50-2 Assessment of Benthic Habitats and Communities in Areas Targeted for Offshore Wave Energy Development
In summer 2011 sites were mapped using high-resolution multibeam sonar and acoustic backscatter. Following mapping, sedimentary habitats within six study sites were sampled with a 0.1 m2 box core to collect infaunal invertebrates and sediment samples for community characterization and ground-truthing of backscatter results as well as organics analysis. Additional shipek grabs of sediment were taken to supplement ground-truthing. At each box core sampling station, CTD casts were conducted to obtain physical data of the overlying water column for further habitat characterization. Throughout the study region, sites varied significantly in physical characteristics of the sediment and water as well as in the benthic invertebrate assemblages found at the sites. Significant differences in assemblages were observed between sandy and silty habitats; within slit/clay sediments breaks in species assemblages were observed at 90 – 100 m depth. Relationships between physical factors and species distributions and correlations with overall diversity will be presented.