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Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves Epibenthic Sampling Program Quick Links

Epibenthic organisms are those that live near the surface of bay bottom sediments. While some seagrass maps and maps of the bay bottom might sometimes describe areas without seagrass, macroalgae or coral as "barren", this is hardly the case. Over 500 species of marine worms make their home in the sediments of Biscayne Bay as so many other organisms seeking shelter such as some species of fish, crabs and rays. Other organisms find the food they need as they stir up the sediments such as nurse sharks and rays.

NOAA currently conducts field sampling twice a year in the wet and dry seasons along the shoreline in central to southern Biscayne Bay as part of an epibenthic monitoring program. The goal of the program is to be able to determine what species of fish, crabs and other organisms are living along the shoreline, able to survive at salinities that range from zero to 35 parts per thousand (ocean salinity). When the water control structures within the canals along the central-southern shoreline of the bay are opened, the freshwater pulse can turn the bay's salinity from 30 to 35 parts per thousand to zero in a matter of minutes, creating a salinity regime that is inhospitable for many larval and adult stages of fish and invertebrates.

Benthic sampling

Shrimp, crabs, zooplankton and other important species are documented during NOAA's epifaunal research, part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

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Last updated: June 27, 2014

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