The Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR), one of the largest fishing-2654643519.html>marine protected areas on Earth, was declared a protected area in 1998 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Galpagos Marine Reserve (GMR), which has an area of about 51,352 square miles, is home to several unusual animal species, including the blue-footed booby, Galpagospenguins, Galpagos brown pelicans, and Galpagos sea lions.
According to a news release from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), researchers recently found ancient coral reefs in the deep waters of the GMR that were home to an incredible variety of marine life. The previously undiscovered reefs are located at the summit of an uncharted seamount in the middle of the archipelago, at a depth of 1,310 to 1,970 feet.
According to Dr. Michelle Taylor, a marine biologist at the University of Essex and co-leader of the expedition in the submersible human-occupied vehicle (HOV) Alvin, they are pristine and teeming with life, including pink octopus, batfish, squat lobsters, and a variety of deep-sea fish, sharks, and rays.
The unusual reef formation was initially discovered by Taylor and Dr. Stuart Bank, Senior Marine Researcher at the Charles Darwin Foundation, while driving Alvin, according to a press release.
In the press release, Daniel Fornari, a marine geologist and co-lead of the expedition, said that exploring, mapping, and sampling the Gal pagos Platform with Alvin and Atlantis presents an opportunity to use cutting-edge deep-submergence and seafloor mapping technologies as well as cutting-edge deep-sea imaging techniques to reveal the beauty and complexity of the volcanic and biological processes that make the Gal pagos so distinctive.
Fornari has spent more than 20 years mapping and sampling the marine ecosystem of Galpagos.
Alvin has recently undergone improvements, including the addition of an ultra-high definition video imaging technology that can record crystal-clear video of the reefs and enhanced sample capabilities to gather delicate reef specimens.
Although rising ocean surface temperatures and acidification have damaged corals all across the world, the scientists claimed the discovery of the immaculate reef structure gives them hope for healthy reefs to thrive.
The presence of the reefs also demonstrated how marine habitats may be effectively managed and conserved.
This is a positive development. Our commitment to creating new marine protected areas in Ecuador and to advancing the establishment of a regional marine protected area in the Eastern Tropical Pacific is reaffirmed by this. According to Jose Antonio D Values, Ecuador’s Minister of Environment, “the richness of the yet-to-be-explored depths of our ocean is another reason to strive toward fulfilling the commitments of the Global Ocean Alliance 30 30 which aims to protect at least 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, aligning sustainable economic activities with conservation.”
Before the discovery of the new reef structure, Wellington Reef, located in the northern Galpagos archipelago off the coast of Darwin Island, was thought to be one of only a few shallow coral reefs in the Galpagos that had survived the El Nio event of 1982 and 1983. The finding suggests that the deep waters of the GMR’s protected coral reefs have probably been home to diverse and maybe unique marine organisms for generations.
Contrary to reefs seen in many other regions of the world’s oceans, these reefs are quite old and essentially pure, which is what makes them so fascinating. This provides us with a frame of reference for comprehending their significance for marine natural biological history, connectivity with regional MPAs, and their function in supplying goods and services including carbon cycling and fisheries. In order to comprehend how the oceans have changed over time, Banks added, it also aids in their reconstruction.
Banks continued by stating that less than 5% of the known GMR, which is 95% covered by open waters, has been studied by current research expeditions. More reef formations may exist at various depths, according to Banks.
According to Taylor, the finding of the reefs is crucial for deep-sea habitats.
The newly found reef is unusual for a number of reasons. While on shallow reefs 10–20% coral cover would be seen as a sign of a pretty sick reef, in the deep water this is the norm. Taylor stated in the news release that the remaining 80–90% of dead coral skeletons continue to house a vast array of species that is less dependent on the living coral.
The reefs we’ve discovered recently, however, include 50–60% live coral in several spots, which is really uncommon. We can monitor this newly discovered reef over time to see how a pristine habitat changes in response to the current climate crisis. It may be a site of global significance and a canary in the mine for other reefs worldwide.