Deeper water fish and benthic surveys in the Lord Howe Island Marine Park (Commonwealth Waters)

In February/March 2004, surveys of benthic habitats and fish faunas were undertaken in deeper waters of the Commonwealth waters surrounding Lord Howe and Balls Pyramid rises. With limited time available to undertake the work, local knowledge from resident fishermen was employed to target areas of bathymetric and piscatorial interest across both rises. A towed underwater video camera, with a still camera attached was used to obtain video and still images of habitats and epibenthos. Baited remote underwater video stations (BRUVS (TM)) were used as a non-extractive method to sample the fish and shark fauna. Plans to use a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for further surveys were abandoned due to adverse weather conditions.

This preliminary, rapid ecological assessment aimed to describe habitats and fish-habitat associations in deeper waters, below the depth limits of SCUBA observations, where little information was previously available.

The Lord Howe Island and Balls Pyramid rises, 770 km ENE of Sydney, are the most southerly of a chain of volcanic seamounts and are remarkable for supporting the highest latitude coral reefs in the world. The World Heritage listing, encompassing Lord Howe Island, the Admiralty group and Balls Pyramid, overlaps sections of the NSW State Marine Park to 3nm offshore and the Commonwealth Marine Park to 12nm offshore. The Commonwealth Marine Park has two sanctuary zones, one to the east of the island and the other across the rise south of Balls Pyramid. The primary objective of the Parks is to protect the conservation values of the seamount system associated with marine biodiversity, seafloor habitats and ecological processes.

Co Investigator
Speare, Peter J, Mr Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
Point Of Contact
Data Manager, AIMS Data Centre Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
Speare, PJ: AIMS (Co-investigator)Cappo, M: AIMS (Co-investigator)Rees, M: AIMSBrownlie, JOxley, W: AIMS

Data collected from 22 Feb 2004 until 06 Mar 2004

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