SIMoN
  Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Monitoring Project

West Coast Observations

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Steve Gaines
    University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Jenn Caselle
    University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Libe Washburn
    University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Chris Lowe
    California State University, Long Beach
Start Date: January 01, 2000

• This is an ongoing study of potential MPA roles on larval recruitment, larval transport, animal movements and ocean circulation
• The monitoring array includes a combination of Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers, temperature loggers and VEMCO VR2Ws.


In 2000, the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO) at the University of California, Santa Barbara began investigating the relationship between temperature and fish connectivity among the Channel Islands and the mainland. PISCO and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS) have collaboratively developed and are maintaining 13 subsurface mooring sites across the sanctuary. At these sites, Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP) and temperature loggers were deployed to evaluate near-shore water circulation and the impact on larval transport across marine protected area (MPA) boundaries. Preliminary findings suggest larval pool connectivity originating from the western larval pool at San Miguel Island to be most genetically similar to individuals arriving at Hazards on Santa Cruz Island (Selkoe, Gaines, Caselle, & Warner, 2006).

To study fish movements, VEMCO VR2Ws supplied by the California State University Long Beach, Shark Lab and Monterey Bay Aquarium were added to the sites to support a larger array that looks at movements of White Sharks along the West Coast.. Because VEMCO equipment is commonly used along the West Coast by researchers, this project is effective at providing additional array coverage to multiple research partners (Aquarium of the Bay, Scripps Research Institute, University of California, Davis and Monterey Bay Aquarium) and CINMS provides them relevant detection data from the sanctuary.

Summary to Date

In 2014, using data collected from temperature loggers, PISCO scientists published the effects of oceanographic temporal fronts on larval recruitment around Santa Cruz Island. The study determined that settlement rates of multiple species of bivalves, gastropods, decapods, and echinoderms were positively associated with the proportion of time a given site spent in a particular water mass. Overall settlement diversity was related to water front location over time, while sites exposed to both water masses had higher overall diversity (Gosnell, Maciarlan, Shears, & Caselle, 2014).

In spring 2012, several sharks were detected at the islands including two adult White Sharks tagged in Central California (originally tagged in Año Nuevo Island and the Farallon Islands) and one juvenile White Shark originally tagged in Ventura, California. In October 2012, an additional previously undetected White Shark was detected in the sanctuary. The Sanctuary expanded its’ acoustic array to the mainland in 2014 and detected 2 additional White Sharks off Santa Barbara County. Additionally, a White Shark originally tagged off Tomales Point was detected off Santa Cruz Island in 2014.

Using data from around CINMS and the Southern California Bight, research collaborators have found that Southern California acts as a nursery ground for White Sharks during the summer before juveniles swim to Mexico during winter months. Mature White Sharks likely use the islands primarily as a feeding region due to high densities of sea lion haulouts, while juveniles are consistently seen along the mainland coast near Santa Barbara.

In addition to White Sharks, the array has detected Sevengill Sharks (Notorynchus cepedianus) that were tagged in San Francisco Bay by UC Davis and Aquarium of the Bay researchers. Sevengills were detected consistently from January-April 2012 at Santa Rosa Island. One Sevengilll used the Channel Islands inter-annually providing insight that the sanctuary is likely an important habitat for these individuals. It is believed that San Francisco Bay acts as nursery for these species before adults move on to other coastal habitats.

In summer of 2014, three Soup Fin Sharks (Galeorhinus galeus) and a Leopard Shark (Triakis semifasciata) originating from La Jolla, California were detected at Santa Cruz Island. Tagged by Dr. Andy Nosal, post-doc at Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, CINMS has provided detection data to our research partner to continue the collaborative effort in understanding large fish movements along the west coast.

A number of other tags have been detected in the array and CINMS staff are attempting to locate researchers to whom the ID tags belong.

Study Parameters

  • Dispersal & Recruitment
  • Migration/movement patterns
  • Range/Biogeography

Study Methods

PISCO and CINMS developed, deployed and maintain 13 subsurface mooring sites across the sanctuary. At these sights, Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ACDP) and temperature loggers were deployed to evaluate the near-shore water circulation and its impact on larval transport across marine protected area (MPA) boundaries. To study fish movements, in 2014 VEMCO VR2Ws supplied by the California State University Long Beach, Shark Lab and Monterey Bay Aquarium were added to the sites to support a larger array that looks at movement of white sharks along the west coast. Also in 2014 an additional six sites were added: four among the Channel Islands to increase the detection of White Sharks based on movements of their pinniped prey and two off the coast of the Santa Barbara Channel in accordance with where White Sharks have been sighted.