Oceana captures the first images of the Dacia and Tritón seamounts to the north of the Canary Islands
The first pictures of these mountains, never before documented, reveal a wide variety of glass sponges, deep sea fish, gorgonians and black corals.
Press Release Date: September 22, 2014
Scientists on board the Oceana Ranger have conducted ROV transects covering the summit and slopes of these elevations which have a height of more than 2,000 metres.
The seamounts to the north of the Canary Islands, Dacia and Tritón, have been documented for the first time during Oceana’s current expedition in the area. The images obtained show extensive forests of black corals on the summit of Dacia, and a great diversity of sponges on the slopes of Tritón, including spectacular glass sponges and carnivorous sponges, as well as different gorgonians, corals, deep sea fish and sharks etc.
“This has only been a first look at the unknown sea beds to the north of the Canary Islands,” explained Ricardo Aguilar, Director of the oceanographic campaign. “We need to obtain more data and carry out detailed studies in order to establish protection systems to sustain the unique biodiversity of the Dacia and Tritón seamounts.”
The research is being carried out by means of ROV dives, documenting from the summit of Dacia, about 100 metres below the surface, to a depth of almost 1,000 metres on the slopes of Tritón. These mountains are located 190 nm and 110 nm to the north of the island of La Graciosa, respectively. They are more than 2,000 m in height and rise up from a sea bed with a depth of 3,000 metres. Tritón has two peaks and stretches out to a length of around 60 kilometres, while Dacia has a diameter of just over 20 km.
Dacia and Tritón form part of a group of mountains located between the Canary Islands, Madeira, the Iberian Peninsula and Morocco, serving as connection points for species travelling between these areas. The Spanish Government, through the LIFE+ INDEMARES Project, has studied another seamount belonging to this group, the Concepción bank, which will be one of the future marine protected areas of the Atlantic. Portugal, for its part, has presented a plan to protect many of the seamounts between the Azores, Madeira and the Iberian Peninsula, such as the Gorringe Bank, Seine and Unicorn.
“These mountains could be considered as the ‘other’ Canary Islands, some of which, though now submerged, at one time rose up out of the sea,” says Helena Álvarez, marine scientist at Oceana. “Spain should study and protect these seamounts so that, together with Portugal, it could provide Europe with an extensive marine protected area where dozens of seamounts would be home to one of the richest and most diverse faunas on the planet.”
In the coming weeks Oceana will continue sampling the southernmost seamounts of the European Union, the Sahara Seamounts, about 250 km south of El Hierro, and will also do the same in the southern part of this island.
Learn more: Atlantic Seamounts Expedition 2014