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Open Access PROTEKER: implementation of a submarine observatory at the Kerguelen Islands (Southern Ocean)

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In the context of global climate change, variations in sea surface temperature, sea level change and latitudinal shifts of oceanographic currents are expected to affect marine biodiversity of the sub-Antarctic islands located near the polar front, such as the Kerguelen Islands, particularly in coastal waters. Sampling sites of previous oceanographic programmes focused on the Kerguelen Islands were revisited during three scientific summer cruises aboard the trawler La Curieuse (2011–2014). Among 18 coastal sites explored using scuba diving, 8 were selected for monitoring, as representative of the Kerguelen sub-Antarctic marine habitats, to be progressively equipped with sensors and settlement plots. Remotely operated vehicle (ROV) observations and beam trawling (at 50 m and 100 m) have also been used to contextualise them. Eight sites – in the Morbihan Bay (4), and in the north (2) and south (2) of the Kerguelen Islands – are now monitored by photo and video surveys, with temperature loggers installed at 5 m and 15 m depth, and settlement plots at about 10 m depth. Temperature data have been recovered yearly since 2011 at some sites (those equipped first). Biodiversity found on settlement plots will be characterised yearly by metagenomics. The often harsh conditions at sea involve using robust underwater equipment and simple investigation techniques and protocols to ensure the permanence and the reliability of the equipment installed.
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Keywords: BENTHOS MONITORING; CLIMATE CHANGE; COASTAL HABITATS; FRONTAL SHIFTS; SETTLEMENT PLOTS; SUB-ANTARCTIC; THERMO-RECORDERS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2016

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