Deep-Sea California Benthic Surveys off Central California

The Team, Exploration, Discovery, Education, Marine Sanctuary Management

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the managing agency for the Cordell Bank (CBNMS) and Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries (GFNMS) off the coast of Central California. From 2012-2018 NOAA supported cruises using Remote Operational Vehicles (ROV), and conducted biotic surveys of GFNMS and CBNMS to collect biodiversity data for expansion of sanctuary boundaries in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.

In 2012 and 2014 two initial cruises were conducted to explore the proposed boundary expansion regions. For both cruises, NOAA marine ecologist Peter Etnoyer and Academy curator Gary Williams were the biologists on board to produce images of the benthic fauna and to collect specimens by use of a special collecting arm on the ROVs. Between 2016 and 2018, three additional cruises were conducted in the region. The depths explored have ranged from 80-2700 meters. New taxa and new records of gorgonian corals have been discovered from material collected during the cruise, which has been curated and incorporated in the Academy’s IZG collections.