Oceana has created an interactive viewer with the most interesting pictures it has taken in the Gorringe Bank, a group of seamounts south-west of Portugal. The display, available in Google Earth, includes nearly fifty photographs and videos taken by submarine robot (ROV), obtained at depths of up to 500 metres and mostly unpublished. The project has been carried out thanks to the support of the Foundation for the Third Millennium.
“The Gorringe Bank is unique because of its enormous biodiversity, with species native to the Atlantic and to the Mediterranean, both surface dwellers and inhabitants of the ocean depths. This is one of the underwater jewels of Portugal and of all the North-East Atlantic, although it is barely known to the general public. With these images we aim to support the steps that the Portuguese government is taking for its conservation,” explains Ricardo Aguilar, Director of Research for Oceana in Europe.
The videos show spectacular kelp forests with red gorgonians and also species that have seldom been filmed, such as the ray Dipturus oxyrhinchus. Animal behaviour is observed, such as a deepwater spider crab carrying a piece of sponge, a conger and a moray eel sharing a cave, or the peculiar way that the Centrodraco acanthopoma, a characteristic fish of Gorringe, has of getting around. There are also images of vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as those formed by sponges of the genera Geodia and Pheronema, and of gorgonians Callogorgia verticillata.
The creation of the interactive map has been made possible by reviewing more than 60 hours of recordings made during Oceana expeditions, in some cases with scientists from the University of the Algarve. Most of the videos were filmed in the two main elevations of the Gorringe Bank, the peaks of Gettysburg and Ormonde. In total, the international organisation for marine conservation has documented the presence of 350 species.
“The material we have collected has been made available to Portuguese authorities and scientists to contribute to the existing body of knowledge regarding the Gorringe Bank, as there is still much to explore in the area. Nevertheless, the information that we have is enough to promote its protection and show that the seamounts are major centres of biodiversity”, adds Helena Álvarez, marine scientist at Oceana.
More information: Gorringe Bank