In the deep sea west of Greenland, scientists have discovered a vast coral garden. At a depth of 488 meters, where it is located, the pressure is 50 times higher than on the surface. We discovered it using a new installation consisting of a video camera, light sources and laser pointers attached to a research vessel.
The team lowered the installation to a depth of 457 meters and recorded video on 18 sites. When researchers began to look at the footage, they discovered a huge garden full of pastel corals, sponges, starfish, anemones, shrimps, snails and fish. The ecosystem covers about 490 square kilometers.
The seabed is a very dark place, and the photosynthetic algae, which give the shallow corals their vibrant colors, cannot survive here. But the corals themselves and many other organisms that use them as shelters feel quite comfortable at depth. Scientists have identified more than 44,000 individual organisms on the 1200 frames received.
The deep sea is one of the least studied environments on the planet. Only one fifth of the seabed is plotted on the map. Researchers hope that their installation will make research on the high seas more accessible to scientists around the world.
“As a rule, deep-sea species are characterized by slow growth, late maturity, and long life spans. This makes them vulnerable to physical impacts such as bottom trawling. Recovery can take about decades or even centuries, ”said Stephen Long, a senior fellow at London University College and the London Zoological Society.
The authors of the study call for the garden they discovered to be protected as a vulnerable marine ecosystem in accordance with UN principles. They also work with the Greenland authorities and local fishing industry leaders to take action. “This fragile, complex, and beautiful habitat needs to be protected,” Long emphasized.