Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Visual faunistic exploration of geomorphological human-impacted deep-sea areas of the north-western Mediterranean Sea

  • Ariadna Mecho (a1), Jacopo Aguzzi (a2), Ben De Mol (a3), Galderic Lastras (a4), Eva Ramirez-Llodra (a5), Nixon Bahamon (a6), Joan B. Company (a2) and Miquel Canals (a4)...

This study reports the composition and distribution of demersal megafauna from various north-western Mediterranean submarine areas such as canyons, seamounts and landslides between 60–800 m depth, based on remotely operated vehicle (ROV) observations. From a total of 30 h of video, 4534 faunistic observations were made and analysed in relationship to environmental factors (i.e. topography, substrate type and depth). In addition, anthropogenic impact was quantified by grouping observations in four categories: fishing nets, longlines, trawl marks and other litter. The different targeted environments showed similarities in faunal composition according to substrate, depth and topography. Our results also indicated the presence of anthropogenic impact in all the sampled areas in which litter and trawl marks were the most observed artefacts.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: A. Mecho, Universidad Católica del Norte, Millennium Nucleus of Ecology and Sustainable Management of Oceanic Island (ESMOI), Larrondo 1281, Coquimbo, Chile. email:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

C. Abi-Ghanem , K. Nakhlé , G. Khalaf and D. Cossa (2011) Mercury distribution and methylmercury mobility in the sediments of three sites on the Lebanese coast, eastern Mediterranean. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 60, 394405.

J. Acosta , M. Canals , J. López-Martínez , A. Muñoz , P. Herranz , R. Urgeles , C. Palomo and J.L. Casamor (2003) The Balearic Promontory geomorphology (western Mediterranean): morphostructure and active processes. Geomorphology 49, 177204.

J. Aguzzi , J.B. Company , C. Costa , M. Matabos , E. Azzurro , A. Manuel , P. Menesatti , F. Sardà , M. Canals , E. Delory , D. Cline , P. Favali , K.S. Juniper , Y. Furushima , Y. Fujiwara , J.J. Chiesa , L. Marotta , N. Bahamon and I.M. Priede (2010) Activity rhythms in the deep-sea crustacean: chronobiological challenges and potential technological scenarios. Frontiers in Bioscience 16, 131150.

A. Ayma , J. Aguzzi , M. Canals , G. Lastras , N. Bahamón , A. Mecho and J.B. Company (2016) Behavioural observations of deep-water fauna in submarine canyons of the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea by ROV and Agassiz observations. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research 114, 149159.

N. Bahamon , J. Aguzzi , R. Bernardello , M.A. Ahumada-Sempoal , J. Puigdefabregas , J. Cateura , E. Muñoz , Z. Velásquez and A. Cruzado (2011) The New Pelagic Operational Observatory of the Catalan Sea (OOCS) for the multisensor coordinated measurement of atmospheric and oceanographic conditions. Sensors 11, 1125111272.

N. Bahamon , F. Sarda and J. Aguzzi (2009) Fuzzy diel patterns in catchability of deep-water species on the continental margin. ICES Journal of Marine Science 66, 22112218.

D. Billett , B. Bett , C. Jacobs , I. Rouse and B. Wigham (2006) Mass deposition of jellyfish in the deep Arabian Sea. Limnology and Oceanography 51, 20772083.

G.W. Boehlert (1988) Current-topography interactions at mid-ocean seamounts and the impact on pelagic ecosystems. GeoJournal 16, 4552.

P. Buhl-Mortensen and L. Buhl-Mortensen (2008) Occurrence of deep-water corals on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge based on MAR-ECO data. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 55, 142152.

J.E. Cartes , F. Maynou , E. Fanelli , C. Romano , V. Mamouridis and V. Papiol (2009) The distribution of megabenthic, invertebrate epifauna in the Balearic Basin (Western Mediterranean) between 400 and 2300 m: environmental gradients influencing assemblages composition and biomass trends. Journal of Sea Research 61, 244257.

M.R. Clark (1999) Fisheries for orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) on seamounts in New Zealand. Oceanologica Acta 22, 593602.

