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Oceans, Volume 4, Issue 3 (September 2023) – 8 articles

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16 pages, 3438 KiB  
Article
Status of Coral Reef Communities on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica: Are We Talking about Corals or Macroalgae Reefs?
by Fabio Quezada-Perez, Sebastián Mena, Cindy Fernández-García and Juan José Alvarado
Oceans 2023, 4(3), 315-330; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans4030022 - 20 Sep 2023
Viewed by 2076
Abstract
In the past decades, one of the most widely reported phenomena on Caribbean reefs is the general fall in coral cover and rise in macroalgae. Reefs with low coral cover and high macroalgal abundances are often presumed to provide poorer ecosystem functions and [...] Read more.
In the past decades, one of the most widely reported phenomena on Caribbean reefs is the general fall in coral cover and rise in macroalgae. Reefs with low coral cover and high macroalgal abundances are often presumed to provide poorer ecosystem functions and services. In this study, we assessed the condition of coral reefs on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica and determined how eight key ecosystem metrics varied in response to different coral and fleshy macroalgae covers. Most reefs surveyed had high fleshy macroalgae and low live coral covers, with an average (±SD) of 31 ± 28% and 14 ± 13% per site. The value of many of the ecosystem metrics estimated for coral reefs of the region appears to be lower than what has been reported for other areas in the Caribbean. We found that the rugosity, urchin density, fish richness, total fish biomass, large fish density, and the potential fishery value of the reef were higher in sites with low fleshy macroalgae covers (<10%). Our results concur with the prevailing paradigm that an increase in macroalgae abundance could reduce the ecosystem services provided by coral reefs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Ecology and Biology)
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14 pages, 2169 KiB  
Article
How to Survive Intensive Harvesting: The High Recruitment Rates of the Precious Mediterranean Red Coral (Corallium rubrum L. 1758)
by Maria Carla Benedetti, Lorenzo Bramanti and Giovanni Santangelo
Oceans 2023, 4(3), 301-314; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans4030021 - 27 Aug 2023
Viewed by 2957
Abstract
The recruitment process is a fundamental step in population life cycles that determines survival, population demographic structure, and dynamics. The success of recruitment events repeated over successive years greatly affects the survival of long-lived gorgonian populations. Here, we report the recruitment process of [...] Read more.
The recruitment process is a fundamental step in population life cycles that determines survival, population demographic structure, and dynamics. The success of recruitment events repeated over successive years greatly affects the survival of long-lived gorgonian populations. Here, we report the recruitment process of the precious, heavily harvested Mediterranean gorgonian Corallium rubrum (red coral) on both settlement tiles and natural substrates over different Mediterranean areas. Red coral is a gonochoric internal brooder that reproduces in early summer. Lecithotrophic planulae settle 15–30 days after release in semi-dark environments at depths between 15 and 800 m. In autumn, 0.58–0.68 mm-wide recruits can be observed on the vaults of small crevices and caves and on rocky cliffs and boulders. Owing to their small size, there is limited knowledge of C. rubrum recruitment in the field. In this study, we examined the recruitment density and distribution in Canadells (Banyuls sur Mer, France) and Calafuria (Livorno, Italy) and compared these findings with those collected over different Mediterranean areas. Red coral exhibited high recruitment values ranging from 0.43 to 13.19 recruits dm−2. The distribution pattern of recruits, examined at a small spatial scale via nearest-neighbor distance analysis, revealed a significantly higher patch frequency on the natural substrate than on settlement tiles, presumably because of the scarcely available spots of free space on the former substrate, which are crowded by competitor species. Full article
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15 pages, 20365 KiB  
Article
A Demonstration of the Capability of Low-Cost Hyperspectral Imaging for the Characterisation of Coral Reefs
by Jonathan Teague, John C. C. Day, Michael J. Allen, Thomas B. Scott, Eric J. Hochberg and David Megson-Smith
Oceans 2023, 4(3), 286-300; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans4030020 - 23 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1643
Abstract
The use of hyperspectral imaging in marine applications is limited, largely due to the cost-prohibitive nature of the technology and the risk of submerging such expensive electronics. Here, we examine the use of low-cost (<5000 GBP) hyperspectral imaging as a potential addition to [...] Read more.
