In August 2010, Oceana Pacific teamed up with colleagues from Chile to explore and document Important Ecological Areas in Monterey Bay, California with a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV).
During the expedition, Oceana scientists and staff obtained more than 25 hours of high definition video footage from 18 different sites in the Bay.
The dive sites ranged from depths of 30 to over 200 meters and included Important Ecological Areas (ocean hotspots that disproportionately contribute to a healthy ecosystem), identified by Oceana. Sites included areas now protected from bottom trawling as the result of Oceana’s advocacy efforts over the last decade, areas where trawling still occurs, and marine protected areas.
The expedition took place aboard the sailboat Derek M. Bayliss, operated and crewed by SeaLife Conservation who partner with the Monterey Bay Aquarium to conduct educational and research cruises in the Bay.
The footage revealed some amazing habitats and wildlife, including diverse cold water corals and sponges, rockfish, shrimp, pacific octopus, thick schools of fish, sea pens, and crinoids. The crew was also visited on the surface by a variety of wildlife including humpback whales, porpoises, sea lions, albatross, and we even got a lucky glimpse of a sun fish.
The diversity and abundance of life Oceana observed in the Bay underscored the need to protect the areas that are vital to the health of the ecosystem. Oceana works towards implementing a science driven, ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management. One element of this approach is identifying, monitoring, and protecting Important Ecological Areas.