M.R. Clark , A.A. Rowden , T. Schlacher , A. Williams , M. Consalvey , K.I. Stocks , A.D. Rogers , T.D. O'Hara , M. White , T.M. Shank and J.M. Hall-Spencer (2010) The ecology of seamounts: structure, function, and human impacts. Annual Review of Marine Science 2, 253278.

R. Danovaro , J.B. Company , C. Corinaldesi , G. D'Onghia , B. Galil , C. Gambi , A.J. Gooday , N. Lampadariou , G.M. Luna , C. Morigi , K. Olu , P. Polymenakou , E. Ramirez-Llodra , A. Sabbatini , F. Sardà , M. Sibuet and A. Tselepides (2010) Deep-sea biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea: the known, the unknown, and the unknowable. PLoS ONE 5, e11832.

M. Davis and P. Chakrabarty (2011) Tripodfish (Aulopiformes: Bathypterois) locomotion and landing behaviour from video observation at bathypelagic depths in the Campos Basin of Brazil. Marine Biology Research 7, 297303.

B. De Mol , V. Huvenne and M. Canals (2008) Cold-water coral banks and submarine landslides: a review. International Journal of Earth Sciences 98, 885899.

G.A. Duffy , L. Lundsten , L.A. Kuhnz and C.K. Paull (2014) A comparison of megafaunal communities in five submarine canyons off Southern California, USA. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 104, 259266.

M. Fabri , L. Pedel and L. Beuck (2014) Megafauna of vulnerable marine ecosystems in French mediterranean submarine canyons: spatial distribution and anthropogenic impacts. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 104, 184207.

E. Fanelli , J.E. Cartes , V. Papiol and C. López-Pérez (2013) Environmental drivers of megafaunal assemblage composition and biomass distribution over mainland and insular slopes of the Balearic Basin (Western Mediterranean). Deep-sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers 78, 7994.

M.M. Flexas , D.L. Boyer , M. Espino , J. Puigdefàbregas , A. Rubio and J.B. Company (2008) Circulation over a submarine canyon in the NW Mediterranean. Journal of Geophysical Research 113, 120122.

C. Franqueville (1970) Etude comparative de macroplancton en Méditerranée nord-occidentale par plongées en soucoupe SP 350, et pêches au chalut pélagique. Marine Biology 5, 172179.

F. Galgani , J.P. Leaute and P. Moguedet (2000) Litter on the sea floor along European coasts. Marine Pollution Bulletin 40, 516527.

F. Galgani , A. Souplet and Y. Cadiou (1996) Accumulation of debris on the deep sea floor off the French Mediterranean coast. Marine Ecology Progress Series 142, 225234.

M. García Rodríguez and A. Esteban (2008) On the biology and fishery of Aristeus antennatus (Risso, 1816), (Decapoda, Dendrobranchiata) in the Ibiza Channel (Balearic Islands, Spain). Scientia Marina 63, 2737.

A. Genin (2004) Bio-physical coupling in the formation of zooplankton and fish aggregations over abrupt topographies. Journal of Marine Systems 50, 320.

N.A. Hess , C.A. Ribic and I. Vining (1999) Benthic marine debris, with an emphasis on fishery-related items, surrounding Kodiak Island, Alaska, 1994–1996. Marine Pollution Bulletin 38, 885890.

K.L. Howell , S.L. Mowles and A. Foggo (2010) Mounting evidence: near-slope seamounts are faunally indistinct from an adjacent bank. Marine Ecology 31, 5262.

S. Koenig , P. Fernández and M. Solé (2012) Differences in cytochrome P450 enzyme activities between fish and crustacea: relationship with the bioaccumulation patterns of polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs). Aquatic Toxicology 108, 1117.

S. Koenig , D. Huertas and P. Fernández (2013b) Legacy and emergent persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in NW Mediterranean deep-sea organisms. Science of the Total Environment 443, 356366.

G. Lastras , M. Canals , R. Urgeles , J.E. Hughes-Clarke and J. Acosta (2004) Shallow slides and pockmark swarms in the Eivissa Channel, western Mediterranean Sea. Sedimentology 51, 837850.

