Nekton Mission 1: XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey, 2016-2018
Read a summary of impact achieved during the Mission across marine research, capacity development, ocean governance and public engagement.
1. Gress, E., Andradi-Brown, D.A., Woodall, L., Schofield, P.J., Stanley, K. and Rogers, A.D., 2017. Lionfish (Pterois spp.) invade the upper-bathyal zone in the western Atlantic. PeerJ, 5, PeerJ 5:e3683.
- We report the first lionfish observations from the deep sea (>200 m) in Bermuda and Roatan, Honduras, with lionfish observed to a maximum depth of 304 m off the Bermuda platform, and 250 m off West End, Roatan.
- Our results imply that lionfish may be present in the 200‒300 m depth range of the upper-bathyal zone across many locations in the western Atlantic, but currently are under-sampled compared to shallow habitats.
- We highlight the need for considering deep-sea lionfish populations in future invasive lionfish management.
2. Wagner, D. and Shuler, A., 2017. The black coral fauna (Cnidaria: Antipatharia) of Bermuda with new records. Zootaxa, 4344(2), pp.367-379.
- Twenty eight black coral specimens were collected between 55‒304 m depth from Bermuda and examined based on overall morphology of colonies, polyps and skeletal spines.
- The specimens belonged to seven species, four genera and three families: (1) Antipathes atlantica, (2) Antipathes furcata, (3) Stichopathes pourtalesi, (4) Stichopathes sp., (5) Distichopathes filix, (6) Tanacetipathes hirta, and (7) Tanacetipathes tanacetum.
- Three species (Stichopathes sp., S. pourtalesi, and D. filix), one genus (Distichopathes) and one family (Aphanipathidae) are reported from Bermudan waters for the first time, thereby increasing the known black coral diversity of Bermuda to twelve species, five genera and four families.
3. Woodall, L.C., Andradi-Brown, D.A., Brierley, A.S., Clark, M.R., Connelly, D., Hall, R.A., Howell, K.L., Huvenne, V.A., Linse, K., Ross, R.E. and Snelgrove, P., 2018. A multidisciplinary approach for generating globally consistent data on mesophotic, deep-pelagic, and bathyal biological communities. Oceanography, 31(3), pp.76-89.
- Understanding patterns of diversity in ocean life requires comparable biological data and information on the potential environment drivers.
- Here, we present a formalised framework of 20 biological, chemical, physical and socio-economic parameters we considered the most important for marine biological research.
- We term this scheme of work the ‘General Ocean Survey and Sampling Iterative Protocol (GOSSIP)’.
- We hope this framework will help galvanise further collaboration between scientists, improve comparability of data sets and advance knowledge of the deeper ocean (deep sea and mesophotic coral ecosystems).
4. Goodbody‐Gringley, G. and Waletich, J., 2018. Morphological plasticity of the depth generalist coral, Montastraea cavernosa, on mesophotic reefs in Bermuda. Ecology, 99(7), pp.1688-1690.
- We report depth-related plasticity in colony morphology of the common reef-building scleractinian coral Montastraea cavernosa.
- Mesophotic corals have shorter septa and larger distance between neighbouring polyps than corals from shallow reefs.
- Morphological variation could either be genetic-based or may indicate adaptation to low light conditions in mesophotic habitats.
- Such morphological plasticity would enable this species to extend well into lower mesophotic depths (>60 m) as an extreme depth generalist and may also indicate a high capacity for adaptation.
5. Schneider, C.W., Lane, C.E. and Saunders, G.W., 2018. A revision of the genus Cryptonemia (Halymeniaceae, Rhodophyta) in Bermuda, western Atlantic Ocean, including five new species and C. bermudensis (Collins & M. Howe) comb. nov. European journal of phycology, 53(3), pp.350-368.
- Specimens of the red algal genus Cryptonemia collected in Bermuda over the past two decades were analysed using molecular barcoding and phylogenetics.
- Six species were identified for Bermuda, including five new to science: C. abyssalis, C. antricola, C. atrocostalis, C. lacunicola and C. perparva.)
- Early records of Cryptonemia reported in the islands in the 1900s were re-examined and are now considered representatives of C. antricola and C. atrocostalis.
- The description of five new species from Bermuda represents a significant addition for the region and suggests a biodiversity hotspot for the genus in this area.
6. Neal, L., Taboada, S. and Woodall, L.C., 2018. Slope-shelf faunal link and unreported diversity off Nova Scotia: Evidence from polychaete data. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 138, pp.72-84.
- Emerald Basin polychaeta fauna sampled at depths of 180 m is deep-sea in character based on analysis of polychaete genera.
- Gully Canyon, sampled at 1600 m, harbours diverse polychaete assemblage with many species known from wider deep NW Atlantic.
- There was no overlap in species distribution between the Emerald Basin and Gully Canyon based molecular data.
- Aurospio dibranchiata and Ophelina abranchiata represent species complexes based on molecular data.
- Two genetic clades of Aurospio dibranchiata were separated by depth rather than geographical distance.
- Certacephale loveni was shown to have NW and NE Atlantic distribution as supported by molecular data.
7. Paris V Stefanoudis, Struan R. Smith, Craig Schneider, Daniel Wagner, Molly Rivers, Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley, Joana Xavier, Lucy C. Woodall, Alex D. Rogers (2018) Deep Reef Benthos of Bermuda: Field Identification Guide. Download the Guide here.
- Deep Reef Benthos of Bermuda builds on the video and imagery data collected during Nekton’s Mission – the XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey - and provides a photographic guide for the visual identification of many of the corals, marine plants and other common invertebrates that inhabit Bermuda’s outer deep reefs.
- This guide is designed to aid marine biologists, divers and naturalists with the identification of organisms as seen in underwater footage or live in the field.
8. Richards, J.L., Gabrielson, P.W. and Schneider, C.W., 2018. Sporolithon mesophoticum sp. nov.(Sporolithales, Rhodophyta) from Plantagenet Bank off Bermuda at a depth of 178 m. Phytotaxa, 385(2), pp.67-76.
- A coralline rhodolith was collected from 178 m, on Plantagenet Bank offshore of Bermuda
- DNA sequence comparisons revealed it to be an unnamed species of Sporolithon.
- Sporolithon mesophoticum sp. nov. has uniquely flattened perithallial and meristematic cells.
- Thus far, the new species is the deepest known living marine macroalga that has been sequenced and placed into a phylogenetic context.
9. Schneider, C.W., Popolizio, T.R. and Saunders, G.W., 2019. Collections from the mesophytic zone off Bermuda reveal three species of Kallymeniaceae (Gigartinales, Rhodophyta) in genera with transoceanic distributions. Journal of Phycology, 55(2), pp. 414-424.
- Molecular surveys of red algae in Bermuda revealed three new species assignable to the Kallymeniaceae.
- Two of the species are representative of recently described genera centered in the western Pacific in Australia and New Zealand, Austrokallymenia and Psaromenia and the third from the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic, Nothokallymenia.
10. Rivers, M.L., Gwinnett, C. and Woodall, L.C., 2019. Quantification is more than counting: Actions required to accurately quantify and report isolated marine microplastics. Marine pollution bulletin, 139, pp.100-104.
- Enumeration should not be used in isolation to quantify microplastics.
- Surface area is the most accurate parameter for describing particle size.
- Area sampled, measured via flowmeter and ship's log, cannot be reliably compared.
- More detailed methodologies should be reported for data comparison to be possible.
- Summary statistics and/or raw data describing whole datasets should be presented.
11. Stefanoudis, P.V., Rivers, M., Ford, H., Yashayaev, I.M., Rogers, A.D. and Woodall, L.C., 2019. Changes in zooplankton communities from epipelagic to lower mesopelagic waters. Marine environmental research, 146, pp. 1-11.
- Zooplankton and copepod abundance decreased from 0 to 800 m in Bermuda.
- Copepods dominated across all depths, followed by ostracods and chaetognaths.
- Zooplankton diversity dipped at 600–800 m, while the reverse was true for copepods.
- Omnivory and carnivory were the dominant trophic traits.
- Zooplankton food web structure should be considered in ocean carbon cycling models.
12. Stefanoudis, P.V., Gress, E., Pitt, J.M., Smith, S.R., Kincaid, T., Rivers, M., Andradi-Brown, D.A., Rowlands, G., Woodall, L.C., Rogers, A.D. (2019). Depth-Dependent Structuring of Reef Fish Assemblages From the Shallows to the Rariphotic Zone. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6, p. 357.
- We conducted visual surveys on the Bermuda slope and a nearby seamount at depths from 15‒300 m to assess changes of fish assemblages with depth.
- We document decreasing fish biomass and diversity with increasing depth.
- Fish assemblages were primarily depth-stratified, with distinct suites of species inhabiting shallow (<30 m depth) and upper (60 m) and lower (90 m) mesophotic coral ecosystems, and confirming the presence of a distinct rariphotic (~150‒300 m) assemblage.
- We also report evidence of anthropogenic pressures throughout our surveyed depths.
- Our results highlight the novelty of deeper reef fish faunas, therefore suggesting limited applicability of the deep reef refuge hypothesis, and showcase the vulnerability of deep reefs to targeted fishing pressure and invasive species.
13. Goodbody-Gringley, G., Noyes, T., Smith, S.R. (2019) Bermuda. In: Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems, pp. 31-45. Springer, Cham.
- This chapter summarises all research efforts conducted in Bermuda’s mesophotic coral ecosystems to this day, including descriptions of the physical environment, benthic habitat, and general ecology, with particular attention to the biodiversity of major taxonomic groups, and provide suggestions for ecosystem management and conservation.
14. Stefanoudis, P.V., Rivers, M., Smith, S.R., Schneider, C.W., Wagner, D., Ford, H., Rogers, A.D., Woodall, L.C. (2019) Low connectivity between shallow, mesophotic and rariphotic reef zone benthos. Royal Society Open Science, 6.
- Investigating how coral reef ecosystems are connected, in particular across depth, will help us understand if deeper reefs harbour distinct communities.
- This is increasingly important in light of catastrophic damage caused to shallow and deep reefs worldwide as a result of a suite of anthropogenic stressors such as overfishing, pollution and the effects of climate change.
- Here, we investigated changes in benthic community structure across 15–300 m depths using technical divers and submersibles around Bermuda.
- We report high levels of floral and faunal differentiation across depth
- Community turnover was highest at the boundary depths of mesophotic coral ecosystems (30–150 m) highlighting their unique communities
- Our work highlights the biologically unique nature of benthic communities in the mesophotic and rariphotic zones, and their limited connectivity to shallow reefs, thus emphasizing the need to manage and protect deeper reefs as distinct entities.