Assessment of Surf Zone and Near-shore Nekton Community in Horry County and Folly Beach, SC – Year I
In cooperation with the South Carolina Department of Resources, Coastal Carolina University and the Grice Marine Laboratory of the College of Charleston, the goals of this research are to characterize the surf zone and near-shore nekton community of the northern South Carolina coast (Myrtle Beach area), central coast (Folly Beach) and to examine changes in this community during coastal hypoxic conditions. Specifically, the project objectives are:
- To compare the abundance and diversity of the surf zone nekton community between open beach sites and swash/stormwater outflow sites. We hypothesize the nekton community abundance and diversity will differ between the two site categories.
- To collect baseline data at sites where summer coastal hypoxia events are known to occur, in the hope we will be able to sample during a hypoxia event to examine potential changes in abundance and diversity.
- To compare the nekton community in the surf zone with that just outside of the surf zone in deeper waters. Again, we hope to catch a hypoxia event to see potential changes in both the surf zone and more offshore nekton community. The later group is of particular interest because it is likely to include many recreationally and commercially important species. Potential correlations/interactions between the two communities are also of interest.
- To compare surf zone nekton community structure in Horry County with a similar concurrent study at Folly Beach in Charleston County.
The surf zone will be sampled using a 19.8m by 1.8-m, 9-mm stretch-mesh nylon bag seine with the bag opening of 1.8 m in diameter and length of 1.8 m. The seine will be towed approximately 185 m with the current (Anderson at el. 1977). Temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, sea state and wave height, wind direction and speed, and turbidity/clarity will be measured immediately after each tow. Captured species will be processed and preserved immediately following each tow.
Sampling will be concentrated as close to the same sites on Folly Beach as was conducted by Anderson in 1977 and at three locations along the Grand Strand, each with 2 paired seining locations (either adjacent to versus distant from a swash, or adjacent to versus distant from a stormwater overflow). One of the sample sites in Horry County will be near the Apache pier, which is known to be in the hypoxia zone. The dissolved oxygen is monitored at the Apache pier by real time data online.
At selected sites, we plan to do plankton tows in the surf zone and to collect benthic samples from the beach/surf zone with cores or a yabby pump, similar to the efforts of DeLancey (1987) and Knott et al 1983. These samples are valuable for feeding and predator/prey correlations and for feeding selectivity studies. We do not plan to analyze these samples as part of the proposed project with they will be archived for further research in the future. These samples would be collected at the Apache Pier site, again in the hope of catching one or more hypoxia events for comparison.