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Dirty Bottoms: ROV Observations of Marine Debris

Aiken, E., M. Esgro, A. Knight, and J. Lindholm (April 2014)

Poster presentation at Sanctuary Currents Symposium, Seaside, CA


The Institute for Applied Marine Ecology (IfAME) conducts ROV surveys of the deep subtidal as part of several ongoing ecosystem characterization projects. Since 2009, IfAME has collected thousands of photographs of the seafloor from a variety of study regions off the coast of California. Though generally not a formal part of the sampling programs, geo-referenced observations of marine debris depict a distribution that transcends all sites (Point Arena to La Jolla), depths (15 to 450 m), and habitats surveyed. The type and amount of debris observed varied widely, including fishing nets, traps, beverage containers, and hoses. Line and monofilament were the most commonly observed debris items to date, with both of these items occurring throughout all surveyed areas. Recently deposited debris was generally devoid of marine life, while long-submerged debris (such as a jet engine found off Laguna Beach) provided habitat structure for a variety of fishes and invertebrates.

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