Deep Reef Marine Health Observatory

Marine waters surrounding the San Juan Islands are relatively shallow (under 150 meters) and replete with pinnacles, rocky reefs and shoals—hazards to navigation but fine habitat for rockfish (Sebastes spp), greenlings and lingcod (Hexagrammidae), as well as halibut and flounders (Pleuronectidae). These resident species provided year-round fresh food for the islands' human inhabitants, unlike salmon and herring, which migrate through the San Juan Islands in vast numbers seasonally. Rocky reef fishes have been declining, however, and many rockfish species have completely disappeared, leading to restrictions and recent listings of most rockfish as endangered. Observing rockfish is challenging and relatively little is known about their juvenile ecology or adult behavior. Unlike other Marine Health Observatories, which are shore-based, Deep Reef challenges the islands' students to apply technology to questions of marine ecology through use, for example, of sensors or remote video cameras, deployed by small boats or tethered in deep waters, or electronic tags that collect, store or transmit data attached to fish. Stay tuned!

Juvenile Copper Rockfish

Local students learning about ROV operation from Dr. David Duggins