Effects of changes in Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning plans on deep shoals off Cairns (MTSRF Project 4.8.2)

A baseline survey of green (no-take) zoned sites and blue (open to fishing) sites in adjacent areas of the northern Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was carried out in December 2006. Three paired sites were surveyed in the Cairns region on deepwater shoals in the vicinity of Green Island and Michaelmas Reef (one green, one blue site off each), and Hastings (Green) and Oyster (blue) Reefs. Assessment of the fish communities was enumerated using baited underwater video sets (BRUVS) and habitat was characterised by towed video. Observations (690) identified 124 species from 33 families, of which 24 species were identified as targeted by fishers. Primary substrate (MudSand; Sand; SandCoarse; SandForams; SandHoles; Rubble; Rock; Bedrock; Reef); epibenthic classes (MacroAlgae; Seagrass; Burrowers; FilterFeeders; HardCoral; Isolates; None); and functional units (algae/invertebrates; corallivore; generalist carnivore; generalist; macrocarnivore; herbivore; invertebrate carnivore; macroinvertebrate; carnivore; piscivore; sponges/invertebrates; zooplanktivore) were recorded. Habitat mapping features assessed from towed video: Individual organisms: Anemone; Ascidian; Bryozoan; Crinoid; Gastropod; Holothurian; Hydroid; Icelet; Solitary Hard Coral; Solitary Soft Coral; Starfish; Urchin Substrate: No Sediment; Soft Mud; Silt - Sandy mud; Sand; Coarse Sand; Sand Rubble Forams; Rubble, 5-50mm; Stones, 50-250mm; Rocks, > 250mm; Reef Benthic class: Seagrass (Sparse, Medium, Dense); Algae (Sparse, Medium, Dense); Whip Garden (Sparse, Medium, Dense); Gorgonian Garden (Sparse, Medium, Dense); Porifera (Sponge) Garden (Sparse, Medium, Dense); Hard Coral Garden (Flowerpots - Sparse, Medium, Dense); Live Reef Corals; Caulerpa; Halimeda; Bivalve Shell Beds; Tube Polychaete Beds; Burrowing Animals (Bioturbated Mud); Flora; null.

To describe the fish fauna in relation to habitat and spatial and temporal variables on selected deep shoals of the GBRMP. To present baseline fish community data from BRUVS surveys of three pairs of 'blue' (open to fishing) and 'green' (closed to fishing) zoned shoals in the GBRMP.

This is one component in a series of surveys conducted as part of this MTSRF project, see also separate metadata records on: Southern mid-shelf Shoals (East and West Warregos; Karamea and Barcoo Banks) Reef base shoals (Capricorn-Bunker, Pompey and Swains Groups) Shoals off Cardwell Magnetic Shoals (Townsville) Note that the 'Northern Shoals' of Cardwell, Cairns, and Magnetic Shoals have individual records as each region was analysed separately. Fish from the following taxonomic classes were recorded (note that not all species/families were recorded at all locations): Anguilliformes: Muraenidae (moray eels) Aulopiformes: Synodontidae (lizardfishes) Beryciformes: Holocentridae (squirrelfishes) Carcharhiniformes: Carcharhinidae (whaler sharks); Sphyrnidae (hammerhead sharks) Gasterosteiformes: Aulostomidae (trumpetfishes); Fistulariidae (flutemouths) Myliobatiformes: Dasyatidae (stingrays); Rajiformes: Rhinidae (shark rays); Stegostomatidae (leopard sharks) Orectolobiformes: Ginglymostomatidae (nurse sharks); Hemiscylliidae (catsharks); Myliobatidae (manta and eagle rays) Perciformes: Acanthuridae (surgeon-fishes); Apogonidae (cardinal fishes); Blenniidae (blennies); Caesionidae (fusiliers); Carangidae (trevallies); Chaetodontidae (butterflyfishes); Cheilodactylidae (morwongs); Echeneidae (suckerfishes); Ephippidae (batfishes); Haemulidae (sweetlips); Kyphosidae (drummers); Labridae (wrasses and tuskfish); Lethrinidae (sweetlip emperors); Lutjanidae (snappers and sea perches); Malacanthidae (tilefishes); Mullidae (goatfishes); Nemipteridae (threadfin bream); Pinguipedidae (grubfishes); Pomacanthidae (angelfishes); Pomacentridae (damselfishes); Rachycentridae (cobias); Scaridae (parrotfishes); Scombridae (mackerels and tunas); Serranidae (groupers and coral cods); Siganidae (rabbitfishes); Sparidae (sea breams); Sphyraenidae (barracudas); Zanclidae (Moorish idols) Scorpaeniformes: Scorpaenidae (scorpionfish and lionfish) Squamata: Hydrophiidae (sea snakes) Tetraodontiformes: Balistidae (triggerfishes); Monacanthidae (filefishes and leatherjackets); Tetraodontidae (pufferfish). While not part of the designated objectives, fish size can be delineated from the stereo BRUVs tapes. Related AIMS Publications Speare PJ and Stowar MJ (2008) A comparative study between fished and protected inter-reefal shoal habitats and their fish communities on the Great Barrier Reef. Report on ongoing monitoring off Townsville and initial surveys near Cardwell and Cairns, north Queensland. MTSRF Research Report No. 6 ISBN 9781921359057. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre and Australian Institute of Marine Science. 60 p. http://data.aims.gov.au/extp...leId=8073 Speare PJ, Stowar MJ and Johansson C (2008) Temporal monitoring of northern shoalsoff Cardwell and Townsville. Report to the Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre. 40 p. http://data.aims.gov.au/extp...leId=8261

Principal Investigator
Doherty, Peter J, Dr Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
Point Of Contact
Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) adc@aims.gov.au

Data collected from 12 Dec 2006 until 19 Dec 2006

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Tags: Oceans - Coastal Processes - Shoals | Biosphere - Aquatic Ecosystems - Benthic Habitat | Biological Classification - Animals/Vertebrates - Fish , Sharks/Rays/Chimaeras | Biological Classification - Animals/Vertebrates - Fish , Ray-finned Fishes | Biosphere - Ecological Dynamics - Community Dynamics , Community Structure | Human Dimensions - Environmental Impacts - Environmental Assessments | Marine Protected Areas | Representative Areas Program | Marine Park zoning