can be collected by divers in areas 
shallower than 20 to 30 meters, and by towed cameras, remotely operated 
vehicles, and human-occupied submersibles in deeper waters. None of 
these methods, however, are able to collect the large amounts of visual 
data needed to make detailed maps of coral reef habitats.

A new technology called laser line scan (LLS) may provide a bridge 
between broad-scale approaches such as side-scan sonar and fine-scale 
video and still photography. LLS systems can detect objects as small as 
about one centimeter. This is much better resolution than is possible 
with side-scan sonar, but not quite as good as video. While LLS systems 
are unable to cover as much area as side-scan sonar, these systems 
provide two to five times the coverage of video. One of the most 
publicized uses of LLS was in the search for wreckage from TWA Flight 
800, which went down off Long Island in 1996.

The purpose of the Operation Laser Line 2006 expedition is to determine 
if LLS technology can provide the data needed to effectively manage 
coral reef ecosystems.  Expedition survey targets include beds of 
commercially-harvested black coral, a recently-discovered deep hard 
coral reef, an important nursery area and fishing site for 
commercially-harvested groundfish, deep algae beds, and a WWII aircraft 
wreck. This wide range of targets will enable the expedition's team to 
thoroughly evaluate LLS technology and hopefully provide the impetus to 
design less expensive and more capable LLS systems to meet management 
and research needs in coral reef ecosystems.

Web coverage for this mission includes content essays written especially 
for this mission. Web logs, including video and images, written by 
scientists and other explorers at sea capture daily activities and 
discoveries. An "Ask an Explorer" feature is also available to submit 
questions to and receive answers from the explorers while at sea.

The Ocean Explorer Expedition Education Module (EEM) available through 
the Education link on this expedition's website includes a summary of 
the purpose of this expedition; lesson plans designed specifically for 
this expedition; interactive educational multimedia presentations on 
deep-sea corals; profiles of scientists representing careers featured 
during this mission; and a list of other resources and links related to 
the Operation Laser Line 2006 expedition.

Join the exploration! 


If we are on another line or away from the phone, please leave your number, best time to return your call and/or your e-mail address.
After hours and weekend phone appointments are available upon request.


J. Michael Nolan, Director
Rainforest and Reef 501 (c)(3) non-profit

"Outstanding-Affordable Field Courses in Rainforest & Marine Ecology"

"Spanish Immersion in Spain, Mexico, Central and South America"

Rainforest and Reef 501 (c)(3) non-profit
P.O. Box 141543
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49514-1543 USA
Local Phone: 1.616.604.0546/Toll Free: 1.877.255.3721
Skype: mikenolan1
MS IM: mnolan_1 at hotmail.com
AOL IM: buddythemacaw
E-mail: mnolan at rainforestandreef.org
Web: http://www.rainforestandreef.org

Latin America:
Juan Pablo Bello
San Jose, Costa Rica
E-mail: juanpablobello at rainforestandreef.org
Phone: 011.506.290.8883/011.506.822.8222 

Marion Stephan
Frankfurt, Germany
E-mail: mstephan at rainforestandreef.org 
Phone: 49.172.305.4738

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