First results from a major deep-water survey around Ascension Island in the Atlantic support the creation of a marine reserve in the island’s waters.
The preliminary findings of the survey around the island to 1000 metres conducted last October by six national institutes compliment a £400,000 Darwin study which has looked at the biodiversity of Ascension waters at shallower depths.
The specimens found, which include unusual shrimp, brittle stars and anenomes, are being analysed to discover any species new to science and if they are new records for Ascension.
The scientists conclude that while expectations for biological richness around such a new island is low – Ascension is thought to be the result of volcanic activity a million years ago – at local scale richness turned out to be surprisingly high.
Dense habitats of corals and other three dimensional structures at 200m-500m depth were likely to provide important habitat for bottom feeding fish, nurseries for juvenile fish, carbon drawdown and possibly hotspots for marine endemism.
The scientists recommend that any Marine Protected Area should cover the east side of the island encompassing depths from 100-1000m because of the shelf biodiversity.
A short video account of the expedition is to be found below:
The preliminary report of the cruise, “Marine biodiversity of Ascension Island’s shelf: scientific support for a Marine Protected Area,” is to be found by clicking on the report below: