A submarine cable extends between Pioneer Seamount and the Pillar Point Air Force Station in Half Moon Bay, California (Howe 1996; Figure 1). The cable is known as both the ATOC (Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate) and Pioneer Seamount cable. The cable was used to transmit data from a passive, acoustic hydrophone array on Pioneer Seamount to shore. Approximately two thirds of the cable lies within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and is permitted (MBNMS-2001-031) through December 31, 2003. This report documents cable surveys performed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in 2002-2003 of the ATOC/Pioneer Seamount cable. Survey objectives were to describe the state of the cable and document its effect on the seafloor and on benthic organisms. The survey data will also be used to address components of permit special condition #4 (Appendix A).
MBARI carried out this study in partnership with NOAA-OAR (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Oceanic and Atmospheric Research) and NOAA-NOS (National Ocean Service). MBARI researchers were interested in documenting the environmental impacts of submarine cables, a topic of importance to the scientific community for which little data is published and publicly available. NOAA-OAR has responsibility over this particular cable and the requirement to survey it prior to permit expiration. NOAA-NOS interest in this survey was in assessing the environmental impact of submarine cables and general seafloor characterization within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. We intend to refine the essence of this initial report into a journal publication.