A team of researchers have announced the discovery of a real “lost world” teeming with underwater life along the coast of Tasmania. Some mountains could even rise up to 3000 metres above the sea bed.
It is well known that we know more about space that we do about our own oceans. The depths of the oceans often hide themselves from us however researchers continue to look. For example, a team from the National Australian University have recently tried to map the ocean depths aboard a boat operated by CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) off the Tasmanian coast. They manage to get a good haul of information as their expedition revealed a chain of submarine mountains about 400 kilometers east of the island. Some mountains, located 5000 meters deep, could even rise 3000 meters above the sea bed.
“Our multibeam mapping has revealed in vibrant detail, for the first time, a chain of volcanic seamounts rising up from an abyssal plain about 5,000 meters deep,” explains Tara Martin lead author of the study. “The seamounts vary in size and shape, with some having sharp peaks while others have wide flat plateaus, dotted with small conical hills that would have been formed by ancient volcanic activity. This is a very diverse landscape that supports a dazzling array of marine life.”
The abundant life under the sea depths includingphytoplankton and fish provide rich sustenance for many birds and marine mammals also seen in the area. “While we were over the chain of seamounts, the ship was visited by large numbers of humpback and long-finned pilot whales,” mentioned Eric Woehler from BirdLife Tasmania. “We estimated that at least 28 individual humpback whales visited us on one day, followed by a pod of 60-80 long-finned pilot whales the next,” he said. “We also saw large numbers of seabirds in the area including four species of albatross and four species of petrel. Clearly, these seamounts are a biological hotspot that supports life, both directly on them, as well as in the ocean above.”
The new and significant findings could allow researchers to protect these unique and popular marine habitats. Two other expeditions are already organised. They will collected rock samples and film the underwater depths with high resolution cameras.