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HARBOR BRANCH & I-SENSE FACULTY FELLOW RECEIVES NOAA OCEAN EXPLORATION RESEARCH AWARD    

Faculty Fellow


Jordon Beckler, Ph.D., assistant professor in FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and I-SENSE Faculty Fellow was awarded a $257,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ocean Exploration Research program.

This project is a collaboration with a team from Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, Sarasota, in which the researchers will assemble an innovative sensor and sampling suite to explore submarine sinkholes and springs (i.e. “blue holes”) on the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf. 

Offshore submerged sinkhole and spring features have received limited scientific study as they frequently exceed normal scuba limits, reaching depths of >130 m, and exhibit openings too small for access with many submersibles. These blue holes host several commercially important fish species and can be considered ecological hotspots with respect to species composition and diversity.

Because of groundwater discharge, the organic matter deposition, and circulation regimes, parameters such as temperature, salinity, light, turbidity, circulation, dissolved oxygen, pH, redox, trace metal, carbonate chemistry, and sediment types are heterogeneous and satisfy various biological niches.

Fortunately, due to the development of new technology, it is finally possible to overcome the technological limitations and explore the geological, physical, and chemical environments in these karst features, and the resulting resident biological distribution and diversity.