You are here: Skip Navigation LinksHomeEcosystemsNational Marine SanctuariesCharacterization of the Fish, Benthos, and Marine Debris at the Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary

Characterization of the Fish, Benthos, and Marine Debris at the Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary


Quick Link to Products

Objectives

NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries Program (NMSP) and specifically the Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary have expressed interest in obtaining a baseline characterization of the benthic resources within Gray's Reef. To meet this need, CCMA's Biogeography Branch, in consultation with GRNMS is conducting a characterization to identify spatial correlations between fish communities, benthic features, and fishing impacts at Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary (hereafter, GRNMS or the sanctuary).

Project Summary

GRNMS encompasses approximately 58 square kilometers of seafloor located 17 nautical miles off the coast of Georgia in approximately 60 feet of water. Baseline characterization of GRNMS benthic fish and sessile invertebrates has not been conducted comprehensively throughout the Sanctuary. This project quantifies those resources through a robust, statistically defensible sampling design. The project builds upon the previously completed benthic maps for the sanctuary (completed in 2003 by CCMA Biogeography Branch). Such an assessment is needed to support the many activities and responsibilities of sanctuary staff including natural resources management, education, research, and even for promoting responsible recreational use by fishermen and divers. An understanding of the distribution of benthic resources provides the spatial framework within which to conduct sanctuary monitoring activities, identify and protect essential fish habitat, and properly address other spatially explicit research and management goals. This baseline characterization is also the first step in monitoring temporal changes in the Gray's Reef landscape and understanding more about the dynamic nature of this region of the continental shelf. To meet this need, the Biogeography Branch mapped benthic habitats of the Sanctuary using sonar imagery. Completed maps include ledges of varying heights, flat live bottom, flat sand, and rippled sand. These maps are used to stratify sampling design of fish and benthic cover. Fish communities, fishing gear, marine debris, and cover of sessile invertebrates are surveyed along diver transects within each habitat type.

Click images to enlarge
Toadfish peaking out of borrow in sand (Opsanus sp.) Diver conducting a fish survey on a ledge Benthic habitat at a ledge site

The images above represent typical bottom formations encountered at GRNMS. Photo credits: Biogeography Branch

Products

Current/Completed -

Reports and Publications

  • Kendall, M.S., L.J. Bauer and C.F.G. Jeffrey. 2009. Influence of hard bottom morphology on fish assemblages of the continental shelf off Georgia, southeastern USA. Bulletin of Marine Science 84:265-286. Contact for a copy of the article.
  • Kendall, M.S., L.J. Bauer and C.F.G. Jeffrey. 2008. Influence of Benthic Features and Fishing Pressure on Size and Distribution of Three Exploited Reef Fishes from the Southeastern United States. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 137:1134-1146. Contact for a copy of the article.
  • Bauer, L.J., M.S. Kendall, and C.F.G. Jeffrey. 2008. Incidence of marine debris and its relationships with benthic features in Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, Southeast USA. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 56:402-413. Contact for a copy of the article.
  • Kendall, M.S., L.J. Bauer and C.F.G. Jeffrey. 2007. Characterization of the Benthos, Marine Debris and Bottom Fish at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Prepared by National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) Biogeography Team in cooperation with the National Marine Sanctuary Program. Silver Spring, MD. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 50. 82 pp. + Appendices. Contact for a copy of the article.
  • Kendall, M.S., O.P. Jensen, C. Alexander, D. Field, G. McFall, R. Bohne, and M.E. Monaco. 2005. Benthic mapping using sonar, video transect, and an innovative approach to accuracy assessment: a characterization of bottom creatures in the Georgia Bight. Journal of Coastal Research 21: 1154-1165. Contact for a copy of the article.
  • Kendall, M. S., O.P. Jensen, C. Alexander, D. Field, G. McFall, R. Bohne, and M. E. Monaco. 2003. Benthic Habitats of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. NOAA/NOS/NCCOS/CCMA Biogeography Team Technical Report, pp 1-15. Contact for a copy of the article.

Maps

  • Benthic maps are available from GRNMS only (contact information below)

Data

  • Data are available from GRNMS only (contact information below)

Tools

Partners

Relevant Links

Time Frame

Completed: 2002 - 2007

For More Information

Project Manager:
1305 East West Highway
SSMC-IV, N/SCI-1
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-713-3028 x144