Authors: Bowlby, E., Brancato, M. S., Bright, J., Brenkman, K., Hyland, J.

Institution: NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

Abstract: Deep-sea corals (DSC), particularly structure forming corals, are biogenic habitats and are recognized as slow-growing, long-lived and fragile, making them and their associated organisms vulnerable to human-induced impacts, particularly from physical disturbances (NRC 2002; Hourigan et al. 2007; NOAA 2010). The extent of habitat degradation resulting from these threats is largely unknown although there is increasing information on significant impacts in some areas. Activities that can directly impact deep coral communities include fishing using bottom-tending fishing gear, deep coral harvesting, oil and gas and mineral exploration and production, and submarine cable/pipeline deployment. Invasive species, climate change and ocean acidification represent additional serious threats. Submersible and ROV surveys for deep-sea habitats in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS) started in the year 2000 to investigate potential impacts to the benthic habitat caused by trenching operations to lay fiber optic cable in OCNMS (Brancato and Bowlby 2005). The stony coral Lophelia pertusa was discovered in the sanctuary in 2004 (Hyland et al. 2005). This report on a 2006 DSC survey expands on the previous publication (Brancato et al. 2007) to include quantification of habitat types and the distribution/abundance of deep-sea corals and sponges.

This is a deliverable of DSCRTP project FY10-05.

  • Technical Report
Type: DSCRTP Supported Date: 2011
  • Pacific Council
  • Olympic Coast