The use of hyperspectral imaging in marine applications is limited, largely due to the cost-prohibitive nature of the technology and the risk of submerging such expensive electronics. Here, we examine the use of low-cost (<5000 GBP) hyperspectral imaging as a potential addition to the marine monitoring toolbox. Using coral reefs in Bermuda as a case study and a trial for the technology, data was collected across two reef morphologies, representing fringing reefs and patch reefs. Hyperspectral data of various coral species, Montastraea cavernosa, Diploria labyrinthiformis, Pseudodiploria strigosa, and Plexaurella sp., were successfully captured and analyzed, indicating the practicality and suitability of underwater hyperspectral imaging for use in coral reef assessment. The spectral data was also used to demonstrate simple spectral classification to provide values of the percentage coverage of benthic habitat types. Finally, the raw image data was used to generate digital elevation models to measure the physical structure of corals, providing another data type able to be used in reef assessments. Future improvements were also suggested regarding how to improve the spectral data captured by the technique to account for the accurate application of correction algorithms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Ecology and Biology)
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17 pages, 2314 KiB  
Article
Harbor Porpoise Aggregations in the Salish Sea
by Dave Anderson, Laurie Shuster, Cindy R. Elliser, Katrina MacIver, Erin Johns Gless, Johannes Krieger and Anna Hall
Oceans 2023, 4(3), 269-285; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans4030019 - 08 Aug 2023
Viewed by 2995
Abstract
Harbor porpoises are typically seen in small groups of 1–3 individuals, with aggregations of 20+ individuals treated as rare events. Since the 1990s, the harbor porpoise population in the Salish Sea has seen a significant recovery, and an increased number of observed aggregations [...] Read more.
Harbor porpoises are typically seen in small groups of 1–3 individuals, with aggregations of 20+ individuals treated as rare events. Since the 1990s, the harbor porpoise population in the Salish Sea has seen a significant recovery, and an increased number of observed aggregations that exceed the more usual small group sizes has been observed in recent years. By combining the observational data of United States and Canadian research organizations, community scientists, and whale watch captains or naturalists, we demonstrate that harbor porpoise aggregations appear to be more common than previously known, with 160 aggregations documented in 2022 alone. Behavioral data also indicate that foraging behaviors are common and social behaviors, like mating, are seen more often during these encounters compared to small groups. Other behaviors that are considered to be rare or unknown were also observed during these encounters, including cooperative foraging and vessel approach. These aggregations are likely important foraging and social gatherings for harbor porpoises. This holistic approach integrating data from two countries and multiple sources provides a population level assessment that more effectively reflects the behavior of harbor porpoises in this region, which do not recognize the socio-political boundaries imposed upon the natural world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Mammals in a Changing World, 2nd Edition)
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16 pages, 34277 KiB  
Article
Vertical Distribution, Community and Population Structures of the Planktonic Chaetognatha in the Western Subarctic Pacific: Insights on the Eukrohnia Species Group
by Yuya Nakamura, Haochen Zhang and Atsushi Yamaguchi
Oceans 2023, 4(3), 253-268; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans4030018 - 31 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1451
Abstract
In the oceans, Chaetognatha can contribute significantly to the total zooplankton biomass (up to 10–30%). The genus Eukrohnia, the dominant Chaetognath genus in the western subarctic Pacific, includes E. hamata and E. bathypelagica. Although it has been pointed out that there is [...] Read more.
In the oceans, Chaetognatha can contribute significantly to the total zooplankton biomass (up to 10–30%). The genus Eukrohnia, the dominant Chaetognath genus in the western subarctic Pacific, includes E. hamata and E. bathypelagica. Although it has been pointed out that there is no genetic difference between the two species, no study has been made that treats them as the same species group. In this study, we investigated vertical distribution based on the eight vertical stratification samplings down to 1000 m depths conducted day/night at four seasons covering one year, community structure, and population structure of the three dominant Chaetognath species: Parasagitta elegans, E. hamata, and E. bathypelagica in the western subarctic Pacific. The population densities of each species at 0–1000 m water column were 0.04–0.36 ind. m−3 for P. elegans, 0.14–1.60 ind. m−3 for E. hamata, 0.24–1.54 ind. m−3 for E. bathypelagica, and 1.37–2.62 ind. m−3 for Eukrohnia juveniles. The vertical distributions were consistent both day and night, and no diel changes were observed for all species throughout the seasons. The vertical distribution of Chaetognaths evaluated by the distribution center was 61–169 m for P. elegans, 143–206 m for Eukrohnia juveniles, 134–279 m for E. hamata, and 253–612 m for E. bathypelagica. The body length of P. elegans ranged from 4 to 34 mm, and one to three cohorts were identified at each sampling occasion. While the presence of the eight stages has been reported for Eukrohnia, only one to five stages occurred, and specimens belonging to six to eight stages were not observed in the samples throughout the year. The body length of the whole Eukrohnia species ranged from 2 to 14 mm. The body length histograms of the Eukrohnia species group, including E. hamata and E. bathypelagica, and their juveniles showed the presence of two to four cohorts at each sampling date. Within the Eukrohnia species group, vertical changes in body length were present, which were characterized by the smaller specimens occurring at shallower depths, followed by an increase in body length with increasing depths. From the vertical distribution and population structure of the Eukrohnia species group (Eukrohnia juvenile + E. hamata + E. bathypelagica) in this study, there was no difficulty in treating them as one species. It may suggest that E. hamata and E. bathypelagica in the western subarctic Pacific could be treated as one species group. To clarify this point, a detailed genetic analysis of the Eukrohnia species group will be needed for future studies. Full article
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11 pages, 1840 KiB  
Article
Seasonal Changes in Vertical Distribution and Population Structure of the Dominant Hydrozoan Aglantha digitale in the Western Subarctic Pacific
by Mari Aizawa, Tian Gao and Atsushi Yamaguchi
Oceans 2023, 4(3), 242-252; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans4030017 - 31 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1497
Abstract
Hydrozoans are numerically dominant taxa in gelatinous zooplankton communities of the worldwide oceans and play an energy transfer role connecting primary producers and higher trophic level organisms. In the western subarctic Pacific, St. K2 has been established as a long-term time-series monitoring station. [...] Read more.
