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Fish Community and Habitat Assessments on North Carolina Shipwrecks: Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, Battle of the Atlantic, June 2010.

Author(s): Whitfield, Paula E., Roldan Munoz, Christine A. Buckel and Lauren M. Heesemann.


Center Team: Beaufort

Publication Type: NOAA Technical Memoranda

Journal Title: Marine Sanctuaries Conservation Series ONMS

Date of Publication: 2011

Reference Information: 11-2

Extent of Work: 35 p.

Keywords: CCFHR, NOAA Oceans, NOAA Fisheries, Coral Reef, Resource and land use, Shipwrecks, Fish community, Habitat, North Carolina, Sentinel sites, Climate

Abstract: The Monitor National Marine Sanctuary (MNMS) is the nation's oldest sanctuary, originally established in 1975 to protect the famous civil war ironclad. Since 2008, sanctuary sponsored archeological research has branched out to include historically significant U-boats and World War II shipwrecks, which are important for their cultural significance and unique biological communities. Recently, the 2010 MNMS Research and Monitoring Action Plan suggested the establishment and promotion of the Sanctuary as an ocean observing station due to its unique location within an important area for biological productivity and climate change. For this reason, from June 8-30, 2010, biological and ecological investigations were conducted at four World War II shipwrecks as part of the MNMS 2010 Battle of the Atlantic (BOTA) research project. At each shipwreck, we conducted fish community surveys and collected habitat photo-quadrats to characterize the mobile conspicuous fish, smaller prey fish, and sessile invertebrate and algal communities. In addition, temperature sensors were placed at five shipwreck locations. The data suggest strong differences in both the fish and habitat communites among the surveyed sites based on the oceanographic zone (depth) of the shipwreck. In order to establish these shipwrecks as sentinels for detecting community change we suggest that a subset of sites across the shelf be selected and repeatedly sampled over time along with increasing the number of samples/surveys per site to reduce variability within sites for both the habitat and fish community. This sampling strategy takes into account the natural differences in community structure that exist across the shelf, due to the oceanographic regime, and allow robust statistical analyses of community differences over time.

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