Channel Islands NMS Dive Tracks

Channel Islands NMS


SoCal Footprint & Piggy Bank Dive Tracks
SoCal Hidden Reef Dive Tracks

Hidden Reef Footprint


Piggy Bank Dive Tracks

Piggy Bank Seamount

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Surveys off the Southern California Bight

A Characterization of the Deep-sea Coral and Sponge Community

Access Surveys

Area Map Offshore sea floor habitats in the Southern California Bight (SCB) are diverse compared to other areas of the Pacific coast, and include a number of rocky banks, seamounts, basins, and submarine canyons spanning about 75,000 km². SCB habitats also are influenced by a dynamic mixing of cold, nutrient-rich water from the California Current and warmer water from the south.

These survey reports (see 'Access Surveys' button) present summaries, by dive, of the diversity and density of corals, sponges, invertebrates and fishes along with their associated habitats. They also present profiles of sea temperature and salinity with depth. Some notes on the health and condition of the corals and sponges are included, along with the occurrence of marine debris and evidence of fishing.

NOAA Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program

Surveys on the Continental Shelf of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

A Characterization of the Deep-sea Coral and Sponge Community

Overview DSCRTP-Funded 2013 Report [Download size: 944 Kb]     OER-Funded 2012 Report (S. Katz et al.) [Download size: 2.8 Mb]

Area map 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.

In 2011, the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer began their field season with a shakedown cruise through Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. This cruise number EX1101 was focused on preparing for the upcoming field season by performing sonar patch testing. The test cruise in the sanctuary provided an opportunity to test systems and equipment prior to integrating the use of the ROV on board. The cruise also provided an opportunity to conduct bathymetric mapping and to select targets to use for ROV testing for subsequent cruises. The OER Funded 2012 Report (S. Katz et al) summarizes these activities.

In 2013, the Institute for Applied Marine Ecology (IfAME) at CSU Monterey Bay was contracted to conduct a “first pass” through the video imagery to quantify the abundance/density of selected organisms. The DSCRTP Funded 2013 Report summarizes the results of analyses conducted on ROV imagery from the survey to quantify deep-sea coral and sponge communities, as well as investigate the role of habitat availability in organism distribution.

NOAA Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program

Surveys on the Hidden Reef, Footprint & Piggy Bank Sites in the Southern California Bight

A Characterization of the Deep-sea Coral and Sponge Community

Overview DSCRTP-Funded 2013 Report [Download size: 6.2 Mb]

Area map 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.

The Footprint and Piggy Bank study sites are located within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, in the general vicinity of 33°54.84’ N and 119°28.35’ W in the SCB. The Footprint is about 10 km² in area, ranging in depth from 80 to 500 m. Piggy Bank is about 30 km² in area and ranges in depth from 275 to 900 m. These banks have been designated as EFH by NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fisheries Management Council and are within the Footprint Marine Reserve.

NOAA Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program

Survey on Piggy Bank Seamount

A Characterization of the Deep-sea Coral and Sponge Community

Overview DSCRTP-Funded 2010 AUV Report [Download size: 11.76 Mb]     DSCRTP-Funded 2010 ROV Report [Download size: 3.37 Mb]

The Piggy Bank seamount is located within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, in the general vicinity of 33°54.84’ N and 119°28.35’ W in the Southern California Bight (SCB). This seamount is about 30 km² in area, ranging in depth from 275 to 900 meters. 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 (thereby improving the chance of success of this relatively short cruise).

During the AUV dives, a total of 17,173 m² of seafloor was classified during the 7 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 30% hard substrate.

During the ROV dives, A total of 21,237 m² of sea floor habitat was classified during the 48 quantitative transects. The original two-character-code habitat types were aggregated into three general categories for this analysis: the ‘hard’ category included rock ridge, boulder, cobble, and flat rock in various proportions; ‘mixed’ comprised rock ridge, boulder, cobble, or flat rock and mud; and ‘sediment’ was represented entirely by mud. About 30% of the surveyed area comprised hard habitat (i.e., combinations of rocks, boulders, and cobbles).

Science operations included quantitative visual surveys of DSC and fishes with their associated habitats. The Kraken II ROV was used during the daylight hours and for the collection of coral samples. The SeaBED AUV and associated cameras were used during the night hours to quantitatively survey DSC and habitats particularly at depths beyond the capabilities of the ROV.

These survey reports (see 'AUV/ROV Report' buttons) present summaries, by dive, of the diversity and density of corals, sponges, invertebrates and fishes along with their associated habitats. They also present profiles of sea temperature and salinity with depth during the AUV dives. Some notes on the health and condition of the corals and sponges are included, along with the occurrence of marine debris and evidence of fishing.

NOAA Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program