Life Thriving on UK’s Biggest Underwater Mountains

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Our universe is vastly covered with a massive sheet of ocean and the residual area of land with humans.  None of the humans in the universe is fully aware of the details of the contents occupying underneath the deep ocean.  Hopefully, many presumed that area beneath the seas are with sands, stones etc and are yet to be posted with the occupancy of living creatures.

The underwater mission gives to understand about  a remarkable grouping of life prospering on the UK’s tallest underwater mountains. Robotic submersibles were used by Scientists  to dive more than 2,000m beneath the waves. The mission has unearthed vast coral reefs, and an array of crustaceans and fish living in the cold, dark waters.  Dr Kerry Howell, a deep sea biologist at Plymouth University, told BBC News: “Lots of people think of the deep sea as being a sort of desert of mud.”  “And in fact these mountain structures are far from that – [there are] so many animals, so much life.”

Key features of Deep links Project.  

This team is comprised of Plymouth University, the University of Oxford, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the British Geological Survey, spent six weeks on board in the sea the RSS James Cook.  Out of the four underwater  mountains, explored, the biggest – the Anton Dohrn – 1,700m tall.  It would dwarf Ben Nevis, which has a peak of 1,344m – still both are submerged.  The scientists were of the opinion that theses unique habitats were little  explored. 

Dr Howell explained: “We don’t know very much about the underwater mountains off the coast of the UK. Initially in 2005, the explorers were there and that was the first time they had taken cameras there. But the footage wasn’t great and technology has moved on since then.”  “So this time we were able to take really sophisticated robots there with HD film, and get really fantastic quality images.”

Isis Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)  was controlled by the scientists from the deck of the ship, to record video, take photos and scoop up samples as it explored the deep.  They also deployed Autosub 6000, an autonomous robot, to map the mountains.

“You see the sea floor coming out of the gloom, and you don’t know what you are going to find,” said Dr Michelle Taylor, a deep sea biologist from the University of Oxford.  “This is the first time that anybody has seen this seamount, has seen the animals that live on this seamount, how they live, what they live on, who lives with them – and that’s really exciting.” 

Outcome of the team’s findings

  • The team established brightly coloured cold-water coral reefs that overextended for many kilometres.  Some of the species were several metres high, while others were thought to be thousands of years old.
  • They discovered huge sponge gardens crammed with tiny animals, crustaceans, including deep-sea crabs and shrimps, basket stars, sea anemones, and many fish species, including lepidions and chimaeras, which are related to sharks.
  • Considerable time will be taken to analyse all the samples and careful examination of  the specimens they collected.  These species, the scientist expect could be new to science. The team found that overall the seamounts were in good condition, with most designated as Marine Protected Areas.
  • However, the scientists still found signs of human impact, including litter and trawl marks, and they are concerned about how climate change may affect these habitats in the future.
  • Dr Taylor said: “It’s very important to understand what lives in these locations because they might change – and they might change forever’s.  Dr Howell added that the reefs were among the best she had ever seen.”  “These mountains are British, they are in British waters – and they support such an amazing diversity of life,” she told the BBC.
  • “And the fact the UK has its own coral reefs, people don’t appreciate that.”  “These reefs are enormous and in really great condition – [they are] so beautiful, so important – and I really hope that people can appreciate what they have on their doorstep.”

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