A community assessment of the demersal fish and benthic invertebrates of the Rosemary Bank Seamount Marine Protected Area (NE Atlantic)
The Rosemary Bank Seamount in the NE Atlantic was designated a Marine Protected Area in 2014 by the Scottish Government. Visual and trawl surveys of the seamount have been undertaken since 2007. Here these data are compiled and analysed to provide an assessment of the communities of demersal fish and benthic invertebrates found there. The fish and benthic invertebrate communities changed markedly with depth. Cluster analysis revealed at least four distinct communities of fish: those on the summit, the mid slope, the lower slope and the deep moat at the base of the seamount. The invertebrate community changed at a depth of 1100 m, where mixed-species sponge aggregations dominated to depths of 1500 m. The seamount is an important site for vulnerable marine ecosystems, most notably the extensive and unusually diverse deep-sea sponge grounds on the lower slope. Other prioritised conservation species and habitats recorded included cold water corals, orange roughy, blue ling, leafscale gulper shark and the Portuguese dogfish. Due to sampling constraints some areas of the seamount still remain unknown. A precautionary approach to protecting the entire seamount would achieve multiple conservation objectives. The data presented here serve as a base-line to assess the impact of management intervention in the future.