Twelve species animals new to science have been identified in the depths of the North Atlantic for five years study by the ATLAS Project financed by the EU.
These are algae, mollusks and corals unknown because the seabed is very unexplored, and could be threatened by climate change, in particular by acidification resulting from increased absorption of CO2 by the ocean.
The scientists also discovered a field of thermal emissions from the seabed in the Azores. Hydrothermal fields are important areas of relatively high biological productivity that host complex communities in the middle of the vast deep ocean.
Professor George Wolff, an ocean chemist at the University of Liverpool who was involved in the project, said: “We can still say that we have better maps of the surface of the Moon and Mars than of the sea floor. So whenever you go to the Deep in the ocean, you find something new, not just individual species, but entire ecosystems.
Professor Murray Roberts of the University of Edinburgh, who led the Atlas project, told BBC News that nearly five years of exploration and research had revealed some “special places” in the ocean and discovered “how they work.”
“We found entire communities made up of deep-sea sponges or corals that make up the cities of the deep sea,” he explained. “They are sustenance of life. So the really important fish use these places as spawning grounds.”
If they are damaged by destructive human uses, those fish have nowhere to spawn and the function of all those ecosystems is lost to future generations, he said.
The ATLAS project involved researchers from 13 countries around the Atlantic, combining the study of ocean chemistry and physics, as well as biological discovery, to find out how the ocean environment is changing as the world warms and humans explode. plus the deep sea for fishing and mineral extraction.
The currents are slowing down
The study of ocean currents and fossil depositions on the seafloor revealed that major currents in the North Atlantic have slowed dramatically in response to climate change.
“The implications of that are complicated.But potentially the connections between ecosystems are being reduced, “explained Professor Roberts, because ocean currents are the roads that link different habitats in the vastness of the deep ocean.