technical report |
Garcia-Sais JR, Castro-Gomez RL, Sabater-Clavell J, Esteves R, Williams S, Carlo M
This research at Abrir la Sierra (ALS) forms part of an initiative by the Caribbean Fishery Management Council (CFMC) to characterize the benthic habitats and associated fish and shellfish communities present within the Caribbean EEZ, Puerto Rico and the USVI, with particular interest on the corals and fish and shellfish species of commercial value. The main objectives of the study included the preparation of a georeferenced benthic habitat map of the mesophotic zone at ALS within a depth range of 30 – 50 m, along with a quantitative, qualitative and photographic characterization of the predominant sessile-benthic, fish and motile-megabenthic invertebrate communities associated with these mesophotic habitats. Production of the benthic habitat map was based on a series of field observations and habitat classifications of the main reef topographic features by rebreather divers, as suggested from a multi-beam bathymetry footprint produced by the R/V Nancy Foster (NOAA). A total of 62 stations were occupied for direct field verification of benthic habitats, including 47 -10 m long transects for determinations of percent cover by sessile-benthic categories. The same transect array was used to quantify demersal reef fishes and motile megabenthic invertebrates. Determinations of densities of each species per belt-transect were recorded.
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Algae (Macro, Turf and Crustose Coralline)
Octocorallia (Soft Corals)
Overall benthic (groups)
Scleractinia (Hard Corals)
Antipatharia (Black Corals)