Undersea lost world – found!
Tantalising evidence that there might be a unique and unknown ecosystem lying off the coast of Scotland has led to the discovery of a lost world beneath the sea.
Following up on a research cruise in Scottish waters in 2012 when scientists spotted previously unknown creatures brought up from the seabed, a collaborative expedition set sail aboard the Marine Scotland research vessel Scotia to the deep waters off Rockall. The aim was to establish whether the evidence they had previously gathered did indeed point to an ecosystem never before discovered around the British Isles.
The specimens from the previous cruise had pointed to a unique and unknown ecosystem. As the specimens were chemosynthetic species, it suggested the presence of cold seeps. Cold seeps are where hydrocarbons and fluids seep from the deep sea floor supporting specialist bacterial communities that then form the basis of the food chain supporting highly diverse and specialised communities of marine animals. These types of marine ecosystem were only discovered as recently as the 1980s. If the suspicions of the scientists were to be true this would be the first cold seep system in this area of the North Atlantic, the nearest other examples being off the coast of Norway and in the Gulf of Cadiz, Spain, thousands of kilometres away.
Read the full MASTS Deep Sea Press Release
- MASTS deep sea collaboration project (Survey 0915S) – blog article 27/07/15
- Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS)
- MRV Scotia