CSA Conducts Benthic Habitat Surveys

By MarEx 2014-04-28 15:56:00

CSA Ocean Sciences Inc. (CSA) was contracted by HDR Engineering Inc. (HDR) to conduct a benthic habitat characterization assessment for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic to evaluate through field surveys the benthic habitat and federally protected marine biota that may occur in the nearshore waters around Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West.  Such data could also be used during interagency consultations related to federal actions at the NAS Key West and its operating areas.

Five separate areas, for a total of 135 acres, were surveyed using preset transects on the seabed for corals, seagrass, motile macroinvertebrates, and fishes.  Field surveys were conducted by trained and experienced marine biologists using SCUBA and/or snorkel.  Survey protocols generally followed were based on guidance issued by conservation agencies with jurisdiction in the area, including the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Field data were collected, analyzed, and used to characterize the nearshore marine benthic community in the waters around NAS Key West.  Study data were also used to assess presence, density, and potential habitat use by federally listed threatened and endangered species in the nearshore waters of the installation, evaluate coral recruitment and indicators of coral stress and disease, and gauge seagrass cover and species composition with respect to potential utilization by key species such as the West Indian manatee and the dwarf seahorse.

CSA is contracted to perform a similar benthic habitat characterization following the same methodology for the Patricia Target Jet Aircraft Range, located approximately 25 miles west of Key West, Florida in early summer 2014.

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