We are involved in a variety of coastal and estuarine projects from habitat mitigation to recovery of endangered species. A list of representative projects is provided below. If you have any questions or are interested in a possible collaboration, get in touch!
Abalone (Genus Haliotis) populations have dramatically declined in California over the past century as a result of over-harvesting and disease. Two species (black and white abalone) have declined to the point that they are currently listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. PMRG has partnered with NOAA Fisheries to aid in recovery of white and red abalone through: 1) identification of appropriate rocky reef habitat in southern California that may support abalone populations, 2) outplanting (release into the wild) of captive-raised juvenile and adult abalone, and 3) behavioral analysis of wild and captive-reared outplanted abalone through underwater time-lapse photography.
Images from left to right: 1) Amanda Bird adds live rock to a abalone outplant module; 2) A time lapse camera is placed on a white abalone to document behavior; 3) A pinto abalone is sporting an acoustic tag that documented movement over multiple months.
Conservation of Rockfish in Puget Sound
Rockfish are a suite of teleost fishes that are long-lived, slow to reproduce and live-bearing that are found throughout the Pacific coast of the United States. Unfortunately, they have been overharvested in Puget Sound in Washington to the point that no recreational or commercial take is allowed (though populations are currently doing pretty well off the open coast!) and two species (bocaccio and yelloweye) are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. PMRG has partnered with NOAA to conduct dive surveys throughout the Puget Sound to document trends in young of year rockfish over time as well as engage with citizen divers to collect data.
Images from left to right: 1) Amanda Bird records rockfish counts and habitat association in central Puget Sound; 2) A juvenile copper rockfish takes shelter in an eelgrass bed off Vashon Island; 3) Juvenile rockfish can be hard to see, can you find the little guy in this photo? Hint, look at the middle!
Eelgrass Mitigation, Restoration & Monitoring
Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is a marine flowering plant that provides nursery habitat for juvenile fishes, sequesters carbon and stabilizes shorelines from stabilization. It may be found in coastal embayments and estuarine habitats, that unfortunately expose it to damages from development activities such as dredging and shading from docks and piers. NOAA and CDFW have developed the California Eelgrass Mitigation Policy in order to address these impacts to valuable subtidal habitat. According to the policy, eelgrass beds must be monitored before and after a development project may adversely affect eelgrass and mitigation measures (e.g. planting of new eelgrass) must be undertaken if impacts are found. PMRG has conducted numerous monitoring efforts and transplants in bays throughout Southern California.
Images from left to right: 1) biologist points out bivalves attached to the roots of an eelgrass bundle; 2) biologists and volunteers help bundle eelgrass for transplant; 3) a newly-planted eelgrass bundle.
Marine Exotic/Invasive Species Monitoring
The number of exotic and invasive marine species throughout the world has increased exponentially in recent history owing to global trade and irresponsible pet owners, among other reasons. Scientists are still learning the multitude of ways humans facilitate the proliferation of exotic and invasive species. These include placement of artificial structures (e.g. floating docks, piers) and aquaculture operations as they provide substrate for exotic and invasive species that may not otherwise exist. PMRG has the taxonomic expertise to monitor these structures for exotic and invasive species and is currently collaborating with scientists at the California State Lands Commission on a broader study of species spread away from artificial structures.
Images from left to right: 1) several exotic species growing on a floating dock; 2) exotic bryozoan, Watersipora subtorquata, growing on eelgrass, and 3) the seaweed Caulerpa racemosa.
Open Coast Eelgrass Surveys
While eelgrass that exists in coastal embayments is subject to many stressors related to development, relatively little is known about the eelgrass that exists outside of these habitats at California’s Channel Islands and along the coast of mainland California. PMRG has collaborated with scientists at Coastal Resources Management, Inc. and University of Southern California to map eelgrass beds at Catalina Island and along the open coast as well as perform fish surveys. Results from this work will address a key data gap and improve management of a valuable habitat in the region.
Images from left to right: 1) kelp bass hovering above eelgrass bed at Santa Cruz Island; 2) California halibut in surfgrass (Phyllospadix torreyi); 3) diver photographs juvenile kelp bass above eelgrass at Catalina Island.
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