Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Monitoring Project

Marine Protected Area Monitoring and Shelf Characterization in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Principal Investigator(s)

  • James Lindholm
    California State University, Monterey Bay
  • Jean DeMarignac
    Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
  • Andrew DeVogelaere
    Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
  • Richard Starr
    California Sea Grant
  • Mary Yoklavich
    NOAA Fisheries


  • SIMoN
  • SIMoN
Start Date: June 01, 2007
End Date: July 31, 2009

There are a variety of platforms for the collection of videographic data on seafloor habitats and communities, including: occupied submersibles, remotely operated vehicles, autonomous underwater vehicles, and towed camera sleds. Each platform offers unique advantages and disadvantages which must be reconciled with the ultimate goal of a given project. This project will assess the functionality of the Sanctuary's towed camera sled for collecting data on seafloor habitats and associated communities in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. In the process of this assessment, data will be collected within and adjacent to existing and planned Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and other sites of interest throughout the Sanctuary to continue the on-going characterization of the continental shelf.

Summary to Date

We have collected baseline data on seafloor communities in hard and soft bottom substrates within the Piedras Blancas State Marine Conservation Area.

We have contributed to shelf characterization efforts at Pt. Lobos, Soquel Canyon, and a previously trawled area immediately to the north of Monterey Canyon.


The data for this project will be used for: 1) The monitoring of key taxa at potential federal reserve locations will provide Sanctuary staff with critical data for decision processes. 2) The monitoring of key taxa within and adjacent to the State Marine Reserves and State Marine Conservation Areas in the MBNMS will simultaneously advance the Sanctuary’s knowledge of important areas within its boundaries, while at the same time contributing substantively to the MLPA effort. 3) The Shelf Characterization effort will advance the Sanctuary’s understanding of the resources within its boundaries, which will in turn support any future management decisions. 4) Each of the above efforts will yield video clips, frame grabs, and analytical results that will be useful for Sanctuary outreach efforts.

For more information on a related project, using similar tools, including video clips, images, and a preliminary species list, click on the following links

Multi-agency Seafloor Mapping Project in Monterey Bay, Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries

Seafloor Mapping in Monterey Bay, Cordell Bank, and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries

Study Parameters

  • Habitat
  • Abundance
  • Range/Biogeography
  • Habitat association
  • Behavior
  • Diversity
  • Distribution
  • Density
  • Substrate characterization

Study Methods

Continuous videographic data are collected by the camera sled while drifting (or being towed) at a speed of ~ 1knot or less. Transects are normally 1-hr in duration. Summary data are collected and geo-referenced during each deployment using an X-keys system and navigational software. Detailed data are collected post-cruise using a frame-by-frame approach.

Figures and Images

Depth range accessible with the camera sled within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (with umbilical length of 300m)

Baseline data collection at Piedras Blancas State Marine Conservation Area

Camera Sled on the R/V Fulmar's deck off the Big Sur Coast

We observed high numbers off brittle stars partially buried in sand on the continental shelf.

Canary rockfish, copper rockfish and sea cumcumber over boulders off Piedras Blancas

Sponge, gorgonian and sea star on rock outcrop off Piedras Blancas