Just beyond California’s kelp forests, patches of rock and sandy seafloor stretch from 100-300 ft deep in what scientists call the mid-depth rocky reef ecosystem. This zone comprises around 75% of the state’s ocean, but its depth makes it a hard area for researchers to access—and one of the most understudied of the near-shore ecosystems.
SJSU/MLML researchers Dr. Rick Starr and Dr. Amanda Kahn are leading a long-term monitoring project that combines state-of-the-art ROVs and video landers with historical data including old photos and research accounts to shed some light on this understudied zone. The project contributes to a larger effort to study the effects of marine protected areas in California. In a three-year study funded by the Ocean Protection Council, California Sea Grant and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, scientists across the state are comparing changes in marine populations inside and outside of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
Read more about this exciting ongoing research in the California Sea Grant story.
Photos courtesy of Rick Starr.