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Jim Nybakken
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
P.O. Box 450, Moss Landing, CA 95039

This section summarizes the few available studies of the organisms inhabiting the MBNMS seafloor beyond Scuba diving depths, from roughly 40 to 3000 meters at the base of the continental slope. This region comprises more than 95% of the MBNMS ocean bottom. Note that the fauna of steep submarine canyon walls and vents (see cold seep communities section) are not covered here. Also excluded is the benthic fauna of the continental slope (approximately 600-2000 m), as virtually no information is available for this region.

The slope of the MBNMS bottom beyond scuba depths is generally quite gentle, and the bottom substrate is a combination of varying amounts of sand, silt and clay. Composition is generally more sandy in the shallower depths and more silt and clay in deeper areas, but this trend is not consistent throughout the MBNMS. Indeed, outside the northern half of Monterey Bay (Hodgson and Nybakken 1973), the distribution of sediment types is not well known (but see Geology section). In certain areas where rivers discharge, the bottom often has considerable amount of terrigenous debris, particularly at the end of the rainy season (see Geology and River Mouths, Brackish & Estuarine Wetlands sections).

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