29 JUNE 2020
Deep in the cold, dark water, on the seafloor west of Greenland, a peaceful environment grows. For the first time, a garden of soft corals and sponges has actually been discovered in these waters, stretching throughout a location a little bigger than the City of San Jose.
The discovery highlights not just how little we comprehend the deeper areas of the ocean, but just how much damage we could be doing while uninformed. The recently discovered habitat sits ideal beside a deep-sea trawling location; researchers are requiring it to be classified as a susceptible marine environment.
Exploring the deep sea is challenging. The deeper you go, the less sunshine permeates the waters, while the oceanic pressure progressively increases. By the time you’re a couple of hundred metres down, it’s cold, it’s dark, and the pressure is crushing, at least for people.
This suggests that deep-sea expedition needs unique state-of-the-art equipment designed to hold up against pressure. The brand-new research study shows such exploration can be conducted without an excellent deal of expense.
The group’s rig – which they call a benthic video sled – consists of a GoPro, lights, and laser guidelines (set a specific range apart to serve as a scale guide) in pressure cases, housed in a steel frame suspended from their research vessel. This low-cost sled can reach depths of 1,500 metres (4,920 feet).
( Stephen Long)
” The deep sea is often ignored in terms of expedition. In fact we have better maps of the surface of Mars than we do of the deep sea,” said geographer Stephen Long of University College London and the Zoological Society of London in the UK.
” The development of an inexpensive tool that can hold up against deep-sea environments opens up brand-new possibilities for our understanding and management of marine ecosystems.”
It was while utilizing this video sled that the group discovered a huge coral garden spanning 486 square kilometres (188 square miles) in the Mesopelagic zone, at depths between 314 and 585 metres (1,030 and 1,920 feet).
At those depths, extremely little light penetrates – at the top of the zone, around 200 metres (656 feet) down, just 1 percent of the light visible at the ocean surface remains, and it only gets darker from there. And at 500 metres deep, the pressure is over 50 times the air pressure at sea level.
Down here, the photosynthetic symbiotic algae that provide shallow-water corals their fantastic colours can’t make it through. But the corals themselves – pale without algae – can still grow on nutrients in the water.
And this is what the team found: a large coral garden populated by cauliflower corals, plume stars, sponges, anemones, fragile stars, hydrozoans, bryozoans and, naturally, fish.
” Coral gardens are characterised by collections of one or more types (typically of non-reef forming coral), that sit on a wide variety of tough and soft bottom habitats, from rock to sand, and support a variety of animals,” explained zoologist Chris Yesson of the Zoological Society of London.
” There is significant variety amongst coral garden neighborhoods, which have previously been observed in areas such as northwest and southeast Iceland.”
Certainly, there was no shortage of diversity. In 1,239 still images drawn out from the GoPro footage, the team annotated 44,035 specific organisms. Of those, anemones were the most abundant at 15,531 identifications, but cauliflower corals weren’t far behind, at 11,633 identifications.
That such a large environment can stay hidden is a suggestion for us to think about the environmental impacts of human activity in badly comprehended areas of the sea, the researchers said.
” Greenland’s seafloor is essentially unexplored, although we understand it is lived in by more than 2,000 various species together contributing to complex and varied habitats, and to the performance of the marine environment,” stated ecological researcher Martin Blicher of the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.
” Regardless of understanding so little about these seafloor environments, the Greenlandic economy depends on a little number of fisheries which trawl the seabed. We hope that studies like this will increase our understanding of eco-friendly relationships, and contribute to sustainable fisheries management.”
The research study has actually been released in Frontiers in Marine Science