Pérez-Castro et al. 2023

scientific article | Diversity

Benthic characterization of mesophotic communities based on optical depths in the Southern Mexican Pacific Coast (Oaxaca)

Pérez-Castro MÁ, Eyal G, Leyte-Morales GE, Hinojosa-Arango G, Enríquez S


The distinction between shallow coral reefs and mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) has not been fully clarified yet. The original definition of MCEs, by depths of 30–150 m, fixes their bathymetrical limits and fails to accommodate environmental and biological variation. Recent studies have indicated that water transparency and light availability may explain why MCEs do not occur at fixed depths but vary among localities. This study aimed to evaluate the presence and distribution of MCEs, along the central coast of Oaxaca, through optical depths and the associated benthic community. Using MODIS-Aqua satellite data (Kd490), we estimated the mesophotic optical depths monthly (z10%, z1%, z0.1%), over the last four years. In addition, to characterize benthic community structure, we conducted underwater photo quadrat surveys at two locations on the southern Mexican Pacific coast from 10 to 55 m depth. Significant differences between depths and locations were found in benthic communities. Furthermore, the lower distribution of photosynthetic taxa was different between the two locations but indicative to the z10% and z1% in both cases. Those differences were associated with the upwelling season, which reduces, drastically and differentially, the light availability for benthic communities between the two locations and limits the development of MCEs on the central coast of Oaxaca.

Depth range
10- 55 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
74 x (total of 6453 words)

* Presents original data
* Focused on 'mesophotic' depth range
* Focused on 'mesophotic coral ecosystem'

Community structure
Methods and Technology

Overall benthic (groups)
Scleractinia (Hard Corals)
Algae (Macro, Turf and Crustose Coralline)

Mexico - Pacific Ocean

SCUBA (open-circuit or unspecified)
Surface-deployed sensors and samplers

Author profiles