Marine Biology

, Volume 153, Issue 5, pp 825–841 | Cite as

Persistent near-bottom aggregations of mesopelagic animals along the North Carolina and Virginia continental slopes

  • John V. Gartner JrEmail author
  • Kenneth J. Sulak
  • Steve W. Ross
  • Ann Marie Necaise
Research Article


Submersible observations during four missions over the North Carolina and Virginia continental slopes (184–900 m) documented the occurrence of large aggregations of mesopelagic fishes and macronektonic invertebrates near or on the bottom. Aggregated mesopelagics formed a layer up to tens of meters deep positioned from a few centimeters to 20 m, usually <10 m, above the substrate. Aggregations were numerically dominated by microvores, notably the myctophid fish Ceratoscopelus maderensis and the penaeid shrimp Sergestes arcticus. Consistently present but in relatively lower numbers, were mesopelagic predators, including the paralepidids Notolepis rissoi and Lestidium atlanticum, the eel Nemichthys scolopaceus, the stomiid fishes Chauliodus sloani and Stomias boa ferox, and squids Illex spp. Near-bottom aggregations do not appear to be an artifact due to attraction to the submersible. Based on submersible observations in three areas in 4 years spanning a decade, near-bottom aggregations of midwater organisms appear to be a geographically widespread and persistent phenomenon along the continental slope of the southeastern US Aggregations may exploit areas of enhanced food resources at the bottom.


Standard Length Continental Slope Mesopelagic Fish Coral Bank Nepheloid Layer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was accomplished jointly through the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve (NCNERR), Wilmington, NC, and the Atlantic Reference Centre (ARC), St Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. Submersible missions were supported by the National Undersea Research Center-University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration (S.W. Ross, PI), supplemented by the US Geological Survey Outer Continental Shelf Studies Program (K.J. Sulak, PI). The 1999 RV Dan Moore and 2000 RV Edwin Link cruises were partially supported by the North Carolina Legislature (to S.W. Ross). The 2001 RV Cape Hatteras mission was sponsored by the Duke/UNC Oceanographic Consortium (to S.W. Ross). Partial support was derived from Operating Grant OGP0003164 from the Canadian Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (K. Sulak, PI). The St Andrews Biological Station of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans contributed logistics for laboratory analyses. We thank Jose Torres for loan of Tucker trawls for the 1999 cruise. Scientists from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (D. Lee, E. Baird) and support staff from UNCW (T. Casazza, A. Quattrini) participated in operations at sea, and in data compilation and management.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • John V. Gartner Jr
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kenneth J. Sulak
    • 2
  • Steve W. Ross
    • 3
  • Ann Marie Necaise
    • 3
  1. 1.Natural Science Department SP/GSt. Petersburg CollegeSt. PetersburgUSA
  2. 2.Florida Integrated Science CenterUS Geological SurveyGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Center for Marine ScienceUniversity of North Carolina at WilmingtonWilmingtonUSA

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