A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) will be “flown” 75 centimeters above the seafloor in deep habitats (between depths of 20 meters and 116 meters) along the North Central Coast. The slowly moving ROV will take video and still images of soft- and hard-bottom biological communities in two annual surveys, each lasting about 20 days. This imagery, collected along fully geo-referenced transects, will characterize the region's bathymetry and species associated with various seafloor features. Researchers will also identify and count fishes, as well as both sessile and mobile larger invertebrates, captured on film. Four study sites will be surveyed during the project: 1) Montara State Marine Reserve and Pillar Point State Marine Conservation Area; 2) South East Farallon Island State Marine Reserve and State Marine Conservation Area; 3) Bodega Head Marine Reserve and State Marine Conservation Area, and 4) Point Arena Reserve and State Marine Conservation Area. The final baseline characterization will include summary descriptions of benthic ecosystem structure, processes and habitat characteristics, as well as species assemblages in the protected areas and adjacent reference sites. In the analysis phase of the project, scientists will evaluate the draft long-term monitoring plan for the area and offer recommendations for future monitoring of deep subtidal communities.
Baseline Characterization of Newly Established Marine Protected Areas within North Central Coast Study Region—ROV Surveys of Deep Water Habitats