Bathymetric and Spatial Distribution of Decapod Crustaceans on Deep-Water Shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico
The decapod fauna of six World War II shipwrecks at depths from 75 to 2000 m was examined in 2004 in the northern Gulf of Mexico. A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was used to conduct video transects on the wrecks and through the adjacent debris fields. Shipwrecks were used as surrogates for deep-sea drilling platforms to determine if structures in deep waters serve as artificial reefs. We focused on two genera and three species of decapod crustaceans: Munidopsis spp., Munida spp., Eumunida picta S. I. Smith, 1883, Rochinia crassa Milne-Edwards, 1879, and Chaceon quinquedens (S. I. Smith, 1879). Differences in abundance m–2 were compared among three locations (on, near, and away from [> 300 m] the wreck) to determine if the presence of the wrecks affected crab distributions. The two most abundant crab species were observed only at four of the six shipwrecks, and two species were observed at a single site. All crabs, except R. crassa, had no spatial correlation to proximity of the wreck; however, crab abundance varied significantly on different substrates. Crab abundance was significantly correlated with depth; some species were stenobathyal while others were eurybathyal, but all species were found within their previously reported depth ranges. Drilling structures act as artificial reefs/aggregation sites in the deep sea for some species, but not others.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 May 2008
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