Project Title: Assessing Deep-Sea Coral Communities from Archived Video Surveys: Year 2
Goal or Purpose

To quantify deep-sea corals and sponges from archived video transects conducted in central California, and to integrate these data into the national deep-sea coral database.

Anticipated Management Application(s)

These data are being used directly as part of the 5-Year Review of Pacific Coast Groundfish Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), to refine EFH and better understand potential impacts of fishing gear types to biogenic habitats. These data also will be used to develop predictive models and maps of the distribution of deepsea coral communities, which will improve our ability to protect and manage these important natural resources.

Fiscal Funding:
  • FY 2012 @ $33,313

 
Region(s):
  • Pacific Council
Location(s):
  •  None Defined.
Fleshy sea pen (Ptilosarcus gurneyi) on mud seafloor in 105 m water, Monterey Bay, CA. Credit: R. Starr; NOAA Fisheries SWFSC Impact Cruise
Project Type:
  • Data Mining
Point of Contact: Office of the Point of Contact:
  • NMFS SWFSC
Team Members:
  •  None Defined.
Project Title: Assessing Deep-Sea Coral Communities from Archived Video Surveys: Year 2
Methods/Approach

This project analyzes archived video transects conducted during visual surveys of demersal communities in submarine canyons and on the continental shelf off central California. The data include counts, sizes, and associated habitats (location, depth, substratum type) of deep-sea corals and sponges identified to lowest possible taxon from the video images. These data will be made available to managers through the national deep-sea coral database.

Project Results and Management Outcomes

Data on deep-sea corals have been collected from archived video transects conducted during 163 submersible dives at 6 submarine canyon and shelf sites along the central coast of California from 1992 to 2009. Video from 464 survey transects (10 minutes each) were analyzed amounting to over 75 hours of video footage. Depth of dives varied from 26-365 m. We only counted structure-forming corals and sponges that were at least 20 cm in length. Only 47 transects had no corals and sponges. 

A total of 4,862 individual corals were counted from at least 16 different taxa. Sea pens were the most numerous group, by far, with 3,406 individuals representing at least three taxa (Ptilosarcus gurneyi, Halipteris spp., and an unidentified fleshy white pen). Sea pens were the tallest corals on these surveys (maximum height 80 cm). The next most abundant coral was the mushroom coral (Anthomastus ritteri) with 906 individuals. Lophelia pertusa, some of which covered > 2 m of the sea floor, were observed 82 times in these transects. The remaining coral taxa comprised mostly gorgonians and cup corals.

A total of 4,309 sponges were quantified from at least 14 different taxa. Sponges are difficult to visually identify to species, especially from a video image, so morphological categories were used to distinguish some of the sponge groups. Almost half of the sponges (1,944) were identified as Polymastia spp. Other abundant sponge taxa were branching (549), vase (404), and barrel sponges (294). Vase and barrel sponges were the tallest sponges (60 and 55 cm, respectively), while some barrel and foliose sponges were 50 cm wide.

Project Title: Assessing Deep-Sea Coral Communities from Archived Video Surveys: Year 2
Internal References:
  •  None Defined
 
Backlinks:
  •  None Defined

FY12_5_image.jpg
Fleshy sea pen (Ptilosarcus gurneyi) on mud seafloor in 105 m water, Monterey Bay, CA. Credit: R. Starr; NOAA Fisheries SWFSC Impact Cruise