SIMoN
  Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Monitoring Project

Archival of Midwater and Benthic Survey Data at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Gregor Cailliet
    Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, California State University
  • James Nybakken
    Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, California State University
  • Christopher Rinew
    Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, California State University
  • Aaron Carlisle
    Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, California State University
  • Karen Osborn
    Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
  • Amber Reichert
    California State University, Monterey Bay
  • Scott Hamilton
    Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, California State University

Funding

  • SIMoN
Start Date: September 01, 1972
End Date: April 23, 2013

Since the early 1970s, faculty and students in Marine Ecology, Invertebrate Zoology, and Ichthyology courses at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) have participated in class cruises aboard several research vessels to survey the fishes and invertebrates in shallow-benthic, deep-benthic and midwater habitats in Monterey Bay. All fishes and invertebrates were identified to the lowest possible taxon.

The results of these surveys were recorded on data sheets, which until now were only available in noteboof form at the MLML Museum. This SIMoN-funded project allowed Dr. Cailliet and his students to enter the survey data into a Microsoft Access database and to scan many of the maps and charts used over the last 40 years.

Summary to Date

Many people have been involved with this project over the years. The most recent updates were handled by Amber Reichert and Scott Hamilton. Legacy contributors to and oracles of this database are James Nybakken, Christopher Rinewalt, Aaron Carlisle, and Karen Osborn. All are included in the "Principal Investigators" section on the "Overview" page.

Moss Landing Marine Labs (MLML) annually conducts two cruises for the courses Marine Ichthyology and Marine Ecology. During these cruises data are collected on benthic and midwater fish and invertebrate assemblages. The sample data were originally collected from 1972 to 2004 but have been collected through 2013. The amount and type of data collected are variable over the years, with cruises after the late 1980’s being more thorough from the creation of standardized data sheets and more knowledgeable taxonomic identification. All data has thus been archived in the MLML museum.

Typically each cruise conducts one standard tucker trawl (2m wide), one beam trawl (2.1 m mouth, 6.7 m bag length, 3.8 cm stretch mesh), and several otter trawls (24’ or ~ 8 m headrope, 1.25-1.5” or ~2-2.5 cm stretch mesh in body, 0.25-0.5” or ~0.5-1 cm cod end liner) at various depths. Biological information collected includes lowest taxonomic identification, abundance, and sizes or size ranges. Environmental information is variable, but includes such data as location (latitude and longitude), time of day, depth of tow, bottom depth, temperature, salinity, oxygen concentration, chlorophyll and light level. This information is collected by shipboard technology such as global positioning systems, echo sounders and CTD arrays. Currently, data from approximately 40 class cruises are available. Data from class cruises are highly reliable due to the consistency of data collection methods.

Data are also available from the Fish and Macroinvertebrate Monitoring Program (FAMMP), which occurred in 1977. For this project, MLML faculty and students were commissioned by Engineering Science, Inc. to perform the survey, collection and identification of fishes and macroinvertebrates from benthic trawls in Monterey Bay relative to the proposed sewage treatment facility. There are 85 data sheets each for both invertebrate and fish taxa taken within this study, for a total of 170 data sheets. All FAMMP sampling was conducted using an otter trawl. Biological information collected includes identification to the lowest taxon possible, size, parasites, and abundance. Environmental metadata include location, moon phase, and percent cover. Finally, a significant amount of data is available from MLML student theses and class projects. Currently there are 169 data sheets available, covering a time span of approximately 30 years. These data were collected in a variety of ways, but otter trawls were the sampling method used in the majority of the data sheets.

There are two separate data sheets used for midwater and benthic data collection. All information included on the data sheets is as conservative and thorough as possible. Taxonomy is kept current with help from organizations such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Data is very seldom edited or interpreted with the wording used on the data sheet maintained in the database. The purpose of doing so was to increase the ability for a user to correctly interpret raw data. Any questions of data sheet content or problems with legibility are noted in the database. The only interpretation of the data was that all depths, lengths, and weights were converted to metric, volume was changed to weight for gelatinous organisms, and an organisms taxonomy is appended when updated.

