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Explorers marvel at 'Brittlestar City' on seamount in powerful current swirling around Antarctica
Date:5/18/2008

em (DTIS) vehicle, meanwhile, designed and constructed at NIWA by Peter Hill, was flown over the seafloor, snapping still photos and high definition video of the animals and their habitat. DTIS captured over 20 hours of video and thousands of photos of a part of Earth never seen before by humankind.

An abundance of deepwater cardinal fishes (Epigonus species) was found sheltering below a rock ledge on the seamount. In the lee of the rock, biologists believe, the fish could both conserve energy and access food.

Several Morid cods (family Moridae) were found in the folds of a large bubblegum coral (nearly two meters high, and likely hundreds of years old). These fish were also believed to be finding shelter from the current and perhaps benefiting in other ways from their close association with the coral.

Oceans worldwide contain an estimated 100,000 seamounts rising at least one km above the seabed; fewer than 200 have been sampled in any detail.

Undersea mountains can be highly productive and biodiverse, sometimes host unique species and serve as feeding grounds for fishes, marine mammals and seabirds. They also may serve as important way stations for marine migrations. The scientists work sheds light on factors underpinning seamount biodiversity, suggesting ways to improve their environmental management.

The odd shape and circumstances of Brittlestar City seamount

Tangaroas acoustic multibeam technology mapped the sizes, shapes and depths of the Macquarie Ridge.

The Brittlestar City seamount displayed several geological faults affecting its shape and geomorphology. The odd rectangular edge of its southern peak was formed by the intersection of two perpendicular faults. Because the upper surface is relatively flat, experts believe it was once at sea level, or slightly submerged. The flat topography suggests wave erosion occurred during the last ice age 18,000 years ago, when sea level was
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Contact: Terry Collins
terrycollins@rogers.com
416-538-8712
Census of Marine Life
Source:Eurekalert  

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Explorers marvel at 'Brittlestar City' on seamount in powerful current swirling around Antarctica
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