Monitoring marine protected areas in deep water off Central California
Delta submersible near Point Lobos, Calif.
What Has ANR Done?Cooperative Extension marine advisor Rick Starr and National Marine Fisheries Service research biologist Mary Yoklavich led a large team of scientists to study the deep portions of new MPAs by using the Delta submersible, an un-tethered submersible containing a pilot and a scientific observer. The team surveyed all fishes and structure-forming invertebrates in the deep portions of eight new MPAs and associated reference sites. Sampling locations were chosen based on the occurrence of rocky habitats from sea floor relief maps and previous knowledge of seafloor habitats. Quantitative visual strip transects were conducted to classify seafloor habitats and to identify, count and measure species of fishes and macro-invertebrates on or near the seafloor. Additionally, GPS location and water quality measurements were collected throughout each transect. During the 2007 season, 337 quantitative transects were conducted with nearly 66,000 fishes and 158,000 aggregating and 14,000 structure-forming invertebrates observed. In 2008, the 2007 dives were replicated and new locations were added to the sampling regime to more thoroughly survey different habitat types and depths.
Scientists collect comprehensive baseline data of new marine protected areasThe submersible surveys conducted in 2007 and 2008 provide the first comprehensive evaluation of deep-water fish and invertebrate communities in Central California. These baseline surveys are critical to the future evaluation of the effectiveness of the new MPAs because the data will enable scientists to quantitatively assess changes in the diversity, density and size of species inhabiting the deeper portions of the MPAs. Additionally, the submersible surveys provided information about deepwater rocky habitats that have received little research attention.
Supporting Unit:Sea Grant Extension Program Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties
Richard M. Starr, (831) 771-4442, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Yoklavich, (831) 420-3940, Mary.Yoklavich@noaa.gov
Kristin Hunter-Thomson, (831) 771-4479, email@example.com