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Isabelle Cote

Simon Fraser University
Marine communities of the shallow northeast Pacific region have experienced two large-scale disturbances: the mass mortality of many of species of large, predatory seastars in 2013, followed by a period of anomalously warm water (‘the blob’) from 2014 to 2016, when surface waters were up to 4oC warmer than normal.  The ecological effects of these events are poorly documented, particularly for subtidal communities, but they were captured in an opportunistic time-series of fish and invertebrate abundance collected at the Baeria Rocks Ecological Reserve. Since 2007, students from the Bamfield Marine Science Centre have surveyed, using standardised underwater methods, the two islets of the Reserve as the capstone project of their scientific diving course. I will present the trends in abundance of the fish and invertebrates surveyed, and consider the coincidence of timing of these changes in community assemblages with that of major environmental disturbances. The result is a unique picture of the changes that have occurred over more than a decade at a remote site that is, by virtue of its isolation, relatively unaffected by other anthropogenic pressures.