Researchers are using a remotely operated vehicle to capture video and still images of life in deep-water habitats, including submarine canyons. From the images, they are documenting the numbers and kinds of fishes and larger invertebrates and their association with bottom features. In the project’s first year the following sites were surveyed: (1) Point Vicente SMCA and Abalone Cove State Marine Reserve (SMR) off Palos Verdes; (2) the two Farnsworth Bank SMCAs off Catalina Island; and (3) San Diego-Scripps Coastal SMCA and Matlahuayl SMR. With additional support from private donors, the ROV was also “flown” about a half-meter above the seabed through four other marine protected areas near Laguna Beach and Newport Beach in Orange County. In the project’s second year, the original three sites were resurveyed along with three new sites off San Clemente Island, with support from the US Navy. The final baseline characterization includes summary descriptions of benthic ecosystems, habitat characteristics and species assemblages in the South Coast MPAs and reference sites.