Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Continuing north along the California coast to Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS), offshore the San Francisco Bay Area, Nautilus will visually survey deep-water habitat that has never been explored and characterize habitat, species, and communities. Recently expanded to protect 1,286 square miles of offshore habitat including continental shelf, Cordell Bank, and Bodega Canyon, as well as smaller canyons along the continental slope, most newly added areas of CBNMS have not been explored.
CBNMS lies within the California Current and the combination of ocean conditions and undersea topography creates a rich and diverse marine community in the sanctuary. Submarine canyons and shelf-break regions are known as areas of high coral abundance and diversity due to their rocky habitats and higher slope environments as well as localized upwelling and hydrographic properties associated with these bathymetric features. The critical first step to protect and manage this area is to characterize this habitat so that CBNMS can best manage and protect this area, and understand how it contributes to the ecosystem, biodiversity, and maritime history of the region. This baseline information will inform marine resource management, policy decisions, and new research.
The main objectives of this expedition will be to collect high-resolution multibeam sonar data to identify hard substrate areas, utilize ROVs to complete initial surveys of new newly-added regions, and collect biological specimens and environmental data. This data collection will help CBNMS to characterize habitats and document distribution and abundance of deep water corals, sponges, and fishes, and contribute to understanding how these communities may be affected by changes in carbonate saturation and dissolved oxygen.