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Free Content Fishes associated with North Carolina shelf-edge hardbottoms and initial assessment of a proposed marine protected area

Fish community data are limited from deeper shelf-edge hardbottoms along the southeastern U.S. continental shelf. This lack of data hampers the design of recently proposed marine protected areas (MPAs) on the outer shelf of the southeastern U.S. During 2001–2004, sampling was conducted (57–253 m) to describe habitats and fish communities within and outside of the North Carolina proposed MPA (p-MPA) using the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible, remotely operated vehicles, otter trawls, and hook and line. Habitats observed included soft substrate or non-hardbottom (NH), a shipwreck ("Snowy Wreck"), low relief hardbottoms (LRH), boulder fields (BF), and high relief ledges (HRL), the latter of which were divided into three microhabitats. Non-metric, multi-dimensional scaling indicated that hardbottom fish assemblages were distinct from NH, and fish assemblages among microhabitats on HRL were different. In total, 152 fish species were documented. irty-five species were observed only on NH and 117 were observed on hardbottoms and the Snowy Wreck. Several species of anthiines were the most abundant fishes on most hardbottoms, whereas triglids, synodontids, and Seriola spp. were abundant on NH. Species richness was highest on HRL, and species composition was unique at the Snowy Wreck (238–253 m) and on BF. Future shelf-edge hardbottom research should include more standardized surveys using direct observations. Further, we recommend that the boundaries of the North Carolina p-MPA be redrawn to include more hardbottom habitat.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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