Deepsea Coral and Fish Habitat Surveys Conducted on Underwater Mountain

The SWFSC Fishery Ecology Division’s Habitat Ecology Team, along with researchers from UC Santa Barbara, NMFS Northwest Fisheries Science Center, MBARI, and Channel Islands Sanctuary, completed a successful 5-day research cruise (28 June - 2 July 2010) onboard the NOAA ship McArthur II.

Underwater surveys of corals, sponges, and associated habitats, invertebrates, and fishes were conducted at depths of 280-900 meters on the Piggy Bank, an underwater mountain off Southern California. Scientists used non-extractive transect methodologies and direct observations from the University of Connecticut’s Kraken II ROV (remotely operated vehicle) and the NWFSC Seabed AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle). About 45 hours of continuous high-definition video and several thousand still images were collected along navigated track lines. Data were also collected on environmental conditions including depth, temperature, substratum types, topography, and carbonate saturation state to help understand habitat factors that influence deepsea coral settlement and distribution. Thirty-three specimens of deepsea coral, sponges, and associated organisms were collected and sent to experts for confirmation of taxonomic identifications and for genetic, reproductive, and stable isotope analyses.

This was a cooperative project that received additional funds from NOAA’s Deepsea Coral Program. All objectives were met and data analyses are underway.

Read more about the Habitat Ecology Team’s coral research: Deep sea coral communities and fisheries habitats off California

(July 15, 2010)

Update (October 25, 2011): Report to NOAA DSCRTP

Yoklavich, M., et al. (2011) A characterization of the coral and sponge community on Piggy Bank seamount in southern California from a survey using a remotely operated vehicle. Report to the NOAA Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program. 63 p.
(View report)