Expedition finds biodiversity around undersea mountain

Rio de Janeiro, May 9 (IANS/EFE) A group of scientists aboard a submarine capable of diving to depths of 6,500 meters discovered an “oasis” of biodiversity around the South Atlantic’s largest undersea mountain, located off the coast of Brazil.

“The dive we took allowed us to confirm that on this side of the Atlantic, as well as on other undersea mountains, we have a great variety” of marine life, Universidad del Vale do Itajai researcher Jose Angel Alvarez Perez told EFE.

The biologist and oceanographer, one of the few Brazilian scientists taking part in the expedition, said he observed a large number of animals.

“Beautiful cold water corals that have a lot of life around them: starfish, brittle stars, holothuroidea (sea cucumbers) and fish,” the scientist said.

The expedition’s Japanese-made Shinkai 6500 mini-submarine has the capacity to carry three people – two crewmen and a scientist – and is equipped with mechanical arms and high-resolution cameras, allowing researchers to observe the Rio Grande Elevation, an undersea geological formation, for the first time.

The Japanese sub previously explored the central Indian Ocean and is headed for the Caribbean and then the Pacific Ocean around Tonga.

Four Brazilian scientists, a National Geological Service geologist and a geologist from state-controlled oil giant Petrobras were invited to take part in the expedition, which began April 13 and ends May 27.

–IANS/EFE

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