Abalone Restoration in Southern California
Abalone (Haliotis spp.) populations have dramatically declined in California over the past century as a result of over-harvesting and disease. Two species (black and white abalone) have declined to the point that they are currently listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. PMRG has partnered with NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service and several partners to aid in recovery of white abalone (Haliotis sorenseni) through: 1) identification of appropriate rocky reef habitat in southern California that may support abalone populations, 2) outplanting (release into the wild) of captive-raised juvenile and adult abalone, and 3) behavioral analysis of wild and captive-reared outplanted abalone through underwater time-lapse photography.
Divers place juvenile white abalone into outplant modules ("SAFEs")
Newly-outplanted juvenile white abalone with unique identification tags in a SAFE
Monitoring of restoration sites includes enumerating other species including native red abalone and California sheephead.
Rockfish are a suite of teleost fishes (Sebastes spp.) that are long-lived, slow to reproduce and live-bearing that are found throughout the Pacific coast of the United States. Unfortunately, they have been overharvested in Puget Sound in Washington to the point that no recreational or commercial take is allowed (though populations are currently doing pretty well off the open coast!). Two species bocaccio (S. pauscispinus) and yelloweye (S. ruberrimus) are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. PMRG has partnered with NOAA to conduct dive surveys throughout the Puget Sound to document trends in young of year rockfish over time as well as engage with citizen divers to collect data.
PMRG Biologist collects data on rockfish and habitat during roving surveys in Puget Sound, WA
Yellowtail YOY find refuge near structure at Keystone Jetty in WA
Eelgrass Monitoring & Transplant
Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is a marine flowering plant that provides nursery habitat for juvenile fishes, sequesters carbon and stabilizes shorelines from erosion. It may be found in coastal embayments and estuarine habitats, that unfortunately expose it to damages from development activities such as dredging and shading from docks and piers. NOAA and CDFW have developed the California Eelgrass Mitigation Policy in order to address these impacts to valuable subtidal habitat. According to the policy, eelgrass beds must be monitored before and after a development project may adversely affect eelgrass and mitigation measures (e.g. planting of new eelgrass) must be undertaken if impacts are found. PMRG has conducted numerous monitoring efforts and transplants in bays throughout Southern California.
Spotted sand bass (Paralabrax maculatofasciatus) checks out newly-planted bundles of eelgrass
PMRG Biologist with RV/Bodhissatva outfitted with Trimble R1 GNSS Receiver used to map an eelgrass bed below
Open-Coast Eelgrass Monitoring
While eelgrass that exists in coastal embayments is subject to many stressors related to development, relatively little is known about the eelgrass that exists outside of these habitats at California’s Channel Islands and along the coast of mainland California. PMRG has collaborated with scientists at Coastal Resources Management, University of Southern California, and The Bay Foundation to map eelgrass beds at Catalina Island and along the open coast as well as perform fish surveys. Results from this work will address a key data gap and improve management of a valuable habitat in the region.
A school of salema (Xenistius californiensis) hovers above an open-coast eelgrass bed on Catalina Island
Tom Ford (The Bay Foundation) collects eelgrass structural data at a bed off Catalina Island
Marine Exotic/Invasive Species Monitoring
The number of exotic and invasive marine species throughout the world has increased exponentially in recent history owing to global trade and irresponsible pet owners, among other reasons. Scientists are still learning the multitude of ways humans facilitate the proliferation of exotic and invasive species. These include placement of artificial structures (e.g. floating docks, piers) and aquaculture operations as they provide substrate for exotic and invasive species that may not otherwise exist. PMRG has the taxonomic expertise to monitor these structures for exotic and invasive species and is currently collaborating with scientists at the California State Lands Commission on a broader study of species spread away from artificial structures.
The invasive species, Watersipora subtorquata, growing on eelgrass
Several invasive species growing on a corner of a floating dock