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September 24, 2014


BY: Oceana Web


© OCEANA / Carlos Minguell


Back at sea, we start the second phase of the expedition: The Sahara Mountains. We spent the day at the Bimbache Mountain (also known as Kiel), where we made two dives at its peak, at around -850 m. This mountain reaches 2,700 m of maximum height and has a dorsal morphology of NS orientation.

We obtained images of vast forests formed by the so-expected precious corals (Corallium tricolor and C. niobe) near -950 m deep, which was one of our main goals at this stage of the campaign. We could see several hexactinellid sponges, some of them previously found in other dives as the Aphrocallistes sp., others emerged for the first time in these sampling like, we presume it might be, Asconema  and Pheronema.

There are other abundant species in this deep forest: Gorgonians Calypthophora sp., black corals Leiopathes sp., solitary corals Desmophyllium dianthus, fish Neocyttus helgae, carnivorous sponges Asbestopluma sp. and Cladorhiza sp., and various crustaceans such as Uroptychus sp. and Chaceon sp. This habitat´s bottom is normally covered with remains of a dead coral reef, which might have dominated this area hundreds of years ago. It is worth to highlight the pelagic phase of these dives, where we filmed hydrozoan jellyfish as Solmundella bitentaculata, scyphozoos as Periphylla sp. and the rare vampire squid (Vampyrotheutis sp.)