Cruise Report NOAA Ship McARTHUR II Cruise AR-04-04: Leg 2 (June 1-12, 2004): A pilot survey of deepwater coral/sponge assemblages and their susceptibility to fishing/harvest impacts at the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS)

Hyland, Jeffrey and Cooksey, Cynthia and Bowlby, Ed and Brancato, Mary Sue and Intelmann, Steve (2005) Cruise Report NOAA Ship McARTHUR II Cruise AR-04-04: Leg 2 (June 1-12, 2004): A pilot survey of deepwater coral/sponge assemblages and their susceptibility to fishing/harvest impacts at the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS). Charleston, SC, NOAA/National Ocean Service/National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, (NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS, 15)

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Abstract

Summary: The offshore shelf and canyon habitats of the OCNMS (Fig. 1) are areas of high primary productivity and biodiversity that support extensive groundfish fisheries. Recent acoustic surveys conducted in these waters have indicated the presence of hard-bottom substrates believed to harbor unique deep-sea coral and sponge assemblages. Such fauna are often associated with shallow tropical waters, however an increasing number of studies around the world have recorded them in deeper, cold-water habitats in both northern and southern latitudes. These habitats are of tremendous value as sites of recruitment for commercially important fishes. Yet, ironically, studies have shown how the gear used in offshore demersal fishing, as well as other commercial operations on the seafloor, can cause severe physical disturbances to resident benthic fauna. Due to their exposed structure, slow growth and recruitment rates, and long life spans, deep-sea corals and sponges may be especially vulnerable to such disturbances, requiring very long periods to recover. Potential effects of fishing and other commercial operations in such critical habitats, and the need to define appropriate strategies for the protection of these resources, have been identified as a high-priority management issue for the sanctuary. To begin addressing this issue, an initial pilot survey was conducted June 1-12, 2004 at six sites in offshore waters of the OCNMS (Fig. 2, average depths of 147-265 m) to explore for the presence of deep-sea coral/sponge assemblages and to look for evidence of potential anthropogenic impacts in these critical habitats. The survey was conducted on the NOAA Ship McARTHUR-II using the Navy’s Phantom DHD2+2 remotely operated vehicle (ROV), which was equipped with a video camera, lasers, and a manipulator arm for the collection of voucher specimens. At each site, a 0.1-m2 grab sampler also was used to collect samples of sediments for the analysis of macroinfauna (> 1.0 mm), total organic carbon (TOC), grain size, and chemical contaminants. Vertical profiles of salinity, dissolved oxygen (DO), temperature, and pressure were recorded at each site with a small SeaCat conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) profiler. Niskin bottles attached to the CTD also obtained near-bottom water samples in support of a companion study of microbial indicators of coral health and general ecological condition across these sites. All samples except the sediment-contaminant samples are being analyzed with present project funds. Original cruise plans included a total of 12 candidate stations to investigate (Fig. 3). However, inclement weather and equipment failures restricted the sampling to half of these sites. In spite of the limited sampling, the work completed was sufficient to address key project objectives and included several significant scientific observations. Foremost, the cruise was successful in demonstrating the presence of target deepwater coral species in these waters. Patches of the rare stony coral Lophelia pertusa, more characteristic of deepwater coral/sponge assemblages in the North Atlantic, were observed for the first time in OCNMS at a site in 271 meters of water. A large proportion of these corals consisted of dead and broken skeletal remains, and a broken gorgonian (soft coral) also was observed nearby. The source of these disturbances is not known. However, observations from several sites included evidence of bottom trawl marks in the sediment and derelict fishing gear (long lines). Preliminary results also support the view that these areas are important reservoirs of marine biodiversity and of value as habitat for demersal fishes. For example, onboard examination of 18 bottom-sediment grabs revealed benthic infaunal species representative of 14 different invertebrate phyla. Twenty-eight species of fishes from 11 families, including 11 (possibly 12) species of ommercially important rockfishes, also were identified from ROV video footage. These initial discoveries have sparked considerable interests in follow-up studies to learn more about the spatial extent of these assemblages and magnitude of potential impacts from commercial-fishing and other anthropogenic activities in the area. It is essential to expand our knowledge of these deep-sea communities and their vulnerability to potential environmental risks in order to determine the most appropriate management strategies. The survey was conducted under a partnership between NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) and National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) and included scientists from NCCOS, OCNMS, and several other west-coast State, academic, private, and tribal research institutions (see Section 4 for a complete listing of participating scientists). (PDF contains 20 pages)

Item Type: Monograph or Serial Issue
Title: Cruise Report NOAA Ship McARTHUR II Cruise AR-04-04: Leg 2 (June 1-12, 2004): A pilot survey of deepwater coral/sponge assemblages and their susceptibility to fishing/harvest impacts at the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS)
Personal Creator/Author:
CreatorsEmail
Hyland, JeffreyJeff.Hyland@noaa.gov
Cooksey, CynthiaCynthia.Cooksey@noaa.gov
Bowlby, Ed
Brancato, Mary Sue
Intelmann, Steve
Series Name: NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS
Number: 15
Date: 2005
Publisher: NOAA/National Ocean Service/National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science
Place of Publication: Charleston, SC
Issuing Agency: United States National Ocean Service
Additional Information: Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research
Subjects: Ecology
Management
Fisheries
Item ID: 2163
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 28 May 2009 21:12
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2014 20:28
URI: http://aquaticcommons.org/id/eprint/2163

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