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Seamount Effects on Micronekton at a Subtropical Central Pacific Seamount

June 28, 2022

Although seamounts are found globally and their ecological and economical importance is well known, the mechanisms for supporting seamount-associated communities are not well understood.

In this study, the effects of an intermediate depth seamount (Cross Seamount) on the micronekton communities, forage for economically important bigeye tuna, are investigated. Relative biomass and composition estimates were calculated from multi-frequency active acoustic data from surveys over 3 years. Mean micronekton biomass was significantly higher than in the ambient environment and its composition differed over the flanks and plateau of Cross Seamount. The effects of the seamount extended ∼3.5 km away from the plateau's edge, possibly further below 400 m depth at the flanks. Micronekton occupied the water column from the surface to the 400 m deep plateau with dense aggregations immediately over the bottom at night.

During the day, these micronekton migrated both horizontally and downward, occupying depths of 500–700 m, preferably along the upstream flank of the seamount. Descending micronekton from near-surface waters appeared to be temporarily blocked by the topography before swimming below the plateau at the flanks. Mechanisms supporting the increase in micronekton biomass are uncertain, although hydrographic data support topographic trapping of zooplankton and the existence of transient or semi-permanent Taylor caps.

Domokos R. 2022. Seamount effects on micronekton at a subtropical central Pacific seamount. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, Volume 186: 103829.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2022.103829.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 06/29/2022