Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean, Coastal, and Earth Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Erin E. Easton

Second Advisor

Dr. Javier Sellanes López

Third Advisor

Dr. Cheryl S. Harrison


Seamounts are essential benthic habitats that are ecologically important, providing habitat and functioning as stepping stones for dispersal and possible refugia, and economically valuable, supporting deep-sea fisheries and potential mineral mining activities. The Salas y Gómez Ridge in the southeast Pacific Ocean longitudinally contains dozens of seamounts that extend ~2,900 km across the South Pacific Subtropical Gyre. The ridge contains a range of oxygen and nutrient conditions that, along with the distance between seamounts, have led to high levels of endemism, reported in the few studies that have been conducted on seamounts of the region; this study is the first to visually survey below mesophotic depths. Five seamounts, several never having been surveyed, and two oceanic islands were surveyed by a towed camera system to describe the benthic habitats and megafauna and to analyze the relationships between environmental data and the habitats and communities found along the ridge. Faunal communities differed among stations, with different dominant fauna at each. Changes with depth were unclear, though the best explanatory variable for community changes was depth; further studies are needed to understand observed patterns and aid conservation efforts.


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