Edisto and Charleston Deep Reef MPAs

Edisto and Charleston Deep Reef deepwater MPAs

 

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Edisto MPA

  • Coordinates: The northwest corner at 32°24’N, 79°6’W; the northeast corner at 32°24’N, 78°54’W; the southwest corner at 32°18.5’N, 79°6’W; and the southeast corner at 32°18.5’N, 78°54’W
  • Location: 45 nautical miles southeast of Charleston, SC harbor
  • Size: 10 X 5 nautical miles

Oriented perpendicular to and southeast of the Charleston, SC coastline, the area is heavily fished by both commercial and recreational fishermen. Water depths range from 262 ft. to 459 ft., with shallower areas from 148 ft. to 262 ft. The area includes shelf-edge habitat, home to species such as vermilion snapper, red porgy, gag, scamp, and black sea bass. Other deepwater species include red porgy, juvenile snowy grouper, speckled hind and blueline tilefish. The large number of species found in this area may be related to regional circulation patterns: the MPA lies in an area where the Gulf Stream deflects, or bounces off the “Charleston Bump”, a deepwater bank made up of a series of steep scarps with rocky cliffs, overhangs, and caves. This deflection creates a series of persistent clockwise swirls and upwelling currents referred to as the “Charleston Gyre”, resulting in nutrient rich water beneficial to early life stages of fishes. Furthermore, the Charleston Gyre may serve to retain larvae offshore as well as transport the larvae of some species such as gag and snowy grouper toward nursery areas in estuarine waters. Thus, the area may serve both as a source of larvae for surrounding regions and a sink to retain young fish that need to remain offshore to complete their development.

Charleston Deep Reef MPA

  • Coordinates: Northwest corner at 32°04’ N, 79°12’W; the northeast corner at 32°8.5’N, 79°7.75’W; the southwest corner at 32°1.5’N, 79°9.3’W; and the southeast corner at 32°6’N, 79°5’W
  • Location: 50 nautical miles southeast of Charleston Harbor, SC
  • Size: 3.5 X 6 nautical miles 

This area is proposed as an experimental artificial reef site as a result of public comment and support for creating artificial reefs. The area ranges in depth from 328 ft. to 492 ft. There is no hard bottom in the area. Any biological benefits to deepwater species would accrue after artificial reef material (such as sunken ships, tanks, or highway materials) is added to improve habitat and attract fish. Study of this site in the long-term may provide important biological information about deepwater snapper grouper species and the effectiveness of deepwater artificial reefs.