Monday, October 22, 2012

Oceana finds never before seen species and litter in the Gorringe Seamounts

Regarded as an untouched enclave in the Atlantic, the Gorringe now displays signs of pollution due to human activity.   Deep-sea sharks, hydrocoral, glass sponges and black coral, among the new findings in these seamounts. 

The seamounts are visited by great pelagic species, such as whales, dolphins, and swordfish, and birds such as small petrels or shearwaters abound.

The peaks are covered by algae forests, particularly kelp. Large schools of amberjack, horse mackerel, and barracuda concentrate above the highest peaks, and detritic bottoms, covered in the remains of coral, bryozoans, and molluscs, abound in deeper areas, are inhabited by dragon fish, fan corals, pink frogmouths, and bird’s nest sponges.

“This year we have carried out dives to observe species in deeper areas that swim up the seamount sides seeking prey. We found various deep-sea sharks and other fish that are generally harder to observe”, states Aguilar.

The images and samples collected will be analysed by Oceana and the University of Algarve, which collaborates in these expeditions.

Oceana obtained the first images of the Gorringe bank during an expedition in 2005. Thanks to the support of the Drittes Millenium foundation, the international organisation for marine conservation documented various areas of the Gorringe in 2011 and 2012 in order to obtain data supporting its protection.

Learn more: Oceana Ranger 2012 Expedition and video

Photo courtesy of Derek Keats via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)