Megafauna of vulnerable marine ecosystems in French mediterranean submarine canyons: Spatial distribution and anthropogenic impacts

Type Article
Date 2014-06
Language English
Author(s) Fabri Marie-ClaireORCID1, Pedel Laura1, Beuck L.2, Galgani FrancoisORCID1, Hebbeln D.3, Freiwald A.2, 3
Affiliation(s) 1 : IFREMER, Dept Oceanog & Dynam Ecosyst, F-83500 La Seyne Sur Mer, France.
2 : Senckenberg Meer, Marine Res Dept, D-26382 Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
3 : MARUM Ctr Marine Environm Sci, D-28359 Bremen, Germany.
Source Deep-sea Research Part Ii-topical Studies In Oceanography (0967-0645) (Pergamon-elsevier Science Ltd), 2014-06 , Vol. 104 , P. 184-207
DOI 10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.06.016
WOS© Times Cited 150
Keyword(s) Seafloor mapping, Biodiversity, Bathyal-benthic zone, Cold-water coral, Litter, Fishing impact, Bauxite red mud waste, Mediterranean Sea, French submarine canyons (43 degrees N, 5 degrees E)
Abstract Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VME) in the deep Mediterranean Sea have been identified by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean as consisting of communities of Scleractinia (Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata), Pennatulacea (Funiculina quadrangularis) and Alcyonacea (Isidella elongata). This paper deals with video data recorded in the heads of French Mediterranean canyons. Quantitative observations were extracted from 101 video films recorded during the MEDSEACAN cruise in 2009 (Aamp/Comex). Qualitative information was extracted from four other cruises (two Marum/Comex cruises in 2009 and 2011 and two Ifremer cruises in 1995 and 2010) to support the previous observations in the Cassidaigne and Lacaze-Duthiers canyons. All the species, fishing impacts and litter recognized in the video films recorded from 180 to 700 m depth were mapped using GIS. The abundances and distributions of benthic fishing resources (marketable fishes, Aristeidae, Octopodidae), Vulnerable Marine Species, trawling scars and litter of 17 canyons were calculated and compared, as was the open slope between the Stoechades and Toulon canyons. Funiculina quadrangularis was rarely observed, being confined for the most part to the Marti canyon and, I. elongata was abundant in three canyons (Bourcart, Marti, Petit-Rhône). These two cnidarians were encountered in relatively low abundances, and it may be that they have been swept away by repeated trawling. The Lacaze-Duthiers and Cassidaigne canyons comprised the highest densities and largest colony sizes of scleractinian cold-water corals, whose distribution was mapped in detail. These colonies were often seen to be entangled in fishing lines. The alcyonacean Callogorgia verticillata was observed to be highly abundant in the Bourcart canyon and less abundant in several other canyons. This alcyonacean was also severely affected by bottom fishing gears and is proposed as a Vulnerable Marine Species. Our studies on anthropogenic impacts show that seafloor disturbance by benthic fishing is mainly attributable to trawling in the Gulf of Lion and to long lines where rocky substrates are present. The bauxite residue (red mud) expelled in the Cassidaigne canyon was seen to prevent fauna from settling at the bottom of the canyon and it covered much of the flanks. Litter was present in all of the canyons and especially in considerable quantities in the Ligurian Sea, where the heads of the canyons are closer to the coast. Three Marine Protected Areas and one fishing area with restricted access have recently been established and should permit the preservation of these deep ecosystems.
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Fabri Marie-Claire, Pedel Laura, Beuck L., Galgani Francois, Hebbeln D., Freiwald A. (2014). Megafauna of vulnerable marine ecosystems in French mediterranean submarine canyons: Spatial distribution and anthropogenic impacts. Deep-sea Research Part Ii-topical Studies In Oceanography, 104, 184-207. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :