Date of Award

Spring 5-4-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Marine Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Juliana M. Harding


Estuarine systems provide critical habitats for resident species year-round while transient species occupy these habitats seasonally. North Inlet estuary resident species include smaller benthic fishes like the striped blenny Chasmodes bosquianas that are preyed upon by larger piscivorous transient species. Adult male blennies have high fidelity for nest shelters year-round. Their shelter use patterns are easily monitored using underwater video cameras. Transient species habitat use patterns were quantified during winter (8-18°C) and spring (>18°C) 2020. Digital video recorded between sunrise and sunset was analyzed for the presence and absence of blennies and transient fishes. Eight species of transient nekton were present between January and April. Five transient nekton species accounted for 69% of the total observations of non-blenny resident species and transient nekton between January and April. Spotted seatrout Cynoscion nebulosuswas the most abundant species (n= 96 observations) and appeared exclusively in January and February at water temperatures between 8°C and 13°C. Sheepshead Archosargus probatocephalus were primarily observed in spring. Spotted seatrout observations significantly increased at water temperatures between 8°C and 12.5°C, salinities of 25.1 to 30, and depths less than 2.5 m. Sheepshead abundance significantly increased when water temperature was greater than 18°C. These video results document the trophic relay created when southeastern nekton seasonally use temperate fringing oyster reefs strategically for foraging and structure.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Available for download on Monday, December 31, 2029