| Survey of coral and fish assemblages on Pulley Ridge, SW Florida a report to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council - :547 | Education and Outreach | National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
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Survey of coral and fish assemblages on Pulley Ridge, SW Florida a report to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
  • Published Date:
Filetype[PDF-424.74 KB]

  • Corporate Authors:
    Southeast Fisheries Science Center (U.S.) ; Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council ;
  • Description:
    "The coral reef community covering Pulley Ridge is the deepest known light-dependent coral reef on the US continental shelf. Located off the southwest coast of Florida, the ridge is a drowned barrier island colonized by several species of hermatypic coral and a fish community comprised of both deep and shallow water species. Pulley Ridge has been designated a habitat area of particular concern (HAPC) due to the presence of these coral formations. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) has expressed concerns over ongoing damage to the habitat by fishing operations and is considering additional protective measures. The primary goals of this project were to determine the extent of scleractinian corals, especially Agaricia spp. as it is the most abundant hermatypic coral on the ridge, and examine fish diversity on the Pulley Ridge formation. The principle gear used to examine habitat and the fish community was a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), while the secondary gear used was a stationary camera array. Cruises in August 2007 and April 2008 resulted in 19 ROV dives and 12 camera array drops. There was a distinct difference in habitat between northern and southern Pulley Ridge, which resulted in distinct fish community compositions between the areas as well. Habitat to the north of the HAPC was characterized as one of three habitats: sand, pavement, and low relief outcrops, the latter two displaying varying degrees of live bottom coverage including several species of sessile and encrusting invertebrates and algae. The habitat in the southern area of Pulley Ridge was characterized as rock rubble with varying coverage of algae, coralline algae, hermatypic corals, solitary and encrusting sponges, octocorals, and antipatharians. Fish diversity was highest in southern Pulley Ridge on the rock rubble habitat. Sand tilefish (Malacanthus plumieri) mounds and red grouper (Epinephelus morio) pits were common in southern Pulley Ridge. Agaricia spp. was only observed in the southern portion of Pulley Ridge both inside and outside the HAPC in depths between 61.3 and 89.0 m. Results from this study will be valuable to the GMFMC in making future effective management decisions"--Abstract.

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