Deep Sea

Overview

The deep sea includes habitats around the Channel Islands that extend from 30 to greater than 200 meters over the continental shelf and slope and well over 1000 meters in canyons. Over 90 percent of deep-water benthic habitats in the sanctuary consist of fine sands in shallow regions, grading into silt and clay-dominated sediments in deeper regions (Science Applications International Corporation 1986; Thompson et al. 1993). These soft-bottom particulates are derived from terrestrial runoff and decaying plankton. Coarse sediments occur near Point Conception, and north of San Miguel Island (Blake and Lissner 1993). Fine sediments occur on the sill at the western end of the

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Deep sea coral. Photo: MARE.

Santa Barbara Channel, and in the Santa Barbara Basin. Most of the deep-water hard bottom substrates are low-relief reefs less than 1 meter in height; some reefs have 1- to 5-meter-high features and may take the form of boulder and bedrock outcroppings. Hard bottom habitat is often found on the highest parts of undersea ridges, banks, and pinnacles such as those found off the northwest end of San Miguel Island. Because light rapidly disappears below 50 meters, offshore benthic habitats do not support marine algae. Invertebrates can, however, be found in these habitats and include sponges, anemones, cup corals, black coral, sea fans, bryozoans, feather stars, brittle stars, sea stars, and lamp shells. Demersal fishes are common, especially various species of rockfish. Due to the difficulty in studying very deep habitats, little is known about these areas in the sanctuary. However, recent submersible studies have begun to reveal the important associations between these diverse fish and invertebrate communities (Tissot et al. 2006).

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Deep sea urchin. Photo: MARE.
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Deep sea chimera. Photo: MARE.
Deep sea sea star. Photo: MARE.
Deep sea sea star. Photo: MARE.
The Beagle ROV aboard the R/V Shearwater. Photo: Robert Schwemmer
The Beagle ROV aboard the R/V Shearwater. Photo: David Minowitz.

Photo Library

No photos are currently available for this section.

Map Repository

Winter Shipping Container/Benthic Ecology Cruise (Dec 11-16, 2013) Study Sites

Winter Shipping Container/Benthic Ecology Cruise (Dec 11-16, 2013) Study Sites

This map shows study areas during from the Winter Shipping Container/Benthic Ecology Cruise (Dec 11-16, 2013), which operated from the R/V Western Flyer. The purple polygons are Sanctuary Ecologically Significant Areas.
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Deep Sea (Depth Zone Area by Sanctuary)

Deep Sea (Depth Zone Area by Sanctuary)

This map shows depth zones by sanctuary, focusing on the deep sea (>200 meters). Published in 2007.
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ROV Dives on Sur Ridge Through August 2016

ROV Dives on Sur Ridge Through August 2016

This map represents all 24 ROV dives conducted at Sur Ridge by MBARI and MBNMS through August 2016.
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California Seamounts

California Seamounts

This map shows all known seamounts that occur in federal waters off the California coast.
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National Marine Sanctuaries of Central California

National Marine Sanctuaries of Central California

This map depicts the three National Marine Sanctuaries that exist off the central California coast: Monterey Bay, Greater Farallones, and Cordell Bank.
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Project Database

Ongoing

NOAA's Deep-Sea Coral FY2010 Assessment for the U.S. West Coast

The marine region off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California accounts for about 7% (778,628 km2) of the total area of the U.S. Economic Exclusive Zone and contains extensive deep-sea coral (DSC) communities. NOAA manages five National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS) on the West Coast: the Channel Islands (CINMS), Monterey Bay (MBNMS), Gulf of the Farallones (GFNMS), Cordell Bank CBNMS), and Olympic Coast (OCNMS). All contain deep-sea corals.

Ongoing

Return to the Northern Channel Islands to Monitor Change Over Time, Inside and Outside of Marine Protected Areas

Marine Applied Research and Exploration (MARE) returned to complete ROV surveys around the northern Channel Islands MPAs 5 years after creating its deepwater baseline. The same 10 historical sites, both inside and outside of select MPAs, have been filmed and post-processed annually 2005-2009, with return surveys completed in 2014 and 2015.