Frontiers in Marine Science
Sound scattering layers, Diel vertical migration, Ocenaographic features, Eddy, Gulf of Mexico
Several factors have been reported to structure the spatial and temporal patterns of sound scattering layers, including temperature, oxygen, salinity, light, and physical oceanographic conditions. In this study, we examined the spatiotemporal variability of acoustically detected sound scattering layers in the northern Gulf of Mexico to investigate the drivers of this variability, including mesoscale oceanographic features [e.g., Loop Current-origin water (LCOW), frontal boundaries, and Gulf Common Water]. Results indicate correlations in the vertical position and acoustic backscatter intensity of sound scattering layers with oceanographic conditions and light intensity. LCOW regions displayed consistent decreases, by a factor of two and four, in acoustic backscatter intensity in the upper 200 m relative to frontal boundaries and Gulf Common Water, respectively. Sound scattering layers had greater backscatter intensity at night in comparison to daytime (25x for frontal boundaries, 17x for LCOW, and 12x for Gulf Common Water). The importance of biotic (primary productivity) and abiotic (sea surface temperature, salinity) factors varied across oceanographic conditions and depth intervals, suggesting that the patterns in distribution and behavior of mesopelagic assemblages in low-latitude, oligotrophic ecosystems can be highly dynamic.
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Boswell, Kevin M.; Marta D'Elia; Matthew Johnston; John A. Mohan; Joseph D. Warren; R. J. David Wells; and Tracey Sutton. 2020. "Oceanographic Structure and Light Levels Drive Patterns of Sound Scattering Layers in a Low-Latitude Oceanic System." Frontiers in Marine Science 7, (51): 1-15. doi:10.3389/fmars.2020.00051.