In addition to being in a variety of formats and in various states of organization, these data are largely unknown outside of MLML, and as a result have not been easily used. In order to increase the accessibility of all data, hard copies of trawl information are archived and publicly available in the MLML museum. MLML survey data provide the only long-term records for habitat types found in the Monterey Bay. The SIMoN archival is the first time that this long-term, continuous dataset from the MLML class cruises and the historical data from the FAMMP project and MLML student work are collectively archived and integrated into a queryable electronic database. These data are valuable for monitoring oceanographic trends, biodiversity. Lastly, the availability of this data aid in public outreach efforts.

Monitoring Trends

  • 231 fish species, 55 other fish taxa, and 7 types of eggs or egg cases have been observed to date. 158 invertebrates have been identified to species, whereas 358 others were identified to genus or higher, and 5 kinds of neogastropod egg cases were collected.
  • In some El Nino years, fishes with a more southern distribution were collected. Definite, predictable changes in fish assemblages occur with depths.

Study Parameters

  • Range/Biogeography
  • Age & Growth
  • Reproduction
  • Dispersal & Recruitment
  • Habitat association
  • Morphology
  • Habitat
  • Trophic association
  • Diversity
  • Parasitism
  • Abundance
  • Distribution
  • Size structure
  • Sex ratio
  • Temperature
  • Salinity

Study Methods

The MLML class cruises are divided into semesters, with Marine Ecology occurring generally in the fall (October) and Ichthyology and Invertebrate Zoology generally in the spring (April). For Ichthyology, we usually do two midwater trawls in deep (~800 m) and shallow (~ 400 m) zones, plus otter trawls at 2-3 depths, ranging from the shelf edge at ~ 150 m to inshore, shallow depths of ~ 50 m. For Marine Ecology and Invertebrate Zoology, we typically take a beam trawl sample at ~ 650 m at the north edge of the Monterey Submarine Canyon, followed by two midwater trawls as described above.

The midwater trawl is a 2 meter wide Tucker Trawl built by Eastside Net Shop, Bothell, WA. The otter trawl has a mouth width of 8.3 m, body mesh size of 3.8 cm, and cod-end mesh size of 1.0 cm, with a bridle of 22.9 m, purchased from the same manufacturer. The beam trawl was made at MLML and had a mouth width of 2.1 m, height of bag 6.7 m, 3.8 cm stretch mesh, and a 12.5 m bridle, with a strong tubular sled comprising the form.

For all trawls, latitude, longitude, depth, date, time, boat speed and direction, wire tension, are noted. In addition, for midwater trawls, a time-depth recorder records the depth at which the trawl was sampling. Often, a CTD (conductivity, temperature and depth) recording is made, either on the specific cruise or one taken close by.

The classes in question participate in the sorting and identification of specimens collected. Usually, the instructor insures proper identification and uses a suite of identification aids accumulated over the years. For Invertebrate Zoology cruises, the invertebrates are usually well identified, but fishes often are not, with the reverse being true for Ichthyology cruises. For Marine Ecology, we attempt to identify both fishes and invertebrates to the lowest possible taxa.

Some specimens are saved, especially if they are to be accessioned into the MLML Museum or elsewhere (e.g. the California Academy of Sciences), and as many live specimens as possible are saved for display at MBA. In addition, if specific researchers desire specimens, tissues, or body parts for studies on life history, genetic, etc., we attempt to accommodate these requests. Usually, this is noted on the data sheets.

