Discovering the Abundant Life of Chile’s Seamounts: A Hidden Underwater Paradise – Compsmag

Exploring the Deep Seas: A Treasure Trove of New Species Discovered off the Coast of Chile

An international group of scientists, led by Dr. Javier Sellanes of the Universidad Católica del Norte, has made an astonishing discovery during a recent expedition off the coast of Chile. The team may have uncovered more than 100 new species living on seamounts in the Southeast Pacific, including deep-sea corals, glass sponges, sea urchins, amphipods, lobsters, and other creatures that are likely new to science.

The Schmidt Ocean Institute expedition explored seamounts along the Nazca and Salas y Gómez ridges to collect data that could support the designation of an international high seas marine protected area. This underwater mountain range extends from the coast of Chile to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and comprises more than 200 seamounts. Most of this ridge exists outside national jurisdiction.

During the expedition, scientists used an underwater robot capable of descending to depths of 4,500 meters to collect data from 10 seamounts. They discovered that each seamount was home to distinct ecosystems, many of which are vulnerable. The researchers also mapped 52,777 square kilometers of seafloor and found four seamounts within Chilean waters.

Dr. Sellanes expressed his excitement about the findings: “We far exceeded our hopes on this expedition. You always hope to find new species in these remote and underexplored areas, but the amount we found, especially for some groups like sponges, is mind-blowing.”

According to the sourceexperts aboard the ship mapped a significant area of seafloor and discovered four seamounts within Chilean waters.

The discovery highlights the importance of marine protected areas in preserving delicate habitats. The Juan Fernández and Nazca-Desventuradas marine parks were found to effectively protect thriving and healthy ecosystems in their respective regions.

A second expedition along the Salas y Gómez Cordillera will begin aboard the research vessel Falkor on February 24th. This upcoming exploration will be streamed live on the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s YouTube channel as scientists delve into areas deeper than 600 meters for the first time.

“Complete species identification can take many years,” said Dr. Jyotika Virmani, executive director of Schmidt Ocean Institute. “Schmidt Ocean Institute is a partner of the Nippon Foundation – Nekton Ocean Census Program which has set a goal of finding 100,000 new marine species in the next 10 years.”

The incredible number of samples collected by Dr. Sellanes’ team presents an exciting opportunity for further research into this little-known biodiversity hotspot in one of Earth’s most remote regions.

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