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Research Technical Report

Rocky Shelf Fish Surveys in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Starr, R.M., E.J. Burton, A. Greenley, R.N. Lea, J. de Marignac, E. Morris, and M.M. Yoklavich (March 2005)

Poster presentation at the 2005 Sanctuary Currents Symposium, Seaside, CA


In August 2004, we surveyed demersal fishes in rocky shelf habitats (60-165 m) off the Monterey Peninsula and Point Sur using the Delta submersible. Our goals were to: 1) identify species composition, size composition, and relative abundance of demersal fishes off Point Pinos and identify changes that occurred since surveys in 1993 and 2003; 2) intensively sample high-relief rocky habitats (75-90 m), and low-relief rocky habitats (90-120 m), off Point Pinos to determine the number of submersible transects needed to detect significant changes in species composition and relative abundance of fishes at various levels of predictability; and 3) gather information to compare future changes in species composition, size composition, and relative abundance of demersal fishes in rocky habitats (75-120 m) off Point Sur. We completed 49 dives comprised of 144 transects. Here, we report preliminary observations. Species diversity was greater, and large rockfish species were more numerous and larger in size off Point Sur than off Point Pinos. Relative abundance of small lingcod, bocaccio, and canary rockfish off Point Pinos was greater in 2004 than 1993. Deeper (90-120 m) low-relief rocky habitats off both Point Pinos and Point Sur contained more large rockfishes than shallower (70-90 m) high-relief rocky areas. Shallow high relief rocky areas had lower species diversity than deep low-relief rocky habitats off Point Pinos. Our results demonstrate how submersible surveys conducted over time, using similar standardized methods, can be used to detect changes in faunal communities in the MBNMS.