**This blog entry orginally appeared on the website oceanspaces.org.**/p>
It’s late October, which means it’s time for haunted houses, crazy costumes, and scary stories. Luckily for us, there are spooky ocean ecosystems fit for Halloween.
Deep beneath the waves, beyond the depths easily accessible by scuba divers, exist a collection of dark ecosystems that are home to fascinating creatures, like the Dogface Witch-eel and the Spotted Ratfish, who comes out at night to hunt! In addition to their bizarre looks and dark habitats, many of the species that live in these ecosystems also happen to be commercially and ecologically important. However, due to the challenge of studying these ecosystems, researchers have only recently begun to explore them in the South Coast.
From 2011-2012, academic scientists, engineers, and members of the commercial fishing community worked collaboratively to collect video and still imagery across three South Coast ecosystems —mid-depth rock, subtidal soft-bottom, and deep and canyon—using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). This work was part of the South Coast MPA Baseline Program.
Key findings from this project are now available in a fourth Snapshot Report:
At four study sites, the ROV captured images of 51,192 individual fish across 93 different species, including rockfishes, sponges, octopuses, and sharks. Video footage and photographs collected during these surveys are now a permanent data source, providing a baseline of information that can be verified and re-evaluated at any time.
Click here to read other reports included in the South Coast Snapshot Series. Next up: Spiny Lobster!
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