Date of this Version
22 August 2006 / Accepted: 22 October 2007 / Published online: 23 November 2007 © Springer-Verlag 2007
Submersible observations during four missions over the North Carolina and Virginia continental slopes (184–900 m) documented the occurrence of large aggregations of mesopelagic Wshes and macronektonic invertebrates near or on the bottom. Aggregated mesopelagics formed a layer up to tens of meters deep positioned from a few centimeters to 20 m, usually <10 >m, above the substrate. Aggregations were numerically dominated by microvores, notably the myctophid Wsh Ceratoscopelus maderensis and the penaeid shrimp Sergestes arcticus. Consistently present but in relatively lower numbers, were mesopelagic predators, including the paralepidids Notolepis rissoi and Lestidium atlanticum, the eel Nemichthys scolopaceus, the stomiid Wshes Chauliodus sloani and Stomias boa ferox, and squids Illex spp. Near-bottom aggregations do not appear to be an artifact due to attraction to the submersible. Based on submersible observations in three areas in 4 years spanning a decade, near-bottom aggregations of midwater organisms appear to be a geographically widespread and persistent phenomenon along the continental slope of the southeastern US Aggregations may exploit areas of enhanced food resources at the bottom.