The substrate consists primarily of slight relief bedrock and with higher levels of coralline algae than seen in other MPA sites. High numbers of rockfish, typically blue (S. mystinus) and kelp rockfish (S. atrovirens) are regularly seen at our sites in Carmel bay. The MPA is dominated by large numbers of the canopy forming Macrocystis complimented by the algae P. californica and high numbers of the bat star (A. miniata).
The reference sites for Carmel Bay SMCA have similar habitat characteristics to the mpa site, high-relief substrates comprised almost entirely of bedrock. Kelp (Macrocystis) densities were also similar to those seen within the MPA. The sub-canopy kelps Laminaria and Pterygophora were also present. Urchin densities were high at both the MPA and reference sites, but purple urchin densities were higher here than at any of the other MPA or reference sites. Fish densities were generally extremely high at these reference sites. Kelp (S. atrovirens), black and yellow (S. chrysomelas, and black (S. melanops rockfishes were recorded at the highest densities seen along the CCSR. Striped surfperch (Embiotoca lateralis) and lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) also occurred in particularly high numbers.