Hydrozoans are numerically dominant taxa in gelatinous zooplankton communities of the worldwide oceans and play an energy transfer role connecting primary producers and higher trophic level organisms. In the western subarctic Pacific, St. K2 has been established as a long-term time-series monitoring station. Various studies on zooplankton have been conducted, while hydrozoans have not been treated. This study presents the abundance, vertical distribution, and population structure of the dominant hydrozoan species (Aglantha digitale) at St. K2. Samples collected by vertical stratification samplings from eight layers of 0–1000 m both day and night during four seasons in one year. Hydrozoans occur throughout the year. The annual mean abundance of A. digitale was 198.4 ind. m−2 and composed of 91.9% of hydrozoans. The vertical distribution of A. digitale was concentrated for the epipelagic layer (0–200 m), both day and night of the most season. The bell height (BH) of A. digitale ranged between 2.4–18.9 mm. Most of the mature individuals, with gonad length larger than 10% of BH, occurred only in July. The BH of mature individuals ranged from 4.7 to 17.6 mm, with the BH of most mature individuals were larger than >10 mm. Through observation on BH at each sampling layer, small individuals with BH < 6 mm were distributed below 300 m depths throughout the seasons, expanding their vertical distribution to the deeper layers. Inter-region comparison of abundance, maturation body size, and generation length of A. digitale revealed that these parameters are varied with the region and depend on the marine ecosystem structures. Full article
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6 pages, 1627 KiB  
Communication
Novel Interaction between a Rabbitfish and Black Corals
by Erika Gress, Tom C. Bridge, Justin Fyfe and Gemma Galbraith
Oceans 2023, 4(3), 236-241; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans4030016 - 13 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1725
Abstract
Herbivorous fishes play important functional roles in coral reef ecosystems, and their influence on mediating competitive dynamics between corals and macroalgae is well studied. Nonetheless, direct interactions between herbivorous fishes and corals may also be relevant, although these are less studied. Here, we [...] Read more.
Herbivorous fishes play important functional roles in coral reef ecosystems, and their influence on mediating competitive dynamics between corals and macroalgae is well studied. Nonetheless, direct interactions between herbivorous fishes and corals may also be relevant, although these are less studied. Here, we describe a series of observations of schools of the herbivorous streaked rabbitfish (Siganus javus) nibbling on black corals (order Antipatharia) at the SS Yongala wreck, within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. We provide a hypothesis that may explain this behaviour, which, if confirmed, would represent a mechanism influencing the health of the corals. Moreover, this interaction extends the typical coral–algae competition for space paradigm and furthers knowledge of complex relationships between coral reef organisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Ecology and Biology)
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16 pages, 2510 KiB  
Article
Environmental Conditions Affect Striped Red Mullet (Mullus surmuletus) Artisanal Fisheries
by Francisco Leitão
Oceans 2023, 4(3), 220-235; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans4030015 - 29 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1198
Abstract
The influence of environmental variables (oceanographic and climatic) on the catch rates of striped red mullet (Mullus surmuletus) by artisanal fishery was investigated using different time series models (Dynamic Factorial Analyses; Min-Max Factorial Analyses and Generalized Least Square models). Climatic and [...] Read more.
The influence of environmental variables (oceanographic and climatic) on the catch rates of striped red mullet (Mullus surmuletus) by artisanal fishery was investigated using different time series models (Dynamic Factorial Analyses; Min-Max Factorial Analyses and Generalized Least Square models). Climatic and oceanographic survey data were collected at different areas of the Portuguese coast (Northwestern, Southwestern and South-Algarve) with distinct oceanographic regimes. Time series analyses reveal an effect of fishing effort in catch rates in Southwestern areas. Variability in M. surmuletus catch rates was associated to regional environmental multi-controls. Upwelling and westerly winds were the main drivers of catch rates variability across the three areas but the type of relationship varied among them. A consistent relationship between catch rates and environment factors was identified during the peak period of seasonal recruitment (spring to summer) in Southwest and South-Algarve coast, with Upwelling-summer and Sea surface temperature-spring affecting short term (lag 2 years) catch rates. In South-Algarve the increase in SST in summer, during peak of spawning, was correlated with the catch rate increase with a lag of two years. Environmental effect on catch rates reveals that fisheries management needs to accommodate the regional effect of environment variables on species biology to better define future assessment plans (catch limits). Full article
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