Habitat Reports

Cape Lookout

Several fish and invertebrate species were observed during this dive. The dive began on dense rubble with Helicolenus dactylopterus, Laemonema spp., squid, and scorpaenids. Scorpaenids and Nezumia spp. were observed in rubble and hard coral habitats. The dominant coral in the area was Lophelia pertusa and was colonized by Echinus spp., numerous galatheids, and brittle stars.

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Cape Fear Lophelia Banks

The entire dive took place over a dense Lophelia pertusa reef made up of primarily dead L. pertusa boulders and rubble. Only about 5-10% of the coral observed was living. Cup corals were abundant on the dead L. pertusa, while sponges and soft corals were rare. The most common mobile invertebrates were Eumunida picta and brittle stars. A single Rochinia crassa was observed and collected. Flytrap anemones and basket stars were observed occasionally.

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Stetson Banks

This dive transected a large portion of off-mound habitat and some on-mound habitat in the end. The low profile, off mound habitat had less than 10% live Lophelia pertusa coverage. A few species were seen in the off-mound area. The most common fish species was Laemonema barbatulum, and the most common invertebrate was Plumarella sp. (both on- and off-mound). Urchins and anemones were common. Galatheids were not present off-mound. In the last 30 minutes of the dive, the sub transected the top of a mound where L.pertusa was of higher relief and a greater percentage was alive (>25%). Galatheid crabs, brissingid sea stars, and sponges were common on top of the mound. Other fish species observed included Conger oceanicus, Nezumia spp., Beryx decadactylus, and a few scorpaenids. Sessile invertebrates observed included barrel sponges, glass sponges, Madrepora oculata, and a few gorgonians.

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Savannah Banks

Very few fish were observed on this dive and were represented by very few individuals. The most common fish was Laemonema melanurum in all habitats observed. A few Nezumia spp. and squalid sharks were observed on mound. Fenestraja plutonia was observed on the soft substrate rubble mix. In the soft substrate rubble mix Phykalleia spp. was abundant in patches. Mound substrate of rock ledge and rubble was covered with abundant mixed fauna. Hard corals were represented by individuals of Lophelia pertusa, Madrepora oculata, Enallopsammia profunda, and numerous cup corals. Gorgonians were abundant but too small to be properly identified.

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Jacksonville Lithoherms

The Jacksonville lithoherms area is a huge region of hardground outcroppings and deep-sea coral bioherms occurring from about 200 to 800 m depths over a latitude range of about 30° to 31° N. The dominant deep-sea coral is Lophelia pertusa, which colonizes the rocks as well as builds bioherms. Black corals (mostly Leiopathes sp.) are common on the rocky hardgrounds, reach large sizes, and can be hundreds to thousands of years old. Other cniderians observed in this area include Madrepora oculata, Enallopsammia profunda, Plumarella sp., Bathypathes sp., Stylaster spp., Keratoisis sp., cup corals, and numerous anemones. Sponge diversity is quite high.

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St Augustine

The St. Augustine lithoherm was composed primarily of a dead Lophelia pertusa rubble matrix on a carbonate rock substrate. Additionally, this site is a carbonate substrate lithoherm with rock slabs and outcrops covered in consolidated and unconsolidated coral rubble.

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St Lucie Bump

The habitat of interest at St. Lucie Bump consisted of low to high relief coral mounds comprised of 99% dead Lophelia pertusa matrix with occasional live tips.

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West Palm Beach

This dive began to the south of the L. pertusa bioherm in rubble habitat before traversing over soft sediment and soft sediment with coral rubble and attached fauna. The first coral bioherm supported a mixed habitat of sponges and soft coral attached to coral rubble and hard coral habitat with attached fauna.

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Miami Terrace

The survey on November 16 & 17, 2005 (Brooke et al.) used the R/V Seward Johnson deploying the Johnson Sea Link I Submersible supporting the Ocean Exploration 2005 program. The survey on May 29, 2007 (Messing et al.) used the R/V Seward Johnson deploying the Johnson Sea Link II Submersible supporting the Ocean Exploration Deep Coral Expedition.

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Cape Canaveral North

Multiple dives, on August 7th and August 9th 2009, surveyed the ‘Cape Canaveral North' site using the Johnson Sea Link submersible.

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Cape Canaveral Shallow

This site is composed of a southern part which contains three adjacent mounds, called Triceratops (Area III), separated from each other by about 500 m. Five JSL dives were made here in Aug 2009 and one Jason ROV dive was conducted here in Nov 2010. S. Brooke also conducted two JSL dives at this location in 2005. The three mounds are Lophelia pertusa bioherms surrounded by coral rubble and coarse sand substrata. The central mound is the largest, reaching a depth of just under 400 m, and the smallest mound is to the east. All three mounds exhibit rugged topography and are capped by extensive fields of living L. pertusa. Diversity of other corals (including Madrepora oculata and Enallopsammia profunda), sponges, and other sessile fauna is quite high on these mounds.

