On August 19, 2009, the Lophelia II expedition departed Key West, Florida, USA aboard the NOAA Ship Ron Brown steaming into the Gulf of Mexico. This NOAA expedition aims to study the deep-water coral assemblages of the Gulf in an effort to better predict the distribution of these fragile communities. The NOAA Office of Exploration and Research and the U.S. Minerals Management Service are pursuing this research with the goal of providing better protection for these habitats as oil & gas and mining interests, as well as other human activities, push further and further offshore into the Gulf of Mexico. This expedition includes two Census researchers, Chris German and Ian MacDonald. The cruise will run through mid-September and will be posting ship to shore updates as well as a photo and video log online. For more information please visit: Lophelia II .