Home > Explore Data & Reports > Mollusks taken by Beam Trawl in the vicinity of Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary on the Continental Shelf off Georgia, Southeastern U.S.


Wolfe, D.A. 2008. Mollusks taken by Beam Trawl in the vicinity of Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary on the Continental Shelf off Georgia, Southeastern U.S.. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 88. Beaufort, NC. 40 pp.

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NOAA Technical Memorandum

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Mollusks were sorted from samples of shell hash (obtained as bycatch during NOAA-sponsored studies of larval and juvenile fish distribution), and analyzed to gain qualitative insights on species composition, distribution and habitat affinities of the molluscan fauna on the continental shelf off Georgia. Samples came from beam trawls at 37 stations located in the immediate vicinity and offshore of the Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS) at depths of 4.9 to 103 m. Two hundred sixty-three (263) taxa of mollusks (~58% as dead shells only) were collected, and nearly all (~99%) were identified to the species level. Ninety-seven of these taxa appeared in samples from one or more of the four stations established near the corners of the GRNMS. Samples were highly variable in terms of appearance, volume and species composition of mollusks, reflecting the extreme patchiness of benthic habitats within this region of the continental shelf. With very few exceptions, the mollusks were generally characteristic of either the Carolinian or Caribbean faunal provinces. The Georgia continental shelf, however, was outside the previously reported ranges for at least 16 of the species reported here. Most of these extralimital species were known previously from the East Coast of Florida, and represented northerly range extensions of 1-5° Latitude (110-560 km). One species represented a more significant range extension from the Bahamas and the southern Caribbean, and two represented southerly range extensions, known previously from only as close as off North Carolina. The high incidence of range extensions found in this study and the potential for discovery of additional species are discussed in the context of the diversity and patchiness of benthic habitats on the continental shelf of the region, and the sensitivity of species recruitment to variability in Gulf Stream patterns and global climate change.

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