Research led by Swansea University's Bioscience department has discovered for the first time extensive deep-water seagrass meadows in the middle of the vast Indian Ocean through satellite tracking the movement of green sea turtles.
A new study by Swansea University and Deakin University academics, published in the recent Marine Pollution Bulletin, reported how the monitoring of the turtles -- which forage on seagrasses - tracked the species to the Great Chagos Bank, the world's largest contiguous atoll structure in the Western Indian Ocean.
This area lies in the heart of one of the world's largest Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and the study involved the use of in-situ SCUBA and baited video surveys to investigate the day-time sites occupied by the turtles, resulting in the discovery of extensive monospecific seagrass meadows of Thalassondendron ciliatum.
These habitats are critically important for storing huge amounts of carbon in their sediments and for supporting fish populations.
At three sites that extended over 128?km of the Great Chagos Bank, there was a high seagrass cover (average of 74%) at depths to 29 metres.
The mean species richness of fish in the seagrass meadows was 11 species per site, with a mean average of 8-14 species across the aforementioned three sites.
Results showed a high fish abundance as well as a large predatory shark recorded at all sites and given that the Great Chagos Bank extends over approximately 12,500?km and many other large deep submerged banks exist across the world's oceans, the results suggest that deep-water seagrass may be far more abundant than previously suspected.
Reports of seagrass meadows at these depths with high fish diversity, dominated by large top predators, are relatively limited.
Dr Nicole Esteban, a Research Fellow at Swansea University's Biosciences department, said: "Our study demonstrates how tracking marine megafauna can play a useful role to help identify previously unknown seagrass habitat.
"We hope to identify further areas of critical seagrass habitat in the Indian Ocean with forthcoming turtle satellite tracking research."
Dr Richard Unsworth, from Swansea University's Biosciences department, said: "Seagrasses struggle to live in deep waters due to their need for high light, but in these crystal clear waters of Chagos these habitats are booming.
"Given how these habitats are threatened around the world it's great to come across a pristine example of what seagrass meadows should look like."
This research was led by the Bioscience department at Swansea University, alongside the involvement of researchers at Deakin University.
Ben Donovan | EurekAlert!
Identifying the blind spots of soil biodiversity
04.08.2020 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
AI & single-cell genomics
04.08.2020 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health
Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...
“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.
Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...
An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.
Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...
Although no life has been detected on the Martian surface, a new study from astrophysicist and research scientist at the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu...
New approach creates synthetic layered magnets with unprecedented level of control over their magnetic properties
The magnetic properties of a chromium halide can be tuned by manipulating the non-magnetic atoms in the material, a team, led by Boston College researchers,...
23.07.2020 | Event News
21.07.2020 | Event News
07.07.2020 | Event News
04.08.2020 | Life Sciences
04.08.2020 | Medical Engineering
04.08.2020 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation