Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Distribution of zooplankton inferred from hydroacoustic backscatter data in coastal waters off Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

Steven G. Wilson, Timothy Pauly and Mark G. Meekan

Marine and Freshwater Research 53(6) 1005 - 1015
Published: 09 December 2002


Hydroacoustic surveys were used to examine zooplankton distributions in coastal waters off Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Surveys were timed to coincide with the seasonal aggregation of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, and other large zooplanktivores in these waters. The surveys examined scattering features of lagoon/shelf fronts, a series of cross-shelf transects and waters surrounding whale sharks swimming at the surface. These suggested that lagoon waters flow intrusively into shelf waters at reef passages in a layered exchange. Cross-shelf transects identified three vertical scattering layers: a surface bubble layer; a near-surface minimum layer; and a bottom maximum layer. Regions of intense mixing of lagoon and shelf waters were detected seaward and to the north of reef passages. Integrated acoustic mean volume backscatter of the bottom maximum layer increased with depth and distance offshore. Large subsurface aggregations of unidentified fauna were detected beneath whale sharks in the same area that manta rays and surface schools of euphausiids were also observed.

© CSIRO 2002

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