L.A. Levin , M. Sibuet , A.J. Gooday , C.R. Smith and A. Vanreusel (2010) The roles of habitat heterogeneity in generating and maintaining biodiversity on continental margins: an introduction. Marine Ecology 31, 15.

A. Longhurst (2007) Doubt and certainty in fishery science: are we really headed for a global collapse of stocks? Fisheries Research 86, 15.

P. Lorance and V. Trenkel (2006) Variability in natural behaviour, and observed reactions to an ROV, by mid-slope fish species. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 332, 106119.

G.P. Marra and S.N. Wood (2011) Practical variable selection for generalized additive models. Computational Statistics and Data Analysis 55, 23722387.

C.R. McClain and J.P. Barry (2010) Habitat heterogeneity, disturbance, and productivity work in concert to regulate biodiversity in deep submarine canyons. Ecology 91, 964976.

A. Mecho , J. Aguzzi , J.B. Company , M. Canals , G. Lastras and X. Turon (2014) First in situ observations of the deep-sea carnivorous ascidian Dicopia antirrhinum Monniot C., 1972 in the Western Mediterranean Sea. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers 83, 5156.

P.R. Minchin (1987) An evaluation of relative robustness of techniques for ecological ordinations. Vegetatio 69, 89107.

J. Moranta , C. Stefanescu , E. Massutí , B. Morales and D. Lloris (1998) Fish community structure and depth-related trends on the continental slope of the Balearic Islands (Algerian basin, western Mediterranean). Marine Ecology Progress 171, 247259.

C. Orejas , A. Gori , C. Lo Iacono , P. Puig , J.M. Gili and M. Dale (2009) Cold-water corals in the Cap de Creus canyon, northwestern Mediterranean: spatial distribution, density and anthropogenic impact. Marine Ecology Progress Series 397, 3751.

A. Palanques , J. Martín , P. Puig , J. Guillén , J.B. Company and F. Sardà (2006) Evidence of sediment gravity flows induced by trawling in the Palamós (Fonera) submarine canyon (northwestern Mediterranean). Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers 53, 201214.

V. Papiol , J.E. Cartes , E. Fanelli and F. Maynou (2012) Influence of environmental variables on the spatio-temporal dynamics of bentho-pelagic assemblages in the middle slope of the Balearic Basin (NW Mediterranean). Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers 61, 8499.

C.K. Pham , E. Ramirez-Llodra , C.H.S. Alt , T. Amaro , M. Bergmann , M. Canals , J.B. Company , J. Davies , G. Duineveld , F. Galgani , K.L. Howell , V.A.I. Huvenne , E. Isidro , D.O.B. Jones , G. Lastras , T. Morato , J.N. Gomes-Pereira , A. Purser , H. Stewart , I. Tojeira , X. Tubau , D. Van Rooij and P.A. Tyler (2014) Marine litter distribution and density in European seas, from the shelves to deep basins. PLoS ONE 9, e95839.

P. Puig , M. Canals , J.B. Company , J. Martín , D. Amblas , G. Lastras and A. Palanques (2012) Ploughing the deep sea floor. Nature 489, 286289.

P. Puig , A.S. Ogston , B.L. Mullenbach , C.A. Nittrouer and R.W. Sternberg (2003) Shelf-to-canyon sediment-transport processes on the Eel continental margin (northern California). Marine Geology 193, 129149.

E. Ramirez-Llodra , M. Ballesteros , J.B. Company , L. Dantart and F. Sardà (2008) Spatio-temporal variations of biomass and abundance in bathyal non-crustacean megafauna in the Catalan Sea (North-western Mediterranean). Marine Biology 153, 297309.

E. Ramirez-Llodra , J.B. Company , F. Sardà and G. Rotllant (2010) Megabenthic diversity patterns and community structure of the Blanes submarine canyon and adjacent slope in the Northwestern Mediterranean: a human overprint? Marine Ecology 31, 167182.

E. Ramirez-Llodra , B. De Mol , J.B. Company , M. Coll and F. Sardà (2013) Effects of natural and anthropogenic processes in the distribution of marine litter in the deep Mediterranean Sea. Progress in Oceanography 118, 273287.

E. Ramirez-Llodra , P.A. Tyler , M.C. Baker , O.A. Bergstad , M.R. Clark , E. Escobar , L.A. Levin , L. Menot , A.A. Rowden , C.R. Smith and C.L. Van Dover (2011) Man and the last great wilderness: human impact on the deep sea. PLoS ONE 6, e22588.

G. Rotllant , E. Abad , F. Sardà , M. Ábalos , J.B. Company and J. Rivera (2006) Dioxin compounds in the deep-sea rose shrimp Aristeus antennatus (Risso, 1816) throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers 53, 18951906.

M. Salomon (2009) Recent European initiatives in marine protection policy: towards lasting protection for Europe's seas? Environmental Science and Policy 12, 359366.

S. Samadi , L. Bottan , E. Macpherson , B.R. Forges and M.C. Boisselier (2006) Seamount endemism questioned by the geographic distribution and population genetic structure of marine invertebrates. Marine Biology 149, 14631475.

F. Sardà , J.E. Cartes and J.B. Company (1994) Spatio-temporal variations in megabenthos abundance in three different habitats of the Catalan deep-sea (Western Mediterranean). Marine Biology 120, 211219.

C. Stefanescu , D. Lloris and J. Rucabado (1993) Deep-sea fish assemblages in the Catalan Sea (western Mediterranean) below a depth of 1000 m. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers 40, 695707.

D. Stein , J. Felley and M. Vecchione (2005) ROV observations of benthic fishes in the Northwind and Canada Basins, Arctic Ocean. Polar Biology 28, 232237.

A.W. Stoner , C.H. Ryer , S.J. Parker , P.J. Auster and W.W. Wakefield (2008) Evaluating the role of fish behavior in surveys conducted with underwater vehicles. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 65, 12301243.

S. Tecchio , E. Ramirez-Llodra , F. Sardà and J.B. Company (2011) Biodiversity of deep-sea demersal megafauna in Western and Central Mediterranean basins. Scientia Marina 75, 341350.

V. Trenkel , R. Francis , P. Lorance , S. Mahévas , M. Rochet and D. Tracey (2004) Availability of deep-water fish to trawling and visual observation from a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Marine Ecology Progress Series 284, 293303.

A. Vertino , A. Savini , A. Rosso , I. Di Geronimo , F. Mastrototaro , R. Sanfilippo , G. Gay and G. Etiope (2010) Benthic habitat characterization and distribution from two representative sites of the deep-water SML Coral Province (Mediterranean). Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 57, 380396.

M.K. Wicksten (1985) Carrying behavior in the Family Homolidae (Decapoda: Brachyura). Journal of Crustacean Biology 5, 476479.

S.N. Wood (2003) Thin plate regression splines. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series B 65, 95114.

L.C. Woodall , L.F. Robinson , A.D. Rogers , B.E. Narayanaswamy and G.L.J. Paterson (2015) Deep sea litter: a comparison of seamounts, banks and a ridge in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans reveals both environmental and anthropogenic factors impact accumulation and composition. Frontiers in Marine Science 2, 110.

D. Zúñiga , M. Flexas , A. Sanchez-Vidal , J. Coenjaerts , A. Calafat , G. Jordà , J. García-Orellana , J. Puigdefàbregas , M. Canals , M. Espino , F. Sardà and J.B. Company (2009) Particle fluxes dynamics in Blanes submarine canyon (Northwestern Mediterranean). Progress in Oceanography 82, 239251.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Mecho supplementary material
Mecho supplementary material 3

 Unknown (722 KB)
722 KB
Supplementary Materials

Mecho supplementary material
Mecho supplementary material 4

 Unknown (1.9 MB)
1.9 MB
Supplementary Materials

Mecho supplementary material
Mecho supplementary material 2

 Unknown (685 KB)
685 KB
Supplementary Materials

Mecho supplementary material
Mecho supplementary material 1

 Word (28 KB)
28 KB
Supplementary Materials

Mecho supplementary material
Mecho supplementary material 5

 Unknown (1.5 MB)
1.5 MB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 27 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 202 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 17th April 2017 - 26th July 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.