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Data Report for Aerial Surveys Conducted Within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, July 2000

Forney, K.A. (September 2002)

Data Report, 57pp.


Aerial surveys of marine mammals were conducted during July 2000 as a collaborative effort between the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS), the National Marine Fisheries Service, Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC), and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML). The main objectives of the surveys were to 1) conduct research and monitoring projects that require aircraft within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, 2) demonstrate feasibility of and need for a permanent NOAA aircraft on the west coast, and 3) to provide data for GIS program formulation and input. Four separate sets of transect lines were surveyed to meet several specific research and monitoring objectives:

Sanctuary-wide pelagic (large-scale) aerial surveys were conducted to record information on the distribution of marine mammals, sea turtles, large sharks, selected seabirds, ocean sunfish (Mola mola), active and derelict fishing gear, and vessels within the MBNMS.

Meso-scale aerial surveys were conducted within a smaller region, which coincided with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI; and the REINAS Project CODAR (Coastal Ocean RADAR; oceanographic study area, for detailed studies of marine mammals, turtles, selected seabirds and fish, in relation to their physical environment within this portion of the MBNMS. The objectives of this component of the research were to 1) Contribute to ecosystem monitoring objectives of comprehensive physical/biological studies, 2) Collect replicated data on meso-scale distribution patterns of marine mammals, turtles and other species to be related to oceanographic data collected by MBARI and CODAR, and 3) Develop models of marine mammal, turtle and ocean sunfish distribution relative to oceanographic variables.

Fine-scale aerial surveys: Fine-scale surveys within Monterey Bay were conducted to collect detailed distribution information of harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) and sea turtles, and their potential prey species, pelagic schooling fish and jellyfish. Information was also 2 collected on sea otters (Enhydra lutris), ocean sunfish, large sharks, krill swarms, fishing gear, and vessels. The objectives of this research component were to 1) Collect replicated data on fine-scale distribution patterns of harbor porpoise and schooling fish, to be incorporated into models of patchiness & variability, 2) Develop and test methods of recording schooling fish during visual aerial surveys, 3) Document sea otter depth distribution and variability, 4) Provide sighting locations to others interested in sampling turtles, krill, sharks, molas, and 5) record fishing vessels & gear for MBNMS monitoring.

Davidson Seamount surveys: A survey was conducted in waters over this central California seamount to provide background information to the NOAA Sanctuaries Division about species occurrence of marine mammals, seabirds, turtles, sharks and ocean sunfish in this region.

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, graduate student research: In support of ongoing graduate research projects, we conducted opportunistic radio-tracking of harbor seals (S. Oates) and photographic surveys of California sea lion haul out sites along the coast between Pescadero Creek in San Mateo County and Pt. Sur in Monterey County (M. Weise).

Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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