Research Document - 2010/041

Delineating Coral and Sponge Concentrations in the Biogeographic Regions of the East Coast of Canada Using Spatial Analyses

By E. Kenchington, C. Lirette, A. Cogswell, D. Archambault, P. Archambault, H. Benoit, D. Bernier, B. Brodie, S. Fuller, K. Gilkinson, M. Lévesque, D. Power, T. Siferd, M. Treble, and V. Wareham

Abstract

Concentrations of sea pens, small and large gorgonian corals and sponges on the east coast of Canada have been identified through spatial analysis of research vessel survey by-catch data following an approach used by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) in the Regulatory Area (NRA) on Flemish Cap and southeast Grand Banks. Kernel density analysis was used to identify high concentrations. These analyses were performed for each of the five biogeographic zones of eastern Canada. The largest sea pen fields were found in the Laurentian Channel as it cuts through the Gulf of St. Lawrence, while large gorgonian coral forests were found in the Eastern Arctic and on the northern Labrador continental slope. Large ball-shaped Geodia spp. sponges were located along the continental slopes north of the Grand Banks, while on the Scotian Shelf a unique population of the large barrel-shaped sponge Vazella pourtalesi was identified. The latitude and longitude marking the positions of all tows which form these and other dense aggregations are provided along with the positions of all tows which captured black coral, a non-aggregating taxon which is long-lived and vulnerable to fishing pressures.

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