With a suite of eight deep sea cameras they were able to capture images of life on the peaks and valleys of very rugged terrain. Colourful sponges and corals encrust rocky cliffs, whereas areas of soft sediment are populated by starfish, brittle-stars, sea cucumbers and burrowing worms. Fishes, crabs and shrimps forage over the ridge exploiting whatever they can find. Trawls, traps and corers have brought back thousands of specimens for study back in the laboratory.
Professor Priede said: We are trying to imagine what the north Atlantic would be like without the ridge that literally cuts it in half, as we think it has a major effect on ocean currents, productivity and biodiversity of the North Atlantic Ocean.
The RRS James Cook ship is an absolutely fantastic facility and is allowing marine researchers to explore new environments, find new animals and study global changes in the worlds oceans.
The aim of the voyage is to contribute to the wider MAR-ECO project studying biodiversity along mid-ocean ridges (www.mar-eco.no) and to the global Census research programme. Census of Marine Life is a 10-year global scientific initiative to assess and explain the diversity, distribution and abundance of life in the oceans. The team already think they may have discovered a new species of Ostracod (or seed shrimp) that was found swarming in large numbers on the western side of the ridge. Specimens are on their way to experts in Southampton where world-renowned expert, Professor Martin Angel, will ultimately determine whether this is a new species, describe it and allocate a name.
Dr Steven Wilson, Director of Science & Innovation for the Natural Environment Research Council, said: "The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is still relatively unexplored so this voyage will have played a vital role in expanding o
|Contact: Jennifer Phillips|
Census of Marine Life