Project Title: Enhancement of a coral and sponge field guide for the Pacific region
Goal or Purpose

To improve field identification of deep-sea corals and sponges in the Pacific Council Region by enhancing pictorial field guides used by fishery observers and field survey biologists.

Anticipated Management Application(s)

Accurate and precise identifications benefit conservation and management goals in several ways. First, they provide a better sense of the overall species richness and diversity of coral and sponge communities, providing the basis to compare coral/sponge habitats within the region. This in turn helps identify taxa that may be more rare and/or more vulnerable to various impacts. Secondly, improved identifications can help provide more detailed characterization of coral/sponge communities at specific sites, helping to prioritize future research and conservation actions at sites potentially most vulnerable to impacts from fishing and other ocean uses.

Fiscal Funding:
  • FY 2016 @ $23,620

  • Pacific Council
  •  None Defined.
Project Type:
  • Bycatch Analysis
Point of Contact: Office of the Point of Contact:
Team Members:
  • Toby Mitchell
  • John Buchanan
  • Bob Stone
  • Ewann Berntson
  • Meredith Everett
Project Title: Enhancement of a coral and sponge field guide for the Pacific region

This project proposes to enhance observers’ ability to identify these animals by improving pictorial field guides used at sea. We will enlist taxonomic experts to help identify specimens representing the diversity of taxa observers encounter in the fishery. Specifically, we will organize a number of representative specimens collected by observers over the past 5 years, meet with taxonomic experts to confirm identifications for those specimens not yet verified, and develop a guide with morphological descriptions and companion photographs. We intend to model our guide after the “Field Guide to Corals of the Aleutian Archipelago, North Pacific Ocean” by Stone, Brooke and Stevenson (2012). Because of his considerable experience studying these animals, we have enlisted Bob Stone to assist in identifying specimens and in guide development. Also, we intend to travel to either the Smithsonian and/or California Academy of Sciences to examine voucher specimens in order to assist in writing our morphological descriptions. Finally, we will work with the Observer Program and Survey Team to incorporate the new field guide into their standard operating and training protocols.

Given the fishery and trawl survey operate in largely the same geographical area and over similar habitats, they have a strong likelihood in encountering the same coral and sponge taxa. For this reason, we would like to better align the two pictorial field guides. Even though observers have limited time with each specimen, we feel that updated morphological descriptions and additional photos can help improve the quality, and in some cases taxonomic resolution, of observer field identifications. Ideally, the updated guide will be flexible enough to accommodate faster, higher taxonomic level identifications, while affording those with more time (e.g., survey biologists) to scrutinize the specimens further.

Project Results and Management Outcomes  None Defined
Project Title: Enhancement of a coral and sponge field guide for the Pacific region
Internal References:
  •  None Defined
  •  None Defined

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