NOAA CRCG 2002 Habitat Characterization of Pulley Ridge and the Florida Middle Grounds, Part II: Characterization of the Pulley Ridge Coral and Fish Fauna
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NOAA CRCG 2002 Habitat Characterization of Pulley Ridge and the Florida Middle Grounds, Part II: Characterization of the Pulley Ridge Coral and Fish Fauna
  • Published Date:

    2005

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NOAA CRCG 2002 Habitat Characterization of Pulley Ridge and the Florida Middle Grounds, Part II: Characterization of the Pulley Ridge Coral and Fish Fauna
Details:
  • Alternative Title:
    Final report to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Conservation Grant Program
  • Description:
    Pulley Ridge is a 100+ km-long series of north-south trending drowned barrier islands on the southwest Florida Shelf approximately 250 km west of Cape Sable, Florida...The ridge is a subtle feature about 5 km across with less than 10m relief. the shallowest parts of the ridge are about 60 m deep. Surprisingly at this depth, the southern portion of the ridge hosts an unusual variety of zooxanthellate scleractinian corals, green, red and brown macro algae, and typically shallow-water tropical fishes. The corals Agaricia sp. and Leptoceris cucullata are most abundant, and are deeply pigmented in shades of tan-brown and blue-purple, respectively...Less common species include Montastrea cavernosa, Madracis formosa, M. decactis, Porities divaricata, and Oculina tellena. Sponges, calcareous and fleshy algae, octorals, and sediment occupy surfaces between the corals. Coralline algae appear to be producing as much or more sediment than corals, and coralline algal nodule and cobble zones surround much of the ridge in deeper water (greater than 80 m). In addition to coralline algae other abundant macro algae include Halimeda tuna, Lobophora variegata, Ventricaria ventricosa, Berdigelas peltata, Dictyota sp., Kallymenia sp., and particularly striking fields of Andaymonene menzeii. The fishes of Pulley ridge comprise a mixture of shallow water and deep species sharing this unusual habitat. More than 60 species have been identified. Commercial species include Epinephelus morio (red grouper) and Mycteroperca phenax (scamp). Typical shallow-water tropical species include Thalassoma bifasciatum (bluehead), Stegastes partitus (bicolor damselfish), Cephalopholis fulva (coney), Lachnolaimus maximus (hogfish), Pomacanthus paru (French angelfish), and Holacanthus tricolor (rock beauty). The deepwater fauna is represented by Chaetodon aya (bank butterflyfish), Argocentron bullisi (deepwater squirrelfish), Bodianus pulchellus (spotfin hogfish), Pronotogrammus martinicensis (roughtongue bass), and Liopropoma eukrines (srasse bass). Malacanthus plumieri (sand tilefish) and several other species construct large burrows and mounds that serve as refuge for multiple species. Mounds and pits larger than 1m2 are apparent on side-scan sonar images and have been counted in excess of 200/km2 for parts of the ridge.
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