Coral Reef Discovery and Conservation

John Reed, M.Sc.

Principal Investigator

John Reed, M.Sc.
Research Professor


John Reed is Principal Investigator for the Robertson Coral Reef Research & Conservation Program. He is a project PI and leads the research and conservation programs on deep water and mesophotic coral reefs for the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research, and Technology (CIOERT). John’s research is not only scientifically important, but it has also directly resulted in the protection of fragile deep water coral habitats.

His research results and outreach efforts since 1976 on the deep water Oculina coral reefs off Florida resulted in the establishment of the 300 sq. mi. Oculina Coral Marine Protected Area (MPA), the first in the world to protect deep water coral. His recent research cruise in 2011 on the NOAA Ship Pisces resulted in the discovery of an additional 300 sq. mi. of Oculina reefs outside the MPA, and his proposal to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to expand the MPA to include these newly discovered reefs in the MPA is now under consideration by NOAA Fisheries. His research on the deep-water Lophelia coral reefs off the southeastern United States, which form coral mounds over 200 ft. tall at depths of 2800 ft., was instrumental in NOAA’s designation of the Deep-water Coral Habitats Area of Particular Concern which extends from North Carolina to south Florida, protecting over 23,000 sq. mi. of fragile coral and essential fish habitat. Moreover, his grant-funded research results have leveraged additional significant extramural support for Harbor Branch research: for example, the CIOERT Mesophotic Reef Research Program he leads was a critical component in securing a five-year, $5 million, multi-institutional grant, led by the University of Miami and funded by NOAA: “Understanding Coral Ecosystem Connectivity in the Gulf of Mexico--Pulley Ridge to the Florida Keys.” John has been Chief or Co-Chief Scientist on 60 research expeditions to 40 countries, including: Seychelles, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Galapagos Islands, Pearl Islands, Azores, Canaries, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and islands throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean. He has utilized research vessels from Harbor Branch, NOAA, and NASA as platforms for manned submersibles, ROVs, and AUVs. John heads the Collections and Taxonomy Program for the Harbor Branch Marine Biomedical and Biotechnology Research Program (MBBR).

He is curator for the MBBR museum and archives (over 30,000 deep and shallow water marine organisms, submersible videotapes and photographic archives).  John served as Diving Safety Officer for all diving activities at Harbor Branch for 26 years.  He has logged 35 deep-water lockout dives with helium-oxygen gas-mix from Johnson-Sea-Link submersibles to depths of 300 ft., over 2000 scientific scuba dives, and over 200 dives in the Johnson-Sea-Link submersibles. He has over 250 publications, reports, and articles on worldwide research expeditions, deep-sea coral reef research, and biomedical research.  John received his B.S. from the University of Miami and M.S. in marine ecology, from Florida Atlantic University in 1975.

Current Grants and Recent Projects

Recent projects include funding from NOAA CIOERT, NOAA National Ocean Services, NOAA Office of Ocean Research, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, Navy, Department of Energy, NSF, and the Robertson/Banbury Foundation

  • NOAA-NOS-NCCOS-2011-200258; 2011 REPP; Understanding Coral Ecosystem Connectivity in the Gulf of Mexico--Pulley Ridge to the Florida Keys;  PIs - Univ. Miami, D. Hanisak, J. Reed, et al.; Total Budget- $5,000,000 ($1,000,000 per annum), HBOI Budget - $475,822.
  • South Atlantic Fishery Management Council for NOAA CRCP request; South Atlantic MPAs and Deepwater Coral HAPCs: Characterization of Benthic Habitat and Fauna; PIs – J. Reed, S. Harter, A. David; Total Budget- $395,232 (3 yr), HBOI Budget - $174,930.
  • Naval Surface Warfare Center- NSWCCD, Ft. Lauderdale; Deep-Water Benthic Habitat Characterization; PIs- J. Reed, C. Messing, B. Walker; Budget- total $241,935, HBOI Budget - $28,000.
  • NOAA CIOERT Yr3-5.5.2. Extreme Corals 2011: South Atlantic Deep Coral Survey. R/V Pisces cruise with Arc ROV. NOAA Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program; PI - J. Reed; budget - $95,897 (1 year).
  • NOAA CIOERT Yr3-5.3.2. Deep-Sea Coral and Mesophotic Reef Ecosystems. R/V Foster cruise with Kraken ROV. NOAA Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program; PI - J. Reed; budget - $130,704 (1 year).
  • NOAA CIOERT Yr3-5.3.1. Mesophotic Reef Ecosystems. NOAA Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program; PI - J. Reed, J. Voss, D. Hanisak, S. Edge; budget - $130,042 (1 year).
  • Department of Energy (DOE), FAU Center of Ocean Energy Technology (COET); Addressing Siting Constraints for Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Projects Located Offshore Southeast Florida with an Emphasis on Nearshore and Deepwater Coral Reef Habitats; PI – J. Reed; Budget- $600,000 (2 years).
  • NSF, NOVA Southeastern Subcontract; Resolving Metazoan Roots with a Poriferan Tree of Life; PIs – J. Lopez, A. Collins, M. Diaz, G. Hill, D. Lavrov, r. Thacker, S. Pomponi, J. Reed.
  • MBARI; US-Egypt Science and Technology Oceanography Project: Hurghada Marine Research Station; PI - S. Pomponi, J. Scarpa, J. Reed.
  • Robertson Grant, Banbury Foundation; The Robertson Coral Reef Research and Conservation Program; PI - J. Reed; Program Manager - D. Hanisak.
HBOI ocean fish