MLML annually conducts at least two class cruises (Marine Ichthyology and Marine Ecology) during which data are collected on benthic and midwater fish and invertebrate assemblages. Information from these cruises is available from as far back as 1982, and has been archived in the MLML museum. The amount and type of data collected vary from cruise to cruise, with cruises after the late 1980’s being more thorough because of the creation of standardized data sheets and more knowledgeable taxonomic identification. Sampling was conducted using a standard Tucker trawl (2 m wide), beam trawl (2.1 m mouth, 6.7 m bag length, 3.8 cm stretch mesh), and otter trawl trawl (24’ or ~ 8 m headrope, 1.25-1.5” or ~2-2.5 cm stretch mesh in body, 0.25-0.5” or ~0.5-1 cm cod end liner). Available biological information includes identification to the lowest possible taxa, abundance, and sometimes sizes or size ranges. Environmental information varies, but includes such data as location (latitude and longitude), time of day, depth of tow, bottom depth, temperature, salinity, oxygen concentration, chlorophyll and light level. This information was collected by shipboard technology such as global positioning systems, echo sounders and CTD arrays. Currently, data from approximately 29 class cruises are available. Data from class cruises are highly reliable. An overview of some of these data was submitted to the SIMoN website by Dr. Gregor M. Cailliet and Jean de Marignac under the project title “Midwater, Otter, and Beam Trawl Surveys on Moss Landing Marine Laboratories Class Cruises in Monterey Bay.” This overview is available online at:
http://www.mbnms-simon.org/PDERM/project_overview.php?projectID=100170.

Data are also available from the Fish and Macroinvertebrate Monitoring Program (FAMMP), which occurred in 1977. For this project, MLML faculty and students were commissioned by Engineering Science, Inc. to perform the survey, collection and identification of fishes and macroinvertebrates from benthic trawls in Monterey Bay (Engineering Science, Inc 1977; Engineering Science, Inc. 1979) relative to the proposed sewage treatment facility. There are 85 data sheets each for both invertebrate and fish taxa taken within this study, for a total of 170 data sheets. Sampling was conducted using an otter trawl (24’ or ~ 8 m headrope, 1.25-1.5” or ~2-2.5 cm stretch mesh in body, 0.25-0.5” or ~0.5-1 cm cod end liner). Biological information includes identification to the lowest possible taxon, sizes, parasites, and abundance. Environmental metadata include location, moon phase, and percent cover. Data from the FAMMP cruises are very reliable.

Finally, a significant amount of data is available from MLML student theses and class projects. Currently there are 169 data sheets available, covering a time span of approximately 37 years. These data were collected in a variety of ways, but otter trawls were the sampling method used in the majority of the data sheets. Biological information includes identification to the lowest possible taxa and abundance. Environmental metadata include various physical parameters such as location, time of day, temperature, salinity and depth, but environmental information was only taken sporadically. Data from this source vary in their reliability, but in general they are good.

All information on the data sheets was included in order to be as conservative and thorough as possible. There was very little interpretation/editing of the data, and the wording used on the data sheet was maintained in the database. The purpose of doing this was to make it easier for any potential user to correctly interpret the raw data. If there was any question about what was on the data sheet or any problems with legibility, these issues were noted in the database. The only interpretation of the data was that all depths, lengths, and weights were converted to metric, volume was changed to weight for gelatinous organisms, and the taxonomy of the organisms was updated.

Hard copies of all of this information are archived and publicly available in the MLML museum. In addition to being in a variety of formats and in various states of organization, these data are largely unknown outside of MLML, and as a result have not been easily used or accessible. This is the first time that this long-term, continuous dataset from the MLML class cruises and the historical data from the FAMMP project and MLML student work will be collectively archived and integrated into a queryable electronic database.

Figures and Images

Beam trawl. Photo: Griffiths

Tucker trawl. Photo: Griffiths

Benthic organisms. Photo: Griffiths

Blob sculpin (Psychrolutes phrictus). Photo: Cailliet

Deep-sea smelt, Bathylagus sp. Photo: Griffiths

Documents

  • MLML Trawl Database
    MS Access database file within a 1.2 MB ZIP file. Updated as of July 2013.
  • Document flash/mlml_trawl.php not available at this time.
  • Benthic data sheet
    This is a benthic survey data sheet, updated as of January 2013.
  • Midwater data sheet
    Midwater survey data sheet, updated as of January 2013.