Characterizing the deep insular shelf coral reef habitat of the Hind Bank marine conservation district (US Virgin Islands) using the Seabed autonomous underwater vehicle
Armstrong, Roy A.
Nemeth, Richard S.
Roman, Christopher N.
Eustice, Ryan M.
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The benthic communities of the deep insular shelf at the Hind Bank Marine Conservation District (MCD), an important spawning grouper aggregation site, were studied with the Seabed autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) at depths between 32 to 54 m. Four digital phototransects provided data on benthic species composition and abundance of the insular shelf off St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Within the western side of the MCD, well developed coral reefs with 43% mean living coral cover were found. The Montastrea annularis complex was dominant at all four sites between 33 to 47 m, the depth range where reefs were present. Maximum coral cover found was 70% at depths of 38 to 40 m. Quantitative determinations of sessile-benthic populations, as well as the presence of motile-megabenthic invertebrates and algae were obtained. The Seabed AUV provided new quantitative and descriptive information of a unique coral reef habitat found within this deeper insular shelf area.
Author Posting. © The Authors, 2005. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Elsevier B. V. for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Continental Shelf Research 26 (2006): 194-205, doi:10.1016/j.csr.2005.10.004.
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