More than 100 species never seen in the seamounts of Chile VIDEO

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More than 100 species never seen in the seamounts of Chile VIDEO
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Corals, sponges, lobsters, sea urchins: there could be more than a hundred new species discovered in the underwater mountains off the coast of Chile thanks to an expedition by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, led by an international team led by Javier Sellanes, of the Universidad Católica of the North

The researchers explored the Nazca and Salas y Gómez ridges to collect data useful for the creation of a marine protected area. The Salas y Gómez ridge, in particular, is a 2,900 kilometer long underwater mountain chain that includes more than 200 underwater mountains that extend from the coast of Chile to Rapa Nui, the famous Easter Island. The scholars also explored two of Chile's marine protected areas, the Juan Fernandez and Nazca-Desventuradas marine parks.

During the expedition, an underwater robot capable of descending to a depth of 4,500 meters was used to collect data from ten underwater mountains: thanks to its camera it was possible to observe that each mountain hosts distinct ecosystems, many of which are vulnerable, including thriving coral reefs and vast expanses of sponges. Many species could be completely new, but to identify them correctly, new studies, including genetic ones, will be carried out.

The researchers managed to collectively map more than 52,000 square kilometers of seabed , discovering four seamounts in Chilean waters. The fourth mountain, the highest at 3,530 metres, was explored for the first time, mapped and unofficially named ' Solito '.

A second expedition along the Salas y Gomez ridge is planned for February on board the research vessel Falkor. The scuba dives will be broadcast live on the Schmidt Ocean Institute's YouTube channel.

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