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Cape Canaveral South

Multiple research cruises, beginning in 2005 and again in 2009, surveyed the ‘Cape Canaveral South' site using the Johnson Sea Link submersible. In 2010, a cruise surveyed the site using the Jason 2 ROV.

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Florida Straits Site

The survey on November 16, 2005 (Brooke et al.) used the R/V Seward Johnson deploying the Johnson Sea Link I Submersible supporting the Ocean Exploration 2005 program. The survey on May 29, 2007 (Messing et al.) used the R/V Seward Johnson deploying the Johnson Sea Link II Submersible supporting the Ocean Exploration Deep Coral Expedition.

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Pourtales Terrace

Lying along the southern edge of the Florida Peninsula, the Pourtalès Terrace forms a narrow, gently curved triangle that parallels the Florida Keys for 213 km, from southern Key Largo to just west of the Marquesas Keys between Key West and the Dry Tortugas. Geologically, it is continuous with the Miami Terrace to the north, but the connecting portion is buried under thick sediments. The Terrace covers 3,429 km² and reaches its greatest width, 32 km, south-southeast of Vaca Key, where the apex of the triangle actually lies closer to Cay Sal Bank in the Bahamas than to the Florida Keys.

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West Florida Slope

This survey used the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown, deploying the Jason 2 ROV. This survey supported the Extreme Corals 2010 Project by providing for the mapping of deep coral banks, ecological studies of macroinvertebrates and fishes, paleoclimate studies, coral genetics and education outreach.

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Olympic Coast NMS

In order to meet the needs for additional information on deep-sea corals (DSC), surveys of DSC ecosystems in the OCNMS were conducted utilizing a ROV and an AUV off the NOAA Ship McArthur II in June 2010. Both survey vehicles targeted known or suspected DSC sites both inside the current EFH conservation area known as 'Olympic 2'. Sampling also targeted adjacent areas that have been proposed as boundary expansions and/or have additional fishery restrictions.

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Grays Canyon

Images of the seafloor were collected using two 5 Megapixel,12 bit dynamic range Prosilica GigE cameras. One camera was mounted to look directly downward and the second camera was angled forward at 30°. Lighting was provided by a strobe synced with the cameras. Two downward parallel lasers were used to estimate the sizes of organisms in photographs.

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Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is an area of national significance because of its exceptional natural beauty and resources. It encompasses approximately 1,470 square miles (or 1,110 square nautical miles) of water surrounding Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Barbara Islands, extending from mean high tide to six nautical miles offshore around each of the five islands. The sanctuary's primary goal is the protection of the natural and cultural resources contained within its boundaries.

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Hidden Reef Cowcod Conservation Area

The Hidden Reef study site covers about 290 km² and is located within the Cowcod Conservation Area (CCA), which was closed to bottom-contact fishing gear by the Pacific Fishery Management Council in 2001. This area also was protected in 2006 under Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) regulations (NMFS 2005). Prior to CCA and EFH designation, this area was a longtime focus of intense fishing effort in southern CA.

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Bodega Canyon

A total of 14,271 m² of seafloor was classified during the 4 completed dives. The original two- character-code habitat types were aggregated into three general categories for this analysis: the ‘hard’ category included ridge, boulder, cobble and flat rock in various proportions; ‘mixed’ comprised one of the ‘hard’ classifications combined with mud or sand; and ‘sediment’ was represented by mud and sand or a combination of the two. The overall area surveyed by the AUV was approximately 90% sediment substrate.

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Cordell Bank

While the continental slope and shelf region targeted by this survey is well known to fishers and mariners, in situ observations are rare owing to the difficulty posed by the elements, depth, and distance from shore. This first glimpse of the continental slope region of CBNMS revealed some expected as well as some unexpected findings.

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Gulf of the Farallones

Rittenburg Bank had the highest density of sponges in comparison to Cochrane Bank and Farallon Escarpment. Habitat at Rittenburg Bank is suitable for corals and sponges, with 10.1 % being rugose, hard substrate. Cochrane Bank has long-lived coral Antipathes dendrochristos, a species previously thought to be endemic to Southern California (Love et al. 2007), but now discovered in GFNMS and believed to be at the northern extent of its range. The Farallon Escarpment, west of Cordell Bank, Cochrane Bank, and the Farallon Islands, differs significantly from adjacent areas of the continental slope.

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Piggy Bank Seamount

The Piggy Bank seamount is located within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. It is designated as essential fish habitat (EFH) by NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fisheries Management Council and is within the Footprint Marine Reserve. This area is especially important because it represents extensive, deep, rocky habitats, which are uncommon within the Sanctuary, and is accessible from nearby ports and protected from adverse sea conditions.

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