An Australian scientific expedition discovered an underwater chain of mountains of volcanic origin about 400 kilometers east of the island of Tasmania, in southeastern Australia, with summits up to 3,000 meters high, officials said today.
The massifs rise from an abyssal plain located 5,000 meters deep, the Organization for Industrial and Scientific Research of the Commonwealth of Australia (CSIRO) said in a statement.
"The seamounts vary in size and shape, some have sharp peaks, while others have broad, flat plateaus, dotted with small conical hills that would have been formed by ancient volcanic activity," explained Tara Martin of the CSIRO team.
The discovery was made recently when a team led by experts from the Australian National University (ANU) produced a detailed map of the sea floor aboard the CSIRO scientific research vessel.
Martin highlighted that the submarine zone "has a diverse landscape" and "a dazzling range of marine life", so the elaboration of the map will help to manage and protect the marine environment.
In the 25-day expedition to analyze the productivity of the ocean, data were collected that revealed that there is a greater activity of phytoplankton on the chains of seamounts and the behavior of the animals in the area was observed.
The research suggests that the submarine range could be a point of passage for some migratory animals, especially whales.
"While we were on the mountain range, the ship was visited by a large number of yubartas (Megaptera novaeangliae) and pilot whales ((Globicephala melas)," said Eric Whoeler, of BirdfLife Tasmania, who counted around 100 specimens. of both species.
In addition, a large number of seabirds were observed, including four albatross species and an equal number of petrels.
Whoeler thought that the mountain range can be a kind of submarine marker on the routes of the humpbacks or humpback whales during their movements in the winter and austral summer.
The origin and the life of this chain of submarine mountains will be investigated in the expeditions that the scientific ship Investigator has programmed for next November and December.