Deep-Sea corals discovered in Australian Submarine Canyons facing the Southern Ocean

he waters offshore southwestern Australia, in particular the Bremer Marine Park, are already known as a biodiversity hotspot of marine species such as whales and dolphins, however, a recent expedition on board the R/V Falkor has now revealed rich and diverse ecosystems inhabiting the cold deep waters within the canyon. Led by researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA) and the Institute of Polar Sciences (CNR-ISP) in Italy, these discoveries were only made possible by the philanthropic Schmidt Ocean Institute's (SOI) deep-sea remotely operated vehicle, SuBastian, which is capable of sampling depths to 4,500 meters.
Facing the Southern Ocean, the Bremer Canyon provides important information on the recent and past histories of climate change and ocean conditions in this region, as well as global scale events. Because the Southern Ocean completely encircles Antarctica, it is the main driver of the global climate engine and regulates the supply of heat and nutrient-rich waters to the major oceans. Unlocking the secrets stored within the skeleton of cold water corals requires an extensive lab-based dating and geochemical study. These incredible ecosystems, seen for the first time, are not only stunning but have an important story to tell. They can help us understand past changes in environmental conditions that have occurred in this very important region, over long-term natural cycles as well as the rapid recent impacts we are now seeing that have implications for us all. Further information: - Falkor story
Paolo Montagna (CNR-ISP) - Photo by Thom Hoffman (Filmmaker and multimedia journalist) - Personnel on board R/V Falkor during the first leg