OCEANA has captured the first images of "Seco de Palos", a seamount 35 miles from the coast of Murcia in Spain
The discovery was made during the project Oceana is undertaking in collaboration with the Fundaciůn Biodiversidad, to detect vulnerable habitats in the Spanish Mediterranean.
Oceana obtained the images from an undersea robot onboard the Ranger research catamaran. These images prove the immense ecological value of this area that was, up to now, unknown. Pelagic species such as pilot whales, sea turtles, marine birds, swordfish and sunfish concentrate in this area, as well as sandy bottom species such as monkfish and hake. Also found here are rocky bottom species including eels, groupers and conger eels, gorgonians and deep-sea corals; and little-known species such as the sharpnose sevengill shark.
The Seco de Palos is a seamount with a summit 100 metres below sea level and is located on the edge of a platform that plunges down to depths of up to 3,000 metres.
Fishermen have been familiar with this area since ancient times and have gone there to fish large pelagic species such as the swordfish. Furthermore, thanks to the roughness of its peak that has large rocky blocks and sharp overhangs, trawlers cannot fish on the seamount. Due to this, the ecosystems and species that have been destroyed in other coastal areas are still in a good state of conservation here.
"The spectacular geologic and biologic features of this area are indisputable. Although it will take time to identify some of the species weíve found here and being aware of the fact that we have only been able to observe a small section of this area, we can affirm that this is one of the most important oases of life in the Mediterranean," comments Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe.
Unfortunately, this biologic oasis is not untouched. The investigation carried out by Oceana has verified that a large amount of garbage and abandoned fishing tackle is accumulating on the seamount, both caught on the rocks or lying on the sea floor.
"We have a bittersweet sensation. We know we have discovered a unique ecosystem, but we have also witnessed the effects of human impact", declared Pastor, a marine biologist.
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